Navigating Rail Logistics Excellence: Does PSR Help or Hurt Chemical Shipping Success?

In the highly regulated, fast-paced, and ever-evolving logistics industry, efficient and reliable rail services are crucial for businesses to streamline their shipping operations and reduce costs. One methodology, Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), has reshaped rail operations significantly in recent years. Promoted as a strategy to enhance operational efficiency and reduce expenses, PSR runs trains on fixed schedules rather than adapting to demand. While it’s touted to bring particular efficiencies, PSR has also been heavily criticized for compromising safety, diminishing service quality, and negatively impacting workforce morale. Understanding the intricacies of PSR, evaluating its shortcomings, and leveraging effective alternatives ensures superior, uninterrupted rail services.

What is Precision Scheduled Railroading?

PSR is a railroad management strategy that aims to enhance operational efficiency by adhering to fixed train schedules. In theory, this optimizes asset utilization and reduces operational costs by streamlining operations, minimizing downtime, and maximizing asset productivity. However, supply and demand in any industry don’t operate on a fixed schedule, often leading to misalignment with this shipping methodology.

What are the Benefits of PSR?

  • Cost Reduction: Railroads can operate more efficiently by standardizing train schedules, leading to significant cost savings.
  • Increased Reliability: Fixed schedules make predicting and managing rail traffic easier, theoretically improving on-time performance.
  • Better Asset Utilization: PSR ensures that rail assets, such as locomotives and railcars, are used more effectively, reducing idle time.

Criticisms and Challenges of PSR

Despite its proposed benefits, PSR has faced substantial criticism for several reasons:

  • Reduced Capacity: PSR can lead to service disruptions, particularly during peak times, as the fixed schedules may not align with demand fluctuations.
  • Slower Transit Times: The focus on cost reduction can sometimes result in slower service and less reliable delivery times.
  • Increased Train Length: PSR often involves running longer trains, up to three miles long, to improve efficiency. This can increase the risk of derailments and complicate train operations.
  • Crew Stress and Fatigue: Operating longer trains can be more challenging and stressful for crews, leading to fatigue and potential safety issues.
  • Inadequate Training: Frontline workers may not receive sufficient training to handle the complexities of PSR, particularly with longer trains.
  • Workforce Reduction: PSR has been associated with workforce reductions, leading to job cuts and concerns about the adequacy of staffing levels.

Strategic Considerations for the Chemical Industry

Given the hazardous nature of its products, the chemical industry must prioritize safety and regulatory compliance. Railroads must be held to stringent safety standards to ensure the safe and timely transport of chemicals. Additionally, the industry should consider the long-term benefits of sustainability and low emissions that rail transport offers over-the-road (OTR) alternatives. CLX Logistics supports these strategic considerations by providing safe, compliant, and efficient rail services that align with industry needs.

How CLX Logistics Mitigates the Challenges of PSR

CLX Logistics recognizes the drawbacks of PSR and leverages its expertise to mitigate these challenges, ensuring that clients receive the full benefits of rail logistics without the associated risks:

  1. Enhanced Tracking and Fleet Visibility CLX Logistics employs advanced tracking and tracing technology to provide real-time visibility of the entire fleet. Our systems boast a location accuracy rate of 99%, compared to the typical 50% accuracy from standard rail companies. This superior visibility allows us to efficiently manage and optimize the network, address issues promptly, and ensure seamless operations.
  2. Cost-Efficiency and Better Rates CLX Logistics helps clients identify whether they are paying appropriate market rates. This information is crucial for effective negotiations with railroads, which helps avoid rate increases and secure rate decreases. We also optimize networks to find cost-saving efficiencies, potentially shifting providers or modes to achieve the best financial outcomes.
  3. Efficient Operations Our process-proven approach ensures that equipment is kept rolling efficiently. We maintain excellent track and trace systems for real-time fleet location visibility across the network. By leveraging our relationships with yardmasters, engineers, and trainmasters, we can expedite services and address issues promptly, ensuring minimal delays and maximum efficiency.
  4. Regulatory Adherence and Safety Compliance with regulations is a crucial priority for CLX Logistics. Our team stays abreast of all regulatory requirements and maintenance standards, ensuring our clients’ shipments meet all necessary guidelines. This is particularly important for industries such as chemicals, where safety and regulatory compliance are critical. We hold railroads to high safety standards, providing a safer alternative to OTR shipping.
  5. Expedited Shipping: Our services are designed to enhance rail shipping speeds. We can expedite shipping by optimizing network efficiencies and leveraging our industry connections. Our focus on proactive issue resolution and enhanced visibility ensures that products move through the network swiftly and reliably.

Choose CLX Logistics for Industry-leading Rail Service Optimization

For better or worse, PSR has revolutionized the rail industry by emphasizing standardization for efficiency and cost reduction. However, its focus on short-term profits has raised significant concerns regarding safety, service quality, and workforce well-being.

CLX Logistics strives to mitigate these issues by providing superior tracking, cost-saving strategies, efficient operations, and stringent regulatory adherence. Our deep industry connections and proprietary knowledge ensure our clients receive the best possible service, making us a trusted partner for enhancing shipping capabilities.

Whether improving safety, securing better rates, or increasing shipment speed, CLX Logistics is dedicated to optimizing rail logistics for our clients. Our commitment to excellence ensures that your shipping operations are efficient and cost-effective but also reliable and compliant with all industry standards.

Want to learn more about how CLX Logistics can transform your rail logistics? Contact us today to see how we can enhance your shipping capabilities and give you a competitive edge!

Upgrading Tank Truck Lanes to CLX Intermodal Transportation Solutions

CLX Logistics was sought by a Fortune 10 multinational oil and gas provider to improve trucking lane efficiency in the US Gulf Coast region, with the potential to expand. The Client was interested in introducing intermodal transportation solutions into their operation.

Intermodal transportation is a full-service alternative to existing tank truck operations that can reduce costs and improve operational efficiency on appropriate length routes, using standard bulk shipping containers (aka ISO containers, cargo containers, or intermodal shipping containers).

The planning and agreement process took several months to ensure all details were fully addressed. CLX worked with the Client to fully understand their needs and provide several flexible pricing models and options with complete transparency.

Client Challenges

The Client was experiencing increased shipping volumes that showed no signs of slowing. They were maxing out their trucking capacity and faced skyrocketing operating costs. The Client requested that CLX Logistics review transportation lanes currently used by tanker trucks to see if intermodal transportation solutions could enhance and optimize operations.

CLX analyzed the shipping lanes and identified individual lanes where intermodal transportation routes would have the most impact, increasing capacity and reducing costs.

The CLX Logistics Solution

  • Increased Performance: Intermodal transportation services achieve significant performance increases in shipments over 1,000 miles and reach peak efficiency at 2,000+ miles. The transportation ranges needed by the Client were ideal for introducing intermodal solutions and would have a significant positive impact on, efficiency, capacity, and costs.
  • Conforming to all Regulations: Their involvement in the oil and gas industry includes a unique set of health and environmental compliance standards and regulations which would be met, as well as their own standards, to which we would fully conform.
  • A Seamless Transition: The Client’s stakeholders received complete support from CLX that we would provide a smooth, effective transition to intermodal transportation.
  • Continuous Improvement: By maximizing our ISO tank capacity and improved lanes, the Client has freed up and redirected their current tank trucks to shorter, non-intermodal shipping lanes. Capacity is no longer in a dire state, and organic growth is flourishing. We continue to see rapidly increasing volumes from the Client and continue to work with them to find additional models for other locations and support continued growth.


Results to Date

In this case study, CLX began providing intermodal transportation solutions to their Client in spring 2019 with one shipping point and has expanded to 12 by February 2020. A small number of lanes was trialed early in the program, and CLX made on-site visits to all loading and unloading plants to monitor operations and ensure the process was followed to plan. We worked with the Client and their own customers to walk them through loading and unloading ISOs and provided internal benchmarking.

Since the introduction of intermodal transportation, the Client is saving 20% to 30% on each lane as compared to their old tanker truck services. The Client has gone from having no relationship to CLX Logistics to becoming one of our largest domestic clients in less than a year.

Download this Case Study to Read Later Here

About CLX Logistics, LLC

CLX Logistics, LLC is a global provider of comprehensive logistics management, technology and supply chain consulting services to a broad base of industry verticals. The global company, with offices in North America and Europe, is dedicated to solving its customers’ most vital logistics challenges by leveraging a broad range of industry expertise, best-of-breed technology and a personalized, high-touch approach to deliver measurable, sustainable value.


The Role of Supply Chain Visibility, Traceability & Intelligence

Logistics and supply chain management firms strive to achieve operational excellence in any industry while juggling dynamic economic and logistic changes. This involves leveraging visibility, traceability, and intelligence to transform operations and improve the shipping process. By incorporating these elements, firms can enhance operational efficiency, reduce risks, and meet customer expectations. Discover how these crucial factors work together to optimize supply chain management.

What is Supply Chain Visibility?

Supply chain visibility (SCV) is tracking and monitoring all parts of the supply chain at any time, providing a comprehensive and real-time overview of inventory and activity status. This visibility extends from the initial order to freight delivery, encompassing all the movements of goods and materials along the way.

The benefits of SCV are substantial, particularly in improving customer service, optimizing cost control, and enhancing the agility of supply chain operations. By understanding where products are at all times, from road to rail and maritime, companies can manage better inventory levels, avoid bottlenecks, and respond proactively to any disruptions or changes in demand. Moreover, SCV is not just about tracking—it’s about gaining actionable insights to help businesses anticipate needs and adjust strategies accordingly.

What are the Benefits of Supply Chain Visibility?

SCV is a critical component in modern supply chains, providing essential insights that increase operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. By enhancing visibility across all phases of the supply chain, companies can anticipate problems, respond faster to market changes, and deliver products more efficiently.

Some of the numerous advantages that improved visibility brings include:

Mitigated Disruptions: With SCV, businesses can identify potential problems before they occur. Whether it’s a delay at a supplier’s factory or a transportation hiccup, knowing about these issues in advance allows companies to take corrective actions early, thus minimizing their impact.

Enhanced Agility: Agility is a significant competitive advantage in today’s market. SCV empowers businesses to adapt quickly to changes, whether they are driven by market trends, customer needs, or external disruptions.

Increased Speed: SCV helps streamline operations by integrating real-time data, facilitating quicker decision-making and turnaround times. This rapid response capability is essential for keeping pace with market demands and exceeding customer expectations.

Meeting Customer Demands: Today’s consumers expect fast, reliable service. SCV provides the tools to deliver on these expectations by ensuring that the right products are available and deliverable on demand.

Data-driven Results: Leveraging data from SCV systems allows businesses to optimize their supply chains comprehensively. From reducing excess inventory to enhancing delivery routes, the data-driven insights obtained led to significant efficiency and cost savings improvements.

What is Supply Chain Traceability and Why is it Important?

Supply chain traceability refers to tracking every part of the product’s journey across the supply chain, from raw materials to the end consumer and beyond recycling or disposal. This level of detail is critical for ensuring quality, compliance with regulations, and maintaining consumer trust.

The Benefits of Supply Chain Traceability

Traceability within the supply chain is not just about compliance and meeting regulatory standards but about gaining a deeper understanding of the product’s journey from start to finish. The ability to track and verify each step of a product’s lifecycle ensures quality, enhances operational transparency, and strengthens customer trust.

Explore the pivotal benefits of supply chain traceability, which range from improving product quality and operational efficiency to enhancing brand reputation and consumer confidence:

Efficiency and Accuracy: Traceability systems improve the accuracy of inventory data, helping companies manage supply and demand more effectively. They also enhance the scheduling and planning processes, leading to more reliable production timelines and fewer delays.

Quality Control: By tracking products throughout their lifecycle, companies can quickly identify and address quality issues. This capability is vital for industries like chemical logistics, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverages, where safety and compliance are paramount.

Simplifies Audits: Comprehensive traceability simplifies the audit process by providing precise and accessible compliance records across every supply chain step. This transparency is crucial for meeting regulatory standards and maintaining certifications.

Easier Troubleshooting: When issues arise, detailed traceability allows companies to quickly pinpoint problems and implement solutions, minimizing downtime and disruption.

Boosts Brand Image: In an era where consumers are increasingly conscious of ethical sourcing and sustainability, being able to provide transparent supply chain information significantly enhances brand reputation and loyalty.

What is Supply Chain Intelligence?

Supply chain intelligence (SCI) encompasses the technologies and systems that help synthesize data across the supply chain to provide strategic insights. SCI combines analytical tools and software solutions to enhance decision-making processes, ensuring operations are lean, agile, and aligned with broader business goals.

The Benefits of Supply Chain Intelligence

SCI transforms raw data into actionable insights, enabling businesses to optimize their supply chain operations effectively. By strategically using SCI, companies can streamline their processes, anticipate market fluctuations, and make informed decisions swiftly.

Leveraging supply chain intelligence can lead to substantial improvements that grant your operations a competitive edge, including:

Improved Efficiency: Effective SCI systems help identify inefficiencies and streamline procurement and distribution processes, reducing operational costs and improving service delivery.

Enhanced Security: SCI provides advanced monitoring capabilities that help prevent fraud, theft, and other security risks. This proactive approach ensures the integrity of both physical goods and data.

Provides Peace of Mind: SCI gives managers and stakeholders confidence in their operational decisions by offering a comprehensive view of the supply chain. This assurance is critical for managing complex logistics networks.

Steps for Greater Visibility in Chemical Supply Chain

These actions outline practical steps chemical companies can take to improve their supply chain visibility.

  1. Adopt Advanced Technologies: Utilize AI and machine learning to automate processes and gather insights, reducing reliance on manual systems.
  2. Digitize Compliance: Ensure compliance with global standards by upgrading technology to integrate and automate regulatory processes.
  3. Leverage Data Analytics: Use analytics to forecast market changes and adapt operations to stay competitive.
  4. Enhance Customer Communication: Implement technologies that provide customers real-time updates about product availability and delivery status.
  5. Globalize Supply Chain Management: Embrace a global perspective to enhance connectivity and cooperation across all supply chain facets.

Listen to Our Podcast and Discover Ways to Incorporate Visibility, Traceability, and Intelligence into Your Supply Chain Logistics

Enhancing visibility, traceability, and intelligence in supply chain operations can significantly boost efficiency, security, and customer satisfaction. At CLX Logistics, we are dedicated to helping our clients achieve these objectives with innovative solutions tailored to their unique needs. By focusing on these critical areas, companies can meet today’s challenges and position themselves for success in an increasingly complex global market.

Listen to our podcast on technology-driven supply chain logistics to learn more about how these strategies can be integrated into your operations.

Bring Investing & Outsourcing to Your Supply Chain Strategy

A resilient and agile supply chain strategy is not just a prudent choice—it’s a necessity, especially within the context of chemical supply chains. The chemical industry is highly complex, with stringent regulatory requirements, specialized transportation needs, and a global network of suppliers and distributors. As such, the importance of investing in and outsourcing supply chain management becomes even more pronounced.

The disruptions experienced during the global pandemic highlighted vulnerabilities within chemical supply chains, emphasizing the critical need for proactive investments in resilience and flexibility. According to Gartner research, nearly 90% of businesses, including those in the chemical sector, plan to enhance their supply chain resilience over the next two years.1 However, achieving this goal requires overcoming significant challenges, such as the complexity of global supply networks and poor visibility into extended supply chain ecosystems.

Investing in Supply Chain

Ensuring supply chain resilience is paramount for chemical companies, not only for operational efficiency but also for regulatory compliance and risk management. By strategically investing in digital technologies, diversifying supplier networks, and leveraging third-party logistics providers (3PLs), chemical companies can proactively optimize their supply chains to navigate disruptions effectively and maintain a competitive edge in the market.

What Challenges are in Supply Chain Strategy Planning?

Designing a resilient and agile supply chain organization is not without its challenges. Global supply networks are intricate, often involving specialized players across different tiers and modes of transportation. This complexity, coupled with poor visibility into extended supply chain ecosystems, hampers effective strategic planning.

To navigate these challenges, supply chain leaders must adopt proactive measures:

Scenario Planning: Assess various market scenarios, including regulatory changes and geopolitical factors, to anticipate potential disruptions and plan responsive strategies.

Enhanced Visibility: Leverage advanced analytics technologies like blockchain and IoT to gain real-time visibility into critical supply chain segments, ensuring compliance and operational efficiency.

Stakeholder Collaboration: Foster strong partnerships with regulatory bodies, customers, suppliers, logistics providers, and manufacturers to enhance coordination and responsiveness to regulatory and operational challenges.

Segment Prioritization: Identify and prioritize key supply chain segments based on criticality and risk exposure, allocating resources strategically.

Volatility Management: Develop agile strategies to address fluctuations in supply and demand caused by disruptions, ensuring continuity of supply for critical chemical products.

Implementing these proactive steps enables chemical organizations to build resilience and agility into their supply chain strategies, mitigating risks and optimizing performance even amidst uncertainties.

How to Invest in Supply Chains?

The pandemic served as a wake-up call for many organizations, highlighting the need to invest strategically in supply chain capabilities. According to research, 43% of executives plan to increase supply chain investments significantly in the coming months.2

Strategic Supply Chain Investment Areas

Chemical manufacturing and logistics organizations are strategically investing in two primary areas within their supply chains:

Investing in Supply Chain Digitization

Technology plays a pivotal role in enhancing supply chain resilience within the chemical sector. By leveraging advanced technologies such as AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics, chemical companies can achieve:

Transparency: Real-time visibility into inventory, shipments, and supplier performance for hazardous materials.

Connectedness: Seamless integration across disparate systems for improved collaboration and compliance.

Agility: Rapid response capabilities to dynamic regulatory changes and market conditions, ensuring compliance and operational continuity.

For instance, the adoption of shipping containers or railcars integrated with track and trace sensors enables end-to-end visibility and proactive issue resolution for chemical supply chains.

Investing in Supply Chain Diversification

Diversifying the chemical supply chain is another critical investment area. The pandemic underscored the risks of over-reliance on single-source suppliers for critical raw materials. Chemical organizations are diversifying by:

Onshoring and Nearshoring: Bringing production closer to demand centers to reduce supply chain risks and ensure regulatory compliance.

Regionalizing Supplier Base: Establishing regional supplier networks to minimize dependency on specific regions and enhance responsiveness to local regulations.

Manufacturing Diversification: Spreading manufacturing facilities across different geographic locations to enhance flexibility and ensure continuity of supply.

For example, chemical manufacturers are reevaluating their supplier networks to mitigate risks associated with global disruptions and regulatory uncertainties.

What are the Benefits of Supply Chain Outsourcing?

Managing a chemical supply chain in-house can be resource-intensive and complex, especially given the regulatory complexities and safety considerations involved.

Outsourcing logistics and supply chain management offers several compelling advantages for chemical companies:

Cost Reduction

Outsourcing logistics operations to a specialized 3PL can result in significant cost savings. 3PLs leverage economies of scale and expertise to optimize processes and reduce operational costs while ensuring compliance with safety regulations.

Focus on Core Competencies

By outsourcing non-core activities like hazardous material handling, warehousing, and transportation, chemical companies can redirect resources towards core business functions such as research and development, compliance management, and customer service.

Access to Expertise and Technology

Specialized chemical 3PLs invest heavily in technology and talent to deliver superior supply chain solutions tailored to regulatory requirements. By partnering with a reputable chemical 3PL, organizations gain access to advanced technologies, analytics, and industry expertise without significant upfront investments.

Scalability and Flexibility

Outsourcing allows chemical organizations to scale operations up or down based on demand fluctuations and regulatory changes. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for adapting to evolving market conditions and maintaining compliance.

Risk Mitigation

Sharing supply chain responsibilities with a trusted chemical 3PL mitigates operational risks, including compliance with safety regulations and handling hazardous materials. 3PLs are equipped to implement robust safety protocols and contingency plans to ensure operational continuity and regulatory compliance.

Choosing the Right Chemical 3PL Partner

Selecting the right chemical 3PL partner is critical for maximizing the benefits of outsourcing and ensuring compliance with stringent regulatory requirements.

Consider the following factors when choosing a chemical 3PL:

Industry Experience: Look for a 3PL with a proven track record in managing chemical supply chains and compliance with safety regulations.

Technology Capabilities: Ensure the 3PL’s technology infrastructure aligns with chemical supply chain needs, including hazardous material tracking and compliance management.

Scalability: Verify the 3PL’s ability to scale operations to accommodate chemical handling requirements and regulatory changes.

Safety and Compliance: Define clear safety and compliance protocols in service level agreements (SLAs) to ensure adherence to regulatory standards.

Cost Structure: Evaluate pricing models to ensure cost-effectiveness and transparency, considering the complexities involved in chemical supply chain management.

Choose CLX as Your Chemical Logistics 3PL and Reap the Benefits of Investing and Supply Chin Outsourcing

Incorporating strategic investments and outsourcing into chemical supply chain strategies is imperative for building resilience, agility, and efficiency in an increasingly complex regulatory environment. Chemical organizations that proactively invest in digitization, diversification, and outsourcing gain a competitive edge, ensuring compliance, operational continuity, and sustainable growth.

By partnering with CLX Logistics, chemical organizations can access tailored supply chain solutions backed by decades of industry expertise. Our comprehensive services, including hazardous material transportation management, compliance consulting, and intermodal solutions, empower chemical companies to optimize operations, reduce costs, and drive sustainable growth while ensuring compliance with stringent regulatory requirements. With the in-house capabilities to tackle today’s logistics challenges—from capacity crunch to supply chain visibility and everything in between—we thrive on solving the challenges that other 3PLs tend to avoid.

Investing and outsourcing your chemical supply chain with CLX Logistics enables you to navigate regulatory complexities effectively, seize growth opportunities, and achieve operational excellence in an increasingly dynamic and compliance-focused business landscape.

Discover how we can revolutionize your chemical supply chain and keep your company prepared for anything. Learn More About CLX.




The Role of Circular Supply Chains for Future Sustainability

Sustainability has emerged as a fundamental principle guiding business practices in global commerce’s contemporary and dynamic landscape. At the heart of sustainable operations lies sustainability in supply chains, which seeks to integrate environmental responsibility, social equity, and economic viability into the fabric of organizational processes. Within this framework, circular supply chains have garnered significant attention as a transformative strategy to mitigate environmental impact, foster resource efficiency, and drive long-term sustainability. While often seen as practicing carbon footprint reduction or manufacturing with bio-friendly materials, supply chain sustainability encompasses social responsibility and includes fair labor practices and other regulations protecting workers and communities. These are keystones to all supply chains, including chemical logistics, where safe and sustainable practices are paramount for success.

Why is Supply Chain Sustainability Critical?

The imperative for a sustainable supply chain stems from recognizing traditional linear supply chains’ inherent limitations and detrimental effects. These linear models, characterized by a ‘take-make-dispose’ approach, result in resource depletion, environmental degradation, and social inequalities1. In contrast, a sustainable supply chain embraces circularity, emphasizing resource conservation principles, waste reduction, and closed-loop systems. Contrary to widespread thought, supply chain stability is not only ethically responsible but also economically encouraged. Sustainable supply chains that reduce waste often reduce costs and surplus through better record keeping, refined sourcing practices, and decreased waste disposal.

Increased Consumer & Investor Demands

There’s been a discernible shift in consumer preferences and investor priorities in recent decades toward sustainable and ethical business practices. Consumers increasingly demand transparency, accountability, and environmental stewardship from the brands they support. Similarly, investors are integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria into their investment decisions, recognizing companies’ long-term viability and resilience with sustainable supply chains. As such, organizations that embrace sustainable and circular supply chains can enhance brand reputation, attract investment, and secure long-term competitiveness in the marketplace. For those in chemical logistics, sustainability has become vital to meeting consumer demands and the regulations that continue to mirror the public’s need for environmental and social protections.

Climate Change & Global Disruption

The urgency of addressing climate change and mitigating global disruptions underscores the importance of adopting sustainable supply chain practices, primarily for chemical logistics industries where improper material transportation can create environmental disasters. However, the risk of pollution extends beyond chemicals leaking into the environment—it also includes noise pollution, deforestation, and other facets of supply chains that can negatively impact ecosystems and communities. Minimizing and eliminating potential pollution promotes supply chain sustainability and eliminates waste more than contributing. Circular supply chains offer a holistic approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, minimizing resource extraction, and promoting renewable energy adoption. Organizations can enhance supply chain resilience and mitigate risks associated with climate-related events, geopolitical instability, and other global disruptions by localizing production, optimizing transportation networks, and embracing circularity.

What is a Circular Supply Chain?

A circular supply chain aims to maximize resource efficiency and minimize waste generation throughout the product lifecycle. Unlike traditional linear supply chains, which follow a linear trajectory from extraction to disposal, circular supply chains prioritize reuse, refurbishment, recycling, and remanufacturing.2 Organizations can unlock value, minimize environmental impact, and foster a more sustainable economy by closing the loop on material flows and adopting innovative business models such as product-as-a-service and resource recovery.

Linear vs. Circular Supply Chains

The distinction between linear and circular supply chains lies in their fundamental approach to resource utilization and waste management. Linear supply chains operate on a ‘take-make-dispose’ model, where resources are extracted, transformed into products, and discarded after use. In contrast, circular supply chains aim to close the loop on material flows, enabling resources to be reused, refurbished, or recycled at the end of their lifecycle. By embracing circularity, organizations can minimize waste generation, optimize resource utilization, and create a more sustainable supply chain ecosystem.

The Role of Circular Supply Chains in Cultivating Supply Chain Sustainability

Circular supply chains play a pivotal role in driving the transition towards more sustainability in supply chains. Organizations can minimize environmental impact, enhance social welfare, and drive long-term economic value by prioritizing resource efficiency, waste reduction, and closed-loop systems. Moreover, circular supply chains enable organizations to meet the evolving expectations of consumers, investors, and regulatory bodies, thereby enhancing brand reputation, attracting investment, and ensuring long-term competitiveness in the marketplace.

Circular Supply Chain Management in Chemical Logistics

Circular supply chain management in the chemical industry is pivotal, given the industry’s substantial environmental footprint and resource-intensive processes 3. Chemical companies play a crucial role in advancing circular supply chain principles, encompassing a spectrum of strategies to optimize material flows, minimize waste generation, and promote resource recovery and recycling. By embracing circularity, chemical companies can enhance their operational efficiency and make significant contributions to environmental sustainability and the transition towards a circular economy.

As chemical companies tend to begin or make up the first links of the supply chain process for countless global products, embracing sustainability in chemical logistics goes a long way in cultivating sustainability in supply chains for thousands of industries worldwide.

Optimizing Material Flows

Central to circular supply chain management in chemical logistics is the optimization of material flows. This involves streamlining processes to minimize resource inputs and maximize the utilization of raw materials. By implementing efficient production techniques and adopting innovative technologies, chemical companies can reduce material wastage and enhance resource efficiency throughout the supply chain. Additionally, optimizing material flows enables companies to minimize energy consumption, lower production costs, and improve overall operational performance

Minimizing Waste Generation

A key objective of circular supply chain management in the chemical industry is to minimize waste generation at every stage of the production process. This entails implementing waste reduction strategies, such as process optimization, product redesign, and waste-to-energy initiatives. Chemical companies can mitigate environmental pollution, conserve natural resources, and reduce their ecological footprint by prioritizing waste minimization. Moreover, minimizing waste generation contributes to cost savings and enhances the overall sustainability of the supply chain.

Promoting Resource Recovery & Recycling

Circular supply chain management emphasizes the importance of resource recovery and recycling. This involves capturing and repurposing materials that would otherwise be discarded as waste. By implementing recycling programs, recovering valuable components from by-products, and exploring alternative uses for waste streams, chemical companies can create closed-loop systems that maximize resource utilization and minimize environmental impact 4. Promoting resource recovery and recycling helps companies meet regulatory requirements, fulfill sustainability commitments, and enhance their reputation as responsible corporate citizens.

American Chemistry Council’s Sustainability & Circularity Recommendation

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is at the forefront of promoting sustainability within the chemical industry. Through its Sustainability Priorities initiative, the ACC provides guidance and resources to help chemical companies integrate sustainability into their operations. Of particular relevance is the ACC’s Circularity recommendation, which emphasizes the importance of adopting circular supply chain principles to achieve sustainability goals. By aligning with the ACC’s recommendations, chemical companies can leverage industry best practices, collaborate with stakeholders, and drive meaningful progress towards a more sustainable future.

Benefits of Circular Supply Chains for Chemical Logistics

Adopting circular supply chains offers numerous benefits for chemical logistics, ranging from enhanced resource efficiency to reduced environmental impact. Chemical companies can streamline logistics operations, reduce costs, and enhance supply chain resilience by optimizing material flows, minimizing waste generation, and promoting resource recovery. Moreover, circular supply chains enable chemical companies to meet regulatory requirements, satisfy customer expectations, and drive innovation in the marketplace. The chemical industry can shape a more sustainable future for generations to come through collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to sustainability.

Implementing a Circular Supply Chain in Your Logistics Company

Logistics companies must embrace innovation, collaboration, and transparency across their operations to implement circular supply chain practices. Strategies such as design for circularity, reuse and refurbishment, material recycling, and waste minimization are integral to this endeavor. Furthermore, leveraging technologies, fostering consumer education, and forging partnerships with suppliers is essential to creating a more sustainable supply chain ecosystem.

Green Logistics & Sustainable Supply Chain Management

At CLX Logistics, we’re committed to driving positive change and fostering a more sustainable future by adopting and encouraging circular supply chains for our partners. A sustainable supply chain surpasses standard responsible business practices and requires all participants to consider how their processes and actions can be supported by nature and society. Following international standards such as the GHG Protocol, we deliver a sustainable supply chain that reduces the environmental impact of your transportation operations and increases your business benefits.

Find out how CLX minimizes the effects of logistics on the environment.








Optimizing Chemical Logistics in Extreme Environments

The client, a Fortune-500 chemical manufacturer (the Company), is a world-leading producer and distributor of chemical products. The Company manufactures and supplies chemicals for various industries, including architecture, textiles, automotive, rubber products, and food processing.

Client Challenges

The Company needed to transport chemicals for an oil and gas customer from the US Gulf Coast to a remote region in Canada. The chemical required a forward storage solution so it could be delivered on-demand to end-users in the region. This remote region is subject to extreme cold and lacks traditional infrastructure. Facing these strategic challenges, the Company sought out CLX Logistics for expert help.

The CLX Logistics Solution

The Company immediately began developing a six-month planning process with regular meetings to implement a new product, the BulkTainer™ ISO tank, and a new shipping lane. The Company worked directly with the shipper, consignee, and vendors to establish a shipping process using BulkTainer™ ISO tank.

Results to Date

CLX Logistics provided comprehensive, cost-effective intermodal solutions that delivered significant savings compared to over-the-road truck tanks. A capable storage solution was developed in a remote region with a harsh climate, and all project challenges were handled through a single point of contact. Following months of continuous service, the Company is preparing to increase volumes to meet demands. The Company is also interested in deploying the Bulktainer ISO for use in other remote oil-producing regions.

  • Saved 20% on freight costs compared to tank trailers
  • Saved 130% on storage costs compared to tank trailers
  • Enabled 20,000 gallons of convenient forward storage

About CLX Logistics, LLC

CLX Logistics is the world-leading chemical 4PL. A seasoned provider of global transportation management, technology, and supply chain consulting services, CLX delivers economic value across your entire supply chain to accelerate success for you and your customers. Download this case study to learn more!

Adhering to Modern Shipping Demands with CLX TMS

A U.S.-based global manufacturer of industrial chemical adhesives needed a technology solution to support a major revision in their approach to managing transportation. This shipper has a complex transportation network, leveraging road transport through truckload, bulk truck, and less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping methods.

Client Challenges

Before engaging with CLX, transportation activities for this shipper were concentrated with a small group of carriers and 3PL’s. Transportation processes were planned and executed on a largely manual basis with limited standardization, visibility, or control across business units and shipping locations. Lack of supporting technology resulted in inefficient processes and limited ability to optimize, control, track and manage transportation costs, in addition to limited visibility to on-time pickup and delivery performance .

The CLX Logistics Solution

The company chose to implement CLX’s Transportation Management System (TMS), powered by e2open, to modernize its shipping practices. With the implementation of CLX TMS, our client can:

  1. Standardize and automate freight planning and execution processes
  2. Establish direct and more effective relationships with their carriers
  3. Automate auditing and settling of freight invoices
  4. Optimize the consolidation of small orders into more efficient shipments
  5. Enable management visibility of freight costs and on-time performance
  6. Identify and target opportunities for cost and service improvements

Results to Date

After one year of utilizing CLX TMS, this business saved $1.5 million, thanks to improvements in:

  • Mode selection and optimization
  • Leveraging the TMS carrier network
  • Direct carrier relationships
  • Adherence to routing guides
  • Load consolidations
  • KPI tracking and analytics
  • Freight bill audit and payment
  • Pickup and delivery service tracking

Download this Case Study to read Later

About CLX Logistics, LLC

CLX Logistics is the world-leading chemical 4PL. A seasoned provider of global transportation management, technology, and supply chain consulting services, CLX delivers economic value across your entire supply chain to accelerate success for you and your customers.

Optimizing Chemical Transportation Logistics

Our client (the Company), is an industry-leading, vertically integrated producer of titanium dioxide and inorganic chemicals, with nearly 7,000 employees on six continents. The Company mines and processes titanium ore, zircon, and other materials to create specialty-grade pigments commonly used in coatings and plastics. The Company’s chemical pigment products are manufactured in Mississippi and shipped to customers in the northeast for their own manufacturing needs. The chemicals are transported by rail to transload locations and then delivered directly to customers via tanker trucks.

The Client Challenges

Cohesive Transportation Optimization

The Company sought to optimize deliveries from its transload locations to customers in PA, NJ, NY, and MD. The Company wished to identify areas of opportunity, simplify processes, and reduce operational costs among the many smaller deliveries leaving the transload locations.

The CLX Logistics Solution

CLX Logistics immediately began work assisting with booking, scheduling, and managing bulk tanker transportation operations for the Company’s numerous short hauls in the northeast. CLX Logistics received updated delivery schedules each week from the Company based on their customers’ needs, handled requests and changes, and assisted with any challenges.

  1. Booked Loading Appointments
  2. Designated Individual Loading Sites
  3. Booked Trucking Carriers for Each Shipment
  4. Provided Prompt, 24/7 Customer Support

Results to Date

CLX Logistics provided comprehensive analysis, management, and optimization with an average weekly volume of 6 to 9 shipments for approximately six months and continues to provide ongoing services at a reduced volume. Within just six months, CLX Logistics assisted the Company with the complete optimization and successful delivery of 170 shipments to their customers throughout the northeast

About CLX Logistics, LLC

CLX Logistics is the world leader in chemical supply chain solutions. A seasoned provider of global transportation management, technology, and supply chain consulting services, CLX Logistics delivers economic value to your entire supply chain and accelerates success for both you and your customers. Download this case study!

Improving On-Time Deliveries with CLX LaneLogix

The demand for faster, more efficient, and streamlined chemical transportation solutions are always growing and evolving. It’s vital for chemical manufacturers to have access to the right data to contextualize their operation in comparison with the rest of the market and facilitate on-time deliveries (OTD). Recently, CLX Logistics assisted two of the top-10 biggest chemical firms with separate requests to improve their OTDs.

Why Are OTDs So Important?

  • Outperform the market to gain a competitive advantage
  • Establish more trustworthy relationships with clients
  • Achieve continuous transportation operations improvement

Client Challenges

CLIENT 1: One chemical company wanted to understand and report exactly why their OTDs had decreased over the past year. They needed to analyze market conditions, internal processes, and any underlying causes in order to make improvements. Their needs boiled down to identifying and anticipating chemical shipping best practices for their region.

CLIENT 2: Another chemical company wanted to get a clear idea of how their OTDs were performing, and if reason-code use of their carriers conformed with the market. Additionally, they were interested in how their network compared to the market with regard to shipping distances, weights, equipment utilization, and spot market use.

The CLX Logistics Solution

As a neutral outside party, CLX Logistics used our CLX LaneLogix platform to analyze how each carrier performed compared to other chemical companies in the region. We looked at the specific underperforming areas and obtained a complete understanding of their exact causes, such as market developments, operational inefficiencies, and more. CLX LaneLogix enables us to:

  • Provide a better context for transportation operations
  • Increase the value of your transportation spend faster than ever before
  • Reduce IT involvement in your data analysis processes
  • Reduce costs and complexity of combining and managing disparate systems
  • Gain actionable supply chain visibility across your organization
  • Optimize performance based on data-driven recommendations

Results to Date

CLIENT 1: CLX Logistics found that this chemical manufacturer’s transportation network was underperforming in over half of their market over hundreds of thousands of shipments per year. We strategically set new targets for OTDs based on CLX LaneLogix market data and developed a complete set of processes and best practices to meet the goals.

CLIENT 2: CLX Logistics worked with this chemical manufacturer to fully understand their internal best practices and ensure consistency across every aspect of their transportation network. CLX LaneLogix helped us understand and compare their competitors’ networks and enabled us to implement new strategies to continuously measure and understand their operations and make smart decisions

About CLX Logistics, LLC

CLX Logistics is the world leader in chemical 4PL and supply chain solutions. A seasoned provider of global transportation management, technology, and supply chain consulting services, CLX Logistics delivers economic value to your entire supply chain and accelerates success for both you and your customers. Download this case study!

Use Digitization to Transform Chemical Supply Chain Planning

How to Elevate Your Logistics Operations with AI & ML Technology

Global supply chain organizations are embracing digitization to propel their supply chain planning to new heights. This transformation is not just a technological upgrade but a strategic move to foster innovation and support the ambitious growth goals of the organization.

Within the chemical industry, challenges such as regulatory compliance, market volatility, and stringent safety measures require innovative solutions. The need for solutions is where the power of digitization comes into play, addressing these challenges head-on. Whether achieving real-time compliance tracking, navigating market uncertainties through advanced analytics, or reinforcing safety protocols via secure data exchange, the digital revolution within the chemical supply chain emerges as the critical factor in surmounting these difficulties.

What is Supply Chain Planning?

Supply chain planning is the process of efficiently and effectively managing the entire lifecycle of a product or service from its initial design and development through production, distribution, and, ultimately, delivery to the end customer. Supply chain planning aims to ensure that the right products are available at the right place, time, and quantity while minimizing costs and optimizing overall efficiency. Companies that have streamlined their supply chains experience a 15% reduction in supply chain costs, maintain inventory holdings below 50%, and achieve cash-to-cash cycles that are three times faster.[1]

Chemical supply chain planning specifically refers to applying supply chain planning principles and strategies within the context of the chemical industry. The chemical industry is characterized by the production and distribution of various chemical products, including raw materials, intermediates, and finished goods. Managing the supply chain in this industry involves unique challenges and considerations due to the nature of chemical products, regulatory compliance, and safety requirements.

Components of the Supply Chain Planning Process

Planning in supply chain management is of the utmost importance for sustained success. Select components form the backbone of a well-orchestrated supply chain, allowing businesses to respond adeptly to market demands, mitigate risks, and optimize resources for sustained success. These components include:

Demand Forecasting

Accurate prediction of customer demand is the cornerstone of effective supply chain planning. It involves analyzing historical data, information such as market trends and other relevant factors, and the knowledge to anticipate future demand accurately. Data informs transportation capacity and rates. The information identifies the opportunities and inefficiencies in a particular spend market. Knowledge pulls in specific rate structures and data points to determine how to save costs. For the best Demand Forecasting decisions, use transportation-managed analytics such as those outlined below.

Inventory Management

Balancing inventory levels is essential to avoid stockouts or excess stock. Efficient inventory management ensures that the right products are available at the right time, minimizing costs and maximizing customer satisfaction.

Response & Supply Planning

This component focuses on crafting responsive strategies to address unexpected disruptions in the supply chain, ensuring that the production and delivery processes remain agile and adaptable.

Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP)

S&OP involves aligning sales and operational teams to make informed production, inventory, and distribution decisions, optimizing overall business performance.

Demand-Driven Replenishment (DDMRP)

DDMRP is a method that combines planning and execution to synchronize supply chain processes with actual demand, promoting flexibility and reducing lead times.

Supply Chain Monitoring

Monitoring and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) is crucial for identifying bottlenecks, optimizing processes, and ensuring continuous improvement in planning and supply chain management processes.

How efficient is your freight management system? Is it operating at peak performance and driving customer satisfaction and business results on all fronts? These can be difficult questions to answer. Consider these six core freight management KPIs as a great starting point:

Supply Chain Digital Transformation

The integration of digital technologies has become a catalyst for profound transformations across various sectors, and the supply chain management industry is no exception. The strategic implementation of advanced technologies has brought about a paradigm shift to enhance efficiency, visibility, and agility in the entire supply chain ecosystem. This transformative journey encompasses a spectrum of innovative tools, including artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and data analytics, which collectively revolutionize traditional supply chain models.

Supply chains incorporating AI technologies demonstrate a 67% increase in efficiency compared to conventional supply chains that don’t leverage AI.[2] Hence, it is no surprise that a recent industry survey found that 97% of respondents anticipate AI’s influence on product development and manufacturing.[3] Of these, 85% have already embraced these technologies or are actively in the adoption process. As organizations embrace this digital evolution, they streamline operations and gain a competitive edge by staying ahead of the curve.

Challenges Faced by Chemical Supply Chain

The chemical industry faces unique challenges in its supply chain, including regulatory compliance, volatile market conditions, and the need for stringent safety measures. Digitization offers a comprehensive solution to better manage and optimize for these challenges.

How the Digitization of Supply Chains Solves Issues Faced by Chemical Logistics

This digitization resolves specific challenges and brings about a holistic transformation, optimizing processes, improving compliance, and fortifying safety measures.

  • Regulatory Compliance: Digitizing supply chain processes allows for real-time tracking and documentation, ensuring compliance with regulations throughout the supply chain.
  • Market Volatility: Advanced analytics and forecasting tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) help anticipate market changes and proactively adjust supply chain strategies.
  • Safety & Security Concerns: Digital solutions enable the implementation of robust safety protocols, traceability, and secure data exchange, mitigating risks and ensuring the integrity of the supply chain.
  • Complex Logistics: Digitization provides visibility into the entire supply chain, allowing for better coordination and communication among stakeholders, thereby simplifying complex logistics.

Dive deeper into how Transportation Managed Analytics is building and managing next-generation supply chain’s by finally answering the questions that close the gap between visibility, performance, spend and risk. 

Whitepaper: Rethinking Supply Chain Performance with Transportation Managed Analytics

Planning for a Supply Chain Digital Transformation

Incorporating digital technologies into your supply chain is beneficial if you plan well and leverage them correctly. Embarking on a supply chain digital transformation journey requires careful planning and strategic implementation. Here are the key steps:

  1. Create a Plan Based on Business Goals: Developing a comprehensive plan that aligns digitization efforts with overarching business goals is paramount. It involves identifying specific objectives such as cost reduction, improved customer satisfaction, or increased operational efficiency. The plan should also consider the long-term sustainability and adaptability of the digital transformation initiatives.
  2. Evaluate Existing Systems: A thorough assessment of current supply chain systems, technologies, and processes is essential. It involves identifying inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and areas where technology can bring about significant improvements. Additionally, it’s necessary to consider the compatibility and interoperability of existing systems with new digital solutions.
  3. Gain Stakeholder Buy-In: Engaging key stakeholders early in the planning process is crucial to understanding their concerns and expectations. Clear communication of the benefits of digital transformation to executives, managers, and employees is essential. Establishing a collaborative approach to decision-making ensures support at all levels of the organization.
  4. Unify Data for Supply Chain Visibility: Integrating data from various sources, such as suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors, is fundamental to creating a centralized data repository. Your company should implement real-time tracking and monitoring systems to enhance visibility across the supply chain. Increased visibility facilitates data-driven decision-making by ensuring data accuracy and accessibility.
  5. Automate Routine Processes: A critical step is to identify repetitive and time-consuming tasks in the supply chain workflow that your company can automate. Implementation of robotic process automation (RPA) or other automation technologies is necessary to streamline operations. The focus should be on reducing manual errors, improving accuracy, and accelerating the pace of routine processes.
  6. Take Advantage of AI- & ML-powered Analytics: Implementing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools to analyze large datasets and extract actionable insights is pivotal. Leveraging predictive analytics enhances demand forecasting, inventory management, and overall decision-making. Continuous learning from data patterns and adapting to changing conditions optimize supply chain operations.
  7. Train Teams on New Technology: Investing in comprehensive training programs to equip employees with the necessary skills to operate and leverage new technologies is essential. Providing ongoing support and resources facilitates a smooth transition to digital tools and systems. Fostering a culture of continuous learning ensures that teams stay updated on the evolving technology landscape and can adapt to future changes.

How well do you know your data? Check out CLX GravityTM, a proprietary platform that helps companies understand their supply chain analytics and optimize their supply chain.


Choose CLX to Improve Your Chemical Supply Chain Planning

While the efficacy of AI and ML in addressing the distinctive challenges of chemical logistics is evident, achieving a seamless integration of these technologies for comprehensive efficiency optimization can pose challenges. Optimizing your supply chain management requires a deep understanding of the industry and the relevant technology.

With expertise in AI and ML for addressing unique challenges in chemical logistics, our globally trusted chemical logistics division, CLX Logistics®, specializes in transportation solutions tailored to special regulatory, safety, and security requirements. From strategic design to operational support, our comprehensive supply chain consulting and transportation management services (including intermodal transportation solutions) optimize efficiency and savings. Partner with CLX to stay ahead in the digital transformation, gaining a competitive edge for sustained success in the chemical industry.

Are You in Control of Your Logistics Spend? CLX Gravity™ Can Answer That Question… And More!

CLX Gravity™ is an analytics platform that significantly improves transportation visibility by combining data from multiple systems within your business with data already available through CLX Global TMS™. This application provides a holistic view of your global supply chain while allowing CLX Logistics® to analyze information in a new way.

  • Increase the value of your transportation spend faster than ever before
  • Reduce IT involvement in your data analysis
  • Reduce costs and complexity of combining and managing disparate systems

Connect with us to elevate your chemical supply chain management.


[1] The State of Supply Chain Management – Statistics and Trends

[2] AI set to transform supply chain management – Industry roundup: 13 April

[3] 2023 State of Manufacturing Report