Blog

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: Future of Logistics, Driverless Trucks

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

Before you Commit to a 3PL Provider, Ask These 5 Questions

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Manufacturers and retailers used to value 3PLs for their physical assets. The very idea of outsourcing transportation and logistics functions evolved as all the elements of the supply chain became part of a single management perspective.  Thirty years ago, pricing was king, contracts were short, and performance was measured in three-year bids. That has all changed. It seems like only yesterday when "3PL" was just a new acronym thrown about at industry conferences and logistics trade magazines to describe a different kind of transportation and warehousing company. Today, Spartan Logistics is appreciated more for our cerebral approach and adaptability to define your strategic direction and execute it.  Let’s say you are the owner of, or you are responsible for, a company that sells or distributes footwear to a segment of the population. Before commiting, ask these five questions of a 3PL provider:    Read More

Topics: Common 3pl Questions

Interning at the Family Owned Logistics Business

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I have heard about the family logistics business for as long as I can remember.  I've heard my parents and grandparents come home and talk about the latest successes or failures of the company. I never really understood what they were discussing and wasn't always interested at such a young age.  All I cared about was sports and being outside with friends. My Summer Internship:  My name is Nick Harmon and I will be a sophmore, majoring in Business at Mount Vernon Nazerene University in Mount Vernon, OH. This summer I was given the opportunity to intern at my family's business—Spartan Logistics in Columbus, OH.  They are a  third-party logistics (3PL) logistics company, family owned and operated since 1988.  They've grown from a small, regional public warehouse and distribution provider, to a logistics company with 13 strategically placed locations throughout North America.      Typical Responsibilities on the Job: Over the summer, I was tasked with working on financial projection spreadsheet projects, assisting in marketing functions, and also hands-on experience in the warehouse.  I accompanied my Grandfather on business trips and meetings. All of these opportunities have truly changed the way I view the business and the business world. It has made me appreciate how important the family business is to so many people, and has helped me gain insight into what a successful business should look like.    Read More

Topics: Logistics Internship

Take the Necessary Steps to Recover from a Major Customer Loss.

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  Losing a key client can be devastating for any business.  This devastation is not limited to just financial loss or tarnished company brand.  There is the declining employee morale associated with the loss as well. No business has a perfect record when it comes to retention.  Even your best customers will eventually move on at some point, and not necessarily because of your lack of performance on your end.  When you come to terms with this reality, you'll be prepared for when it happens.  I've personally worked with entrepreneurs who have experienced loss at all levels. But the one thing that stings these solitary geniuses the most is losing one of their biggest clients.   Take the necessary steps to recover from a major customer loss so you're positioned to recover quickly: Be flexible with your staffing.  Creating the right types of efficiencies will ensure that your company isn't overstaffed, even on your biggest accounts.  Even if employees are dedicated to certain accounts, make sure that you have a plan for migrating your people to other areas of the company should you lose that client.  Laying people off and then hiring more resources again creates a highly volatile environment.  Read More

Topics: Customer Service Lessons

Five Steps to a Third-Party Logistics Marriage You May Not Have Considered

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It seems some of the most successful Fortune 100/500 companies have been able to grow their business profitably by outsourcing their logistics needs. Admittidely, the word "partnership" with a service provider has become exhausted — I prefer marriage.  Just like marriage, you are truly in it to reap the benefits for the long-term.   However, outsourcing isn't for everyone.  There are companies that feel they want total control, and that they can deliver a lower cost per order by handling warehousing, fulfillment and freight internally.  Doing so, some find that there is a greater impact on the bottom line.  On average, a 3PL can provide a lower cost per order compared to internally managed operations.  For those that are interested din utilizing a 3PL, but haven't taken the leap, here are 5 ways we have seen a number of clients get the most out of outsourcing.  Keep in mind that some of the points need to become a part of the negotiation process and expectations early on. 1. Creating a "Win/Win" for Both Parties I recently spoke with the Director of Logistics of a multi-million dollar manufacturing company.  He stated that their average customer had been with them just over 10 years.  They have 10 manufacturing facilities and very little square feet for production overrun in the U.S. and offshore; and they need to be closer to their customers. Think about that for a minute — that says a lot about finding a 3PL in a time when quality, low cost, and time-to-market are key to the business and profitability.  Creating a true union and win/win scenario should be the ultimate goal for both parties.  Here are a couple of things to think about: From your perspective, what are the short and long-term 3PL services you require to grow your business? Are there new systems and services a 3PL partner will invest in to provide first-rate services for your company?  Read More

Topics: Common 3pl Questions

Explaining the Layers of Logistics

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Learning the difference between a Third Party Logistics (3PL) and  Fourth Party Logistics (4PL) as well as 1PL, 2PL, and the rise of even Fifth Party Logistics (5PLs) is both confusing and highly debated among those in the supply chain industry.  While each layer of a logistics provider serves a specific purpose, it's important to remember that there are varying degrees of expertise and capabilities among each. What exactly defines a 3PL? A third party logistics company is one that manages another company's logistics operations department. 3PL is the action of outsourcing all or much of a company's logistics operations to a specialized  company.  For instance, Spartan Logistics provides its customers with turnkey 3PL services- warehousing, cross-docking, inventory management, fulfillment, and transportation services. In 2008 legislation passed declaring that the legal definition of a 3PL is "A person who solely receives, holds, or otherwise transports a consumer product in the ordinary course of business, but who does not take title to the product."  We 3PL's have a large footprint throughout the country. This makes it viable to service clients in remote regions at a much lower cost than doing it themselves.  3PL's tend to "walk the extra mile" to accommodate many of the responsibilities that would assume a 4PL's role ultimately.            What exactly defines a 4PL? The concept of a 4PL provider is an integrator that accumulates resources, capabilities and technologies to run complete supply chain solutions.  A 4PL company takes over the logistics section of a business, managing the entire process, and at times, the 3PL.  An example here would be an appliance importer-The main function is to import appliances. However, they need to have spare parts (fans, motors, etc.) for these appliances-a 4PL would manage the total logistic operations for the spare parts business. Ok, so what about all the other "PLs?  Read More

Topics: Common 3pl Questions