From high heels to heirloom tomatoes, blockchain technologies will touch everything

If you live off the grid, spend only paper money, tune in AM radio for entertainment and pretty much ignore the steamroller unleashed on everyday life by the Silicon Valley, none of what comes next will make sense.

But only a few years ago someone said to be in the proximity of Beijing conjoined the words block and chain into blockchain, a term for an obscure technical feat. Its purpose: provide a digital wallet for cryptocurrency. To read more, visit the Commercial Appeal.

Immigration concerns impact logistics side

HIGH POINT — Retailers aren’t the only ones concerned about the impact of Hispanics’ concerns regarding the current environment toward immigration.

The logistics side of the industry is impacted both in terms product bottlenecks and filling available positions on the road and in warehousing. To read more, visit Furniture Today.

New chassis business model would cut costs, trucker says

From the Journal of Commerce –

Long Beach – Truckers and beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) could save almost 50 percent on daily rental fees for chassis if the industry would agree upon a common model that allowed the party paying for chassis use to choose the equipment provider, according to a national trucking representative.

Dave Manning, president of TCW trucking in Nashville, Tennessee, and incoming chairman of the American Trucking Associations, said, for example, that his cost for use of a chassis from the trucker-controlled North American Chassis Pool Cooperative, of which Manning is president, is $12-14 per day. However, if a trucker is instructed by a shipping line to use a chassis from an intermodal equipment provider (IEP) it designates, as often happens when carriers are involved in the transaction, the daily rental fee can be $20.

“If you are paying for the chassis, make sure you can pick the provider of your choice,” Manning told the annual Agricultural Transportation Coalition conference Thursday in Long Beach.

Probably the main obstacle standing in the way of a smooth chassis regime is the decision by most carriers to stay tangentially involved in equipment decisions for container moves they control through their ocean contracts with BCOs. In those moves, the shipping line includes the cost of the chassis in the all-in charge for ocean move plus delivery of the container to the customer’s door.

In the United States, there was basically one chassis mode from the beginning of containerization in the 1950s until 2009 – ocean carriers owned the chassis, stored them at marine terminals, and provided them to BCOs along with the containers. In 2009, Maersk Line announced its decision to exit the chassis business. It formed a new company known as Direct ChassisLink Inc. to own, maintain, and provide chassis to customers.

Other carriers over the ensuing years began to pull out of the chassis business, and then on March 1, 2015, the three major IEPs in Los Angeles-Long Beach formed a neutral, or “grey” pool of pools with about 80,000 chassis that are interoperable, meaning a chassis can be picked up or dropped off at any location by users of the pool. Other pool arrangements have been formed over the years at different locations throughout the United States.

Truckers generally agree that of all the models, the grey chassis pool is the most versatile in the options it offers and the operational inconveniences it eliminates, and therefore preferable, at least in meeting their needs. “We believe this is the answer,” said Donna Lemm, executive vice president of IMC Companies in Memphis.

In reality, though, the gradual exit of about 20 ocean carriers from the chassis business since 2009 has not gone smoothly. Arrangements vary from region to region, and chassis shortages and surpluses occur too frequently in major harbor complexes. Truckers complain that the national fleet, which Lemm estimates as having an average age of 19, has too many unsafe or out-of-order chassis. “This things is a mess,” she said.

The problem with the current system, from the prospective of truckers, is that for moves controlled by a particular shipping lines, truckers must use only the chassis owned by the equipment provider with which that shipping line has a business relationship. That equipment works against truckers that own or lease their own chassis, which is becoming more popular in the industry. In another common scenario, the shipping line instructs the trucker to use a particular IEP-owned chassis, but the terminal where the inbound load is located may not have that IEP’s chassis on hand, so the trucker has to go to another site to retrieve an acceptable chassis, sometimes without compensation.

Manning said another residual impact to truckers is that each carrier has a business arrangement with an IEP that provides the shipping line with a discounted price fot the door moves that it controls. To compensate for lost revenue, the IEPs increase the price of other chassis that are used in “merchant haulage” in which the BCO controls the move. “The shipping lines continue to increase their merchant haulage rates,” he said.

There e is no single solution to this condition as long as ocean carriers choose to remain at least partially in the chassis business, but Manning advised truckers to begin by approaching the carriers directly and explaining the inconveniences and extra costs their policies are creating. He said that in many instances carriers will respond with an acceptable arrangement.

If that does not work, truckers, possibly through their associations, can approach the Federal Maritime Commission or the Department of Justice. Manning said Congress may also be interested in the issue as it reviews the Shipping Act. Truckers can also tell their story publically to the press, or, if needed, consider lawsuits.

In Southern California, another strategy is being considered. Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association, said the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are actively exploring the feasibility of encouraging the removal of chassis from marine terminals, which would free up more land for cargo-handling. This could happen if the ports are able to locate enough parcels in the massive port complex for establishment of common chassis storage depots. If enough suitable properties can be repurposed for these start-stop operations, sufficient chassis from all of the IEPs in the pool of pools could be made accessible for truckers within the general harbor area.

Managing pinch points

Last year was a tumultuous year for the furniture industry’s supply chain, and more disruption could be on the way in terms of ocean-carrier contracts and distribution of goods stateside.

Pinch points exist all along the line of getting goods from plant to consumer. Container shippers continue to figure out how they can make money in a market with excess capacity, and a tightened delivery infrastructure stateside with consolidation among trucking companies geared toward furniture doesn’t help.

To read more visit Furniture Today.

United they stand?

HIGH POINT — There’s been a considerable amount of consolidation of late among freight movers, especially ocean carriers, serving the furniture supply chain. That trend comes in the form of strategic alliances and acquisitions.

Ocean carriers, facing issues of over-capacity and declining demand, have been teaming up in consortiums to make the most of low rates for carrying containers and reach new markets without adding new vessels.

To read more visit Furniture Today.

Need for speed critical to Internet-trained consumers

Increasing consumer expectations created by Internet retailers’ ability to get goods into consumer homes within a day or two of order will continue to challenge furniture stores and the companies that service their deliveries to match that pace — despite the need to handle larger goods that often require deluxing and set up.

To read more visit Furniture Today.

New ocean carrier alliances pose challenge for logistics manager’s “cargo connections”

Ocean carriers are “bleeding cash” as they rush to stem the flow by aligning themselves in new alliances, says a prominent industry analyst. But will that mad dash be enough for some of the most desperate cases?

“It’s a bit too early to tell,” admits Chas Deller, CEO and Chairman, of 10XOCEANSOLUTIONS, Inc.

To read more visit Logistics Management.

Technology is essential to the future of drayage

IMC Companies’ Chairman Mark H. George spoke to JOC.com in late 2016 about the future of drayage as the industry faces major change on the ocean carrier side and the importance of technology investment as well as his company’s Northeast expansion plans. To view this interview visit the Journal of Commerce.

Conversation With…Mason George of IMC Global Solutions LLC

Mason George, a native Memphian graduated from Memphis University school in 2005 and went on to earn his undergraduate degree from Samford University in 2009. He married his wife, Malaney, and moved to Kansas City to open a container drayage terminal for the company of his father, Mark George: Intermodal Cartage Co. Inc (IMC).

In 2013, after having found success in the Midwest, the couple moved back to Memphis, where Mason George started an international freight forwarding division for IMC Cos. To read more, visit the Memphis Business Journal.