April 19, 2016
On July 1, 2016, a number of key ocean shipping mandates from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will go into effect. Most countries and ocean carriers participate in the IMO, and therefore have agreed to follow the requirements, which fall under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Act. These new mandates will bring about some challenges for shippers as they make the necessary operational changes to comply and properly report the weight of their ocean cargo.

Similar to airplane cargo, proper stowage and balance of freight on ocean container vessels is critical. Additionally, ocean carriers must consider harbor channel depths of the various ports of call on their schedule rotation to ensure no problems when arriving or departing an ocean container terminal. The IMO and participating members believe these mandates are essential to preventing incidents where hundreds of containers are lost overboard or a vessel is actually lost at sea due to structural integrity impacted by misdeclared cargo weights.

Just like when flying commercial airlines, reporting the true weight of seafaring cargo often comes with extra fees and restrictions, and some ocean shippers haven’t been fully complying. Confirming declared container weights or re-weighing containers at receiving terminals hasn’t been a priority with carriers in the past. The industry is more aware of these gaps now, and the IMO is taking steps to truly enforce the necessary weight restrictions with these new mandates.

April 13, 2016
Smart shippers, however, are not following the masses; they are taking a longer-term view of the transportation market, as Matthew Menner, Senior Vice President at Transplace, discussed in a recent episode of Talking Logistics:

We see most of our customers taking the long view. They know exactly how fickle this industry is and how quickly it can turn. Eighteen months ago we were in a carrier’s market. Carriers were reporting the best earnings, the best operating ratios, and the best top-line revenue growth they had seen in a decade. So the tables can turn quickly.

While smart shippers are trying to do a little bit of clawback to realign back to what is defined as current competitive rates based on their freight network and freight characteristics, they are not seeing this as an opportunity to take mass gains back and potentially suffer the long-term consequences of such actions.

March 29, 2016
Canada and the United States share the world’s longest border, stretching 8,891 kilometers across land and water. They also share what is perhaps the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship: in 2014 bilateral trade of goods and services totaled just over C$800 billion dollars, equivalent to C$2 billion crossing the border or C$1.4 million every minute, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ Beyond the Big Border survey.
After previously falling behind Mexico, Canada has regained its historical rank as top trade partner with the U.S. U.S.-Canada freight was valued at $45.1 billion in November 2015.
This was down 13.8% from a year earlier as all modes of transportation also carried a lower value, noted the Bureau of Transportation Statistics at the U.S. DOT.
Lower crude oil prices contributed to the year-over-year decrease.
Trucks carried 60.4% of the freight to and from Canada, followed by rail at 16.3%.
The top commodity category transported between the U.S. and Canada by all modes was vehicles and parts, of which $5.4 billion, or 59%, moved by truck last November.
Increases in the value of the U.S. dollar against both Mexican and Canadian foreign currencies has contributed to year-over-year declines each month through 2015’s reported numbers, and the exchange rate challenge could well rate as the top issue for cross-border players in 2016.

March 24, 2016
The devaluation of the Mexican peso over the past two years has been rather extreme. Two years ago, one U.S. dollar was worth about 13.5 pesos, and today it’s worth about 18. As a result of this severe drop in value, U.S. goods have become very expensive for Mexicans, and Mexican goods have become cheap for Americans. In fact, many markets across the globe have become cheaper as the dollar has gotten stronger – making these markets, including Mexico, more attractive for U.S. companies.

March 24, 2016
The Logistics Services Provider (LSP) is notorious for its high employee turnover. Does this matter? Transplace – a provider of managed transportation, intermodal and truck brokerage services, as well as SaaS transportation management software – believes that it does.

In analyst briefings what ARC typically hears company’s boast about certain success stories, technology and service roadmaps, and other areas of company differentiation. In briefing us, Transplace covered those topics, but what struck me about their presentation is how much of the discussion focused on their mission in general, and their efforts as a company to respect and develop their employees in particular. I have occasionally heard suppliers talk about mission, I have rarely heard employee satisfaction discussed, and I have never heard employee satisfaction discussed in such detail.