Do you store a high volume of products within the four walls, floor, and ceiling of a warehouse? If you do, look around for a moment. What do you see? Products, right? What else do you see? That looks like Joe’s stuff over there in the corner. Over there on the table there’s a bunch of food, plates, garbage, etc. Oh, and on the shelves next to the products to the left, there is a lot of stuff that’s not even identifiable at first glance.
Newsflash: Messy warehouses cause problems!
What’s Going On with Your Warehouse?
Problems with employee safety, inventory, and organization result in a warehouse that is not kept in presentable condition. The profitability of a site can be impacted by too many warehouse workers tripping over shrink wrap, pallets, and other encumbrances in warehouse aisles.
Sure, some warehouses are more difficult to clean than others. Gravel and dust from unsealed floors or parking lots is difficult to clean up, for example. But more negative issues can result from a dusty floor than just accidents. When your warehouse is clean, confidence and pride in the business are more likely to be present.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that, just because you know where something is located and can go right to it, your warehouse isn’t messy. You may not see the mess that you walk by every day. But to others, a sloppy warehouse can signal problems of a deeper nature with a business and a facility.
Let’s take a look at some of the other problems that can arise from a messy warehouse.
Impedes the Improvement Process
You won’t be able to get a good handle on how you can improve your facility or the picking process if, in no logical order, returns are mixed with mismatched inventory in a jumble of disorganization.
Productivity can be bottlenecked if, to access a pick location, you need to move pallets out of the way. Valuable energy and time are wasted if an employee, to fulfill an order, has to paw through return bins, search for missing inventory, and shuffle boxes around.
Employee Morale Suffers
As just suggested, if employees have to go through ridiculous steps just to pick an order, the morale of those employees is going to suffer. If an employee sees disorganization within the warehouse, they may begin to wonder how disorganized the entire company is. If you don’t care enough to keep the facility clean, one has to wonder, how much do you really care about your employees?
Management Problems Are Created
If the employees don’t like a dirty warehouse, wait until the CEO gets a load of it! The supervisor of a messy warehouse shouldn’t be surprised if they lose their job when the higher-up bosses see that mess. If an individual (as a supervisor) can’t control their domain, they certainly can’t manage the CEO’s business.
Potential Clients Can Be Dissuaded
On occasion, clients visit warehouses. A supplier or visitor that sees a disorganized warehouse might automatically assume that late shipping, inaccurate picking, and other problems exist. Clients want to know that the warehouse and the staff within are dependable and organized. A messy warehouse exhibits everything but!
STC Logistics can help with warehousing and fulfillment. Contact us today if you like to find out more about the services we offer, and how we can be of assistance to your facility, your business, and your industry.
There can be so many choices of software when it comes to logistics management that it’s hard to decide which one is best. What’s perfect for you may not be ideal for another company, and vice versa. Which software you choose could have a drastic impact on your business, so you must choose wisely.
Let’s take a look at a little bit of information as it applies to logistics management software and how to make that wise choice.
Success in This Competitive World
Internal efficiency is a huge factor in the success of today’s enterprise. Of course, the delight of its customers is also essential. Seamless logistics and a well-oiled supply chain are important if a company is going to fulfill both of those goals. Without the right logistics management software, that can be difficult.
What should logistics management software do? Basic functions include warehouse operations that enhance efficiency and productivity, improve customer satisfaction, and save money. Everything from inventory control to supply chain planning is covered by a comprehensive suite. Additional coverage will include transportation routine streamlining, slotting and shipping, packing, and other warehouse functions. A good software program enforces greater control over operations, improves transparency, and co-opts logistics tracking software.
There are stand-alone suites and also comprehensive suites. The latter covers all needed activities. If a comprehensive suite is not utilized, you must somehow be able to experience a seamless integration between the various suites classified as stand-alone.
Capabilities held by a top rated logistics management software would include the following:
- The capability to tap into other partners and all desired 3PL.
- Draw critical information.
- In the form of actionable information, make presentations to stakeholders.
Above and Beyond
Warehouse operations management is the core of logistics software. Helping maintain supply chain control and offering visibility is the job of logistics tracking software. But, to aid tactical planning, the offer of visibility must be surpassed with superb logistics tracking software.
What does success depend on?
- Easy to use dashboards delivered to the right stakeholders (preferably, through easy to use mobile apps that facilitate anytime, anywhere access)
- Integrating all critical solutions
- A well-integrated logistics software solution
As important as visibility is, however, a “what to do next insight” must be used in combination with visibility. Among today’s successful logistics players, embedded analytics is in high demand.
Advanced analytics tools will be needed as data and business becomes more complex.
Don’t Rock the Boat With Your Software
A good logistics software system will not disrupt operations already in existence. Review functionality features before choosing your software. Consider the following for each feature:
- What problems or issues will it solve?
- What are the benefits of bringing it to the table?
- Why is it needed?
- Additionally, be able to explain how this new software will combine with your current, existing logistics operations.
How to Solve All Your Logistics Problems in One Easy Step
With all of that said, there’s a much easier way to make sure that all of your logistics are taking care of. The knowledgeable representatives of STC Logistics can help with everything from crating and packing to warehousing and fulfillment – and everything in between.
Since 1992, we have been the go-to logistics company for numerous businesses. Our credentials include SmartWay, IATA, Globallink, CNS (an IATA company), the Transportation Security Administration, and more.
Contact us today if you have any questions or would like to find out how partnering with STC Logistics can be beneficial for you and your business.
There are numerous benefits for a scaling business when outsourcing e-commerce warehousing to a 3PL provider (third-party logistics provider). Good 3PL providers are experts in the following fields:
- Keeping track of pallets
- Paying rent
- Maintaining equipment
- Hiring warehouse workers
- All necessary operational tasks
But that’s not all. All those tasks can be completed by 3PL’s more efficiently, cheaper, and quicker than in the company’s own warehouse.
The Advantages of 3PLs
As an example of the benefits of using a 3PL, some recent data points are listed below. An outsourcing study found the following:
- 3PL fixed logistics cost reduction – an average of 23%
- 3PL inventory cost reduction – an average of 6%
- 3PL logistics cost reduction – an average of 11%
To find the perfect 3PL provider for your company, there are a handful of questions you will need to answer.
What Do You Require?
As they apply to your company, regarding your metrics and needs that matter most, where does the 3PL stand? Get the 3PL to provide answers to these questions:
- How quickly do they respond to changes?
- Do they exhibit ongoing process and cost improvements?
- In the event of a recall, how do they find a product’s location?
- How do they manage parameters for stock rotation?
Beyond the basics, does the 3PL offer business solutions and intelligence? As an example, an introduction of you (and other e-commerce clients) to technology providers related to your field would be a nice perk offered by a good 3PL.
Can You Define Capacity and Abilities?
Look at the talent of the 3PL being considered. How deeply does it run? Nearly half of today’s shippers consider the experience of a specific 3PL in the industry in which the shipper is involved when they rate 3PLs in general.
Disasters happen. In the case of a disaster, is the 3PL prepared? What is their plan for the following?
- Water-related transportation disruptions
- Technology outages
- Labor stoppages/shortages
- Disaster preparedness and other risks
How Is the Money?
You’ve probably heard the old adage “Money makes the world go ‘round.” Businesses rely on money – there can be no doubt. Financially speaking, how strong is the 3PL? Your 3PL is a type of partner – and a partner should have the available resources for an investment (of sorts) in your company.
Is Your Company Growing?
The ideal answer to this question would, of course, be a resounding “Yes!” So, let’s just say that your business is growing exponentially. Will that 3PL be able to keep pace? Key factors are scalability and flexibility. Not only must they be able to handle your current requirements, as requirements change in the future (while your company grows), your chosen 3PL must be able to adapt.
Technology Is Constantly Changing – Is the 3PL?
If there’s one thing that’s constant, particularly where technology is concerned, it’s change. Ironic, isn’t it? Find out how much of the annual IT budget of the 3PL you are considering is spent on innovation-related projects. Your company’s roadmap and IT strategy must be completely aligned with the 3PL’s.
The representatives of STC Logistics can answer all of the above questions in the most positive and helpful way possible. Our 3PL capabilities are exceptional. We are committed to providing the most efficient and effective solutions in logistics and technology. We place no limit on destination, size, or weight – worldwide. We will deliver flexible, superior solutions, on a daily basis, to meet the logistics requirements of our clients. Contact us today to find out more.
In the logistics industry, topics about technology and chain efficiency are widely discussed. Oftentimes, certain technical lingo can be confusing for people who are not seasoned industry specialists or thought leaders. In this post, we are going to explain what NMFC codes are why they are important to companies in the freight and logistics industry.
What are NMFC Codes?
Regulators within the logistics industry, referred to as NMFTA (National Freight Traffic Association), created NMFC (National Motor Freight Classification) codes when they realized there was a need for more effective standardization. This body created a classification system for every type of freight in an effort to standardize freight pricing and establish fair measures.
The system has 18 different freight classes and it is catalogued with NMFC tariffs. Numbers between 50 and 500 are used to define the 18 freight classes, and are often used by carriers and shippers to set shipping rates.
Four primary factors that help to define a freight class include:
- Stowability: This refers to how easily a product’s dimensions can easily fit into the carrying container or vessel. If a product is extremely large, hazardous, or extra heavy, it can be difficult to stow on a trailer, thus raising costs. The higher the stowability, the lower the classification of the freight.
- Liability: Products that are fragile, refrigerated, or perishable pose a greater liability and so they are classified in a higher class.
- Ease of handling: When freight is easy to handle, it is classified in a lower class. If freight is difficult to handle, it is placed in a higher class.
- Density: The higher the amount of space a shipment takes up on a trailer relative to its weight, the higher the class it is placed in.
Carriers and shippers use these factors to determine the cost of moving freight. If the freight cannot be accurately classified, it may lead to dangerous situations and inefficiencies.
How to Find the Correct NMFC Number
In order to find the NMFC number to your specific shipment, you need to consult with a freight company. The freight company will help you classify the shipment, which will then help to determine the shipping costs. It is important to deal with transport providers who use provisions of the NMFC because they are the only ones allowed to participate in the classification system. The disadvantage of using freight companies, which do not include tariff provisions of the NMFC in contracts, is that they can set rates as they see fit.
The Importance of the NMFC Number
Before shipping your packages, always ensure that you find out the NMFC number that applies to your intrastate or foreign shipment. This number will ensure that you are fairly charged for the shipments. If you don’t have the NMFC number, you will not have a baseline to determine if you are being overcharged for shipping.
To determine which NMFC class one’s shipment falls under, he or she must first calculate the freight class codes. By doing this, buyers and sellers can estimate their freight shipping costs with greater accuracy and ultimately improve their bottom lines. When it comes to freight class calculations and shipment preparations, there are various important details to keep in mind:
An Overview of Freight Class Factors
- Density: This is the measurable amount of space your freight takes up (measured by pound per cubic foot). Oftentimes, it is used to determine one’s freight class code and freight shipping cost.
- Ease of handling: This indicates if one’s shipment requires special attention, is hazardous or fragile, and is easy or difficult to handle.
- Liability: High value commodities and freight often belong to a higher freight class because of the increased risks of theft and/or damage.
- Stowability: Is your freight stackable, hazardous, flammable, or perishable? These factors often determine if your goods can be shipped with other materials. This, however, depends on the regulations that apply to each case.
How to Calculate Freight Class
Now that you have a basic understanding of freight class, below are the important steps to take when calculating freight class:
- Measure the depth, width, and height of each item in the shipment (make sure that you are measuring to the farthest points as well).
- Multiply the three measurements to acquire the total cubic inches of the shipment (height x width x depth). If you are shipping multiple items, repeat the step for each item and then add everything up at the end.
- Calculate the cubic feet of the shipment by dividing the total cubic inches by 1,728.
- Finally, calculate the density of the shipment (pounds per cubic foot) by dividing the shipment’s weight (in pounds) by the total cubic feet. If you are shipping multiple items, remember to first add the weight of each piece together before dividing.
Why are Freight Class Calculations Important?
Also known as NMFC (National Motor Freight Class) codes, freight class codes are a set of standardized freight pricing that ensures fair practices within the freight industry. These codes often come in handy when you are shipping freight that is considered less-than-truckload (LTL). In addition, NMFC codes determine the transportability of your shipment and how much fees you have to pay.
Reducing Freight Class Shipping Charges
Since density is the main factor that is considered during freight shipping, it is a good idea to keep your dimensional weight low. This means that your shipment should take up as little space as possible on the truck to lower freight classification and increase cost savings. Another method is to accurately classify what you are shipping so that your company does not incur additional costs from classification errors.
If you are using a pallet or crate for your shipment, be sure to factor the weight of the packaging when calculating the weight of the shipment. This is important as packing materials can greatly affect the final weight of the shipment, its shipping class code, and cost.
Pop-up stores are becoming increasingly popular these days. As studies would suggest, a business becomes sustainable not only by having new customers. It is by building a strong and loyal customer base that will give you enough time to flourish and not just merely keep afloat. Pop-up stores are effective in boosting brick-and-mortar brands by immersing in the target market.
A pop-up store is simply a temporary space that retailers use to expand their footprints and help build their brands. Here are effective methods you can employ to optimize your pop-up store and so that it will serve its purpose well.
Find the Right Location
It is critical to choose the right location where to set up a pop-up store. Malls are opening their doors to pop-ups by offering a variety of store space and floor plans for kiosks and carts. There is an advantage if you will get a location where foot traffic is busy. Malls are consistently busy thereby giving you more chances of being noticed by shoppers. There is also an option to have a store-in-a-store set-up if you are looking for a highly relevant audience.
Preparation is Essential
Putting up a pop-up should not be done in a hurry. Although you are only going to use a small area, make sure that you have enough materials to create a design that fits your brand. Being creative in the design of your pop-up will help entice the customers to see what you can offer to them.
The use of digital technology is encouraged in order to promote interaction with the potential customers. For example, you can create an Instagram account for your store so you will have a venue to tell customers when and where your next pop-up event will be. It can also serve as a communication channel for you to provide quick answers to their inquiries.
It is also essential to teach your staff, whether they are temporary or not, about what their roles are going to be. Organize a training program that is specifically prepared for your staff to learn how to handle real customers. This is important especially when they are used to interacting with customers over the internet. Face-to-face interactions can be difficult for many people so you must ensure that your staff will wear their best game face on the day of your pop-up event.
Never oversell especially if you have an online shop since it can easily destroy your reputation as a seller. If you are using warehousing solutions, like cross-docking, take the time to prepare the stocks in order to avoid problems that may affect inventory management.
Offer Convenient Options
Shoppers nowadays are crazy about convenient ways to shop. If you are selling products that need more time to prepare, offer options for shipping and delivery. There are companies who can work with you to help out with transporting and warehousing processes of your products. Specify the delivery options, fees, and other common issues related to this style of product distribution.
Though we may not want to think about it quite yet, the holidays are nearly upon us. This means that, very soon, we will have to move on from back-to-school to the holiday shopping season, cyber Monday, Black Friday, and more. This can lead to some challenging shipping, warehousing, fulfillment, etc. issues. Fortunately, using shipping best practices (or a reliable logistics company) can make these challenges more manageable.
Here are a handful of tips to handling the seasonal rush.
Define Your Shipping Process
Part of this process of definition is to actually write things down. This will help to inform and assist volunteers and team members, during even the busiest periods, with fulfilling orders.
How is this done? For the next few orders you ship, pay close attention. If you have a fulfillment handling team, check with them. Write down each step and how long it takes to execute.
When all is written down, examine it closely. What can you do to create a more efficient process – cut back on time spent? Are there any bottlenecks?
Saving More Time
Once you’ve reviewed your process and cut wasted or unnecessary time, you can save time in other areas as well. For example, buy labels ahead of time and keep them in storage. Printing labels ahead of time is also doable if you know what the demand will be for specifically printed labels. Both printed and non-printed labels can be kept in bulk for future use.
Other Shipping Supplies
Of course, shipping supplies consist of more than just labels. So, when it comes to other supplies needed for shipping and order fulfilling, stock up on those as well to save time. Be sure to keep an accurate inventory of your shipping supplies. Not running out of something will help to eliminate costly, unnecessary delays.
Items here could pertain to printer ink, the aforementioned labels, express flat rate and priority mail packaging, and more. Do you have enough credit on your postage meter?
Setting Up a Strategy
You stocked up on supplies. You got your process all in place and defined. Now, what will your shipping charges consist of?
Below are some shipping/charge options. Determine which one, or combination, will best suit your needs:
- International shipping – This can be tricky. Just because you’re not involved in it now, doesn’t mean you won’t be in the future. As your business grows, your shipping demands may increase.
- Exact cost shipping – Whatever it’s going to cost you to ship the item, your customers will see it. That’s what they pay. If you get discounts, they’ll get discounts.
- Flat rate shipping – Here you will need to decide on a standard shipping rate that will do two things: a) cover most of your shipping costs and b) cover them most of the time. That is the rate you will charge everyone for everything.
- Free shipping – This is, of course, the most attractive shipping method for your customers. But is right for you? It can be pricey even with Shopify, Canada Post, DHL, UPS, and USPS discounts. You have to take a moment and make a very careful examination of long-distance shipping, shipping heavy items, rates, and profit margins before you offer this.
Of course, all of the above can be very nearly eliminated by partnering with STC Logistics. Even during the busiest of seasons, we can take the worry out of things like warehousing, inventory management, fulfillment, shipping, and so much more. You have enough to do, with manufacturing and running your company. Let us help you with the rest. Contact us today to find out more.
Today, a wide range of logistics solutions exist to transport materials and substances of different classifications and priorities. Certain goods need to be transported by hand and this often leads to companies using the on-board courier (OBC) option. Also known as hand carry shipments, OBC involves the expedited transportation of fragile goods, perishables, antiques, or other materials of extreme importance that are needed in an emergency. As the items often require someone to hold it during the entire logistics process, the courier will carry the item onto the plane and then deliver it by hand to the client’s location.
A Growing Demand for On-Board Courier Services
The need for OBC and other specialty air shipping services has been gradually growing from its all-time-high since 2001. If you want to know if an on-board courier service is the right choice for you, you have come to the right place!
When Should You Use On-Board Courier Services?
- When the buyer or seller needs it the item urgently
From sentimental items to industrial materials, many items are needed urgently across the country or the world. In this case, using an on-board courier service is recommended as it is one of the fastest methods of getting the item to its destination.
- When the items are perishables
Various multi-national organizations depend on a few high value products that might require testing or certification on a global stage. Because some of their samples may be perishable, they need to expedite their shipments securely via OBC. In fact, healthcare companies, chemical companies, and biological research organizations often use such services to transport their perishable and high value samples and products.
- When high value commodities need to be shipped
Certain items might cause the company to lose millions of dollars if they get damaged or lost along the way. In this case, these companies are better off shipping their items via OBC. Common examples include high-end jewelry and tech-related prototypes.
What are the Benefits of On-Board Courier Solutions?
Although it might seem redundant to fly someone halfway across the world to send a package or two in hand. Certain items, however, validate the OBC model. Below is a quick look at some of the main benefits of using OBC solutions:
- Highly secure
When an item is shipped via OBC, it will be listed as a property of the courier. This means that the item will always remain in the person’s possession. As most carry-on sized cargo is not checked into the aircraft, there are fewer chances of the item being sabotaged, stolen, mixed-up, and tampered.
- Easy to track
Given the nature of the goods being transported, the courier will provide constant updates for the client, e.g., live updates of the asset’s current location. This means that the client can enjoy optimal control of their shipment. Compared to regular courier services, OBC services tend to utilize the safest and fastest routes rather than just the economical ones.
- Protects high-value assets
specialty aviation components, high-value antiques, and Intellectual Property (IP) documentation are assets that are too sensitive to be delivered via regular courier services. Therefore, on-board courier services ensure that these items can be shipped at a moment’s notice while keeping their intended use and/or value intact.
Freight forwarding, otherwise known as logistics, is the implementation of actions that enable smooth distribution of goods from one place to another. The complex operation is consists of incorporating management and organization of the steps that must be followed in transferring the goods from the point of origin and its consumption as they reach the customers. Almost all kinds of industries that involve physical products are relying on logistics not only for material handling. The logistics company may also take care of the packing, inventory, warehousing, and transporting of the products.
Domestic and International Freight Forwarding
Domestic freight forwarding is simply the distribution of products within a country. Both shipper and receiver (and the goods) are within the country boundaries. As for international freight forwarding, the products reach far and wide, beyond the boundaries of the country of origin. Local and international freight forwarding are different mainly because of the geographic scope of operation. Here is a comparison of the different aspects that concern both domestic and international logistics.
Most domestic freight forwarding services require only one manager to oversee the operations. The scope of action or flow of goods are planned and executed in a very basic manner. The movement of products is easily tracked since there are only two points of operations: the shipper and the recipient.
With international freight forwarding, more people and teams are involved in the operations. The corporate logistics manager has several counterparts on all countries where the company operates. It is required to have a detailed plan on the execution of actions since there are a lot of steps involved in the distribution processes.
For domestic freight forwarding, a variety of transportation options may be used to move the goods and road transport is usually the most preferred option. In international freight forwarding, there are limitations on the mode of transportation, depending on the point of destination. Freight forwarding companies offer a range of multi-modal global cargo transport solutions. Some may be transported by rail only, by flight, by sea, or a combination of these for a single transaction. Some drawbacks, such as air transport being expensive and sea freight being the cheapest but also the most challenging option, must also be considered.
Both domestic and international freight forwarding has to consider the costs involved for transportation, manpower, technology, and storage facilities. International freight forwarding has some additional costs to take note since there is a need to pay for tariffs, taxes, currency exchange and fees fluctuations.
Supply Chain Associations
Building trustworthy business relationships is the cornerstone of freight forwarding. It is easier to gain the trust of domestic partners compared to international partners. Different country regulations, economic roadblocks, and geographic locations are the different challenges that must be overcome to succeed in this type of industry.
Freight forwarding is a growing industry. If you are going to include logistics to your business, It is essential that you understand the factors that make up the chain of command for both domestic and international freight forwarding.
In the most basic terms, temperature controlled freight shipping means moving goods that are climate sensitive. For instance, you only want your chocolate melting in your mouth, your flowers blooming, and your produce fresh and tasty. From dock to dock, those items must be maintained in a stable temperature, and that requires special storage and handling.
Fortunately, with reefers (refrigerated trailers) and other refrigerated shipping methods in place, unaffected products are delivered every day. Let’s take a close look at temperature controlled freight shipping.
Freight Value and Temperature Sensitivity Prioritization
You must first identify critical shipping needs to have the most cost-effective and efficient logistics in place. As far as security requirements, speed, and temperature stability are concerned, not all items are equal. Figure out what’s perishable and what isn’t. Overall cost is most likely to be impacted with items over which temperature has an influence. Standard shipping options may well be appropriate for items that are less sensitive. For high-value items, a tailored logistics approach is advisable.
Limitations on Refrigerated Freight Packaging
There is less capacity in refrigerated freight trucks than in others. Truck space is reduced because of the insulated walls. This should have a direct reflection on your crating and packaging. Additionally, payload capacity is affected by the weight of the equipment used to control temperatures.
With the carrier of your products, be sure to address all temperature guidelines. Proper parameters are more likely to be used if you lay out all the specifics ahead of time.
Temperature controlled docks are also used to help secure items that are highly temperature sensitive. Additionally, to maintain the cold chain properly and reduce the alteration of inside trailer temperatures, drivers are advised to keep the doors closed until it’s absolutely necessary to open them.
The Best Packaging for the Job
Crating and packing, when done correctly, can protect your perishable items from humidity or extreme temperatures, even if they are exposed to harsh environments. To reduce heat transfer through the container walls of packaging, insulation is recommended. There are numerous types of insulation used in the shipping industry.
Dry ice and gel coolants are used for cool items that are considered temperature sensitive. Because of the leak potential and heaviness of wet ice, gel coolants are preferred over wet ice. If dry ice is being used for temperature control, some things must be provided. These are as follows:
- IATA compliant outer packaging labeling and markings
- Correct identification
To absorb any liquids, it’s advisable to have paper towels, cellulose wadding, or pads under the shipment when shipping frozen items.
A Freight Service Provider That Is Trustworthy
When you join forces with a logistics partner such as a freight service provider, the following benefits can apply:
- LTL services that are temperature controlled covering much of North America and the United States
- Visibility to trace and track shipments
- A single point of contact for your company’s LTL and temperature controlled truckload shipments
- A wide array of business relationships
- Thorough beverage and food knowledge
When handling things like shipments that are temperature controlled, there are a lot of requirements to consider. To make sure your shipment is on the right track, you have to think about preparation, support, tools, etc. The specialists at STC Logistics can help. Contact us today to see how we can be of assistance where other logistics matters are concerned as well.