Morai-Logistics-Blog-Canada-Rail

On the 20th of February, Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt revealed The Safe and Accountable Rail Act which proposes amendments to the Canada Transportation Act and Railway Safety Act. The Act, which is a response to the Lac-Mégantic disaster in 2013, will make railways and crude oil shippers responsible for the cost of accidents said Raitt.

Along with other previously introduced rail safety requirements, this new act will introduce the following:

  • Railways moving large volumes of crude oil will now be required to carry insurance of up to $1 billion to cover the costs of a potential accident.
  • Oil companies shipping their product in railway cars, meanwhile, will now face a levy of $1.65 for every tonne of crude shipped roughly 23¢ per barrel.
  • The Act will bring in minimum insurance requirements for railway crude oil shippers using federally regulated railways, from $25 million for carriers of minimally dangerous goods to $1 billion for substantial quantities of them.
  • Two new liability insurance levels — $100 million and $250 million — will be phased in during the two years after the bill receives royal assent. Companies will be required to come up with half that amount in the first year and the full amount the year after that.
  • Companies that ship crude oil will also have to pay a fee per tonne shipped that will go into a $250-million backup fund to cover costs above what their insurance covers if they’re involved in an accident involving crude oil.

Too Much or Too Little?

Although the reaction to the announcement of the Act has been mostly positive by the Canadian press, it hasn’t been without some controversy.

An article in the Financial Post quoted Greg Stringham, of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’
vice-president of oilsands and markets, who expressed some concerns.

In today’s price environment, every little bit affects the economics. Crude oil prices have plunged more than 50% since June, causing many producers to cut spending.

Mr. Stringham said about 200,000 barrels of oil were moving by rail in Canada every day at the end of 2014. He continued by saying that oil and gas producers don’t know whether additional costs from the new insurance burden will cause oil-by-rail movements to become more expensive for producers.

Looking at the comments section of the articles covering this story, it’s easy to see that there is also the other side who feel that the newly proposed Act can isn’t being taken far enough. It seems that this sentiment stems from the recent Canadian Pacific Railway strike which ended just before employees would’ve been legislated back to work.

In a Maclean’s article, NDP Labour critic Alexandre Boulerice condemned the government for taking quick action against the workers when it was revealed that that there was a legislation being poised in end the strike. “It will put public safety at risk, since the problem of long hours and fatigue among those conductors will not be resolved,” he said at the time

A Problem With No Clear Solution

The growing number of train derailments has to do with the growing volumes of oil being shipped. This is a trend and problem for both Canada and the U.S. There’ve been different long-term solutions that have been recommended, but for now, let’s hope that the new Safe and Accountable Rail Act shows some promise in curbing this deadly trend.

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Morai-Logistics-Blog-Intermodal-ThreatsLast week, the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) reported in its most recent edition of the Intermodal Market Trends & Statistics report, a strong full-year and fourth quarter 2014 performance for intermodal volumes despite harsh weather conditions, and continuing intermodal congestion.

An article from Logistics Management by Jeff Berman on the report noted that:

Total 2014 intermodal volume—at 16,276,892 containers and trailers––saw a 4.8 percent annual increase compared to 2013. Domestic containers—at 6,444,532—were up 5.7 percent, and international containers—at 8,166,010—were up 4.4 percent. All domestic equipment at 8,110,882—was up 5.1 percent, and trailers rose 2.9 percent to 1,666,350.

For the fourth quarter, total volume—at 4,111,401—was up 3.0 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2013. Domestic containers were up 5.1 percent at 1,672,332, and international containers—at 2,011,754—were up 2.1 percent en route to leading all intermodal segments for the fourth year in a row and seven of the last eight years. Trailers eked out a 0.1 percent gain at 427,315, and all domestic equipment was up 4.0 percent at 2,099,647.

Based on IANA data, the report observed that 2014 marked the first time in three years that international, domestic containers, and trailers each saw annual gains, while showing the strongest overall intermodal growth since 2011. What’s more, international volume posted its largest annual increase since the economy was emerging from the depths of the recession in 2010, with the 4.4 percent annual growth rate almost double the previous three years, while total international volume was only 4 percent below 2006’s pre-recession peak. And 2014 trailer volume saw its first annual gain in three years, while seeing a 35 percent total decline in the past decade.

IANA President and CEO Joni Casey commented on the findings: “For the first time in four years, international, domestic container, and trailer market segments all posted year-over-year growth. And volume gains were widespread geographically, with eight out of nine regions recording increases during 2014.” IANA officials also suggested that the reason international growth exceeded expectations in the fourth quarter, was because of “stronger than expected container imports.”

Casey added that considering that the overall volume growth rate of 4.8 percent was above 2013, as well as higher than in 2012, 2014 intermodal industry performance modestly exceeded expectations.

The Skies Aren’t All Clear Yet

Although the findings in the report are very encouraging, an article written by Mark Szakonvi on JOC argues that caution is required going forward.

In particular, he noted that a number of threats from the reappearance of brutal weather conditions seen last year, to a West Coast port lockout could quickly derail the rail industry’s gains.

“The railroads aren’t out of the woods yet. Although the waterfront employers said on Jan. 26 that it had reached a tentative agreement on chassis maintenance and repair with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union— a major roadblock to a labor contract — there is still concern of a terminal lockout by employers. If that were to happen, BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad, the two major U.S. Western railroads, would no longer accept marine container terminals. Analysts differ on the severity an embargo of international intermodal traffic would have on rail service, but they agree it would be negative.”

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We hope everyone has had a great holiday and we would like to wish all of our readers a Happy New Year! To kick off the year, we have finished compiling our infographic on the top logistics and supply chain facts from the news that we’ve collected throughout last year. As there is a large number of news items spanning the many large topics in the logistics industry, we decided to create our Top 10 by focusing on categories:

  1. Drones
  2. Same-Day Deliver
  3. Supplier Diversity and Women
  4. Sustainability
  5. RFID
  6. World Bank Institute’s Private Sector Platform
  7. Automation
  8. Online Retail
  9. Truck Driver Shortage
  10. Logistics Slow Growth

Each of these topics have some pretty interesting facts and statistics that may have been missed in the hustle and bustle of fellow logistics professionals and enthusiasts. And while we haven’t covered all of the interesting facts from 2014; we felt that these topics helped changes the face of the logistics and supply chain industry in 2014 and serves a good snippet to review the year.

Top 10 Logistics and Supply Chain Facts of 2014

Morai-Logistcs-Top-10-Logistics-and-Supply-Chain-Facts-of-2014

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

Morai-Logistics-Blog-Reverse-Supply-ChainWith the hustle and bustle of the holiday season come and gone, many people are now returning to their normal work and home life. That is, if you in any fields that are not retail or logistics.

After the holiday season, and especially after Christmas, many shipping services, retailers, e-retailers, and 3PLs get inundated by deluge of unwanted or ill-fitting gifts that need to be returned to their retailer of origin in a process called reverse logistics.

By simply looking at some facts and figures from this Wall Street Journal article, it is clear that the post-holiday time presents major opportunities for many 3PLs, especially those with a specialization in reverse logistics.

  • 20 % of returns happen during the holiday season
  • The U.S Postal Service reported handling 3.2 million returns last year during the two weeks following Christmas
  • Returns policies are critical in driving purchase decisions. In a recent survey of 5,800 U.S. online shoppers, 82% said they were more likely to complete purchases if free returns via a prepaid shipping label or an in-store option were offered, according to comScore Inc., a data-tracking firm that conducted the study for UPS
  • About 66% of consumers now review a retailers’ return policy before making a purchase

The opportunities inherent in reverse logistics, stems from the current e-commerce boom. As demand for online shopping grows, so the does the percentage of customers dissatisfied with their purchases. A large number of retailers and e-commerce companies are ill equipped with the growing number of returns (which is up 15% from the holiday season only two years ago).

With reverse logistical networks being an inherent part of many 3PLs to varying degrees, it makes sense that they be the natural choice for providing the service for other businesses. In fact, the necessity to switch toward more customer-centric strategies (such reducing lead times, improving planning, improving fulfillment, and improving post-sales/returns capabilities) is the focus of an article on MarketWatch.

It is in this same spirit of reverse logistical capitalization that FedEx recently announced its forthcoming acquisition of GENCO, a leading third-party logistics provider in North America that specializes in end-to-end reverse logistics.

Through GENCO’s leadership position in reverse logistics, FedEx will be able to expand its North American presence in the e-commerce market as GENCO’s reverse logistics customer base includes some of the top companies in the technology, retail, and healthcare industries in North America.

An article in SupplyChain Management Review has very interesting information concerning best practice for reverse logistics when it quotes Gary Cullen, chief operating officer of 4PRL LLC:

“A growing trend of being “cheaper and nearer” seems to fit well within the cost sensitive and eco conscious reverse logistics chain of events.

Much efficiency can be found in near-sourcing third party service providers (3PSP) who specialize in the services of redeployment, repair, reuse, recycling, reclamation and resale. This appears to be a successful business model in today’s fuel conscious and green minded environment.

A closer country allows for use of cheaper modes of transportation as well as less overall time and movement.”

Efficiency and response time are the key terms to take away when discussing reverse logistics as the problem of potential value loss arises if items are delayed for too long, especially when it involves fashion items.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

2015_new_yearIf you were reading Forbes’ website last week, then you would’ve come across an interesting article concerning predicted trends for the logistics industry in 2015. Sarwant Singh, a Senior Partner in Frost & Sullivan lists a total of 15 likely trends to occur in 2015 with common threads between all of them being Information & Communication technology providing new avenues for production, solutions, and business models; and societal trends transforming the corporate, market, and personal landscapes.

The entire article is excellent and is a must read for anyone curious about the opportunities afforded by the evolving logistics industry. For this blog post, I would like to focus on three key trends listed in the article as, in my opinion; are the biggest deviations from the status quo in the logistics industry.

Moving toward Zero Latency

The world will prepare itself for faster processing speeds and faster response times. The next few years will see a move toward zero latency and human unnoticeable delays providing real-time experiences. This will increasingly be embedded into workflows and other processes.

The collapse in latency times in just the last few years has been astounding. The old expectation of same month delivery from traditional post service evolved to same week. This year saw same-day delivery become the standard for e-commerce companies such as Ebay, Amazon and even Google. However, even this hasn’t been quick enough with Amazon’s same-hour delivery service for its Prime members which it revealed last week.

The move toward zero latency is not only a massive drive for innovation in the logistics industry (such as Amazon’s delivery drones and DHL’s massive pledge of investment into creating more efficient supply chain networks in China), but also a key way in how many supply-side companies are marketing themselves to customers.

Transparency is the New Green

Increasingly pervasive analytics and collaborative platforms would make data and processes more transparent than ever before. Governments, corporations, organizations, communities, supply chains and even individuals will be more accountable and liable for policies, decisions and strategies.

Customer interactions with businesses of years past were very binary for the most part. A customer wanted or required a product, and a business provided it wholly formed. Questions such as where it came from, how it came to be weren’t asked and businesses weren’t forthcoming with the answers. The logistics industry was no different as the levels of supplier tiers, volume of oversee transactions, and technological limitations complicated the matter further for many companies in the industry.

The change in philosophy has been swift and pervasive in the last few years as large international companies such as Starbucks, Levi’s, and even McDonald’s and Amazon have embraced more open business models.

Our post last week focused on this trend, but suffice to say, greater transparency in the industry is good all-around as it offers customers more information, accountability, and ultimately better choices.

Women Focused Strategies

As the policymakers debate and implement policies increasing quota for women in boardrooms in 2015, we will see a lot more women focused strategies across companies in different sectors.

The industry of logistics has long been a “Gentleman’s Club”. As outlined in the Morai Logistics Infographic focusing on women in the logistics industry, compared to other industries women still have some room to catch up at all levels in the logistics and supply chain industry.

However, not only have more women been getting into the industry, but women focused strategies overall has been on the rise.

In a past article we wrote about how companies are realizing the benefits of supplier diversity go beyond the “social good.” We are now at an age where companies are starting to find that supplier diversity programs can be fiscally beneficial through ROI, and lead to bridge-building into the untapped force that is women-owned businesses.

All-in-all, 2015 will be an exciting year for the logistics industry.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Last week, the Association of American Railroads reported that Mexican intermodal volume reached a high that has not been seen in the last two years. More and more, Mexican shippers have been turning to rail in order to move their goods. In fact, Journal of Commerce claims that Mexico’s intermodal industry is seen as the industry’s quickest-growing sector. Volume of shipments using intermodal transportation has soared about 31% year-over-year to 14,238 units leading up to last week. Carloads for Mexico also increased by approximately 38%, reaching a total carload of 19,745 units.

We’ve mentioned in a previous white paper that nearshoring to Mexico for North American manufacturing has many advantages, one of them being that cross-border logistics to Mexico, through the efforts of governmental intervention and NAFTA, has been improving heavily especially in intermodal transportation requirements. Combine that with rising ocean transport costs, peak season surcharges, and the rising wages in China and you get a prime contender for a tangible, competitive consideration for nearshoring.

One of Mexico’s largest container port, Lazaro Cardenas, has been showing a steady increase in intermodal demand. Efforts to meet the growing demand is shown in the influx of inextments and developments such as the APM Terminal’s deep water terminal which is expected to become operational by 2016.

By the beginning of this month, Mexico contributed to the overall increase in growth for North American intermodal volume. Of the 13 North American railroads, a total of 347,857 units in intermodal volume was reported (a 5.4% increase in volume compared to the same week last year).

Factors that Affect Mexican Intermodal Business

Intermodal rail in Mexico has some great advantages with regards to cross-border logistics, adding more incentive to nearshore as a strategy for North American manufacturing. Below are some facts that show how both incentives from Mexico and the US governments are leveraging their neighbouring border towards a better solution.

  • With the right documents, clearance can take as little as 30 minutes for a 250-foot container, compared to the two hours it takes for a single-container truck.
  • BNSF Railway launched its first all-rail US-Mexico service in May to help facilitate faster movement between borders by partnering with Ferromex (a Mexican railroad).
  • AMP Terminal is currently developing a new deep-water terminal to launch by 2016.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

This week we’re continuing our infographic series on The Benefits of Nearshoring. We’re focusing more on Mexico and how efforts in both infrastructure have affected how it has developed in recent times. We’ve also taken a look at how the auto industry is ripe for a nearshoring move for American companies.

Mexico and Nearshoring

Mexico has set itself up to being in a good position for the main nearshoring or reshoring target for companies in North and South America, but especially the United States. Companies in the US are in a perfect position, depending on the industry and logistics needs, as Mexico offers an attractive location and cost (due to China’s rising wages) but also more control over manufacturing & delivery schedules when compared to supply chain and logistics operations overseas.

Mexico and the Automotive Industry

Major automotive manufacturers, such as Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors (GM) have already been operating in Mexico since the 1930s. These companies have spearheaded the nearshoring move in the auto industry and other companies like Toyota, Nissan, Honda, BMW, Volkswagen, and Mercedes Benz have followed suit.

Check out our infographic below to see how Mexico is continuing its trend towards being a very real consideration for American manufacturers looking to optimize their supply chain while cutting costs.

Morai-Logistics-Infographic-Nearshoring-Pt-2

 

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons
In the recent years, China and Mexico have been battling to be the prime hub spot for logistics operations in North America. While there are still advantages of offshoring to China, for example their already established work force and prime manufacturing facilities, when it comes down to it cost and time are the prime factors for the change. We will be discussing the expected advantages for nearshoring as well as present some statistics that support the trend that suggest that nearshoring, especially for companies that are looking to build manufacturing plants, is the better option.

Top 5 Expected advantages of Nearshoring

Inbound Logistics Magazine released and analysis of the status of the logistics and supply chain industry in Latin America. Below is an excerpt of survey respondents based on research by AlixPartners of the top five expected advantages of nearshoring:

  • Lower Freight Costs
  • Improved Speed-to-Market
  • Lower Inventory Costs
  • Time-Zone Advantages
  • Improved Cultural Alignment with North American Managers

Nearshoring is becoming more and more attractive as geopolitical changes, and factors such as rising fuel costs, have been affecting the main attraction for China: lower total cost for logistics operations. By 2015, China’s wages are expected to rise to $6 USD, and by this point it will no longer be cheaper than Mexico’s flat wages.

3 Statistics on Mexico as an Advantageous Nearshoring Move

Statistics since our initial post on our case study exploring Mexico as a prime logistics hub has shown that the trend to nearshore is not just very real, but also becoming more and more attractive. Logistics Management’s report exploring how US manufacturing costs are now equal to Mexico and how costs will be equal to China by 2015 seem to be confirmed as we near 2015. The following are statistics that we found that further solidify this trend:

1 – The full landed cost of Chinese production rose from 2005-2010 to 87% of US costs, while Mexican costs fell to 75% of US costs.
Source: Lilly and Associates

2 – Ocean freight from Altamira, Mexico to the port of Miami takes 6 days while a similar shipment from China can take up to a month to arrive.
Source: Lilly and Associates

3 – China’s fuel costs grew at approximately 20 percent per year in the past few years.
Source: Supply Chain Brain

China has some challenges to compete with the attraction of nearshoring to Mexico, and indeed efforts are being taken in order to control the rising fuel costs and the new minimum wage standards in order to remain a strong competitor as an offshoring option for North America. But the concept of nearshoring is now not just a real avenue of exploration, it simply cannot be ignored for those in the North American logistics and supply chain industry.

If you’re interested in finding out more Mexico as a solution for your logistics and supply chain needs, check out our white paper on Mexico and Third Party Logistics!

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!

3 Reasons to Partner with a 3PL Provider
3 Reasons to Partner with a 3PL Provider

Why do companies look to outsource their logistics processes? The primary reason is that companies expect third-party logistics providers (3PLs) or logistics service providers (LSPs) to run all transporting and warehousing operations more efficiently, and at a lower cost, than they can run it themselves. The services that 3PLs provide can include all of the steps along the supply chain from origin to destination depending on the type of partnership. Furthermore, multiple 3PLs can take care of different aspects of your logistics needs (one that specializes in small package deliveries for one product line and another for larger shipments, etc.).

Take advantage of this free white paper today to learn about the logistics and supply chain industry by filling out this form below. If you subscribe to our content by checking yes (it’s optional!) to our e-mail subscription form will send you updates on our next White Paper or other digital assets as they become available. We will also never share your information.

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  • Benefits of outsourcing third-party logistics services.
  • What makes a 3PL provider a good one.
  • Current state of the logistics industry for 3PL.
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That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!