Hello everyone! We hope you’re enjoying your summer so far. This week we’d like to focus on increasing awareness about the logistics industry as a whole. There is a growing number of people outside of the logistics and supply chain industry who are now trying to become more aware of where their products are coming from and the entire process behind getting it delivered to your doorstep. So we scrounged the web to find you not just one online video series on logistics, but three!

1 – Introduction to Supply Chain Management

Arizona State University’s (ASU) W.P. Carey School of Business has released an open online video series on supply chain management in an effort to “inspire a new generation of supply chain management professionals across the country and around the world.”

2 – Supply Chain Brain’s Video Series

The folks over at Supply Chain Brain and Kinaxis have teamed up to create an online video series during their annual Kinexions Conference. They completed a set of video interviews with customers, analysts, and executives. While the videos mainly focus on attendees and people over at Kinaxis, they offer great insight from thought leaders in the industry and give a great overview on some specific topics in the logistics and supply chain industry.

3 – The Supply Chain Academy

The Supply Chain Academy is a special case for this list because it’s more than just a video series, they offer a series of massive open online courses (MOOCs) that grant you certificates by Dr. Simon Croon. He started this with colleagues at Warwick University in the hopes of providing a dynamic, engaging, and focused course series about the supply chain. The current course schedule is for sustainability and the global supply chain, but registration is now closed. Here’s the introductory video though:

Registration will open in July for the Fall 2013 class titled “The Management of Supply Chain Costs.” So if you’re serious about learning about the logistics and supply chain industry, we highly recommend registering and taking advantage of this free online course (you do get a certificate upon passing!).

We hope these videos provide you with a better grasp into the complex world of logistics and supply chain; getting products from point A to point B can be a very complex process! If you want to know what we do as a third party logistics provider (3PL) check out our core services. If you haven’t already check us out on Twitter (@MoraiLogistics), give us a follow or a @mention, we’re looking forward to engaging with you. Otherwise, stay tuned for next week’s post on our monthly Logistics Glossary Week series!

Oil Rail Train
Source: Geograph
Last month we took a look at the retail industry and how its supply chain is affected with regards to recent news. We’re continuing the series this month by exploring the crude oil industry. If you have been keeping up with recent news, last Saturday the town of Lac-Mégantic experienced an unexpected tragedy when 73 black rail tankers carrying pressurized containers of crude oil was derailed.

The train was parked for an overnight shift change, the tankers decoupled from their locomotives for an unknown reason (as of yet) and rolled downhill without any drivers into the town centre, derailing and setting off a series of explosions. The explosions caused fires that lasted for hours; about 30 building were destroyed and a death toll of at least 15 with dozens unaccounted for.

This tragedy has given light to concerns of the logistics behind crude oil transport and below we will take a look at how development in the crude oil supply chain has changed with regards to the modes of transportation and the factors that affect crude oil costs.

Crude Oil Transport Shifting to Rail

The revival of oil trains in North America stemmed from the Bakken shale in North Dakota due to fracking (i.e. hydraulic fracturing) creating a huge amount of product that needed to be moved without too many options with regards to the pipeline. This led to the oil industry turning to rail to move crude oil to refineries at the East and West Coasts as well as the Gulf Coast. This growth led to huge shipments of oil. For example, in Canada’s railroads alone rail transport for crude oil has gone from 500 carloads in 2009 to a predicted 130 000 to 140 000 this year, according to the Railway Association of Canada.

Apart from being a highly efficient mode of transport for crude oil, costs for train transport can also be lower due to the crude oil in trains being made entirely of tanker cars of oil. This effectively creates an above-ground pipeline and is more cost-effective than traditional the traditional mixed cars of boxcars, flatbeds, etc. (a.k.a. ‘manifest trains’).

Supply Chain Factors that Affect the End Cost of Oil

We’d like to finish this off with a look at two main factors, with regards to the logistics and supply chain aspects of oil transport, lead to changes in cost for the end user.

Mode of Transportation – As discussed above, consumer end cost rises if we limit train movement. If you change the cost from intermodal/rail to truck transport, costs will increase. Equipment shortages can also affect the prices of oil as in order to supply the demand, companies will have to seek alternative modes of transportation in order to meet consumer needs. Disasters along the supply chain can have a devastating impact on the price of oil, something we have already been made aware of in 2010 when the BP oil spill on the Deepwater Horizon rig happened.

Supply & Demand – Obviously one of the biggest factors that affect the end cost of oil is how much we have available to distribute and how much we need. There are also global oil inventories that affect pricing. Global oil inventories exist to balance the supply and demand. When production exceeds the demand for oil, the excess oil is stored. This way, when consumption exceeds the current supply of oil, the oil inventories can be tapped to meet the demand but could end up increasing cost for the end user.

We hope you enjoyed this month’s industry focus on the oil industry. If you liked this blog post and you want to read more of our content, don’t hesitate to subscribe to our blog. Or if you want more logistics and supply chain content throughout the day, follow us on Twitter! If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, feel free to check out our core services. Otherwise, we’ll catch you next week!

Hi everyone! Hope everyone had a great Canada day last weekend or if you’re in the United States, a great 4th of July! For this week we’d like to share with you a couple of cool logistics infographics that we’ve stumbled upon in the last little while that we thought were worth sharing.

1 – The Cost of Shipping

The Cost of Shipping
Source: Milo

2 – The Real Cost of Trucking in the US

The Real Cost of Shipping in the US
Source: Truckers Report

3 – Making Semi-Trucks More Efficient

Making Semi-Trucks More Efficient
Source: Truckers Report

4 – How Safe is US Rail?

How Safe is US Rail?
Source: Greater Memphis Chamber Access

We hope you found these infographics interesting, useful, and entertaining! Stay tuned next week for more updates on logistics and supply chain content! Feel free to check us out on Twitter (@MoraiLogistics) or check out our core services to see what we do as a third party logistics provider. Catch you next week!

DictionaryHi everyone, we hope you’re enjoying your summer so far! As mentioned in our previous post, we’re going to be continuing our end of the month Logistics Glossary Week, where we will be covering logistics terminology that you may or may not be familiar with that has to do with news that’s currently happening today. So let’s get started!

Third Party Logistics Provider

Definition: A 3rd party logistics or 3PL provider is a firm that provides multiple logistics services for use by customers. Usually these services are bundled to offer an integrated service solution. Common services are transportation, warehousing, cross-docking, inventory management, packaging, and freight forwarding. They can take manage any or all parts of the supply chain process and sometimes they can specialize in particular types of transport (for example alcohol, chemical, or refrigerated goods).

We’ve decided to kick off out Logistics Glossary Week with a definition of what a third party logistics provider actually does because the recent findings from the 24th annual ‘State of Logistics’ report by Penske Logistics. The results suggested that while the logistics industry should be prepared for a ‘new normal’ of slow growth, companies have started to become more reliant on 3PL services due to its potential to cut costs, as well as to have access to a body of supply chain experts who are comfortable and connected within the industry.

Freight Carrier

Definition: Freight carriers are companies that specialize in providing transportation of goods (i.e. freight) from one place to another, they can sometimes be referred to as ‘for hire’ carriers. Usually these companies own their own equipment and can have any or all of the following transportation services: trucking, rail, airlines, and ships.

This term is also relevant to the ‘State of Logistics’ report. While freight carriers offer different modes of transportation, we’d like to bring the focus on trucking. As you may have heard, the logistics industry is currently having a staffing problem with regards to trucking. Truck drivers were shown to have a fewest potential workers trained to fill the growing demand for them (trucking services rose 2.9%). As stated by the report, about 17% of the current driver population is under the age of 35, while a large proportion of truck drivers are on their way to retirement.

Cross-Border vs. Domestic Shipping

Definition: If you are shipping domestic, it means that your shipment is happening within the same country from origin to destination. Cross-border is the opposite, where packages at origin will have a final destination in a different country from origin.

We want to bring light to this definition because we recently ran into an interesting blog post that talked about a report issued by the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group on innovations that will change the supply chain. One of the things that are in development is a ‘smart’ visa system for automated check-in, security, and border control. This can potentially reduce the time it takes to cross borders by eliminating long lines at airport screening points and land border crossings while enhancing security. Biometric identity checks can also add to the speeding up of the processing. Furthermore, it has the potential to cut costs due to the fact that the visa applications could be standardized across multiple countries that would provide all relevant data to officials in all participating nations.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our second Logistics Glossary week post and that you have a wonderful long weekend (Happy Canada Day!). To keep up with our posts, and to see other content related to logistics and supply chain don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our blog! If you’re interested in what we do as a company, feel free to check out our services. Looking forward to seeing you in July!

The findings of the 24th annual ‘State of Logistics’ report by Penske Logistics was released by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) this week during their Annual Global Conference. While we’ve been a majority of articles suggesting that the outlook for the future of the logistics and supply chain industry is ‘slow growth.’ This is based on reports from the previous years’ showing relatively slow growth since the recession of 2007-2009.

This week, we’ve decided to focus on a more positive outlook from the results of the report by looking at a couple of strategies for companies to manage their companies to a more successful outcome in the coming years.

1 – Continue Planning to do More with Less

Rosalyn Wilson, the author of the ‘State of Logistics’ report states in her presentation this past Tuesday that since the great depression that the strategy has been to “do more with less.” In a continuation of previous years’ results, it seems that the ‘new normal’ in the logistics and supply chain GDP growth rate is between 2.5-4%.

She warns that these are due to higher unemployment levels and slower job creation and consumers are also more risk-averse. But this is not necessarily the case for all companies. The rise in e-commerce has changed the way inventory is distributed and managed. Also, new technologies are underway that can severely cut costs with regards to supply chain aspects like tracking and tracing (e.g. see RFID).

It seems that the solution is to keep companies light and to keep risk low for bigger companies. This is reflected in some good news for those in the 3rd party logistics sector. The report showed that third-party logistics has risen in revenues by 5.9% in 2012 as companies start to realize the value of outsourcing their logistics.

2 – Maintain Sustainability Strategies

In the realm of cost-cutting strategies, there is a great deal of promise in continuing to explore sustainability strategies in order to keep costs low throughout the supply chain. As discussed in a previous blog post, sustainability strategies have the primary motivation of being better for the environment. Strategies like relying on solar and wind power, as well as other green warehouse strategies (e.g. ‘smarter’ warehouses that control lighting and temperature, etc.) as a move to create a ‘net-zero’ warehouse have the added benefit of cutting costs in the long-term.

If this report is right to suggest that the logistics industry growth is going to be a sluggish one, this works out to be a great investment strategy for the long term as companies prepare have needed to rely on creating new sites. This was to accommodate for the fully absorbed warehousing capacity of 2012, which created a 7.6% increase in warehousing costs. Building better warehouses from the start seems to be the direction to head in for new construction projects.

3 – Focus on Education and Staff Retention

There is also a worrying report that there are several holes that will need to be filled in the ensuing years for the logistics industry. The results from the report show a growing need for companies to rely on part-time workers as opposed to adding new full-time staff. But as a long-term strategy, this might not be the smartest plan. Staff retention is something that the industry needs at this moment as a growing proportion of staff are looking to be on their way to retirement.

Furthermore, there is a need for people to fill certain positions along the supply chain that have been well-known for a while. For example, truck drivers have been shown to have the fewest potential workers trained to fill them. The results from the report have continued to reflect this, showing that 17% of the current driver population is less than 35 years of age while the staggering majority is on their way to retirement.

Companies are going to need to introduce the idea of logistics to the masses earlier on, there is still a lack of awareness of the logistics industry as a whole and it seems that in order to fill these positions, education is the way to go. There is some promise though, as new trends in higher education have seen the gap in lack of programs dedicated to the logistics and supply chain industry and have already piloted degree programs out in both the undergraduate and masters level. There are also initiatives to reach the high-school population as well!

A slow growth is not necessarily bad news, growth is still growth. US logistics costs rose to $1.33 trillion which is a 3.4% increase from last year. People will always need logistics services as global demand in getting products where they need to be continues to rise. The outlook for these companies should be a positive one and the spirit should be to rise to the challenges, hopefully to come out on top!

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. We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news! We’ll catch you next week!