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Reliability Matters

5 Ways to Optimize Your Supply Chain - Oct 2019

At a time when trucking capacity is scarce, unpredictable new tariffs are affecting imports, and many suppliers are pushed to capacity, shippers must take advantage of every conceivable way to optimize their supply chains. Through a focus on optimization, supply chain stakeholders can take steps to mitigate volatility and the ever-increasing costs associated with their shipments.

5 Ways to Optimize Your Supply Chain

 

At a time when trucking capacity is scarce, unpredictable new tariffs are affecting imports, and many suppliers are pushed to capacity, shippers must take advantage of every conceivable way to optimize their supply chains. Through a focus on optimization, supply chain stakeholders can take steps to mitigate volatility and the ever-increasing costs associated with their shipments.

To help our customers and other shippers determine key areas of focus for optimization, we’ve compiled the following list of pain points where most supply chains can tighten up operations.

 

1. Route Optimization

With modern transportation management systems (TMS), optimizing delivery routes has become easier than ever before, and the ability to take advantage of these solutions has become affordable even for small and medium shippers. Affordable cloud-based TMS evens the playing field, allowing transportation planners to easily plan efficient routes that save on fuel and – perhaps more importantly in the midst of a capacity crunch – driver hours.

 Knocking five or ten minutes off each stop may not seem like a big deal, but if you multiply that by 10 or more stops it can give your drivers significant wiggle room while also decreasing overall delivery costs.

 

2. Load Consolidation

It can be tempting to ship out product piecemeal to make sure it gets to the end user or store shelf as quickly as possible, but this manner of shipping is highly ineffective in terms of cost. Simply put, shipping full truckloads is cheaper.

 If your operation only has small shipments, infrequent loads, or slow production times, consider partnering with a third-party logistics provider so your partial loads can be consolidated with those of other shippers on the same lane. The long-term cost savings driven by consolidation will offer a demonstrable positive impact on your transportation budget.

 

3. Use Multiple Modes

With the amount of trucks that we see hustling goods back and forth each day, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are other methods to get cargo from Point A to Point B. If capacity is hard to come by on your lane, check out other transportation modes that are going to the same place.

 Rail transload has become a popular option as trucking capacity continues to get tighter and the driver shortage grows larger. Remember that trucking and rail do not have to be mutually exclusive, and it’s often far easier to find short haul capacity on the other end of the track.

 

4. Shipment Leveling

The traditional method for avoiding stockouts on in-demand inventory is simply to carry large amounts of that inventory. However, this method is expensive and largely unnecessary in most cases. Using Lean principles, manufacturers and distributors have teamed up to keep high-demand product in stock using smaller frequent shipments rather than placing large, cumbersome orders that take up valuable warehouse space.

 Forecasting is a wonderful tool but is by no means a perfect one. By using shipment leveling, inventory can be easily scaled up or down based on demand. By fulfilling demand in this way, recipients aren’t left with high volumes of unsold SKUs to store—or worse, to dispose of if there is a sudden shift in market demand.

 

5. Proper Product Labeling

If you’re wondering what labeling has to do with your supply chain, the answer is: Everything. Labels don’t just display your product’s varied regulatory compliance, expiration dates, and branding. Bar codes, RFID labels, and other labeling technologies have become a crucial factor in supply chain visibility.

 To drive supply chain optimization, labeling should be integrated with other supply chain technology systems, such as TMS, warehouse management systems, yard management systems, inventory management systems, enterprise resource planning systems, and more. Labels facilitate everything from shipment to storage to returns, and an effective enterprise labeling solution is key to an optimized supply chain.

 

Ask the Supply Chain Optimization Professionals

These are only some of the areas you can focus on to improve efficiency across your supply chain. At WSI Logistics, we’ve been helping organizations optimize their supply chains for more than 50 years, and we’re happy to help you identify and address any pain points within your operation.

 To learn more about WSI Logistics, make sure to read our blog and follow us on Twitter. To see how we can support your supply chain optimization efforts, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

WSI Logistics Succeeds at Emergency Response in Allentown - Oct 2018

Among the services offered at WSI’s facility in Allentown, Pennsylvania, employees move a range of potentially hazardous chemicals in support of bulk chemical transfer and chemical handling operations for clients. At WSI, employee safety comes before all else, and there are a range of processes in place to make sure that leaks and spills are handled quickly and efficiently to minimize risks to personnel.

WSI Logistics Succeeds at Emergency Response in Allentown

Among the services offered at WSI’s facility in Allentown, Pennsylvania, employees move a range of potentially hazardous chemicals in support of bulk chemical transfer and chemical handling operations for clients. At WSI, employee safety comes before all else, and there are a range of processes in place to make sure that leaks and spills are handled quickly and efficiently to minimize risks to personnel.

The spill response plan was recently tested at Allentown to give employees practical experience at cleaning up hazardous material. Spill drills are conducted annually at each WSI site that stores and handles chemicals.

 “The main purpose of the drill is to not only test each employee’s knowledge, but also to test our response plan,” says Scott Buber, director of operations for WSI. “Each employee plays a vital role in the plan—whether they are a first responder or simply evacuating the building and heading towards the rally point. Our plan was created to ensure we keep our employees, contractors, and environment safe; as well as to mitigate the identified hazards in or around our facility.”

The Spill Drill

The drill was unannounced and occurred just after the Allentown team completed a week’s worth of mandatory chemical training. While employees may suspect a drill is coming, they are not aware of the exact time or nature of the event. In preparation, they go through regular training, including an eight-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) course.

 For this year’s drill, managers used a mixture of household chemicals to simulate a hazardous chemical spill, and the staff sprang into action. When the facility’s alarm went off, manager trainee Owen Stauber gathered his team and instructed them to don their personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes chemical-resistant Tyvek suits, gloves, and respirators. Once the staff was ready to safely address the spill, they took the following action:

  • Two employees, employing the buddy system, entered the chemical release zone and reported the situation via radio to Owen—who was now the designated Incident Commander.
  • The simulated product was a chemical called Startex Fix DS 100. Owen pulled the product SDS, using the steps within to properly guide his team through proper clean-up for this specific chemical.
  • Using the spill response kit, salvage drum, and appropriate PPE to isolate the spill – a drum that appeared to have tipped from a bottom rack, and a pool of liquid on the warehouse floor of the general storage area.
  • The first responders laid out absorbent socks around the puddle to ensure it did not spread any further. Following the SDS, Owen told the responders that the product did not require neutralization, at which point the team covered the spill in absorbent material.
  • The chemical-soaked material was transferred to a recovery drum and moved into a safe disposal area, at which point the All Clear alarm was sounded.

 After-Action Review

The Allentown staff was able to successfully clean up the spill, while also gaining practical experience beyond their standard classroom training. During the After-Action Review, employees made the following recommendations to make clean-up even more efficient in the future:

  •  Communication. Keep response team radios on a separate channel from the general warehouse. Team must speak clearly and concisely to drive efficiency.
  • Attentiveness. Response team must keep an eye on each other’s PPE. One Tyvek suit tore during the operation, and the team also recommended keeping gloves tucked under Tyvek sleeves – possibly with duct tape – to increase safety.
  • Personal Protective Equipment. The team recommended having PPE prepared in advance—sorted by proper size for and stored in an easily accessible place for each employee to improve overall reaction speed.
  • Leadership. Besides the Incident Commander, the team also recommended designating a secondary leader within the spill zone to assign tasks and maintain organization at the spill site.

 Safety First

Unannounced drills like the one at Allentown help our staff gain practical insight into emergency response, and the recommendations offered by those involved help us to continually improve our processes and procedures.

 Offering a quick and safe response to chemical spills is part of WSI Logistics’ larger commitment to employee safety and environmental stewardship. We’re proud of our Allentown staff for successful completion of another annual drill, and we remain confident that they can handle a real emergency with professionalism and distinction.

 

 

Dallas Lift Driver Rigoberto Rangel Drives Success at Three Locations - Aug 2018

Rigoberto has been working at WSI for more than seven years loading and unloading rail cars, and also covers as a team lead as needed. In addition, he is specially trained and certified on chemical handling and cleanup operations.

Dallas Lift Driver Rigoberto Rangel Drives Success at Three Locations

As part of our ongoing effort to acknowledge, thank and highlight a few of the many hardworking and loyal employees that embody WSI’s vision of absolute reliability to the customer, enthusiastic service to the community and dedication to the balance between work and life, we would like to recognize Rigoberto Rangel.

Rigoberto is a lift truck driver and material handler across three of WSI’s facilities in Dallas, Texas. He has been working at WSI for more than seven years loading and unloading rail cars, and also covers as a team lead as needed. In addition, he is specially trained and certified on chemical handling and cleanup operations.

Rigoberto grew up in Mexico, and has worked very hard to build a life here in America for his family. Before coming to WSI, Rigoberto worked at a golf course, and also at a manufacturer that fabricated glass windows.  He enjoys coming to work each day at WSI, because the company culture has a very friendly, family like atmosphere.

Dallas Lift Driver Rigoberto Rangel Drives Success at Three Locations
“I take pride in providing the best quality work, because it shows how much I care about the work I do.,” Rigoberto says.

As much as Rigoberto enjoys working with his team, he also likes the level of trust the company places in their employees by allowing them to work on their own. This confidence in his abilities makes him feel responsible for his own work.

“Right now I just focus on having a good attitude every day, and I hope to work in management one day,” Rigoberto says. “I look forward to working a long time with WSI. I’m grateful for the opportunity that Billy Vance gave me years ago, and the patience that my manager Sam Atkinson has with me every day at work. I will be forever grateful for the chance to work for a great company, and I am here to serve to the best of my ability.”

When he’s not at work, he is thankful for the positive work/life balance provided by WSI, because it gives him the opportunity to spend quality time with his family. He particularly loves taking his wife Angela out to dinner, and making time to take his two children places or just hang out with them at home. Rigoberto and Angela have been married for 14 years, and have a 13-year-old daughter, Destiny, and a 10-year-old son, Rigo Jr.

Rigoberto Rangel’s loyalty to our company, his willingness to learn new things and take on new responsibilities, and his daily positive attitude set a fine example for all of our employees here at WSI. His work ethic and success are to be admired, and we are proud to call Rigoberto part of our team. Thank you for your continued service, Rigoberto!

 

El conductor de elevación de Dallas, Rigoberto Rangel, conduce el éxito en tres ubicaciones

Como parte de nuestro esfuerzo continuo en reconocer, distinguir y agradecer a algunos de nuestros leales y diligentes empleados, aquellos que dan vida a la visión de WSI —  una visión basada en la confianza absoluta en el cliente, el servicio entusiasta para la comunidad y nuestra dedicación en dar la oportunidad a nuestros colaboradores de balancear el trabajo y la vida diaria — queremos elogiar a Rigoberto Rangel.

Rigoberto es un conductor de montacargas y encargado de materiales en tres de las oficinas de WSI situadas en Dallas, Texas. Durante más de siete años él ha trabajado cargando y descargado vagones, y también ha colaborado como líder de grupo, cuando ha sido necesario. Además, él fue capacitado y cuenta con una certificación para manejar químicos y para realizar operaciones de limpieza.

Rigoberto creció en México y ha trabajado arduamente para construir una vida acá en los Estados Unidos para él y su familia. Antes de llegar a WSI, Rigoberto laboró en un club de golf y luego en una empresa fabricante de ventanas de vidrio. Él disfruta venir a trabajar a WSI por el ambiente amigable que tiene nuestra compañía.

“Me llena de orgullo poder ofrece un trabajo de calidad, pues demuestra lo mucho que disfruto y me interesa lo que hago”, afirma Rigoberto.

Por mucho que Rigoberto disfrute trabajar con su equipo, también admira el nivel de confianza que la compañía deposita en sus empleados, permitiéndoles trabajar con total libertad. Esta confianza lo hace sentirse responsable de su propio trabajo. Rigoberto asegura que planea continuar laborando para WSI por mucho tiempo.

“Actualmente me enfoco en tener una buena actitud siempre y algún día espero obtener un puesto administrativo”, dice Rigoberto. “Me gustaría trabajar por mucho tiempo en WSI. Agradezco la oportunidad que Billy Vance me dio hace años y la paciencia que mi manager Sam Atkinson tiene en mi. Estaré eternamente agradecido por el chance de ser parte de esta fantástica compañía, y estoy acá para trabajar y dar lo mejor de mí”.

Rigoberto agradece las facilidades que le brinda WSI para balancear un trabajo positivo con su vida personal, pues le da la oportunidad de pasar tiempo de calidad con su familia. Cuando no está trabajando disfruta llevar a su esposa Angela a cenar, llevar a pasear a sus dos hijos o simplemente pasar tiempo en casa. Rigoberto y Angela llevan 14 años de casados y son padres de Destiny, su hija de 13 años, y Rigo Jr. de 10.

La lealtad de Rigoberto Rangel a esta compañía, su disposición para seguir aprendiendo y asumir nuevos retos, y su actitud positiva dan un ejemplo a todos los trabajadores de WSI. Su ética de trabajo y éxito son dignos de ser admirados y estamos orgullosos de que él sea parte de nuestro equipo. ¡Muchas gracias por tu inagotable servicio, Rigoberto!




WSI CSR Leanne Zellner is an Expert with Chemical Accounts - Jun 2018

As part of our ongoing effort to acknowledge, thank and highlight a few of the many hardworking and loyal employees that embody WSI’s vision of absolute reliability to the customer, enthusiastic service to the community, and dedication to the balance between work and life, we would like to recognize Leanne Zellner.

WSI CSR Leanne Zellner is an Expert with Chemical Accounts

Leanne is a Client Services Representative for WSI’s chemical accounts in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She’s been working with the Allentown office for 22 years. She was hired in 1996, and was the first person hired to work at that location.

Prior to working with WSI, Leanne spent several years with Exel Logistics (formerly Trammel Crow Distribution Warehouse) in several roles, including human resources/payroll, customer service, order processing, carrier routing, and shipping and receiving. This combined experienced left her well-suited to handle the varying supply chain needs of WSI’s clients.

“When I started working here 22 years ago, I worked with several different paper roll accounts and gradually incorporated some of the smaller chemical accounts in to my daily schedule over the years,” Leanne says. “Eventually, I took over and have worked with all the chemical accounts since March of 2013.”

Leanne has been with WSI for more than two decades because she enjoys coming to work every day and helping customers meet goals and overcome problems. She excels at flexibility, and her positive attitude is contagious to both her co-workers and her customers.

“I enjoy many things about my job, but mostly my daily interaction with co-workers and interactions with my customers. I am constantly learning new things, and I get to help others,” Leanne says.

 WSI prides itself on providing employees with a great work/life balance. As such, Leanne enjoys an active life outside of the office that’s full of hobbies. She enjoys gardening, crafts, and travelling around to find good deals on antiques at yard sales. She doesn’t do these things alone. She shares these hobbies with her family and friends.

Leanne especially values time spent with her family. She has two children. Her daughter Alyssa is grown and moved out, but her son David still lives at home. Leanne also has a granddaughter.

 

WSI CSR Leanne Zellner is an Expert with Chemical Accounts
“My overall favorite thing to do is to spend as much time as possible with my granddaughter Willow!” Leanne says.

Leanne Zellner’s dedication to WSI, her willingness to grow and adapt with the changing needs of the company, her active lifestyle, and her fulfilled home life are inspiring to all of us here at WSI. Thank you for your continued service, Leanne!

We Must Find a Way to Pay for Transportation Infrastructure - May 2018

U.S. transportation infrastructure is in bad shape, and logistics professionals are left wondering how much longer it can support the needs of the American supply chain. Government officials have spent years kicking the can down the road, but now the road is crumbling away.

We Must Find a Way to Pay for Transportation Infrastructure

American infrastructure scored a D+ on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Report Card. The nation’s deteriorating infrastructure will result in more than $7 trillion in lost business sales and nearly $4 trillion in GDP losses by 2025, according to the ASCE report. The Department of Transportation identified an $836 billion backlog in infrastructure projects in a report released in 2017. That amount doesn’t include any new projects or maintenance needs that will arise moving forward.

 

Spend Money to Make Money

There’s an old saying: You have to spend money to make money. This is also true for our nation’s transportation infrastructure. The pending losses predicted by the ASCE can only be avoided by spending the money we’ve been refusing to spend for the last few decades.

 

President Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan would be great—in theory. That amount of funding would cover the backlog of projects reported by the DOT and leave enough left over for new initiatives. However, as the bill stands now, the federal government would only fund $200 billion of that $1.5 trillion amount, leaving the rest in the laps of state and local governments and/or private investors.

 

Local and state spending is fine for local and state projects, but our nation’s economy relies on a functioning interstate transportation network to move people and cargo between destinations. With trillions of dollars in lost business revenue and the health of our GDP at stake, it’s important that the federal government take a leadership role in funding projects that impact the health of the national economy.

 

WSI joins with the American Trucking Associations and other stakeholders that support additional funding for infrastructure projects. While President Donald Trump endorsed the idea of a 25-cent gas tax hike, the plan died in Congress. Additional sources of user derived funding such as a higher fuel taxes must be revisited before the country’s infrastructure issues can be addressed. Without a new source of revenue, the roads, bridges, ports, and other infrastructure our industry needs to operate will continue to deteriorate.

 

Failure to Act

While it seemed for a while that President Trump’s plan might see some bipartisan support and long-awaited action on U.S. infrastructure would be taken, the infrastructure bill has since been set aside. Congress has told the media they have too much to do and won’t get to the bill until after the 2018 mid-term elections. In addition, the author of the infrastructure plan, DJ Gribbin, left the White House staff in April 2018, suggesting that little action will be seen on this issue from the executive branch either.

 

As a nation, we can no longer afford to let political games and rivalries stall action on this important issue. Infrastructure has long been used as a bargaining chip in partisan politics, but there’s not any time left for business as usual. It’s up to politicians at all ends of the spectrum to set aside their differences and find a way to fund our nation’s transportation infrastructure needs. The health of our economy depends on it.

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The Need for Speed in Automated Truck Policy - Dec 2017

In the 1970s, Congress held hearings about whether a personal computer could be trusted not to read user brainwaves – a fine example of how those responsible for regulating technology tend to trip over what they don’t understand.

I recently read that in the 1970s, Congress held hearings and engaged in serious discussions about whether or not a personal computer could be trusted not to read the brainwaves of its users. This is a fine example of how those responsible for regulating technology tend to trip over what they don't understand. That's why I found myself relieved when the American Trucking Associations (ATA) released its proposal for an automated truck policy.

Without input from experts who actually operate in the trenches, disruptive technologies can get regulated right out of existence. Remember Napster? The regulatory hiccups generated by the technology pushed it into the courts, underground, and then out of business. Without an appropriate framework in place for automated trucks, those too could wind up only being a flash in the pan.

The State vs. Federal Dilemma

Fortunately, the ATA has offered up a basis for regulators to use when building a federal policy in regards to automated trucks. One of the key points in their proposal involves empowering the federal government to do the heavy lifting. Automated trucks will primarily support long-distance, interstate commerce, and letting individual states develop their own sets of regulations regarding the technology will only stunt market potential and development.

Don't get me wrong—I'm usually a big proponent of state's rights and using multiple state regulatory models as a trail-and-error playground for new technologies. At this point, however, we can't afford to let mixed regulations stifle a technology that the trucking industry desperately needs.

The ATA projected that the truck driver shortage will hit 50,000 by the end of 2017. Trucking needs automated solutions to provide capacity and meet growing demand, and manufacturers of those solutions can't afford to be tailoring every vehicle based on what region or state it will operate in. Instead, a strong federal policy will provide consistency, which will drive growth in the national market and spur developmental advancements in the technology itself.

The Driver Debate

Anyone who pays attention to the driverless truck issue can tell you that opponents fear the loss of truck driving jobs, but our truck driver shortage will continue to grow. NAFTA renegotiations could force the driver gap to expand even further—and why is it so hard to fill these jobs?

Because driving is hard. It's a rare driver that still enjoys long-haul trucking. The hours are grueling. The time away from friends and family makes it worse. Many long-haul drivers wind up leaving the industry altogether as soon as they find a something that lets them stay at home. The fact is, most drivers would rather operate regional routes, and automated trucks will let them do that. Let the driverless vehicle handle the coast-to-coast route while human truckers do the short hauls and Last Mile.

The benefits of automated technology will help these drivers as well. Better collision warning systems will keep them safe. Better GPS will help them run on time. Trucks that can run long stretches on their own will give them time to do paperwork or eat lunch without losing miles.

At WSI, we're acutely aware that this driver shortage is not sustainable long-term. Every transportation provider knows this. We're also aware that automated trucks could solve this problem entirely within a matter of years. Instead of batting the idea around regulatory agencies for the next five years – Prime Air anyone? – regulators must take ATA's proposal seriously, and use it as a basis for policies that aid in the development and testing of automated vehicles across state lines.

Recent Industry Disruptions Challenge, Improve Retail Logistics and Supply Chain - Aug 2017

American consumers are now living in an era of supply chain domination, in which we sometimes sacrifice privacy for convenience, or a few extra dollars for speed.

American consumers are now living in an era of supply chain domination, in which we sometimes sacrifice pri­vacy for convenience, or a few extra dollars for speed. Amazon drones drop small packages on our doorstep the same day. Meals arrive on urban doorsteps via tiny robots moments after placing the order. Naturally, the retail industry needs to adapt an agile and visible supply chain to fulfill these increasingly complex consumer requests.

In recent weeks, both Walmart and Amazon made waves in the retail industry, though for rather different reasons. Walmart recently narrowed its “must arrive by” date windows and will penalize suppliers, big or small, for early or late product arrival. The retail supply chain needs to up its game to meet these require­ments; the penalties Walmart intends to inflict will sting. Similarly, Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods may disrupt the retail industry in a profound way. The initial announcement caused a seismic shift in stock prices and provoked thousands of articles and blog posts about the implications of the deal for the supply chain, brick-and-mortar grocery stores, and small-to-medium-scale organic food producers.

Walmart’s “Must Arrive By” Dates Set Tone for Retail Supply Chain

As consumers make their needs and desires more clearly heard, big-box retailers like Walmart seek to streamline supply chain operations–to have the right product on shelves when the con­sumer wants it. Walmart has turned to a more holistic approach to shopping, integrating its traditional big box retail locations with e-commerce. Walmart aims to stock shelves with product based on just-in-time, lean-minded operations.

And, the retail giant will now require its suppliers, from manu­facturing giants like Unilever to smaller, local producers, to adhere to stringent delivery windows. When product arrives too early or too late at the designated Walmart location, suppliers will incur fines equal to 3 percent of the products’ value. The effort to whip suppliers into shape, with the stated goal of 95% on-time, in-full deliveries, reveals Walmart’s mission to compete directly with Amazon.

Walmart’s rivalry with Amazon is also now reaching toward cleaning up its in-store workings, to provide consumers with a better shopping experience. Notably, after Amazon’s acquisi­tion of Whole Foods, Walmart announced its intention to provide customers with better-located and more aesthetically pleas­ing produce and fresh foods aisles. The compliance squeeze for Walmart’s logistics providers and suppliers is getting ever-tighter. Suppliers and 3PLs that count on Walmart as a client would be wise to shape up and ship out–ideally within the allotted 24-hour window for on-time deliveries.

Amazon and Whole Foods: A Perfect Storm for Grocery Retail Disruption

News that Amazon intends to purchase Whole Foods in the second half of 2017 rocked the retail industry and stock market earlier this summer. The marriage of two retail powerhouses–one e-commerce and the other a traditional brick-and-mortar gro­cery store specializing in organic, locally produced and supplied grocery–inspired scads of think pieces and provoked lots of ques­tions, from those for and against the merger.

Generally, economists see the deal as a positive one for both companies. Whole Foods has been reluctant to embrace digital supply chain technologies, and Amazon can help with that, given its position as a retailer that is really a data and supply chain com­pany. Similarly, Whole Foods provides the cold-chain footprint close to end users that Amazon needs to become a major player in the grocery retail sector. Amazon’s relationship with Sprouts Farmers Market and Whole Foods’ relationship with Instacart could help expand fresh food delivery in an efficient manner. Or the two companies could leave those partnerships by the wayside and focus on enhancing their own complementary synergies in last-mile fresh food delivery.

The potential for cashier-free stores, as currently seen in Amazon’s Seattle, Washington venture, could streamline the grocery-buying process for consumers nationwide. Plus, omni-channel presence would become even more convenient. Consider the possibility of Amazon lockers in every Whole Foods nationwide, to pick up online orders of pillowcases and books, along with your family’s organic carrots and yogurt.

With these recent changes, the potential for retail supply chain disruption is great. 3PL providers must be cognizant of these changes in the supply chain and shifting compliance require­ments to ensure continued profit and high performance for some of their biggest clients.

Need Flexibility? Seek out Full-Service 3PLs - Jul 2017

The retail and supply chain worlds have changed–and are changing–rapidly.

The retail and supply chain worlds have changed–and are changing–rapidly. Soaring end-user consumer demand for same-day delivery of goods and companies’ desire for increased visibility of their supply chains are two instrumental factors in the ever-morphing industrial real estate industry. Companies want and need instant, flexible warehousing options with skilled, efficient labor to handle and ship their products. Despite newcomers to the market, third-party logistics providers with years of experience and myriad service offerings, like distribution, fulfillment, storage, transload, technology and import/export services, can diversify easily.

Specifically, flexible warehousing is all the buzz right now in the warehousing industry, as e-commerce companies and retailers flock to store high-turnover product in spaces for short periods of time. However, despite its new name, “flex warehousing” or “spot warehousing” has existed in the logistics industry for a long time. It simply went by different names. “Public warehousing,” “multi-client space” or “public space” all refer to what clients now know as “flex warehousing.”

This type of warehouse space allows for many clients’ products to be received, handled, stored, and shipped out in a flexible environment, as opposed to dedicated space and labor reserved for only one contract client at a time.

The Inside Scoop on Flex Warehousing

Currently known as the Uber of warehousing, the Seattle, Washington-based Flexe warehousing and fulfillment company recently launched next-day ground delivery service, in addition to its on-demand storage, shipping and delivery services. Describing itself as a supply chain software company, Flexe does not own or operate any warehouse or industrial real estate space. Instead, it builds, executes and maintains software that is then housed within contracted warehouse space around the country. Tenants who need quick space can turn to Flexe to store their goods for the short amount of time needed.

The downside of flex warehousing is the lack of dedicated labor to handle certain, highly sensitive products, such as chemicals, perishable foods and large, easily damaged goods. Seeking out a third-party logistics provider with its own dedicated workforce, as well as a robust and flexible Warehouse Management System software and RFgen scanning capabilities, is still a company’s best option for handling and storing sensitive goods. Logistics services like RF scanning and an Oracle-powered WMS can work in tandem with highly trained, safety-minded material handlers’ skillsets to ensure clients’ needs are met. 3PLs with transportation assets–even a small fleet of trucks–have another leg up on their clients’ need for speed. Even better, a 3PL with logistics software, like its own Transportation Management System and/ or B2B systems integration software, can easily fulfill the needs of a short-term client.

Current 3PLs Already Meeting the Need

3PLs with a focus on logistics management can rest assured that they are competing capably against the new kid on the block. By quickly adapting to various industries and commodities, and responding to client requests with urgency and an extremely high level of customer service quality, a strong 3PL will find it can outlast even the most convenient warehousing options of the 21st century.

WSI is one of the largest 3PLs in the nation, with nearly 15 million square feet nationwide. We serve the chemical, paper, consumer packaged goods, packaging, building materials and electronics industries. In 2016, WSI celebrated its 50th anniversary of providing “Absolute Reliability” to its clients. Our WMS, the Oracle-powered JD Edwards’ EnterpriseOne software, can process inbound and outbound shipment orders for products ranging from t-shirts to bulk plastic pellets. Our experience with seasonal goods, like holiday wrapping paper, Halloween costumes and fishing rods, has made us one of the best in the industry. We can react quickly to retailer, distributor and manufacturer needs, no matter the good. Looking for 50,000 square feet of space for 3 months? We have that. Need 400,000 square feet for 5 years? We can do that, too.

Our sister companies, WSI Transportation, LLC, and 360data, offer personalized transportation and supply chain visibility solutions, respectively.

Whether the client needs transportation brokered or available onsite via one of our trucks, WSI Transportation, LLC can ensure safe, speedy shipment of product.

360data software solutions provide customized TMS and B2B Integrator options for complete supply chain visibility. Visit 360data.com to learn more.

Our focus is on “Absolute Reliability” to the client. That motto instills our organization with an innate flexibility toward changing client demands, for more than 50 years. Contact us today for availability, pricing, transportation and dedicated labor information, or visit our Featured Properties page at wsinc.com/featured-properties.html.

Handle With Care: How to Be the Best At Fulfilling Your Clients' Chemical Handling Needs - Jun 2017

Chemical handling is an important function of a third-party logistics provider.

Chemical handling is an important function of a third-party logistics provider. 

If your firm is looking to source a chemical handling partner or currently han­dles chemicals and wants to perform better, our guide below illuminates some key factors to finding the best fit.

Explain your chemical business thoroughly, so potential providers know their duties.

Allow your incumbent provider and any potential providers in the RFP process to learn as much as they can about your business. A potential provider should demonstrate intimate, near-encyclopedic knowledge of your business, operations, and current and future needs. Be sure to communicate must-do, regularly repeating tasks, current and past lean projects (so the potential providers know about any past inefficiencies and challenges), and a list of future goals. A strong provider should be able to explicitly address how it will be able to resolve challenges and improve your organization’s processes.

Be on the lookout for the kind of top-performing provider that combines integrated teamwork, commitment to delivering absolute reliability to your business, and dedication to going beyond the normal scope of work to best serve the client.

Make sure your provider considers or complies with industry partnerships/memberships: Responsible Care and Operation Clean Sweep.

Responsible Care is the global chemical handling indus­try’s premier environmental and safety initiative, holding many organizations, companies, and non-profits accountable for safe and responsible chemical handling. American Chemistry Council companies are strongly encouraged to participate in Responsible Care initiatives for responsible chemicals handling.

However, for companies like 3PLs, participation in Responsible Care is strictly voluntary. Becoming a Responsible Care Partner entails adhering to Responsible Care commit­ments to improve performance in the fields of environmental protection, occupational safety and health protection, plant safety, product stewardship and logistics, as well as to con­tinuously improve dialog with neighbors and the public, independent from legal requirements. The initiative is global and currently active in 52 countries. Responsible Care is not simply marketing or symbolic.

Joining the Responsible Care initiative as a Partner involves taking a leadership role with chemical manufacturers and distributors to ensure products are handled safely and in sustainable, environmentally friendly ways. If your poten­tial chemical handling provider is committed to safety and health, as well as efficient and sound logistics, it will commit to Responsible Care Partner designation.

Similarly, Operation Clean Sweep, a product stewardship pro­gram of the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division and Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), helps to strengthen your provider’s commitment to sustainability. Operation Clean Sweep’s goal is to help every plastic resin handling operation implement good housekeeping, including pellet, flake and powder containment practices. The ultimate goal of OCS is to achieve zero pellet, flake or powder loss. Should your orga­nization handle plastics, your provider’s participation in–or compliance with–Operation Clean Sweep standards is para­mount for good housekeeping, safety and health.

You get what you pay for; beware of the “too-good-to-be-true” price.

After providing your thorough and complete scope of work to the provider, getting to know its labor force and capabilities, and ensuring the provider has all necessary part­nerships in place, the final and most important step is to ensure your price expectations are aligned with the provider.

It is essential to consider what you know about your compa­ny’s current operations. Are you certain the account will require after-hours receiving and shipments? Expect to be charged accordingly, and trust that your provider will spell out its justifi­cation for pricing to the utmost degree in its RFP response.

If a potential provider responds with a lowball pricing offer, be sure to consider your incumbent provider’s strengths and consider the value of their work, including future proposed projects and past performance. A potential low-cost provider that does not know your business well may fail dramatically at delivering high-performance chemical handling. The lowball offer may overlook essential elements of your business, such as the need for same-day bulk transfers or for frequent rela­beling. Accepting a low-cost offer from a provider that is not prepared to take on the workload could end up costing your company more in the long run.

Using these three strategies, your company can gain the knowledge needed to find an expert provider in the chemi­cal handling industry. WSI, one of the nation’s largest 3PLs, has been handling chemicals for decades. We are a current Responsible Care Partner and Operation Clean Sweep partici­pant, handling chemicals for some of the largest distributors and manufacturers in the world.

Working Alongside Robots: No Longer Science Fiction - May 2017

Working alongside robots in warehouses is the way of the present, rather than the way of the future.

Working alongside robots in warehouses is the way of the present, rather than the way of the future.

The recent ProMat and Automate conferences, in Chicago, featured robotics and automated materials handling equipment. “Solve for X,” the theme of the conference, emphasized the need for manufacturers, warehousing and third-party logistics companies to embrace change to stay relevant. Rather than focusing on the technological capabilities of these high-efficiency robots, our team attended ProMat & Automate with an eye toward the changing workforce. As we strolled the aisles, observing robots in demonstration booths, we reflected on the results of the 2017 MHI survey. The
MHI survey, the fourth in a series of annual industry reports developed in conjunction with Deloitte Consulting, focused on “Next-Generation Supply Chains: Digital, On-Demand and Always-On.” The survey received 1,100 responses from manufacturing and supply chain industry leaders. Approximately 80 percent of respondents to the survey said automation will dominate the logistics industry in the
next half decade. Even more relevant, 61 percent of MHI survey respondents indicated that they view robotics and automation of warehouse materials handling equipment as either a disruption or an advantage in the supply chain industry. For comparison’s sake, 39 percent of respondents to the 2015 MHI survey reported this view on robotics and automation.

According to the survey respondents and other research, using current logistics methods in urban areas is unsustainable. Sorting robots that use flights and pushers within a small warehouse footprint, such as in a tight-spaced urban setting, will maximize efficiency. Small unit robots in warehouses, like Amazon’s Kiva robots, and delivery botpods, like Skype founders’ new food delivery venture Starship Technologies, will be key to reducing congestion and gaining efficiencies both inside and outside the warehouse. In addition to well-known retailers like Amazon and Skechers, at Under Armour’s manufacturing facility, humans and robots already work alongside one another, to a much greater extent than at most other manufacturing facilities. Technological disruptions are generally considered positive for industries. However, for those in the materials handling workforce, a robotic disruption could seem  threatening.

We want to help assuage those concerns about potential diminishing warehouse job openings. Instead, warehouse employees should look forward to easier physical labor, less stress and more intellectual stimulation on the job. Robots can take the pressure off of warehouses and 3PLs during seasonal surges. Robots can take shifts during the hottest or coldest parts of the day and drastically reduce the amount of walking humans need to do on a daily basis picking orders throughout the warehouse.

A New York Times Magazine article published the week of Feb. 23, 2017, emphasized that most robots working alongside humans in warehouses are not eerily human-like, but machine-esque. The reporter implied it is less unsettling to work alongside machines than it would be to work alongside animatronic bots. In this observation, the Times addresses and then debunks a common fear: that robots will replace all human workers. Materials handlers should rest assured that there will always be work that needs to be done by humans, namely work that requires observing and anticipating needs in social situations and work that demands emotional intelligence. Customer service situations, like communicating with a major manufacturer about space needs and limitations, inventory shortages or damage, still require abundant human interaction and interference.

Moreover, a Los Angeles Times article published Dec. 4, 2016, points out that, while fewer warehousing jobs are being added for materials handling tasks, the new job positions pay more, due to the higher skill set required to monitor automated lift equipment. In the coming years, new automation technology should create approximately 15 million jobs, according to Forrester, a research firm. With
these new jobs come important consideration factors. For example, lights-out automation would be much more possible with robots, creating a new set of safety considerations, such as creating adaptive zones, complying with new regulations and providing both bots and humans with clear instructions on how to operate within the designated zones.

Has your organization implemented automated lift technologies yet? How much have you saved in operational efficiencies and utility bills? (Automated lift trucks can work in the dark.) The future is now

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