LTL news: The Reliance Network adds two new members

The Reliance Network, a consortium of regional less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers, recently announced it has added two new carrier members, with one member of the network leaving.

Joining The Reliance Network are West Coast-based LTL carriers Mountain Valley Express and Peninsula Truck Lines. These carriers will replace DATS Trucking on serving shippers through The Reliance Network in the Western U.S.

Other members of The Reliance Network include: Pitt Ohio Express, Averitt Express, Canadian Freighways/Epic Express, Lakeville Motor Express, and Land Air Express of New England. Established in 2008, the objective of The Reliance Network is to create a unified cross-continent coalition for all freight services, according to officials.  Since its inception, it has generated more than $1 billion in revenues, which is notable considering at the time of its launch most trucking companies were saddled with double-digit tonnage decline.

“This transition is a positive move by The Reliance Network as it supports
the mission of the alliance to provide the most dependable, reliable
service for customers shipping anywhere in North America,” said Geoffrey
Muessig, Pitt Ohio Express’s  vice president of sales, in a statement.  “Mountain Valley Express and Peninsula Truck Lines are two of the premier LTL carriers
serving the Western U.S.”

The Reliance Network basically functions as a provider of seamless, national LTL, truckload and supply chain freight services.

Instead of managing shipments with multiple carriers to service their regional, national and worldwide shipping needs, shippers can work directly with their local Reliance Network member. Through The Reliance Network, shippers have the value of a strong chain of experienced transportation specialists while continuing to work with the provider they’ve already grown to trust.

When it was first launched, Phil Pierce, Averitt’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, told LM that he expected the Reliance Network to make a significant impact in its ability to do serve regions outside of its main network and by opening the door for [member carriers] to compete for a whole new category of business for which they previously were not strongly competing.

Benefits The Reliance Network can provide for shippers include:

  • A single-source provider with 100% coverage of the United States, Canada and Mexico.
  • More consistent transit times.
  • Convenience of working with their trusted local transportation specialist to manage all of their door-to-door shipping needs rather than managing multiple carriers.
  • Seamless coverage through hundreds of service centers across the continent.
  • Expertise and exceptional customer service from more than 15,000 team members.
  • Reliable transportation resources and efficient equipment, including more than 25,000 trucks and trailers.
  • Complete, real-time shipment visibility from origin to final destination.
  • Secure data management.
  • Accurate administrative processes with full service PRO number tracking, tracing and invoicing capabilities
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Global Logistics/LTL news: ODFL rolls out new regional command centers

OD-Global, a subsidiary of less-than-truckload carrier Old Dominion Freight Line which focuses on import and export services, said this week it has opened up four regional command centers in an effort to better serve its global customers.

ODFL refers to these centers as OD-Global Command Centers, and they are located in existing company offices in Atlanta, Dallas, New York City, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

They added that these offices will be up and running by the middle of next month and handle operations for OD-Global’s Northern, Southern, and Gulf Coast regions, along with Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The expansion of OD-Global to include regional offices has been a part of our planned evolution since the inception of our forwarding/NVOCC operations in 2007,” said Greg Plemmons, vice president of OD-Global in an interview. “The timing of the openings was driven by customer demand and growth of our forwarding operations.”

Plemmons said that these offices will provide customers with local support in the movement of international ocean and air shipments from beginning to end.

“OD-Global offers a full range of forwarding and supply chain services,” he said. “Services provided by our worldwide network of agents and partners is fully integrated with OD’s asset based infrastructure in North America including LTL, TL, container drayage, expedited, warehousing and rail. End to end visibility is provided on all OD-Global shipments. It’s important to note that OD has one of the lowest claims ratios in the US LTL market, so our customers’ freight will be delivered undamaged.”

Old Dominion’s U.S. operations are divided into seven geographic regions, according to Plemmons. Each of these new offices will serve its customers in one of those geographic regions. Regions included are Northern, Southern and Gulf Coast Regions, as well as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The other regions will continue to be handled centrally from ODFL’s Thomasville, NC headquarters, and staffing will vary from office to office and will depend on volume and customer demand.

In terms of the biggest benefits of these offices for shippers, Plemmons said that customers have told him they prefer dealing with a local business whenever possible, with relationships between importers and exporters on the one hand and their Global Supply Chain provider being extremely important.

“Opening these new and future planned offices is consistent with Old Dominion’s philosophy of providing local customer support,” he said.

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3PL news: Greatwide rolls out Managed Transportation Services offering

Non asset-based third party logistics services provider Greatwide Logistics said today it has launched a new service offering.

Entitled Managed Transportation Services (MTS), company officials said this offering provides shippers with superior visibility from pickup through delivery, coupled with centralized technology to monitor and improve supply chain operations. They added that MTS is comprised of various Greatwide core competencies, including: Dedicated, Brokerage, and Warehousing.

This launch follows a March announcement made by Greatwide, when the company rolled out a major re-branding push focused on its MTS-based dedicated fleet management services. As part of this effort, Greatwide took steps to consolidate its sales and business development groups so they were selling everything the company offers, followed by the creation of marketing, sales support, and engineering groups to re-launch the Greatwide brand and Website.

In an interview with LM, Greatwide Chief Customer Officer Vin Gulisano said that MTS had been planned for roughly the last 18 months.

“What drove the need [for MTS] was really Greatwide being positioned in the middle of a lot of very large shippers, and then we started doing more and more with mid-sized companies,” he said. “We started preparing a strategy for large shippers as they started to take control of their transportation spend and looked at the pressures that was placing on the mid-sized shippers. And we saw the pressures they were having and applied it against the landscape of the economy, knowing that at some point soon capacity is going to dry up, rates are going to increase, leading them to wonder where the pressure is going to fall.”

That pressure would be most likely to fall on mid-sized companies, noted Gulisano. This made now the right time, he said, to put together an offering which could help mitigate that pressure.

When asked how MTS can best benefit shippers, Gulisano explained that transportation savings is at the top of the list.

“This comes through our ability to aggregate purchasing power for shippers,” he said. “It is the driver, coupled with the technology we offer through our Transportation Management System platform. This allows shippers to be more efficient than if they were managing transportation spend on their own. The [biggest savings] comes from the ability to offset pure transportation costs through buying power.”

In terms of the competitive advantages MTS offers, Gulisano said several of Greatwide’s competitors focus on the largest competitors—at the expense of mid-sized companies. And he explained that Greatwide is taking a differentiated approach by centralizing its operations with MTS and leveraging its own capacity on a dedicated basis—with backhaul capacity being the capacity that shippers often do not have access to today, due to market conditions unless leveraging an MTS model.

“We are trying to provide this service to shippers that are under-served and are also leveraging a dedicated fleet in a way that no other dedicated provider has before,” said Gulisano. “This is being combined with our brokerage and warehousing services to form an integrated solution, which ideally will give us a bigger mousetrap.”

Greawide officials also pointed to the following areas below as the nuts and bolts of its MTS offering:

1. Measurement — extensive monitoring, tracking and analysis of data to allow the best decisions on mode optimization, consolidation and deployment of carriers, including private fleet, dedicated and unique hybrid combinations.

2. Capability — annual bids and mini-bids to expedite transportation procurement processes and eliminate manual processing, improving auditing and payment capabilities.

3. Transportation Savings — minimization of rates by making the least expensive mode choice based on service requirements and shipment weight/dimensions. Instant comparison of available options enables mode conversion, shipment consolidation, flow-through warehouses and other rate savings.

4. Greatwide Resources — unparalleled carrier capacity, along with proactive continuous improvement through best-in-class engineering and account management resources.

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Obama selects Pistole to lead TSA

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama said he intends to nominate John S. Pistole, the Deputy Director at the FBI, as Assistant Secretary for Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration.

“The talent and knowledge John has acquired in more than two decades of service with the F.B.I. will make him a valuable asset to our administration’s efforts to strengthen the security and screening measures at our airports,” said Obama in a statement. “I am grateful that he has agreed to take on this important role, and I look forward to working with him in the weeks and months ahead.”

If Pistole ends up taking the job, it comes at a time when transportation security remains as important and vital as it ever has, coming on the heels of a recent attempt to escape the country by the attempted Times Square bomber.

And transportation security is still front and center for freight transportation concerns, with things like air cargo scanning and ocean container screening receiving ongoing attention from shippers and carriers.

The White House statement also made mention of Pistole’s significant career accomplishments, including working in the F.B.I’s Counterterrorism Division, beginning in 2002 as Deputy Assistant Director for Operations, then as Assistant Director for Counterterrorism, and later as Executive Assistant Director for Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence. Pistole began his career as a Special Agent with the F.B.I. in 1983. He served in the Minneapolis and New York Divisions before being promoted to a Supervisor in the Organized Crime Section at F.B.I. Headquarters.

Mr. Pistole later served as a field supervisor of a White-Collar Crime and Civil Rights Squad in Indianapolis, Indiana, and then as Assistant Special Agent in Charge in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1999, Mr. Pistole helped lead the investigative and recovery efforts for the Egypt Air Flight 990 crash off the coast of Rhode Island. Following the espionage arrest of Robert Hanssen, Mr. Pistole helped lead the Information Security Working Group in 2001, addressing security and vulnerability issues. He was then named an Inspector in the F.B.I.’s Inspection Division. Mr. Pistole is a recipient of the 2005 Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Executive and, in 2007, the Department of Justice Edward H. Levy Award for Outstanding Professionalism and Exemplary Integrity. Prior to joining the F.B.I., Mr. Pistole practiced law for two years. He is a graduate of Anderson University and the Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis.

The selection of Pistole follows two previous nominations for this position, according to media reports: Errol G. Southers, a former FBI agent and counterterrorism supervisor for the Los Angeles Airport police, and Robert A. Harding, a retired Army intelligence office. Both former candidates withdrew their bids for the job before the vetting process was complete.

“[This] announcement is good news for America’s national security,” said Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, in a statement. “Mr. Pistole’s two decades of service with the FBI give him a unique perspective on the nexus of security operations, law enforcement and intelligence.  I have worked with Mr. Pistole over the years, and I believe he is a strong manager capable of getting the job done.  I know he is well regarded in the intelligence and law enforcement communities, and I look forward to working with him.  I am committed to working with my fellow Commerce Committee members to move Mr. Pistole’s nomination forward as expeditiously as possible.”

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Ocean cargo/global logistics: “Clean Truck Program” gains traction with East Coast seaports

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor

In a move to replicate programs gaining traction on the West Coast, The Coalition for Responsible Transporation (CRT) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced a joint “Clean Trucks Initiative” earlier this week.

“This collaborative effort is a critical first step toward addressing air pollutants released from heavy duty diesel trucks, traditionally one of the largest sources of pollution at ports,” said EDF toxologist, Dr. Elena Craft.

The groups made the announcement before the South Atlantic and Caribbean Ports Association and highlighted opportunities for other ports and their customers to form similar partnerships.

The “Clean Trucks Initiative” builds a partnership between the retail industry and trucking and port communities to solve a critical environmental challenge: air quality in and around ports. The framework includes guidelines for engaging stakeholders, creating an action plan as well as implementation strategies.

It was not immediately clear, however, whether the new program will model itself after the one at the Port of Long Beach, where drivers are permitted to be independent owner-operators, or whether it will resemble the plan at the Port of Los Angeles, where Teamster-only drivers are part of the mandate. In any case, it appears to have shipper support.

“Since we use these ports every day, it is essential to retailers like Lowe’s that successful clean truck programs are enacted at our nation’s ports,” said Steve Palmer, Vice President of Transportation for Lowe’s, which is a CRT member. “This initiative has our full support. It aligns with Lowe’s ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. This initiative allows retailers to make cleaner and more efficient transportation choices.”

The CRT/EDF Clean Trucks Initiative is a framework designed to facilitate a working partnership with individual ports across the country in a manner that recognizes their individual needs and the needs of their stakeholders. The framework also recognizes the critical need to partner with the trucking community to ensure that clean truck programs are economically sustainable for the thousands of drivers who service our nation’s ports by providing them with public and private sources of financial support to retire older, higher-polluting trucks.

Key features of the CRT/EDF Clean Trucks Initiative include:

engaging with port communities and stakeholders to identify opportunities to partner together to reduce diesel pollution from port drayage activities;

-conducting an emissions inventory from port-related activities to assess opportunities for air quality improvement;

-developing a collaborative and stakeholder-driven process to set goals for air quality improvement from port drayage activities;

-creating an action plan for meeting those air quality goals that recognizes the unique needs of individual ports and ensures that drivers have the financial support they need to retire, high-polluting trucks; and

-implementing air quality action plans through the collaborative efforts of ports and their customers.

As reported in LM, other “clean truck programs” have been endorsed by a wide variety of industry stakeholders. At issue, however, is whether a free enterprise environment for drayage operators will be able to remain part of the solution.

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NA 2010 Keynote wrap up: Where will we find our skilled workers?

The materials handling industry in the United States is growing, meaning there will be a greater demand for skilled workers. Therefore, increasing the number of materials handling educational programs across the country to create a successful conduit for companies to find skilled employees is vital.

That was just one of the messages delivered during the Keynote Series session “How Industry is Changing Material Handling Training and Education.”

“The need is already beginning to surface, and we’re trying to stay ahead of the curve.” said Allan Howie, MHIA director of continuing education and professional development.

According to keynoter Don Gillman, director of the Applied Technology Center, “Beginning at the high school level, the goal is to expose students to our invisible industry. Kids see product on store shelves, but they don’t have any idea how it got there. Our goal is to heighten their awareness of the materials handling industry at the 9th grade level and provide career-based programs that lead to the next level of education—vocational training, associate’s degrees, bachelor degrees and beyond.”

Curriculums are shaped with input from industry leaders to keep content current. This is an on-going effort, considering the rapidly advancing technology and processes in today’s warehouses and DCs.

Attendees were also strongly encouraged to contact MHIA and the Keynote speakers for assistance in creating local programs.

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NA 2010 Keynote wrap up: Sustainability put under the microscope

Two keynote presenters at the recently concluded NA 2010 considered the similarities between business sustainability in the profit and not for profit sectors as well as the role materials handling can play in ushering in a greener business operation in the session “The Business Case for Sustainable Distribution Centers.”

Keynoter Carol Tienken is the COO of the Greater Boston Food Bank, a facility with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification. Tienken’s 125,000-square-foot food bank distributed 32 million pounds of food last year, following at least 15 years of double-digit growth.

“It’s not a small facility and it’s not a small task,” said Tienken. “And neither was the process of retrofitting the facility with an eye toward sustainability. Every 50 cents we can save puts a meal on a table.”

John Ling is the vice president of supply chain management at Crate and Barrel, which handled 350,000 home deliveries and 5 million parcel deliveries last year. Sustainability was a top priority at the LEED Gold-certified, 1.2 million-square-foot facility, said Ling. The company has also retrofitted three other DCs for sustainability.

“We didn’t come up with huge initiatives, we looked for quick things to solve,” said Ling, who advised other businesses to, “do it for the right reasons. Don’t just do it because it’s popular.”

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