New Look. Same Promise.

If you’ve been a partner of ours for one, 10 or 20 years, you might have noticed the facelift our site and branded materials received recently. Don’t worry, you can expect the same quality service you’ve received from us all along. We’ve just updated our brand face to better represent the company we’ve always been and the progression we continue to make.

Our new branding is more than a refresh, it’s a statement – a masthead for our community. It’s a promise to our clients. An infrastructure for our carriers. It also showcases our commitment to evolution and the service, quality and integrity Trans International represents as a brand.

Each colored swatch of our new logo represents Trans International’s corporate promise.

Our five “C’s”:

  • Company
  • Community
  • Clients
  • Carriers
  • Commitment

We’re excited about our new branding, which has also been applied to our social media platforms. We hope you’ll connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, if you haven’t already.

Driver Shortages, MAP-21 Changes and Driverless Tractors Ahead

Transportation & Logistics Council’s 40th Annual Conference:

On March 17, Trans International participated in the Transportation & Logistics Council’s 40th Annual Conference in Nashville, TN. This year’s conference had a record-breaking number of attendees, including shippers, carriers, brokers, 3PLs, attorneys and insurance brokers. It was a great crowd to network with and learn from.

For me, it was a chance to meet new people and take part in a unique educational opportunity. It’s not often that I get to hear from all sides of the transportation transaction in one venue.

One speaker of note was Jack Holmes, President of UPS Freight. Holmes talked about the “Customer Experience” and what it means to UPS. He discussed how the shortage of 250,000 drivers expected by 2022 will affect the price of transportation in the future. He also talked about “driverless tractors” and how this farfetched-sounding idea is not as implausible as we once may have thought. With driver shortages on the horizon, the research institutes (ATRI and NFAC) have been looking into a wide array of possibilities.

Administrator Anne Ferro of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was another engaging speaker. She covered carrier safety ratings, new Hours of Service Rules and MAP-21 legislation and detailed how each affects the broker and carrier environment. The FMCSA continues to monitor unsafe carriers to keep them off the road and keep our highways safe. One role of the FMCSA is licensing commercial motor vehicle drivers. Under the new MAP-21 rules, brokers have to meet licensing requirements to be considered “authorized brokers.” This change, which went into effect in 2011, thinned the broker market from over 23,000 brokers down to today’s 14,000 brokers.

Lastly, we heard from Michael Cole, Senior Director of North America Transportation at Kraft Foods. Cole shared Kraft’s transportation philosophy with us. He explained that the main focus at Kraft is to utilize shippers of choice and partner with core carriers in order to demonstrate transparency. In a further effort to exercise transparency, Kraft set up an advisory board for joint planning purposes. The board sits seven of Kraft’s top freight carriers who advise on best practices. Imagine sitting across the table from your competition and talking about your best practices; what a unique and beneficial opportunity. To keep their model steady, Kraft only allows their largest carrier to carry 6% of their volume. For a brand as large as Kraft, 6% is still a lot of volume – and the numbers prove it. Their freight demographics for 2013 included 500,000 shipments, 3,800 locations, 8,500 lanes, six primary modes (LTL, TL, Air, Rail, Intermodal, Backhaul), not to mention specialty freight like reefer and freezer trucks.

While in Tennessee, I also took the opportunity to visit a piece of local history – The Hermitage. The Hermitage is the former homestead of Andrew Jackson. The tour was fascinating and packed with history. We heard stories of the Westward movements and the changing role of women. It was a reminder of how far women have come in a relatively short time. Not long ago, it would have been unthinkable for a woman to be at the helm of a business – and today, Trans International is a WBENC certified company.

At the end of the trip, driving through Tennessee to Knoxville, the view of the sunset in the Smokey Mountains was breathtaking. It was a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the road while reflecting on all of the fresh insights I’d received about today’s transportation industry.

Did you attend this year’s Transportation & Logistics Council’s Conference? Or do you have thoughts about some of the topics discussed? I’d love to hear about them in a comment below.

Thanks,
Denise Lawien
Chief Operating Officer

 

Labor in the Supply Chain

In light of our most recent American holiday, Labor Day, we must take a moment to remember the achievements of those before us and their contributions to the world we have collectively made for ourselves.  Labor Day began as a street parade to celebrate the trade and labor organizations, initially, to right wrongs done unto Labor Unions during the Pullman Strike.  Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 and has been celebrated since on the first Monday of September.   To further commemorate the civil significance of the holiday, it became a tradition for community leaders, men and women, to give speeches on progress and their own experiences.

Labor Day has become much more casual as of late.  We often take that day of rest for granted. Those lucky enough to be employed celebrate employment by being unemployed for the day.  Marked by many as a great excuse to break out the barbecues, we have somewhat forgotten the significance of Labor Day and what our ancestors and fellow Americans went through to get us the working conditions we have today.  We must also remember that this is an ongoing struggle.  With a 7.4 percent unemployment rate and job creation lagging increasingly far behind our competitors there hardly seems reason to kick back and grill some burgers.

Just like every supply chain has a unique story, every supply chain has a unique labor story.  Labor is in a state of decline.  According to the Supply Chain Digest “labor is succumbing to a host of threats.  1) Too many unskilled workers for the number of blue collar jobs.  2) Ever-present threat that the work could be moved offshore or even just to lower cost/non-union area of the US.  3) Increasing threat of automation replacing the humans.”  Working conditions are often very poor, whether unionized or not, and those trying to make a living for themselves and their families can find it very difficult to make ends meet.

So where do we go from here?  It is easy list off solutions: create more jobs, keep labor local, create better working conditions…but how?  As workers contributing to the American workforce, we must come up with tactics to achieve these solutions and not just solutions alone.

Supply Chains must be sustainable and that includes the manual labor that goes into the flow of these supply chains.  Let’s get this conversation of labor in America going.

Why Should Freight Audit Be On Your Radar?

Paying a freight invoice without auditing it is a lot like blindly reaching into your wallet and handing a cashier everything you have in there without counting it.  Now, you wouldn’t do that would you?  No, you wouldn’t; that is why freight audit should be on your radar. Including freight bill auditing in your business model can recover anywhere from 10-12% of your annual transportation spend initially and 3-5% for long-term annual savings.

There are, of course, options for freight audit providers. Some businesses choose to audit their freight bills themselves, either manually or by using an electronic system. Others see the benefit of outsourcing their freight bills, cutting costs and saving time.

To help visual the cost differences of each auditing choice, here are the costs of processing bills as of 2012, according to American Shipper:

Domestic International
Average Shipper $6.97 $7.44
Outsourced $3.38 $4.39
In-house Systems $5.07 $6.47
In-house Manual $14.17 $15.26

As shown by the data above, the lowest cost option, for both Domestic and International invoices, is to outsource your freight payment process to companies that make Freight Audit their business. By outsourcing your freight bills you will be cutting head counts and spending substantially less while gaining a lighter workload.

TI offers multiple payment models, so that clients can choose the option best suited for their business.  We offer a “no float” option for the less risk tolerant but have maintained our float pricing option for clients looking to keep costs down.  With 6 different types of processing structures, the client has the opportunity to completely tailor their experience to fit their business model.  Trans International makes it our business to save your business time and money while still giving the process a customized feel.  When you pass off your freight bills, your business is still a part of the auditing process, sans the responsibility of doing the actual auditing.  We don’t want to leave you in the dust, we want to take you along for the ride, keeping you informed every step of the way.

Not only do our Freight Audit and Information Reporting (FAIR) services save you time and money, we also use the data from your freight invoices to create robust, ERP compatible reports so you can track and optimize your freight spend.  Your data is immediately available throughout our entire audit process.  Transparency is as important to us as it is to you.

Here are a few points to summarize why freight audit/Trans International should be on your radar:

  • Pre-audit saves you from issues with overcharges and duplicate payments, an audit will ensure you pay only what you owe.
  • We also recommend going further than just freight audit, we recommend outsourcing your freight bill processing to Trans International.  We have zero ulterior motives when handling your data and money.  Our goals are to save you money, time, and to keep you informed.
  • Using the services provided by Trans International, your company can expect a 3% to 5% recovery of your total transportation spend annually.  That’s cash back in the bank that you would not have had you not partnered with us.
  • In the last year, we saved our clients a combined $15.5 million.

Freight Audit is not a “should”, it is a “must”.  It is a time and money saver.  Freight Audit should be on your radar.

Every Supply Chain Has a Story

Each and every product sitting around you right now has a story. Where was that grown? What is this made of? Who put that together? Where has this been?

As consumers, we may think (without really thinking at all) that Product X has magically made its way, entirely in one piece, to the store around the corner but that just isn’t true. Every product you own has a story and has come together from many parts and those parts come together through the supply chain process.

A supply chain is just that, a chain. It is a process with many steps including logistics, planning, a lot of teamwork, and many different parts working together to form a whole. Every supply chain has a story.

The story begins in the production phase with raw material suppliers. Raw material suppliers provide to the tier 2 suppliers who in turn supply the tier 1 suppliers (a single business may be a tier 1 supplier to one firm and a tier 2 supplier to another, depending on what they supply). Tier 2 suppliers can be defined as the supplier’s supplier where as tier 1 means directly supplying the OEM, or original equipment manufacturer, (the company that produces the final product of the supply chain). Onto the post production side of product flow, we finally see the customers. The product is shipped from the manufacturer to the retailer who in turn sells the product to the consumer.

Your product, whether or not it is massed produced, passes through many hands on its way to yours. Throughout production, each and every product makes various stops along the way, creating the supply chain process. For the most part, every supply chain is unique, with different patterns, inter-weaving webs, third party assisters, and overall production plans.

Trans International is lucky enough to be able to play a role in many different supply chain operations. Our clients hail from a diverse array of industries: from tools to chemical engineering; from car parts to your everyday department store; packaging materials to boilers. We enter your supply chain story with our Freight Audit and Information Reporting (FAIR) services. We understand that profitability is the core of any effective business decision and stand by our commitment to increase profitability and cut costs for freight bill processing. Our clients range from tier 1 suppliers to OEMs, big or small we audit freight bills from companies of all sizes. Additionally, our role in your supply chain story does not stop with our FAIR services. Visit our website to learn more about our secure, customizable services.

Truly, every supply chain has a story. Parts come together from all over the world to create our material reality as we know it. Supply Chains are responsible for making that a reality and with great responsibility comes great costs. This is why Trans International should be a part of your supply chain story.

Supply Chainging: Readying for Supply Chain Evolution

“Supply Chainging” (no, not a typo):

Definition: noun

– the act of evolving your supply chain system to work with the times and industry       improvements.

If your supply chain business is planning on going anywhere other than down in flames, evolution is key. It’s a no-brainer that the supply chains of today are hardly recognizable in comparison to that of the supply chains of 50 years ago. Iinnovation plays a big part in supply chain evolution. In order to be the best of the best, your business must work with evolution to be the most efficient and cost effective, meaning that your processes must constantly evolve to stay ahead of the competition.

So what exactly does Supply Chainge entail? There are many factors to consider. New technology, global expansion, industry competition, and customer needs are all factors that are necessary to consider when evolving your supply chain system. Supply Chain evolution is a frequent topic of conversation as of late, Multichannel Merchant recently published an article about the evolution of the supply chain in the e-commerce age. New technology is a major factor in the changing of our supply chains, from both a business and customer standpoint.

There are certain moves your business can make to help your Supply Chainge go smoothly. Partnering with Trans International is one of them.

As stated on our website “Trans International will help you succeed by analyzing rate agreements and contracts for applicability, clarity and conformity with federal regulations. We research rail and motor classifications for current items applicable to various commodities.” We work to take you to the top of your potential and beyond.

Trans International is well-versed in supply chainging. At our beginnings, we offered post-audit services (evaluating a capital budgeting decision after implementation) but transitioned to pre-audit services (auditing a freight invoice before payment has been made) as the industry called for it. The business itself has evolved and grown as well. We have grown to become a successful Women-Owned Women’s Business Enterprise and the home of Freight Audit & Information Reporting (FAIR) customized solutions. We plan to evolve with the times to stay up to date in order to assist your company in the most effective way possible.

Supply Chainging is an ongoing process and much like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, only the strongest and most adaptable will survive. Is your business ready for Supply Chainge?

Sharing the Road

At some point in time we have all had to deal with sharing the road with semi-trucks, and it isn’t always easy.  And playing pickle in the middle with two huge semis isn’t the most pleasant experience either. Drivers often feel inconvenienced by semi-trucks on the road, but they serve as a necessity to any supply chain.

Truck drivers don’t have it all that easy.  As passenger vehicles get more and more frustrated/skittish around large trucks they often put themselves in harm’s way when trying to get in front of or out of the way of becoming flat as a pancake.  It is then the truck driver’s job to accommodate the somewhat chancy driving of passenger vehicles, which is no easy feat as an 18 wheeler with a full trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. There are a lot of things that the average person may not know about semi-trucks and this is why passenger vehicles must make it a priority to share the road.  The car is not king.  We must work together to make the road safer for ourselves and truck-drivers by becoming more educated in safe driving etiquette.

Thanks to an info graphic by Visual.ly, here are “10 Tips for Sharing the Road with Trucks”.

Each and every one of these tips is easy to remember and simple to execute and could serve as a life-saver for you or someone else you are sharing the road with.  Drivers need to start thinking proactively about sharing the road with truck drivers.  They get our goods from Point A to Point B and should get the respect on the road that they deserve, and you can help.

Trans International has a unique perspective on trucks and the transportation industry as a whole because keeping freight moving is such a large part of what we do. We work with carriers of all kinds; with around 35,000 carriers in our database we have seen it all.  We see more than just a semi.   We see professional drivers moving the economy forward as efficiently and safely as possible. Whether the freight is refrigerated or dry, LTL or TL, closed van or flatbed, that freight has a destination and your safe driving will help it get where it needs to go and ensure that you and the truck driver get home safely.

Drive safe, drive smart.  Share the road.