Local courier services help businesses, the environment

July 31 2013

There are several factors that come into play when business leaders consider improving their supply chain. For the most part these are universal areas that every company will need to deal with, including things like cost, customer experience, efficiency and flexibility. However, there is another trend that is slowly moving its way up the priority list and it is part of a larger movement - going green.

The environmental movement has been gaining momentum in recent years. This can be seen in electric car charging stations in major metropolitan areas, increase recycling programs and the growth of the "natural" and "organic" branding. It may seem like the influence on the supply chain would be seen in cleaner manufacturing practices and efforts to limit waste, and that is definitely a factor in it.

A recent open letter by Jeff Bernicke, the president of NativeEnergy, examined what an environmental approach to the supply chain would look like.

"Over the last few years, supply chain sustainability has emerged as a crucial concern for business leaders," Bernicke wrote. "Significant greenhouse gas emissions, threats to production, and vulnerable supply communities, reside upstream from a business's operations. While quantifying these externalities is still a bumpy road, many organizations are making progress in articulating the value of a sustainable supply chain and navigating supply chain sustainability initiatives."

Bernicke continues to say more companies need to display an environmental and social awareness of how their actions impact the world around them. This can be by upgrading delivery vehicles to lower emissions, tweaking production tactics to lower waste and improve efficiency or looking for new, more environmentally friendly ways to handle nearly every task like new light bulbs.

While all of those methods would help create a new environmentally friendly approach to the supply chain, there is another, far easier plan - companies should consider local options. By partnering with a local delivery and warehousing service, trucks spend less time on the road, thus cutting down on emissions.

If you are a small business in Cleveland that predominantly does business in the Northeast Ohio region for example, does it make more sense to partner with a large courier service that needs to drive well out of their way to pick up and then deliver your package to its final destination or have a local service come only when needed and make deliveries.

Going local has other benefits as well. Businesses are able to save time and money by scheduling specific delivery times with a reliable service that is easily contacted. On top of that, there is the speed at which a local courier can operate as opposed to a national service.

When you use a larger service, a package is sent to a centralized processing facility where it sits until it is redirected to a truck and then sent back out for delivery. This can be a stressful time as businesses wait, not knowing what the status of the parcel is. With a courier service, that issue is non-existent, as they can provide same-day delivery.

Potential USPS changes could alter how businesses ship

July 29 2013

There have been a number of rumors about how the United States Postal Service (USPS) will be changing because of a multi-billion-dollar deficit that has been created for numerous reasons. There has been talk of eliminating Saturday delivery, limiting door-to-door service, creating "cluster delivery" sections for new developments and reforming the employee pension plan.

According to the Associated Press, last week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved a piece of legislation that would allow those changes and others if it is passed through congress. Because of the 22-17 party-line vote in favor of the Republican-backed bill, there may need to be changes if it hopes to pass the Democratic-led Senate. However, many believe the changes contained in the bill are needed to ensure the survival of the nation's mailing system.

"A balanced approach to saving the Postal Service means allowing USPS to adapt to America's changing use of mail," Rep. Darrell Issa told the news source. "Done right, these reforms can improve the customer experience through a more efficient Postal Service."

Issa believes that with these changes, the USPS would be able to save $20 billion by 2017. If this hope is correct, it could dramatically change the way that businesses' shipping needs are handled. However, some of these changes could leave a gap in companies' logistics operations. This could be the time that many organizations revisit their shipping options. One step can be to partner with a local business courier service that could provide a number of benefits.

Reshoring efforts require strong local supply chain support

July 26 2013

In the business world, the practice of outsourcing some aspect of manufacturing or the supply chain to other countries like China is a time-honored tradition. Companies are always looking for cost-effective ways to get tasks done and housing production services in other areas of the world is one of those ways. However, in recent years, there has been a push by many companies to "reshore" their approach and bring operations back to the United States.

A recent article from USA Today covered this growing trend which is becoming more popular as supply chain and labor costs in traditional offshoring sites like China rise, making it less appealing to do business in those locations. Although technology has helped the world shrink, it is still easier to address a customer issue if the factory is down the street instead of across the ocean.

"In the past few years, major designers and retailers such as Brooks Bros. and Saks, as well as dozens of smaller companies, have moved some production from foreign countries to the U.S., creating perhaps 1,000 jobs," the article reads.

One thing every company that brings manufacturing services back to the U.S. will need to do is update its supply chain and logistics approach. A way to do this is to partner with a local business courier service that can handle all aspects of the supply chain, as well as provide benefits like same-day delivery and geographic knowledge, which can save time and money.

Logistics 'half-life' plays big role in technology investment

July 26 2013

For any technology investment, one question all business decision-makers should ask themselves is how long can this new system be effective? While investing in any business solution, from computers to logistics software, it is important to know how long it can be an asset before an upgrade will be needed. In some instances, however, that doesn't always happen.

In a recent guest column from Logistics Viewpoints, Chris Jones examined the half-life of logistics technology investments and why many executives are not taking this into account.

Jones' argument is that logistics IT solutions are not well understood because a lot of the focus is on procurement of the technology and not the life span. The example he used is that many executives understand this issue when talking about forklifts or trucks—if you are using old vehicles, it can hurt your productivity. However, when they have that same conversation about ERP or other logistics software,that life span aspect does not come up and the thought process is that upgrading can be complicated.

"Logistics IT seems to be the land of the walking dead, because companies do not have technical or financial exit strategies for their existing solutions," Jones wrote. "Or worse, they are holding on to those solutions because they haven't gotten the anticipated payback!"

This is why many companies are partnering with an experienced business courier service to handle their logistics solutions. This takes the burden of upgrades off the table and allows an organization to rest easy knowing all of these issues are taken care off.

How Northeast Ohio is becoming a breeding ground for strong business growth

July 24 2013

Many businesses like to consider themselves lone wolves, needing only a strong internal strategy to be successful. This can involve keeping as many business practices close to the vest as possible and trying to use that secrecy as a catapult for success. While that model may have worked for Apple, it is not always the smartest way to do business, especially if you are surrounded by smart entrepreneurs who are willing to share ideas and help each other become better.

In a recent article for Crain's Cleveland Business, Aaron Grossman laid out the argument that Northeast Ohio has become a strong business landscape for collaborative success. He tells the story of how his staffing company was hit hard by the recession a few years ago. While attending a regular meeting of Entrepreneurs Organization Cleveland, another business owner relayed the lessons he learned from a social media consultant.

"Traditionally, business owners look at what they're doing as a competitive edge. They worry about losing that edge if they provide too much information about what they're doing and how they're doing it," Grossman writes. "But today, I think there's been a shift in business: It's not so much about what you do and how you do it, but why you do it that takes good companies to great. And why you do business is really hard to replicate."

He added that Northeast Ohio is filled with strong local companies that are willing to help each other out. Whether it is by offering advice or by providing a service like local delivery and supply chain management, this is a great area to do business in.