Blog

How focused is your leadership team on what really matters?

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Because I am a Christian man and a business leader, there are certain things that I know will always be true and there are other things that I believe as a matter of faith.   Read More

Topics: Future of Logistics, Logistic Leaders, Logistics Teamwork

Riding the Rail to Avert Higher Freight Costs

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Capacity remained the most pressing logistics issue across the supply chain as the new year began. This is especially true within the transportation sector, where the driver shortage, ELD mandate, and other factors severely impacted the trucking industry’s ability to handle increased freight volumes. Because of this, more shippers are looking to intermodal (rail) transport for capacity. According to the Association for American Railroads (AAR), intermodal volume rose by 3.9% in 2017. Through the first 28 weeks of 2018, AAR reported that U.S. rail carloads are up 1.5% annually at 7,259,135 and intermodal units are up 6.1% at 7,686,093.  Part of the volume growth in intermodal was due to the capacity issues that challenged trucking as the electronic logging device mandate took hold and some carriers strained to find enough drivers to carry loads. We are experiencing a market with low truck supply and high freight demand. One of the reasons for tightened capacity is the ongoing driver shortage. Year after year, skilled truck drivers are retiring with fewer younger experienced drivers taking their places. Fewer drivers mean fewer trucks on the road to haul the increase in freight, which, in turn, drives up the cost of your freight and eventually that increase will have to be passed along to your customer. U.S. shippers are desperate for capacity and turning to modes they previously shunned as a result.  Read More

Topics: Warehouses with rail capacity, Intermodal transportation

Spartan Logistics Survives Hurricane Florence and Now Deals with Aggressive Mosquitoes

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On September 9, 2018, it seemed we were all fixated with any form of technology that was broadcasting up-to-date information and storm-related events throughout the state of North Carolina with reference to Hurricane Florence. The Governor of North Carolina urged all North Carolina residents and businesses to prepare for Hurricane Florence, issuing a State of Emergency management and emergency plan.  Before the massive storm even hit, North Carolina emergency officials were preparing for what meteorologists have called the second “500-year storm” to hit the state since Hurricane Matthew in 2016.  As reports grew with intensity during the week, Spartan Logistics’ Executive Management Team in Columbus, OH, maintained consistent communication with Maxton, NC Warehouse Manager, Bobby Morman.  Prior to evacuating the building, all hands were on deck to board up glass windows and doors; the forklift propane tank cage was chained and secured while Spartan forklift operators brought in 10,000 contract customer pallets from the outdoor elements so they would not become projectiles when the storm arrived. Bobby Morman purchased a pallet of 76 cases of bottled water from a local Food Lion store to bring back to the warehouse to be distributed to all employees  before evacuating the property—and then we waited.  The monster storm battered the North Carolina coast, trailing inland, leaving a path of destruction throughout eastern coastal regions. The warehouse sustained minor damage to overhangs, but the outdoor lighting was destroyed due to the strength of the wind. Local authorities created shelters for those not able to escape the wrath of the storm in time.    Read More

Topics: Logistics News

Navigating What’s Left of the Industrial Real Estate Market

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Are you in touch with what is happening in the industrial real estate market?  A shortage exists everywhere, creating real challenges for businesses seeking to expand in their marketplace. For example, Napa Valley's industrial warehouse vacancies are now at 1.3 percent. The thriving wine industry finds its growth and margins constrained due to a lack of space to store inventory, and higher freight costs to store it farther away. In 2017, commercial properties in most markets enjoyed the sustained growth of demand, high occupancy rates, and rising rents. This is under added pressure in 2018 due to rising interest rates and increased U.S. manufacturing activity encouraged by recent tax reforms.  U.S. industrial rents now average $5.53 per square foot with a year-over-year increase of 5.3 percent. Many tenants are in the difficult situation where expiring long-term leases are 30-50% below today’s market rates.  For example, if you have been leasing space for the past ten years at a $4.50 sq. ft. rate and the owner comes to you this year to let you know the rate is increasing to $6.50 per sq. ft., your options are to absorb this cost, buy the building or vacate. Do you have an immediate plan in place to address the options you’ve been given?  As top logistics markets continue to operate at a sub–3.5 percent vacancy rate, you can expect continued competition for quality warehouse and distribution space to add pressure on rents through 2018.  First Quarter 2018 warehousing vacancy by US Region - Source: U.S. Real Estate News: U.S. warehouse and distribution rents rise as vacancy rates dip.  Read More

Topics: Industrial Real Estate Market, Supply Chain Strategy

Executing Your 2018/2019 Supply Chain Strategy

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With an upswing view of the reignited economy and the growing demand for diverse products, your supply chain network—manufacturing plants, warehouses and distribution centers—face challenges like never before. In light of increasing freight costs, global complexities, more demanding customer service requirements, new e-commerce challenges and risk management considerations, it has never been more important to navigate and execute supply chain strategy/operations. Today's complex global business environment - with its rapidly advancing technologies, emerging world markets, and vastly extended supply chains, places increasingly critical decision-making demands on logistics professionals. In a world expanding global, the challenges of providing seamless supply chain solutions across geographical and cultural boundaries have continued to mount. Those who invest in Lean Supply Chain Management can improve a company's competitiveness and overall profitability by identifying warehousing, transportation and trade compliance, while at the same time eliminating waste and non-value added activities.  Given that as much as 80% of the operating costs are in logistics—freight, labor and inventory—it is critical to have a better understanding of your supply chain strategy. It seems the 2019 theme is to continue building a supply chain network, working together to drive collaboration and reduce inefficiencies. It's important that both manufacturers and importers discuss better ways of communicating and sharing information with their partner retailers and distributors to help improve the customer experience.   Many companies have expressed interest in exploring different ways of  servicing the customer, looking to become agiler by stepping out of their comfort zone—those even recently investing in their own manufacturing facilities, allowing them to be more flexible in their strategic decisions. Food & beverage manufacturers are examining the possibilities of setting up one or more distribution centers for limited shelf life items, which will allow them to provide better service to their customer base and help reduce overall transportation costs. As new regulations hit the transportation industry, a common topic of discussion is how to better navigate the new Supply Chain landscape to continue to service customers more effectively; while proactive shippers continue to search for viable 3PL warehouse distribution centers to allocate inventory in markets closer to their customers, in an overall effort to mitigate delays.  Read More

Topics: Rise of 3PL Fulfillment Services

Self-Driving Trucks-The Emerging Trend

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We've seen a lot of futuristic self-driving cars and trucks on the big screen, but none of them really resemble the autonomous (self-driving) killer tractor trailers from the movie Logan. The scenes with the autonomous trucks are short but gripping. They feature a number of menacing, cabless trucks racing down the highways without any care for the human race caught in their path. It’s a scary vision of the future and needs to earn the public's trust. Imagine if you will…a situation where a truck driver must choose to avoid a vehicle in the road, hit a pedestrian, or direct the truck off the road into a barrier. In each situation, someone will get hurt. If we rely on automation to make these decisions, it must be programmed to make the right or split-second decision. Even if the system is programmed “morally,” it will make human error life-and-death decisions. In these types of situations:  Who is liable…The programmers? The truck manufacturer? The trucking company? How will insurance companies adapt to the traffic accident model?  Read More

Topics: Driverless Trucks, Future of Logistics

The Rise of 3PL Fulfillment Services

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Any growing business must inevitably evaluate its fulfillment process from time to time. Beyond fulfillment, many companies that want to scale growth or transform themselves to compete in the world of manufacturing and e-commerce, typically turn to a 3PL provider. The reasons behind this are simply because most small or midsize companies don’t have the resources or what it takes for successful supply chain redeployment – such as the in-house experience, WMS (Warehouse Management Software), or seasoned labor support to effectively make it happen. Third-party logistics providers typically have a network of operations including warehouses, mobile handling equipment, a truck fleet, and experienced warehouse forklift operators and pickers/packers.   Read More

Topics: Rise of 3PL Fulfillment Services

So You've Outgrown Your Warehouse...A Sign of Growth or Mismanagement?

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Remember your first brand new car?  What a well-oiled machine it was?   Read More

Topics: Outgrown Your Warehouse

All Roads Lead to Toledo, Ohio

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When Spartan Logistics began to build a presence in Northwest Ohio in 1990, we quickly realized the untapped potential for warehouse and fulfillment services for our customers. From a single location, we expanded to a footprint of over 1.4 million square feet of warehouse storage and distribution. Our approach to 3PL is highly personalized. No task is too large, no detail too small, no storage and handling project too complicated.  Spartan’s Northwest Ohio DCs and warehouses are often in proximity to major transport routes and terminals. For global manufacturers and suppliers looking to accelerate performance in today’s competitive marketplace, all roads lead to Toledo, Ohio. Although Toledo has a "rust belt" automotive reputation because of its manufacturing history, companies continue to move everything from raw materials to finished products to and from Toledo.  If you haven’t had the pleasure—a day spent in the warehouse district is a day well spent. There’s renovation and resurgence going on in Toledo’s Warehouse District—It’s growing in leaps and bounds with great entertainment, restaurants, shopping and nightlife. It’s the new urban playground of what was once known as “Glass City”.    Read More

Topics: Toledo Ohio, 3PLs in Toledo Ohio, Warehouses in Toledo Ohio

Disruptive Innovation in Logistics

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The Ohio State University hosted a discussion of Disruptive Innovation in Logistics at the Harvard Business School of Columbus in Columbus, OH.  Spartan Logistics President, Steve Harmon, was asked to give a presentation to an audience, piggy- backing the discussion.  Steve's presentation —Big Data in Logistics, focused on how big data is revolutionizing many fields of business, and logistics analytics is one of them. The complex and dynamic nature of logistics, along with the reliance on many moving parts that can create bottlenecks at any point in the supply chain, make logistics a perfect case for big data. In case you are not familiar with the term…Big Data- It is essentially the ability to mine billions of data points to make better predictive decisions.  Logistics- especially the 3 V’s of Velocity, Volume, and Variety has always been reliant on forecasts; if there is one thing we know about predictions about the future it is that they are always wrong.  Supply chains have always been dependent on measuring statistics, point of sale data, and quantifiable performance indicators.  Big Data is something else- it is driving the car more effectively with a better roadmap, rather than just a rear-view mirror.   Read More