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Inbound Logistics

Economic Development Supplement

Logistics and Transportation in the St. Louis Region

Each year Inbound Logistics publishes a supplement highlighting the St. Louis Region. This year, McClain was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the action! Check out the link below for the full digital issue and let us know what you think about McClain’s view on logistics and transportation in the St. Louis Region.

McClain and Associates’ location in the St. Louis region provides another advantage to its customers, no matter where they are based. “We’re able to expand our network,” McClain says. “Because we’re right in the middle of the country, that gives us access to carriers everywhere, on all coasts, and moving in all directions. We can be more competitive with our rates, because our network is larger.”


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Don’t let truckload capacity derail your supply chain

We live in a world where CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, COOs, Presidents, VPs, Managers (you get the point) are pressuring logistics managers to cut costs, improve customer service, and utilize data to implement cost saving strategies. Intermodal transportation is a strategic solution that helps to solve these problems and many more, that is often overlooked due to its less than [trustworthy, reliable, competitive, efficient] reputation that it earned in the past.

What you may not know, is that the intermodal transportation industry has invested billions into:

  • Augmenting Safety Procedures
  • Improving & Maintaining Infrastructure
  • Expanding Network of Lanes
  • Strengthening Regulations
  • Advancing Technology
  • Training Employees
  • Damage Prevention

These efforts have allowed railroads to reposition themselves as an effective and trusted alternative to OTR Transportation. In fact, railroads have invested their own capital (with no help from the government, as in other sectors or modes of transportation), approximately, $600 billion since 1980, and $25 billion annually over the last 5 years, to accommodate the 45% expected increase in freight shipments by 2040, according to the US Federal Highway Administration.

Benefits of Intermodal Transportation

Converting truckload shipments to intermodal with a trusted IMC has cost benefits, service benefits, and environmental benefits, however, we have found that many shippers still have a (false) negative perception of intermodal transportation. As a result, we have created our Intermodal Myth-Conceptions info-graphic, putting shippers minds to rest and ensuring them that rail is a viable alternative to OTR transportation.

  1. 1 Train can take 280 trucks off the highway
  2. Intermodal loads boast 98% accuracy for on-time deliveries
  3. Trains, on average are four times more fuel efficient than trucks
  4. A train can move freight 450 miles on ONE gallon of fuel
  5. If just 10% of OTR freight was converted to rail, fuel savings would exceed 800 million gallons, per year and greenhouse gas emissions would fall by more than 9 million tons
  6. Removing 10% of OTR freight is equal to taking 1.8 million cars off the road or planting 215 million trees

For More Info on Intermodal Transportation

Download our Intermodal Myth-Conceptions Infographic or Check out our website or contact McClain for a quote/consultation!


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TRICK QUESTION!

ALL Companies Benefit from a Transportation Management System (TMS)


Many companies question their need for a Transportation Management System (TMS). Maybe you have an in-house TMS built years ago that works “just fine”. Maybe you think it will be expensive and the ROI doesn’t seem worth the time and effort it would take to implement, and you wouldn’t be the only one. Maybe you think no company will be able to meet all of your complex needs. Whatever it is that’s holding you back, it’s costing you cash, inducing employee burnout, wasting time, and probably having negative effects on customer service and possibly JIT inventory.

Implementing a TMS helps you look at your transportation program as a whole, not just the flat cost of the freight. Decisions that you make surrounding your freight have not-so-obvious costs that are often not quantifiable. For example, do you know how long it takes for your accounting team to audit freight bills and request corrections? How do you know they are catching all the mistakes? LTL invoices are incorrectly billed 3% of the time by an average of $119.36! Wouldn’t it be nice to have this process automated!?

Keep reading to the top reasons to implement a TMS.

1. Transportation Management Systems (TMS) Helps Improve Customer Service

By implementing a TMS, all of your transportation data and information is in one place allowing all members of your organization quicker access to quoting, scheduling, and tracking tools. For example, when a customer calls a CSR, Sales Rep, really anyone in your company, wondering where a shipment is, a quick TMS search will give you real-time tracking info instantly. Additionally, modern transportation management systems can send automated notifications when an order ships, providing a link for customers to access real-time tracking without even having to contact you.

2. TMS’ Create Warehouse Effencies

A TMS reduces the time spent managing freight, and increases the time spent on more important tasks/projects. Furthermore, with visibility of inbound shipments, you can schedule receiving staff accordingly and reduce wait time.

If your TMS is integrated with your ERP system, you spend less time manually inputting data (and less time correcting errors). Plus, with integrations, PO and transportation data are contained in a central repository, which allows for more informed decision making and decreases risk.

3. Do You Want to be Proactive or Reactive?

If current situations have triggered an assessment of your transportation needs, you’re operating with a reactive design. If you are looking into the future and considering events that aren’t in the process of happening right now, you are (luckily) operating proactively.

When historical incidences of problems and the factors leading up to and causing them are analyzed, processes and procedures can be put in place to prevent them from happening in the future. By implementing an exception-oriented process to trigger alerts to stakeholders in the cases of potential problems, the effort and financial costs of uncertainty are drastically minimized.

4. Data, Big Data, and BIGGER Data

When shipment and order information is stored in a centralized location, the metrics rendered are invaluable. Not only is time saved, but errors caused by manual entry are avoided allowing clients to accurately manage and analyze transportation costs and execution performance data.

When assessing the transportation systems of a potential client, we always as them to provide 30-90 days worth of shipment data. For some customers this is almost impossible and a daunting task. These are the customers who need a TMS the most. Without the ability to analyze historical shipment data, they are unable to (at minimum):

  • Leverage carrier/vendor compliance data to negotiate better rates
  • Uncover opportunities for route optimization
  • See if transportation costs are rising and determine the underlying issues
  • Have an accurate P&L

Long Story Short

Long story short, companies of all sizes benefit from transportation management systems. Good 3PLs will provide you with some options, force you to modify processes, and maybe save you some cash. GREAT 3PLs will become your partner. GREAT 3PLs will work with you to analyze your processes for potential improvements, mold their processes to match yours, and customize their technology to match your unique needs.

If you want more information on a GREAT 3PL, give us a call or shoot an email to maeze@mcclainltd.com.


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Use McClain’s Transportation Management Software to Transform Your Supply Chain

For the sixth year in a row, Salesforce has been named by Forbes as one of the World’s Most Innovative companies.
Each year Forbes, in partnership with FinStra Consulting, analyzes 526 public companies eligible for the “Most Innovative Company” list and determines which firms investors feel are most likely to come up with the next big innovation.

 

Each year, Forbes uses an algorithm to rank companies based on their innovation premium. Salesforce, a technology platform, offers customers the a customer relationship management service as well as a platform to build custom applications. McClain & Associates is proud to be able to say that our Transportation Management System and Logistics Technology application is built on the Force.com Platform.

We provide our customers access to Salesforce powerful and intuitive report building and analytic capabilities as well as world class security. While these are huge benefits, all of our clients enjoy the ease of integrating with customer ERP systems, receiving a freight quote, as well as scheduling and tracking shipments. For more information on our Transportation Management Software and Logistics Technology see our Technology Page or contact us for a demo!

Check out the full article from Forbes, here!


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8 Simple Ways to Save on freight

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Shippers near and far want to save on freight costs. Many, however, are stuck doing the same thing they’ve always done, and continue overlooking opportunities to improve customer service, increase speed, and cut costs. Regardless if you’re trying to get more control of your supply chain, reduce shipping costs, or gain more supply chain visibility, this post can lead you in the right direction. For more information, contact us for a demo, or sign up for our transportation industry newsletter!

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Improve Packaging


Proper freight packaging is one of, if not the most, important component in the shipping process. Shipments that are packaged insufficiently suffer from insurance claims due to loss and damage, and can be subject to numerous accessorials. Further more, reassessing the packaging of your freight into a more condensed unit can increase the density and thus lower the class, directly impacting your bottom line. While splurging on more reliable packaging may increase your upfront freight costs, in the long run it’s proven to pay off.


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Understand All Modes


To get the most out of your supply chain, shippers must truly understand each mode available to identify specific lanes or shipments that qualify for lane conversion. For example, converting lanes totaling more than 500 miles from truckload to intermodal can save up to 50% of total costs with little increase to transit time and in decrease in service. If you are interested in intermodal lane conversion, download our Intermodal Reference Guide, or contact a member of our intermodal department!

At times, it is more cost effective and can reduce risk to consolidate LTL shipments into a truckload, or wait a day to ship a larger quantity of pallets in one LTL shipment. On the other hand, it is sometimes more effective to break apart a truckload into LTL shipments, as this can increase your LTL buying power and prompt carriers to give you better discounts. However, to effectively make these decisions, logistics managers must fully understand the benefits and risks of each mode.


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Perform a Transportation Audit


Once you understand all possible modes and the benefits of each, it is time to perform a Transportation Audit. If the idea of a “Transportation Audit” seems daunting to you, you are not utilizing transportation technology effectively. Logistics companies, and companies who utilize the expertise of these 3PLs, perform transportation audits daily, using standardized algorithms and reports to automatically generate this information. Those, however, who are not reaping the benefits of these services, are the ones who could benefit the most from this sort of audit, as tedious as it may be. Compiling shipment data, from all carriers, locations, vendors, customers, etc. can reveal discrepancies in quoted vs invoiced amounts; inaccurate accessorials; inaccurate invoices; missed opportunities for consolidation; overlooked opportunities for route optimization; gradually increasing freight costs overtime; and many more. When these areas are identified, procedures can be put into place to prevent these errors from reoccurrence. Luckily, 3PLs are masters of these audits, and reduce the time and stress of this sort of analysis.


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Process Improvement


Process improvement is an area all companies should continually be improving upon. Using the metrics provided by your TMS, you have the visibility to see problem areas within your supply chain, and can prioritize solutions based on those areas in need of immediate attention. Some examples of process improvement include: implementing EDI/API integrations, increase visibility of important information to all stakeholders (through TMS), knock down silos that separate departments and discourage communication, to name a few.

Implementing EDI/API integrations with carriers, vendors, and customers, is the number one way to streamline processes. These integrations can transmit POs, SOs, Invoices, BOLs, PODs, etc. Not only does the electronic transmission happen automatically, it reduces risk of error by human intervention. For more information about the our logistics technology at McClain & Associates, see our technology page, download our technology overview, or request a demo!


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Increase Your Buying Power


There are multiple ways to increase your company’s freight-related buying power. What companies don’t realize, is that uncovering buying power within their current processes is extremely simple. One way, is to take control of your inbound freight. When shippers change their shipping terms from “Prepaid & Add” (Vendor pays for the freight, and then charges their customer back, sometimes with an additional fee) to “Collect” (carrier bills consignee directly) they are able to negotiate better discounts with carriers and avoid additional fees charged by their shippers. Another way to increase buying power is to convert full truckloads into LTL shipments, however, this is not always more cost effective in the long run, so all options should be weighed.

Additionally, if your company has multiple locations, all locations should negotiate freight rates with carriers (either directly, or through a 3PL) as one larger entity. If you are like many shippers, you are shipping from a single location, one way to increase your buying power is to join a cooperative with like companies and negotiate freight rates as a whole. Lastly, consulting a 3PL is a great way to reduce freight costs. By shipping through a 3PL shippers have access to their larger buying power, technology, and expertise.


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Consider Inbound Management


The list of reasons to control inbound freight is virtually never ending, and taking control of your inbound freight is a literal game-changer. Not only does it increase your buying power, as previously stated, but it can reduce risk by strengthening vendor and shipper compliance ensuring freight is shipped on-time and cost effectively. With the right transportation management or supply chain technology, you have visibility of your freight at all times.

3PLs play a major role in inbound freight management by integrating transportation technology with customers ERP systems to assist companies with PO Management. When a 3PL comes into the picture, team members are able to actively manage orders and ensure they are shipped on-tim, in-full, and in the most cost effective manner. Combining PO data with shipment data provides invaluable metrics and enable shippers to make effective decisions to reduce risk and save money.

For more information on how McClain & Associates can assist with your inbound freight management, download our Inbound Management White Pages, Technology Overview, or contact us!


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Utilize a Transportation Management System


Implementing a Transportation Management System (TMS) is the number-one most effective way to uncover savings in your shipping process. These systems integrate with client ERP or order management systems, to pull invaluable data that provide advanced business analytics and metrics to inform decisions.

When Transportation Management Systems are able to pull PO data, time spent and errors made from manual entry are completely avoided as BOLs and other necessary shipping documents are automatically generated. In addition, Transportation Management Systems are designed to automatically schedule pickups with the carrier, or alert your 3PL that they need to, which adds to the time savings.

In addition, many companies have a hard time accurately quoting their freight when creating bids or projecting costs, which can lead to higher-than-expected freight invoices and decreased margins. By y implementing a TMS, all members of your team have a portal to quickly log on and get an instant freight quote.

For more information on McClain & Associates Transportation Management System, see our technology page, download our technology overview, or contact us for a demo!


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Enlist Assistance of 3PL


While we may be biased, we firmly believe that partnering with a 3PL is the number one way to uncover savings in your shipping processes. 3PLs provide supply chain technology that saves time; decreases risk; streamlines manual processes; provides visibility to all stakeholders; and immediately alerts stakeholders to areas of concern.  Furthermore, 3PLs bring their huge buying power to the table. This buying power comes with experience handling various kinds of freight from many different industries, so you can rest assured, your freight will be safe. In addition, 3PLs can help manage your company’s inbound freight and ensure JIT philosophies are in tact. By performing a transportation audit, logistics companies can suggest possible lanes that are eligible for conversion to a different mode or consolidation, and collaborate with the client to improve packaging.



Location

Address

2458 Old Dorsett RD, Suite 250
Maryland Heights, MO 63043