What you need to know about software security and its impact on your supply chain

The Year Ahead: Opportunities and Challenges Coming to Your Supply Chain

Now that 2019 is upon us, we wanted to take time to look at the exciting opportunities and new challenges that will appear in the supply chain in 2019. Over the next several articles, we will be taking a deep dive into many of these opportunities and challenges. This series will hopefully educate you and prepare you for some of the biggest challenges facing your company.

Understanding Security

The first challenge we will discuss this week is security. As the complexity of the supply chain grows, the security of your customers and products is exposed. In the past, companies would only have to worry about physical security. However, with the advent of Supply Chain 4.0 and the Internet of Things, digital security has become a necessity. How can your company be prepared for the cyber-attacks of the 21st century?

Trust but Verify?

Older companies in a less technological world have long relied on Privileged Access Management (PAM) for protecting their important data and assets. The ideological principle behind PAM is “trust but verify.” PAM is a little tricky to understand. Imagine a high-tech luxury apartment building. If you are visiting a friend in this building, there are certain areas of the building that are off limits. The typical procedure would look something this:

  1. You verify your identity with the doorman.
  2. The doorman calls your friend.
  3. Your friend comes down and escorts you to the correct room.

This would be Access Level 1. Now imagine you live in the apartment building. You would be given an access card for the general building facilities: the lobby, the garage, and the gym. However, you would only have access to the floor and room that is yours. Your access card only gets you into specific approved areas. You would not have access to management or cleaning service rooms. This is Access Level 2. Now imagine you own the high-tech apartment building, you would have full access to the entire building, all rooms and floors. This would be Access Level 3. Privileged Access Management works a lot like this building. The correct access is granted once your identity is verified. Those privileges extend until they are revoked.

Never Trust, Always Verify

With the growing complexity of the smart supply chain, Privileged Access Management no longer is the best way to keep your company secure.  With PAM, once a hacker has passed through the first level of security, they often have access to the whole system. Instead, security experts now recommend an approach called “Zero Trust.” This new approach to digital security differs from PAM’s “trust but verify.” Instead it takes the approach of “never trust, always verify.” Zero Trust takes each entry into the system on a case by case basis and only allows the minimum privilege for that user. With so many connected devices and systems, allowing the least access possible to users is the safest option.

Imagine our high-tech apartment building again. With a Zero Trust Security System, if you lived in the apartment building, you would have to request access to your room every time you came home. The owner of the apartments would verify your identity and give you access only to your room. If you wanted further access to other amenities of the building, you would have to be re-verified and given only the access you need. This “never trust, always verify” approach seems extreme. But with the ever-connected smart supply chain, this granular approach could be the difference between security and a dangerous breach.

Zero Trust will tighten up your systems and make sure that each outside vendor and supplier has only the access they need to accomplish their goals while protecting your customers and their data.

Be Proactive!

To many companies only start to care about security after a breach has happened. Don’t dismiss security concerns! Understand how they work, the difference between older security protocols and new ones, and how to implement Zero Trust into your network. 


Taking the Guesswork out of LTL Shipping


What is LTL Shipping?

Your company has lots of shipping costs. Freight shipping has been the primary way of shipping things since shipping existed. But what happens when your company doesn’t need to ship a full truckload of product. In the past, parcel shipping would have been your only option. However, parcel shipping is neither convenient nor cost effective. When your company needs a middle of the road option, LTL is the way to go.

LTL stands for “Less than Truckload.” It is the middle option for shipping by weight, between 150-15,000 pounds. The function of LTL is to ship products that don’t fill a full truckload. Most LTL shipments are between 1 pallet and 7 pallets. By only renting part of a truckload, you can potentially save a lot of money. The problem with LTL is the guesswork involved in determining the final cost. LTL can easily become a spending hole without the proper knowledge. In order to use LTL correctly, you must understand the pros and cons of using this method of shipping.

Pros and Cons of LTL Shipping

Obviously one of the biggest pros is cost savings. Because you are only renting part of a truck instead of a full truck, costs can be cheaper. Factors that will hinder your LTL savings would be:

  • Distance: the longer the distance the more expensive the shipment
  • Time-sensitive Products: expedited LTL shipping costs a premium
  • Type of Shipment: certain materials and weights will cost a premium
  • Extra fees: accessorial fees are common, as well as unloading and tracking fees. LTL shippers are notorious for nickel and diming customers.

LTL also has an advantage over parcel shipping in the area of security. Because the pallet you are shipping has been pre-packaged together, it has a much better chance of reaching its final destination intact versus shipping multiple parcel packages.  The flip side of this argument says that the shipment is less secure than a full truckload shipment because it is grouped together with other companies’ shipments. More stops along the way increases risk of damage or lost shipments. This fact is one to keep in mind when using LTL.

Another pro of LTL shipping is that it allows your company to expand its sales reach. A lot of times, LTL shipping companies are much more flexible in delivery area. This allows your company to expand its service area without much initial risk. And you don’t have to open a new distribution center. By finding a LTL carrier that has available space on demand, you can test out new markets without investing to much startup money.

How do I leverage it for my company?

LTL shipping costs can be tricky to nail down. Because there are no direct apples to apples comparisons to full truckload shipping, some companies are unable to understand whether LTL is saving or costing them money. One of the easiest ways to gain the business intelligence necessary to sort through this problem is by using a freight management system. Our freight and shipping management tools give you control to compare shipping costs between LTL and Truckload. Our quick rate module gives you the best estimate possible for your LTL shipping, including accessorial charges, equipment, and service fees.

LTL can be just one more tool in your toolbelt to save your company substantial money.


What is Supply Chain 4.0?

The whole world is always looking for the next big thing. And your company is looking to be on the cutting edge of technology. As we come into the year 2019, one of the biggest new terms is Supply Chain 4.0. You may be wondering what it is and how we got to version 4? Hopefully this article will help fill in some gaps in your knowledge and give you the information you need to take your company to the next level.

Supply Chain 4.0 stems from another term, Industry 4.0. Before we can understand how Supply Chain 4.0 works, we must understand the revolutions that have been happening in the industrial sector. Industry 1.0 (water and steam power) kicked off a huge growth in the sector, and Industry 2.0 (assembly line and mass production) brought products like the car to the general public. Industry 3.0 was the start of adding computer automation to industrial production. 4.0 continues this move towards computer dominated infrastructure by adding cloud services and AI machine learning. The ability for a computer to be connected to every other computer opens a whole world of new technology for the Logistics industry. Supply Chain 4.0 is the beneficiary of this technology and becomes faster, more precise, and more efficient.

What is Supply Chain 4.0 capable of?

Take a moment and think of the advantages Supply Chain 4.0 can bring to your company. Because human error has been removed from a lot of the processes, orders can be more specific and precise. This means more choice for your customers! Because of advances in computer automation, shipping your products to customers in rural areas has never been easier. Logistics is now no longer stuck in metropolitan areas. The supply chain can reach even the most remote of your customer base. Connected computers and machine learning have also increased the data available to your logistics department. Computers can take these trends and variables and create meaningful optimizations and money savers. For example, the system can proactively make decisions based on common shipping hazards such as weather, time zones, and multiple trucking companies. Another new technology that uses computer learning is predictive shipping. The computer can analyze trends in supply and demand and proactively ship orders to stores before a customer even orders something.

How can you take advantage of Supply Chain 4.0?

Currently, Supply Chain 4.0 represents a work in progress. A lot of these ideas are possible but are not ready or available now. Over the coming years, the industry will see more adoption of Supply Chain 4.0’s principles and systems. So how can your company start to take advantage of this technological leap? One of the easiest entry level ways is through a Transportation Management System (TMS).

Transportation Management Systems like Propel TMS are one of the leading ways to move your company forward into Supply Chain 4.0. Propel uses the cloud technology of Supply Chain 4.0 to manage your shipments, carriers, and freight bills. Studies have shown that on average, a company sees a 9% reduction in shipping costs and a 12% reduction in freight savings when switching to a TMS. If you are a shipping manager, you will love Propel’s real-time tracking and supply chain visibility. Because of these tools you will see your order accuracy increase and your shipping errors decrease. If you are a transportation manager, you will love Propel’s tracking of carrier data and built in robust report functionality. With these tools, you can track which carriers are working best for you and use Propel’s data set to make proactive business decisions for future growth.

Does a TMS like Propel sound like the right move for your company? If so, you can introduce your company to the benefits of Supply Chain 4.0 today! Visit and get a demo from one of our TMS experts.

Keys to Your Shipper of Choice Strategy

Within the supply chain, timely shipping heavily influence the success of any business. But at the beginning of 2018, according to DAT, only one truck was available for every 12 loads that needed to be moved (the worst ratio DAT recorded since 2005). Tight capacity is a well-known issue for shippers recently. Carriers have their choice on who, what, when and where they will deliver now.

There are many reasons for the decline of truckers and the ability to retain them — and no simple solutions to the dilemma. Competing for the best freight rates, building relationships with LTL carriers and becoming efficient with automation software like a TMS takes careful planning and thought, but the extra time and effort is well worth the long-term benefits. And while the capacity problem will continue be an issue in 2019, there are other strategies to adjusting to the current industry situation and becoming a shipper of choice.

📑 Have an efficient plan

One important area to start with is identifying and fixing inefficiencies and time-wasters for drivers. Starting with drivers is key to building better relationships with carriers. Because the Hours of Service Rule (13.5 hours max) includes dock and unloading time, not just driving time, look for ways to smooth the delivery and loading process. Time spent at the dock or gate because of internal hangups influence a driver’s time capacity. While traffic and other delays can’t be planned, having a flexible pick up or delivery window allows carriers to plan better routes and optimize loads. By helping drivers maximize their time and treating them well at your facility, carriers are more likely to see your company as a reliable partner.

Bob Costello, an economist with the American Trucking Associations trade group was recently quoted saying “If shippers processed cargo more quickly, they could free up freight capacity as much as 20 percent.” If you have the resources and space, drop trailers could be a great way to speed up a driver’s time at your facility and processing loads for carriers more quickly. Bloomberg reported on Nestle improving their drop-and-hook operations by putting radio transmitters on trailers so they could be located quickly and also working on improving signage.  This helped cut loading and unloading time by 18 percent.

“If shippers processed cargo more quickly, they could free up freight capacity as much as 20 percent.”

☕ Enhance the driver’s experience

Make your shipping experience as smooth as possible for drivers. Provide accurate location information — bonus points for maps and extra instructions if the unloading/loading point is complicated. Drivers should know what to expect before they arrive — where they should go, what the procedure is, and any other facility information. If drivers do have to wait at your facility, have a plan for them by providing access to a place to sit, restrooms and even food options as simple as coffee and a vending machine. Being consistent with procedures is important. Building loyalty with carriers means sharing information, especially any updates. Just like customers, treat drivers with respect and care. “Greet [drivers] with a simple ‘good morning’. If the load is not ready, direct the driver to the restroom and break area,” said Jerry Hatchett, a fleet owner. “I told a large shipper if they wanted to make a good impression on the drivers, then build showers and break rooms and hold an appreciation day for drivers once a month.” Investing time into asking drivers and carriers for feedback can also give you valuable information of what can be improved or what should stay the same.

More than ever it is important to set your supply chain management plans for success by becoming a shipper of choice for carriers.

Tis The (Very Busy) Season: Tips to Prepare for The Holidays  

The month of November not only signals shorter days, falling leaves, and an influx of all things pumpkin, but it is also an important time of year as retailers and consumers alike gear up for the flurry of the holiday season.

With both in-store and online sales numbers expected to spike again in the 2018 Holiday season, the result will also be more logistics competition, tighter carrier availability and on-time delivery pressure. Deloitte is forecasting a 5% increase in retail sales this year from last season and AAA says this travel season will make for incredibly busy roads, with 54 million Americans traveling.

Here are some tips we recommend to help prepare and plan for the busiest time of the year.

Knowledge is power.

It is easy to be focus on preparing for the onslaught of holiday work that you miss taking in what has happened throughout the year. While Thanksgiving & Christmas are the peak time of the year for producers, shippers, and retailers, your company and team have been practicing on a smaller scale during other busy periods. Look at other busy times this year and how the weeks around them operated. What went right or wrong? What did you need to immediately adjust or what did your team do well? Maybe you have excellent customer service and were able to resolve questions quickly and satisfactorily. Did shipping rates increase unexpectedly? By looking at and evaluating the past few holidays and years, you can have a better idea going forward of what you’ll need to reinforce or fix in advance of Christmas orders.

Where is everyone?

Another tip is preparing internally for the holiday season. With more traveling days, vacations, Christmas parties, and other functions, your team will most likely have different schedules throughout the next few months. It can be a juggling act to match work productivity with team member schedules. The key here is to communicate and plan with your team beforehand. Know which dates staff members will not be available and know your company’s holiday policy for vacation time. Planning around those dates or prepare for absences in other ways. The point is not to restrict employees with taking time off, but to prepare for when they do. Offering incentives to hold off on holiday vacations in exchange for longer breaks during slower times of the year can be effective ways to help manage staffing needs during the winter season.

Prepare for the worst by preparing the best.

Of course anticipating for missed pickups or higher-than expected costs are unknown factors at this point. But you can be sure these problems will occur over the next month, so prepare. If you are seeing a pattern with certain carriers missing pick ups or delays, think about not choosing them – even if they are the LCP. Look back at your historical data and see who your most dependable carriers are through these months and weigh out whether dependability vs cost is more important to your company.

Another key focus is ensuring your customers are aware of when orders are being fulfilled and shipped, and then providing tracking information. Tracking data is always important throughout the year, but even more so at this time of year. In our current e-commerce-driven world, people are used to knowing exactly where their packages are at. Your businesses can show you care by also providing shipping details for orders as much as you can. Be as proactive as you can be in providing updates on any potential delays. Be honest and transparent as possible with customers if something did happen to their shipment. Plan ahead with customer service team members on how to handle and manage shipping problems.

Are there any ways you have practiced to reduce the stress of the Holidays at your company? Let us know!