3plTo give an idea of the scale of the 3PL industry in the US, it eclipses the size of the gaming and beer industries, and is more than three times as big as the confectionary industry.

Recent market research conducted by Armstrong and Associates puts the value of the 3PL industry at approximately $154 billion US and it is seeing growth, which is estimated to be two or three times GDP.

The Transport Intermediaries Association (TIA) claims that in North America, the 3PL industry is responsible for employing somewhere in the region of 123,000 to 150,000 people who receive average salary of approximately $60,000. This means that the entire payroll for the industry is over $7 billion. Despite these signifiers of economic power, the industry is still not very visible anywhere outside of the wider transportation sector. This is despite its influence on the wider economy.

The importance of 3PL does not go unnoticed by shippers, from small boutique stores to large retailers, everyone involved understands that third party logistics is one of the most important factors of their business.

Regardless of whether 3PL is part of a larger combination of carriers, or responsible for the management of the whole logistics operation, they are performing an essential part of the movement of goods to every type of market. Added to this, 3PL’s provide an accessible distribution route to thousands if smaller carriers nationwide.

Besides the transport industry, the importance of 3PL has not gone unnoticed on Wall Street. The logistics sector within the BGSA Supply Chain Index, which covers the largest 3PL firms in the market, has grown by over 17% compared with the previous year, which is a better return than the S&P 500 average for the same period.

As part of the report by Armstrong & Associates into the financial importance of 3PL, it has been acknowledged that &36.7 billion has been spent on acquisitions of logistics firms in North America over the last decade. The astronomical levels of growth within the industry means a company like C.H Robinson Worldwide is claiming revenue of $13.5 Billion.

While this is an example of one of the largest providers, it is also very important to remember that outside of these companies there are thousands of smaller businesses, which combine to make up the industry. Everyone has a role to play in meeting the demands of what is becoming an increasingly diverse market.

Learn more about what 3PL can do for you.

delivery manWith trips to the store becoming more and more obsolete, there are a growing number of companies who are seeking to move into the home delivery sector. This includes giants like Google and Amazon, who now compliment their service with home delivery. The question is, will home delivery ever become ubiquitous? Or, are newcomer delivery companies walking in the footsteps of their predecessors from the dot-com boom?

A lot has changed in the delivery industry since the 2000’s, and while the home delivery industry may be inflated at the minute, things may still work out this time.

The home delivery model is now more efficient and sustainable—a lot of went wrong during the dot-com boom has been learned from. Businesses are now taking the time to grow the right way, based on developing their logistical infrastructure and planning and implementing their business models. This means that customer satisfaction is maintained at the right levels, and more importantly, receiving home delivery is a more efficient way to get the groceries than taking yourself to the shop. Building the business model correctly means that companies can actually make money while delivering this service.

The industry is not perfect however, no industry is. There is some inflation in the market and some businesses are attempting to grow regardless of what it takes, and then trying to solve the problems after. This is less of a problem than during the dot-com boom, but there are still a few companies that are following this model.

The larger companies are finding out the difficulties of the home delivery industry, too. It’s a lot different to what they are used to in large-scale e-commerce, but companies like Google and Amazon are adaptable.

While their main business relies on overnight next-day deliveries, they have some time to figure how to deliver their service most effectively. In the local delivery industry, and especially where local deliveries are required, adjustments need to be made incrementally and in real-time to ensure that routes are being optimized and that customers are in receipt of their purchase on time. This is completely different from the model of a centralized e-commerce operation.

How do you see the local delivery market growing in the next few years? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or twitter.

Inventory Software Solution for HealthcareWhether it is an acute care hospital, long term care facility or community clinic, your healthcare facility can benefit from installing an integrated inventory software solution. All too often, the focus on primary patient care neglects the tools, equipment and supplies needed to support that direct care. Such inventory includes both consumables and fixed assets.

If there is not an organized way to track and manage these items, the result is often a delay at the point of care for the patient. The result could be a scramble to locate an important piece of equipment such as the portable x-ray machine needed in the emergency department. Perhaps a machine is down for repairs so the nurse who needs it has to try to borrow one from another unit. The wound care specialist realizes the stockroom is out of specialized dressings. The list of possibilities is endless.

IntelliTrack Inc. has an easy, effective solution with it barcode or RFID technology. You decide exactly what information you want to collect about your equipment and supplies and who can retrieve it, by query, search or report. A barcode label or RFID tag is affixed to every piece of equipment or furniture and every package of supplies that comes into the facility. The label is scanned with the information transmitted for storage in a central database. Anywhere in your facility, employees who are authorized can track each item through a desktop or mobile device.

1. Improved Quality of Patient Care

There is immediate, real time information on the location, operational status, condition, and availability of equipment and supplies needed for patient care. Healthcare professionals can coordinate their schedules and the availability of equipment, resulting in timely patient care. Also, equipment can be located and moved quickly when needed unexpectedly. It might be as simple as locating an air bed to relieve a severe pressure wound or as critical as accessing a blood bag for an accident victim in emergency.

2. Increased Productivity

Healthcare workers do not have to delay testing or treatment procedures while waiting for equipment and supplies. Up to date information about the availability of these essential items allows them to make informed decisions about whether or not to wait or to move on to other work.

 

3. More Efficient Use of Medical Equipment

Medical equipment, such as imagers and scanners, is expensive and usually requires highly trained technicians. In order to increase the return on investment (ROI) of such equipment, it is useful to have data about usage and technician availability. Such information helps you, as an administrator, plan for maximizing equipment use. Many hospitals now operate this equipment day and night to limit patient backlog.

 

4. Equipment Lifecycle Management

Your healthcare facility probably has many kinds of equipment, from imaging machines and dialysis units to wheelchairs, office computers and floor cleaners. No matter how sophisticated or expensive, all these pieces of equipment eventually have to be replaced or upgraded. It is easier for you to manage the lifecycle issues with detailed information ranging from the procurement date, price and vendor to maintenance schedules, repair records and disposal plans. Depreciation information can be built into calculations.

 

5. Planning

With inventory software on a central database, you and your management team are able to plan more effectively as you can access:

  • Real time operational information about demand for equipment and supplies, stock levels, maintenance issues and even staff availability to use the items
  • Aggregate data that shows emerging trends; e.g. changes in demand for equipment and supplies resulting in stock surpluses or shortages
  • Equipment and furniture lifecycle info for budgeting replacement pieces

 

IntelliTrack can work with you to review your operations and recommend the best inventory software for your needs. Our experienced IntelliTrack specialists can design a barcode or RFID technology solution that includes their excellent software systems and reliable, state of the art hardware from trusted partners.

 

IntelliTrack is not completely off the shelf. We do produce standard inventory packages such as:

  • Fixed Assets for equipment and furnishing
  • Check In/Out for shared equipment and tools such as laptop computers
  • Stockroom Inventory for maintaining medical, administrative and cleaning supplies at an optimum level

However, all our inventory software can be customized so it is the right solution for your specific operations.

 

Contact us to start the discussions about the right inventory software solution for your healthcare service.

Inventory-SoftwareIntelliTrack Inc. is proud of the range of technology solutions it can provide to streamline your inventory management operations. Whether you run a warehouse, distribution center, hospital or emergency response service, this industry leader can provide customized software and the best hardware available for you to track and manage both your consumable inventory and fixed assets. Over its 20 years corporate history, IntelliTrack has developed partnerships with proven, reliable manufacturers of scanners, printers, mobile computers and other tools that support its excellent inventory software.

However, the IntelliTrack specialists also understand there is more to a solution than first class technology. The efficiency and cost effectiveness of any barcode or RFID solution is determined by the users at all levels of the organization. That is why the IntelliTrack team is prepared to work closely with you and your employees, from decision making about the best products through to installation, training and follow-up support services.

You probably do not want your employees to become barcode or RFID experts. However, both front line users and the management team need to be comfortable using the technology. Only then will they be able to give useful feedback and explore ways to maximize the functionalities of the system. How do you make this happen?

Front Line Users

There are few people who immediately embrace change in their routine. In order to overcome any employee resistance to using barcode or RFID technology, you might want to consider and plan for:

  • Participation in System Design

Provide as much opportunity as possible for the front line users of the technology to be involved in decision making around the design. It might be as simple as providing feedback on the ease in holding various devices or the format on a screen or as complex as critiquing the efficiency of data capture. An IntelliTrack specialist can advise you on how to involve these essential employees.

  • Ongoing Communication

Make sure all employees know the status of the process from initial consultations with IntelliTrack to the implementation schedule.

  • Training

It is usually useful to provide various modalities of training, from manuals to online instructions and group sessions. The content should include not just the “what to do” and “how to do”, but also the rationale for the procedures. If employees understand how the steps they take affect the workflow, company planning and customer satisfaction, they are more likely to have a positive attitude.

  • Opportunity for feedback

Do not just provide opportunities for feedback after implementation. Actively solicit employee comments and suggestions. Show that you take their input seriously.

  • Ongoing support

Make sure you have ongoing technical support that is available at all times the employees are working. This is especially important at the beginning of implementation and for new employees.

Management Team

Anyone on the leadership team, from front line supervisors to managers responsible for departments such as IT, finances, HR and purchasing, needs to be involved in the process of planning for and implementing barcoding or RFID solutions. The primary factors are the same as those of the front line users; the scope is usually larger and more integrated:

  • Participation in System Design

Whether your business is one small warehouse, a large hospital or a multi-site distribution operation, you will want a technology design that coordinates and integrates all the data capture. To achieve successful integration, you need to involve the key personnel for each function from the beginning. Their decisions are not just around devices and software, but also identifying the interfaces of the functionalities and the kinds of reports that are needed for monitoring and planning operations. If there is already a larger ERP system in place, this new technology might be incorporated easily into it. The people actually using the systems are the ones to provide input into the design.

  • Training

Not everyone needs the same kind of training but everyone who will use any part of the new technology has to at least understand the basic process and the information that can be entered and accessed. Again, it is important that everyone understand the rationale for the overall barcoding system and for the way it works to everyone’s advantage.

  • Opportunity for Feedback

Feedback from the management team is important to the overall success of a barcoding or RFID solution. These are the people who will see the more strategic impact such as trends in increased customer satisfaction, decreased employee turnover and increased profitability. When they make suggestions about changes, they deserve to be taken seriously.

Installing an effective barcoding solution depends on much more than state of the art technology. IntelliTrack certainly can provide you with the best in customized software and hardware. However, they are also prepared to spend the time with you to develop a solid implementation plan that involves all company stakeholders. With IntelliTrack expertise and your employees’ active involvement, your barcode or RFID solution is sure to be successful.

Although today’s economy can be a very risky place, it can also be very rewarding. However, in the logistics industry, operational risks, such as nature, can definitely derail your supply chain. Having the right infrastructure is crucial to succeed during times of crisis. See how your organization can position risks to leverage game-changing opportunities by simply being prepared.

Read the full article: Supply Chain Resilience: Turning Risk Into Opportunity

inventory software wizardWithin the major companies, there can be disagreement among the procurement and logistics teams about how best to procure air and ocean freight transport.

Problems stem from the two groups’ inability to see things from each others’ point of view. Often, one side may act unreasonably, but fault usually lies with both for not justifying their viewpoints clearly enough. Ultimately, arguments should be evidence-based so that the facts can be unearthed, compromises can be made and understanding can be reached.

Logistics teams may argue that procurement teams’ obsession with cost-cutting is the main factor which leads to low-quality service and subsequent rising of carrying costs and lead times. However, procurement is a multidisciplinary business element and the best value for money will be attained through collaboration.

Clear strategy and a structured process are two key factors collaboration that are effective. This process must consist of data-supported quantifiable claims. Everything must be evidence-based, so logistics teams must be precise with arguments in favor of better-quality services. Non-price objectives must be addressed using a total cost-of-ownership model. When cost elements are clearly broken for procurement teams, they can form a better understanding of logistics teams’ rationale.

With regards to supporting negotiations between procurement and logistics teams, sourcing optimization tools provide the most effective basis because they have the ability to easily handle data in its various dimensions. Having such tools is essential as they allow flexibility when modeling cost inputs. Decision-makers can also test different ‘what-if’ scenarios and subsequently compare potential outcomes. The incentive for executives is that these tools banish spreadsheet analysis and simplify the procurement process.

Optimization bridges competing objectives of quality and cost, while transparency builds trust and opens the door for open dialogue.

Collaborative agreement comes as a result of well-reasoned trade-offs between non-cost and cost objectives. By using optimization tools, procurement and logistics teams can make these trade-offs with better understanding and consideration of eachothers needs.

Instilling simple methodologies that focus on cost modeling, scenario analysis and rich bid information is crucial for management consultants and beneficial cargo owners. For organizations that seek efficient, high-quality services, this is the only way forward.

Find the right software to help your organization succeed.

 

3plTechnology is the most important aspect of logistics and has always been—it became especially true after the transportation industry was deregulated and third party providers provided technological solutions to their customers. Since the beginning of history, people have been looking for ways to move more goods, faster and more efficiently. The greatest leap forward was the invention of the combustion engine and the technological advancements it brought such as trains, planes and automobiles. The second revolution was digital, and technologies related to computers became the brain of the logistics industry. Now, there is a third revolution on the way.

The emergent technologies of today are focused on speed, security, accuracy and efficiency. They are comprised of drones, 3D printers and the Internet of Things (IoT). Here is a brief explanation of how each of these technologies will affect third party logistics (3PL) in the future.

3D Printing Will Make the Supply Chain Shorter

While the technology has been around for a long time, it is only really coming to the forefront now. It makes it possible to create products and parts from most materials including metal & plastic. It will be applied as additive manufacturing and will democratize manufacturing processes, as manufacturers will be able to print objects on demand. This will shorten the supply chain in many cases and also mean that it is unnecessary to hold as much inventory in warehouses.

IoT Will Make Journeys More Visible

Visibility is one of the biggest problems facing transporters of goods. The emergent IoT technologies, combined with cloud-based GPS help, makes products more visible as they pass through the supply chain. Each crate or product can be equipped with an RFID chip that will communicate to each other using radio frequency technology and provide a variety of information including temperature, ID humidity and pressure. So, there is less capacity for things to get lost or damaged in transit.

Drones will Speed up Delivery

Drones are unmanned aircrafts that can be operated by remote control or programmed along a journey. They are an inexpensive way to transport goods and can also get to locations which were previously unreachable. Third party providers haven’t adopted them yet, but there is a good chance they will be important in the future to deliver small packages efficiently, especially in urban and remote areas.

Looking for 3PL software? Learn more.

stratus_webWe recently announced that updates were being made to our Stratus applications. These updates are now complete and updates for Stratus can be found in the Stratus web applications.

The following changes have been made to the Stratus web application:

  1. Check In Return Report: this new Asset report shows each asset and/or item returned during a Check In order. For each item returned, the quantity, unit of measure, serial number, lot, and expiration date are shown, as applicable.
  2. Check Out Issue Report: this new Asset report shows each asset and/or item issued during a Check Out order. For each item issued, the quantity, unit of measure, serial number, lot, and expiration date are shown, as applicable.
  3. Delete a Custom Report and Custom Label from the Report Designer: a custom report or label that was created in the Report Designer may be deleted from the Report Designer application. Once it is deleted, the report will no longer appear in the list of custom reports or labels in the Stratus web application. In order to delete a custom report or custom label from the Report Designer, the user license must include the Design Report feature and/or the Design Label feature and the Delete Reports feature and the role of the logged-in user must include the Design Report feature and/or the Design Label feature, and the Delete Reports feature.
  4. Custom Titles Page: this page has been redesigned for ease of use. The default titles are now organized by a Stratus category, which makes it easier to find the title that you want to customize.
  5. Asset Pictures: The ability now exists to upload an image to an asset’s record. Each asset may have its own unique picture. This gives the user more flexibility with implementation of the assets feature.
  6. Assignee Pictures: The ability now exists to upload an image to an assignee’s record. Each assignee may be associated with a picture; thus improving assignee identification.

Please be sure to update your user roles in order to employ the new features included in this release. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by downtime during the update.

If you have any questions about the latest Stratus release, please contact us.

On Sunday March 1, updates will be applied to the IntelliTrack Stratus products. The updates will take approximately one hour, during which time, the site will be unavailable.

If you have any questions regarding the update, please feel free to contact us.

Once everything has been successfully completed, we will provide a detailed explanation of what to expect with the latest Stratus update.

 

trainIt’s still as true today as it ever was—in the logistics industry, time is money. This is evident at American shipping ports, where so much work is put into speeding up processes and making them more efficient, and it affects everything the price of all consumer goods.

At the port of Georgia, workers are as aware as anyone about the importance of fast and efficient shipping, and this is the reason they are looking into the possibilities of shipping freight via the rail networks.

The Baltimore to Ohio railroad was incorporated in 1827 and is still in operation, lines such as the Norfolk Southern and CSX are more recent, but all of them play a crucial role in shipping goods to outlets nationwide. Rather than becoming less important over time, the railways are gaining importance.

In 2014, the Georgia Ports Authority have documented that they moved 340,000 containers via the rail network, representing an increase of 5% over the previous year.

A representative of Georgia ports has said that the expansion of railway shipping operations has been central to their budgeting plan for the last ten years or more. As part of this, they are working to improve the speed and efficiency of land shipping with Norfolk Southern and CSX.

There are many benefits of this strategy—rail is the most fuel-efficient way to ship freight. Companies can ship approximately a ton of freight over 500 miles using only a gallon of gas. There is also the added benefit of preserving the road network, which would suffer some wear and tear from road shipping, as well as an extra element of safety that the railway provides. In addition, there are obvious environmental benefits to be gained from shipping by rail, where the carbon footprint is much smaller.

Some of the investments made can be seen at the Mason Intermodal Transfer Facility, which is part of the Norfolk Southern network, which opened in 2001, and also Chatham Yard ICTF, which is part of the CSX network, opened in 2008. When the Mason facility opened it was the 7th busiest port in the country per container handled, today it is the 4th behind the Port of New York / New Jersey. Most shipping experts agree that the Mason and Chatham facilities have played a major part in the growth of the dependence on railways for shipping, owing to their capability for seamless and efficient transfer of containers from sea to the railways.