How AI and Machine Learning Changed Procurement Management

Procurement management stands at the crossroads of technological innovation and strategic decision-making. As organizations strive to enhance operational efficiency, mitigate risks, and capitalize on emerging opportunities, the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in procurement has become increasingly prominent.

Navigating Procurement Management Challenges with AI and ML

Procurement leaders face a myriad of challenges in today’s fast-paced and difficult-to-predict business environment. From optimizing operational efficiency to maximizing cost savings, organizations must navigate a complex landscape of competing priorities and evolving market dynamics. At the heart of these challenges lies the need for advanced tools and technologies to drive innovation, enhance decision-making, and unlock hidden value within procurement processes.

Let’s explore the role of AI and ML in addressing these challenges, providing a comprehensive overview of their applications, benefits, and potential pitfalls. From streamlining sourcing and supplier management to optimizing contract negotiations and spend analysis, AI and ML offer various capabilities that can revolutionize procurement management operations and drive sustainable value creation.

The Sourcing and Procurement Landscape

The sourcing and procurement landscape has significantly transformed in recent years, driven by technological advancements and changing consumer expectations. Organizations are increasingly leveraging AI and ML to streamline procurement processes, enhance visibility into supply chain operations, and mitigate risks associated with global sourcing and geopolitical uncertainties.

A recent survey highlights the evolving priorities of procurement leaders, emphasizing the importance of digital transformation in driving operational excellence and strategic alignment. With supply chain disruptions rising and inflationary pressures mounting, organizations are turning to AI and ML to optimize resource allocation, enhance supplier relationships, and capitalize on emerging market trends.

The Rise of AI and ML in Procurement

The growth of AI and ML has ushered in a new era of procurement management, where data-driven insights and predictive analytics are driving strategic decision-making. Organizations leverage AI-powered tools to automate routine tasks, extract actionable insights from large datasets, and optimize real-time procurement strategies.

From demand forecasting and inventory optimization to supplier performance analysis and contract management, AI and ML offer a wide range of applications that can revolutionize procurement operations. By harnessing the power of advanced analytics and predictive modeling, organizations can identify cost-saving opportunities, mitigate supply chain risks, choose the best mode of transportation, and enhance overall efficiency and agility.

What is AI in Procurement: Definitions and Applications

Procurement AI encompasses a broad spectrum of technologies and applications to automate tasks, optimize decision-making processes, and extract actionable insights from complex datasets. From machine learning algorithms to natural language processing (NLP) and robotic process automation (RPA), AI-powered solutions offer many capabilities that can transform procurement operations.

What AI in Procurement is NOT

Contrary to misconceptions, AI in procurement is not a one-size-fits-all solution but rather a toolkit of technologies and methodologies that can be tailored to meet organizations’ specific needs and objectives. By understanding the nuances of each AI technology and its potential applications in procurement, organizations can unlock new opportunities for innovation, efficiency, and growth.

Leveraging Different Forms of AI in Procurement

Various forms of AI, including ML, NLP, and RPA, play distinct roles in procurement optimization. ML algorithms enable predictive analysis and decision-making, while NLP algorithms enhance communication and data analysis capabilities. RPA, on the other hand, automates repetitive tasks and streamlines manual processes, freeing up valuable time and resources for strategic initiatives.

By leveraging the complementary capabilities of these AI technologies, organizations can optimize procurement management operations, enhance decision-making, and drive sustainable value creation. From automating invoice processing and contract management to identifying cost-saving opportunities and mitigating supply chain risks, AI-powered solutions offer many benefits that can revolutionize procurement management.

Generating Value in Sourcing and AI Procurement

Generative AI presents a significant opportunity for organizations to optimize source-to-pay processes. By automating document creation, compliance monitoring, and supplier evaluation, Generative AI streamlines procurement workflows, enhances accuracy and ensures regulatory compliance. Leveraging advanced analytics and predictive modeling, organizations can mitigate risks, identify cost-saving opportunities, and drive operational excellence.

In addition to its role in document creation, compliance monitoring, and supplier evaluation, Generative AI enhances decision-making through advanced analytics. By analyzing vast datasets, Generative AI identifies patterns, trends, and anomalies, providing valuable insights for strategic procurement planning. Organizations can leverage these insights to optimize inventory management, accurately forecast demand, and negotiate favorable terms with suppliers.

Furthermore, Generative AI enables organizations to adapt swiftly to changing market conditions, mitigate supply chain risks, and seize growth opportunities. Embracing AI-driven innovation empowers procurement professionals to stay ahead of the curve, driving continuous improvement and sustainable success.

As organizations embrace AI-driven transformation, fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration is essential. Organizations can achieve operational excellence, drive sustainable growth, and capitalize on emerging opportunities in an increasingly competitive marketplace by empowering procurement professionals with AI-powered tools and insights.

Choose CLX to Maximize the Impact of AI in Procurement

CLX Logistics, LLC, a global 3PL provider, offers comprehensive transportation management systems, managed services, and supply chain consulting. With a focus on creating sustainable economic value for clients, CLX combines industry expertise with cutting-edge technology solutions to deliver personalized, high-touch logistics solutions.

With offices in North America and Europe, we solve our clients’ most vital logistics challenges by combining our team’s expansive industry expertise and best-of-breed technology solutions with a personalized, high-touch approach. Since our founding more than twenty years ago, we have focused on one thing: creating true, sustainable economic value for our clients. With hundreds of clients worldwide, we deliver on this mission daily with fully integrated transportation management packages and single-service solutions.

Our logistics experts become true partners with our clients and their organizations, strategizing and building customized plans that increase performance and reduce costs. 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.

Partnering with CLX enables organizations to harness the full potential of AI and machine learning in procurement optimization. From enhancing operational efficiency to maximizing cost savings, CLX empowers clients to navigate procurement challenges effectively and confidently to achieve strategic objectives.

AI and ML are reshaping procurement management, offering unprecedented efficiency, insights, and strategic advantages. By embracing these technologies and partnering with industry-leading experts like CLX, organizations can unlock new opportunities, drive sustainable value creation, and thrive in an increasingly complex and competitive business environment.

Contact a CLX expert today to learn how our services can revolutionize your procurement management operations.

Predicting Unpredictability: Expert Advice for 2024 Freight Operations, Benchmarking, and Procurement Preparation

As the freight industry gears up for another year, the whirlwind of uncertainty continues to influence the logistics landscape. 2023 left an indelible mark, characterized by many challenges and some stabilization within certain industry segments. When looking ahead to the future, it’s crucial to reflect on the past year, identify emerging trends, and strengthen strategies for benchmarking and procurement. Join us as our experts delve deeper into the intricacies of the current freight benchmarking industry and uncover how artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and real-time data analytics are shaping decision-making and operations in logistics and benchmarking in 2024.

 

US Freight Market Updates in 2023 and Beyond

2023 painted a picture of uncertainty, particularly in the US truckload dry van market. This segment grappled with significant rate losses, leaving even long-standing carriers in uncharted waters. While profitability remained elusive, improvements were seen in emerging and long-standing carriers as the year progressed. On the flip side, the truck bulk and LTL markets adopted a more specialized approach. The focus shifted towards salary and personnel-based internal strategies, allowing them to stabilize in comparison.

However, the linchpin of these challenges was the manufacturing sector. As it fluctuated in response to factors like inflation, the entire freight industry felt the ripples. An inflation surge or a manufacturing boom held the potential to reshape the trajectory of the industry. The question then becomes, how can we predict these unexpected twists and turns to stabilize budgets without impacting operations? One promising solution on the horizon lies in AI and ML-improved forecasting pattern recognition. This innovative approach translates data into actionable insights that help to unveil hidden patterns that would otherwise remain unnoticed. When such technology comes to fruition, as expected in the approaching years, this would be a milestone step in anticipating the industry’s ebbs and flows.

 

Essential Freight Benchmarking KPIs to Monitor

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the North Star by which we navigate the freight industry. Among these, the delta to market stands tall. It allows us to gauge how freight, fuel, or other rates fare compared to market rates. Sometimes, a slightly higher rate might be justified if it guarantees better performance. It’s all about paying for performance, a metric that is integral to maintaining profitability in the ever-changing freight landscape.

Another critical KPI is assessing the mix of carriers. Within the transportation realm, carriers come in two classifications—asset and non-asset-based. The mix of these carriers can significantly impact your rates in comparison to the market. Understanding this mix is crucial in making informed decisions.

Fuel expenditure as a percentage of the total spend is another vital KPI. Often, it’s a factor that can be negotiated with the shipper. By knowing where you stand on this line, you can make more informed decisions regarding your fuel strategy to optimize both budget and performance.

In a landscape as dynamic as freight benchmarking, control is paramount. If you’re not in control, the industry controls you. The ability to assert influence and maintain control is essential for any player in the chemical freight industry and every sector.

 

Finding Freight Industry Stability in 2024

The transition into 2024 marks a pivotal moment as the industry leans toward predictive analytics. Predicted trends emphasize streamlined route identification, punctual deliveries, and optimal cost management. The spotlight falls on the anticipated role of AI and ML in addressing these industry needs. Adapting to the ever-evolving logistics landscape and integrating real-time data analytics stand out as pillars in optimizing freight benchmarking practices in the near future—and leveraging better technology is the key to optimizing logistics operations across the board.

 

Addressing Pain Points and CLX Logistics’ Unique Approach

Understanding the pain points and challenges shippers face is a crucial aspect of our approach at CLX Logistics. Among the most prevalent challenges is the pressure from the finance team. They demand results, and rightly so. The potential for double-digit savings often beckons, and it’s vital to demonstrate these savings post-implementation.

Our industry-leading solution as recognized by Gartner®—CLX LaneLogix, has been instrumental in addressing these challenges and ensuring a strong ROI for our customers. It’s not just a tool but a strategic partner in improving procurement and benchmarking. Our analysts meticulously examine the procurement model versus execution, helping you answer critical questions that cut costs. Are you choosing carriers that offer the most competitive rates? Are you effectively controlling non-contracted lanes and associated costs? These are the very questions that weigh heavily in the minds of those planning their budgets for 2024, and we can provide answers.

 

Real-World Results

A noteworthy success story stems from a client’s journey that commenced with a benchmark analysis of US bulk truck rates.

The outcome?
Significant cost savings and a subsequent exploration of comprehensive procurement strategies. The collaboration post-implementation has since expanded, now encompassing the client’s European division. This expansion focuses on optimizing supply chain efficiency and cost savings, showcasing the versatile optimization potential of CLX products like
CLX LaneLogix and CLX Gravity.

 

Closing Out the Year Strong

In the freight industry, change is the only constant. 2024 beckons with a myriad of challenges and opportunities, and it’s imperative to understand the forces driving this ever-evolving landscape. With AI, ML, and real-time data analytics at the revolutionary forefront, the industry is poised for a transformation. The potential to predict and anticipate market shifts, optimize benchmarking strategies, ensure complete supply chain visibility, and embrace innovation is key to thriving in these dynamic times.

At the heart of CLX Logistics lies a dedicated client-centric approach. Addressing client needs and focusing on solving key questions are instrumental in setting the tone for 2024. Understanding opportunities, forecasting spend, and meeting logistics directors’ expectations are pivotal in ensuring a smooth transition into the new year. The emphasis remains on streamlining budgets with benchmarking and procurement expertise. In a landscape that remains ever unpredictable, trust in CLX Logistics to navigate the uncertainty. We’re committed to redefining benchmarking and procurement strategies, empowering our partners with cutting-edge solutions, and reshaping the future of logistics.

To further explore how CLX Logistics supports clients with innovative products like CLX LaneLogix™, contact a CLX representative today and see how we can assist your business.

 

Optimizing Chemical Logistics: How Modal Outsourcing Unlocks Efficiency and Sustainability

Chemical companies face various logistic challenges in managing their supply chains efficiently and sustainably, especially during economic uncertainty and volatility. As a manufacturer in any industry, your core priority is manufacturing safe solid and liquid chemicals like performance chemicals, peroxide, and so forth—not specializing in transportation.

To tackle these obstacles and ensure smooth operations, many companies are turning to modal outsourcing, a strategic approach that leverages the expertise and networks of third-party logistics providers (3PLs) or fourth-party logistics providers (4PLs). Utilizing a logistics provider’s network beyond just what the local traffic manager offers opens a more extensive web of expertise and capabilities that alleviates shipper inefficiencies, sustainability concerns, and compliance adherence.

CLX Logistics is a global 4PL that with advanced expertise in multi-modal transportation for the chemical industry, and our experts are demystifying the concept of modal outsourcing and its advantages for chemical companies, particularly in terms of streamlining operations, enhancing supply chain visibility, and promoting environmental sustainability.

Modal Outsourcing in the Chemical Freight Industry

Modal outsourcing is a strategic logistics approach involving delegating transportation operations to specialized providers with expertise in various shipping modes, including road and rail service. Within the umbrella of modal transportation lies intermodal transportation, which combines different modes for efficiency. Chemical manufacturers, particularly those operating domestically or within the same continent, frequently opt for road and rail transportation due to their inherent flexibility in handling volatile materials and safety and sustainability advantages. This allows shippers to tailor logistics strategies to the specific needs of the chemical industry.

Logistics Challenges Facing Chemical Companies

Navigating the complex landscape of freight transportation presents considerable challenges for chemical companies. The many shipping options and intricate regulations governing various chemicals and modes necessitate specialized expertise. Handling volatile or environmentally sensitive substances further complicates the equation, demanding meticulous planning and adherence to stringent safety protocols. In this intricate scenario, entrusting logistics to a proficient provider like CLX presents an advantageous strategy. By doing so, chemical companies gain access to an expansive network of experts well-versed in regulatory compliance and sustainability best practices.

Partnering with a logistics service provider extends beyond ensuring regulation adherence—it encompasses optimizing transport operations to ensure the utmost efficiency and safety. In effect, the collaboration with a logistics provider translates into an enhanced return on investment (ROI) and a streamlined logistical journey, allowing chemical companies to focus on their core competencies while leaving the intricate nuances of transportation in the capable hands of experts.

Cost-Saving Opportunities with Modal Outsourcing

Modal outsourcing provides several cost-saving opportunities for chemical companies that can regain investments and improve gross profits. Providers leverage extensive carrier networks to secure better rates and discounts, capitalizing on proven procurement processes and strategic technological solutions.

Companies can reduce capital expenditure through outsourcing chemical transportation by avoiding the need for private fleets and leased assets, especially during economic downturns when third-party solutions can alleviate multiple strains. Additionally, transportation providers bring expertise in network optimization, identifying route efficiencies and load consolidation opportunities for multi-plant operations.

Data-driven decisions based on customer information enhance cost management and carbon emission reduction, while administrative efficiency and resource deployment further contribute to savings. Collaboration with 3PLs or 4PLs also enhances risk mitigation, minimizing downtime due to non-compliance and breakdowns, further reducing costs, and improving operations.

Streamlining Operations and Enhancing Chemical Supply Chain Visibility

Modal outsourcing offers chemical companies better supply chain visibility by integrating real-time tracking systems and advanced technologies. Working with a 4PL like CLX enables centralized management of all transportation modes, streamlining operations and providing customers with near-real-time visibility of their shipments and advanced security. This enhanced visibility improves customer service and acts as a defense in case of customer issues or delays.

Modal Outsourcing vs. Intermodal Transportation

Although distinct, modal outsourcing and intermodal transportation can work harmoniously to enhance shipping efficiency. Intermodal transportation, particularly advantageous for extended journeys exceeding 750-1000 miles, is a remarkable avenue for achieving cost-effectiveness and reducing carbon emissions. Intermodal transportation from CLX Logistics leverages our BulkTainer® intermodal transportation services comprised for liquid chemical transportation that expedites shipments through the use of intermodal-exclusive railways and truckload shipments of a single container that increases security and reduces carbon emissions through improved capacity management and route optimization.

By thoughtfully combining the strengths of both modal outsourcing and intermodal transportation, chemical companies can craft a comprehensive shipping strategy that maximizes operational optimization and minimizes risk, late deliveries, and environmental impacts.

Mitigating Risks and Ensuring Compliance

Modal outsourcing helps chemical companies mitigate risks related to contracting, regulatory compliance, security, and documentation. Certified and knowledgeable logistics teams ensure compliance with industry regulations, handle necessary record-keeping, and manage cargo, auto, and general liability insurance requirements. Through modern advancements like a Transportation Management System (TMS), documentation is digitized and housed in a single platform to centralize vital contracting, insurance, delivery, and regulatory information to streamline compliance while enhancing internal visibility.

Considerations for Modal Outsourcing

When evaluating the prospects of modal outsourcing, chemical companies should embark on a thorough assessment process that aligns with their overarching objectives and accommodates potential shifts in their logistical operations. Collaborating with dependable logistics providers and harnessing the capabilities of advanced technology to refine supply chain management emerge as pivotal measures for extracting the full spectrum of benefits from modal outsourcing.

While some customers perceive logistics as an integral competency, specific gaps such as analytics and procurement expertise might exist. Although customers may express interest in outsourcing, their organizational structure may not seamlessly integrate with logistics transformations, particularly when not all departments are attuned to changes at the plant level. Essential questions arise: Can customers institute the requisite changes to succeed, or might they falter?

These disparities can lead to mutual frustration and misalignment between partners, jeopardizing the partnership’s success. Ensuring all parties’ strategic objectives, capabilities, and commitments are aligned is vital to fostering productive and enduring collaboration.

Working with a qualified 4PL or 3PL that provides transparency and puts client interest at the forefront of operations is paramount when considering modal outsourcing and implementing these transformative changes.

Modal Transportation Environmental and Sustainability Benefits

Modal transportation, encompassing both modal outsourcing and intermodal solutions, holds a substantial promise for advancing environmental sustainability within the chemical freight industry. The incorporation of intermodal transportation, a core facet of modal outsourcing, emerges as a remarkable driver of environmentally conscious practices. By seamlessly integrating rail transport and effective load consolidation into the shipping equation, particularly for long-haul distances that don’t require sea crossing, chemical companies can decisively curb their greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with global and industry efforts to mitigate environmental damage.

This sustainable approach is underpinned by a comprehensive strategy that encompasses improved planning, route optimization, and the adept utilization of the most suitable and cost-effective transportation mode for each shipment. Through leveraging rail and over-the-road (OTR) trucking modes, intermodal transportation presents a compelling proposition that extends beyond emissions reduction. By capitalizing on rail’s inherent efficiency, intermodal solutions minimize fuel consumption, thereby curbing the carbon footprint of chemical freight transportation while reducing energy costs.

As a whole, modal outsourcing bolsters the sustainability journey by integrating cutting-edge technologies and logistical expertise. Advanced tracking systems, data analytics, and real-time visibility mechanisms enable intricate monitoring of shipments, ensuring minimal waste and optimal resource allocation and mode selection. The orchestration of these elements cultivates an ecosystem that harmonizes environmental preservation with operational efficiency.

In embracing modal and intermodal practices, chemical companies underscore their commitment to environmental responsibility and lay the foundation for a more resilient and sustainable industry. The dual benefits of emissions reduction and enhanced logistical effectiveness reinforce the notion that modal transportation is not just a pragmatic choice but a conscientious step towards greener operations.

The Future of Outsourcing Chemical Freight

The future of modal outsourcing and intermodal transportation in the chemical freight industry looks promising. With growing pressure to reduce carbon emissions, modal and intermodal transport will likely continue to gain popularity for long-distance chemical shipments. Integrating advanced technologies will enhance efficiency, security, visibility, and coordination—enabling chemical companies to achieve higher levels of sustainability and optimization.

Embrace the Future of Chemical Transportation with CLX Logistics

In the dynamic landscape of chemical logistics, modal outsourcing and intermodal transportation emerge as transformative forces. As you navigate the intricate realm of supply chain management, consider the capabilities, expertise, and innovation CLX Logistics offers. By partnering with CLX, you open the door to a library of industry-leading technology, an extensive collection of cost-saving strategies, regulatory compliance mastery, and a commitment to sustainability that resonates with operational efficiency and environmental responsibility.

To learn more about how CLX Logistics can revolutionize your chemical freight transportation, explore our comprehensive solutions todaycontact our experts, and let’s shape the future together.

4 Critical Factors in Improving LTL/Dry Van Chemical Shipment Rates

In the complex world of chemical shipping and logistics, understanding the intricate dynamics of the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) and associated factors can significantly influence overall transportation spend for less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers and shippers. The NMFC is a set of standards developed, maintained, and published by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA).

LTL carriers and shippers reference these standards to classify commodities in terms of the level of resources required to transport products via LTL. How and why the NMFTA classifies the commodity of a given product is critical for shippers to understand, as this directly affects LTL freight pricing and influences the shipper’s overall transportation spend.

To help build your understanding and navigate these waters, here are four critical factors to understand when working to improve LTL chemical shipment rates.

1. NMFC Codes and Freight Class

Each item shipped via LTL is assigned an NMFC code determined by its commodity. In addition, each NMFC code has corresponding freight classes that directly impact the shipment cost. One of 18 different LTL freight classes, ranging from 50-500, is determined by four main freight characteristics:

  1. Density
  2. Handling
  3. Stowability
  4. Liability

The resulting freight class is essentially a score of the overall transportability of the freight, where the higher the freight class, the more expensive the product will be to ship via the LTL network.

2. The Role of Density

Cargo density is a primary factor in determining the LTL freight classification. Like most chemicals, the same product can be shipped in various forms and packaging configurations. The same chemical product can have different freight classes depending on the density of the articles that make up the shipping unit. The higher the density, the lower the freight class and shipment rate.

3. Packaging and Handling

Along with density, the dimensions of the packaged freight are a significant factor in determining the freight class. Take, for example, a rigid plastic sheet where one NMFC code has multiple possible freight classes dependent not only on the density but also the greatest dimension of the packaged unit. Additionally, if the unit requires extra labor or special equipment due to its size or shape, this can play a part in determining the freight class and, consequently, the rate.

4. Bill of Lading Accuracy & Completeness

Inaccurate or incomplete information on the bill of lading provided to carriers can result in an incorrect NMFC code assignment and may contribute to higher transportation spend. Bills of lading without product descriptions will force the carrier to estimate the product’s freight class. Carriers typically err on the higher side regarding freight class and rate, leading to billing errors, claims, manual work, and delays to payment, all of which only consume time and effort with no added value.

Optimizing NMFC Classification with Chemical Logistics Expertise

The NMFC system developed by the NMFTA plays an important role in determining the transportation costs of moving cargo via the LTL mode in the United States. It’s the shipper’s responsibility to determine the correct classification of their products. Properly assessing and assigning NMFC codes and LTL freight classes can also be challenging. Shippers who don’t fully understand or manage this process run the risk of overpaying for LTL freight. This risk can be minimized by maximizing the density of the shipping unit, minimizing special handling needs, and providing complete and accurate information on the bill of lading to the carriers.

The procurement experts at CLX Logistics can assist you with evaluating products shipped via LTL to identify the correct NMFC codes and freight classes and guide communications with carriers to reduce billing errors and ensure shippers pay accurate rates. Contact us today to talk with a specialist.

Lisa Carr is the Procurement Manager at CLX Logistics, responsible for over-the-road transportation procurement services for CLX. Year-to-date, CLX Procurement Services has purchased nearly $1 Billion in transportation freight services both internally for CLX Operations and also for CLX customers.

Sarah Napolitan is a Carrier Program Manager for CLX Logistics. With nearly 10 years of experience buying freight, Sarah is an expert in US less-than-truckload freight procurement for chemical shippers.

6 Ways to Improve Your Supply Chain Sustainability

In an era of increasing global awareness and growing demands for responsible business practices, sustainability is critical to every industry. This practice is spotlighted and increasingly required and necessary in logistics and chemical supply chain management, prompting chemical shippers to rethink traditional operations. Supply chain sustainability is more than a buzzword and rather a powerful approach linking ethical, economic, and environmental considerations in a strategic symphony.

This holistic focus extends beyond regulatory compliance to address every aspect of a business’s operations, from sourcing materials and managing resources to logistics and delivery, all while considering the environmental footprint and societal impacts. By embracing sustainability, chemical shippers can improve their reputation, enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and drive innovation, all contributing to long-term resilience and success.

We’ll explore six key strategies to improve your supply chain sustainability, turning it into a powerful engine of value, resilience, and competitive advantage.

 

What Makes a Supply Chain Sustainable?

Supply chain sustainability is a multifaceted concept requiring an intricate balance between environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic efficiency.

  • Environmental Consciousness: Environmental consciousness involves implementing strategies to minimize the environmental impact of the supply chain. Actions could include reducing carbon footprints, implementing waste reduction measures, pursuing energy-efficient operations, and promoting a circular economy that prioritizes recycling and repurposing.
  • Social Responsibility: Social responsibility covers a wide range of ethical considerations in the supply chain. From fair labor practices to ensuring safety standards, companies need to consider the welfare of all stakeholders. Ethical sourcing, diversity and inclusion, community engagement, and transparent corporate governance are critical to social responsibility in a sustainable supply chain.
  • Economic Viability: While environmental and social factors are crucial, the economic viability of a supply chain cannot be overlooked. Supply chains should be profitable and add value to the organization through cost-effective operations, efficient resource utilization, and resilience to market changes and disruptions.

How to Make Your Supply Chain More Sustainable

Achieving supply chain sustainability is not a single-action task but a multifaceted process that requires considering various factors. It’s about fostering a culture of continuous improvement, encouraging innovation, and adopting a long-term perspective. Now that we’ve established the building blocks of a sustainable supply chain, let’s delve into six tangible strategies that can help your organization enhance its sustainability efforts:

1.    Optimize Your Transportation Methods

Bolster your green credentials by streamlining transportation processes. Utilize efficient routing strategies, consolidate shipments, and embrace greener modes of transportation such as rail or sea freight. An intermodal approach leveraging rail transport for longer distances and trucks for short distances can be incredibly impactful.

2.     Partner with Sustainable Suppliers

Create a sustainable ecosystem by collaborating with suppliers that share your environmental ethos. Source raw materials from companies committed to sustainable practices, such as using renewable energy sources or minimizing waste.

3.     Track Sustainability Performance with Precise Metrics

To ensure your sustainability efforts deliver results, establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that track and evaluate your performance and modify practices when necessary. Monitor metrics such as carbon emissions, energy consumption, waste generation, and water usage.

4.     Cultivate a Sustainability-first Culture

Let sustainability permeate every layer of your organization. Raise awareness, provide training, and embed sustainability practices into your company culture to foster environmentally responsible behaviors. One tactic could involve shifting from smaller, frequent deliveries to larger, less frequent shipments to reduce the total number of trips and subsequent energy consumption.

5.     Commit to Waste Reduction and Recycling

Drive down your environmental impact by implementing waste reduction strategies, such as adopting lean manufacturing principles, optimizing processes, and establishing robust recycling programs. Consider minimizing packaging materials, reducing product defects, and promoting product reuse or remanufacturing. Implementing programs to reuse IBCs (Intermediate Bulk Containers) or drums minimizes the need for new containers and dramatically reduces costs and overall waste.

6.     Embrace Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Lower your carbon footprint by enhancing energy efficiency, optimizing equipment, implementing energy-saving technologies, and developing sustainable energy management practices. Strategies could include retrofitting warehouses with energy-efficient systems and implementing digital inventory management to maximize storage.

Benefits of a More Sustainable Supply Chain

Embarking on a journey towards a more sustainable supply chain is more than just an environmental commitment; it’s a smart business move that brings a wealth of benefits, including:

  • Cost Savings: Sustainable practices often lead to the reduction of waste and optimization of resources. By streamlining processes, businesses can realize cost savings in energy consumption, transportation, and packaging materials.
  • Potential for Improved Revenue Growth: By tapping into the growing market of environmentally-conscious consumers, businesses can unlock new opportunities. A sustainable supply chain can attract customers willing to pay a premium for sustainable products, potentially increasing sales, market share, and revenue growth.
  • Improved Brand Image and Consumer Satisfaction: A commitment to sustainability enhances a company’s reputation. It aligns with the growing consumer demand for ethically produced goods, leading to greater customer trust, loyalty, and overall satisfaction, giving your brand a competitive edge.
  • Risk Mitigation and Regulatory Compliance: A sustainable supply chain can better withstand disruptions by diversifying suppliers and reducing dependency on vulnerable regions. Moreover, adhering to environmental and social regulations ensures legal compliance and protects the company’s reputation.
  • Environmental Conservation and Social Responsibility: Sustainability in the supply chain contributes to environmental conservation and aligns with the broader goal of social responsibility. This way, businesses can reduce their carbon footprint, preserve natural resources, contribute to social development, and uphold ethical standards.
  • Enhanced Stakeholder Relations: Investors, shareholders, and employees increasingly value organizations that prioritize sustainability. Integrating sustainable practices into your supply chain can boost stakeholder engagement and promote a positive organizational culture.

How CLX Can Help Build a Sustainable Supply Chain

Creating a sustainable chemical supply chain is a smart strategic move that yields significant business benefits. With a comprehensive suite of services and deep supply chain expertise, CLX Logistics is uniquely positioned to assist you in this transformation. Through strategic green supply chain design, tactical optimization, operational support, diagnostics, training, technology, and more, we can help you reduce your environmental footprint while unlocking significant business advantages.

Reach out to our team and start your journey toward a more sustainable and efficient chemical supply chain.

Optimizing Rail Freight with Rail Management Services

In the realm of rail freight transportation, businesses often encounter a myriad of challenges when dealing with railroads. From poor customer service to compliance and maintenance issues, navigating the complex rail landscape can be daunting. However, a solution to these frustrations exists with the expertise of an experienced rail service management partner. Understanding how a provider can alleviate and eliminate rail transportation issues is vital for ensuring efficient rail freight operations, cost-saving opportunities, and relieving your business from avoidable stressors, hiccups, and pitfalls.

By comprehensively analyzing your rail network, we aim to showcase the industry-leading processes, expertise, and commitment to customer satisfaction that you should expect from such providers. By highlighting viable alternatives to subpar rail service, we’ll empower shippers with the knowledge and assurance that superior options are available to meet your rail transportation needs.

 

Defining Rail Service

Rail service is transporting goods and materials by rail, utilizing an extensive network of rail lines, terminals, and infrastructure. It’s well-suited for the efficient movement of large volumes of freight and provides a cost-effective solution for businesses dealing with substantial quantities of goods, such as bulk liquids or heavy products.

 

The Current Status of the Rail Freight Industry

Considering recent incidents, rail safety has become a significant focus and objective internally and through regulatory agencies, such as the seven key safety measures enacted in March of 2023 by railroad industry leaders. This regulation change is in addition to legislation being pushed through Congress for railroads to operate more responsibly and sustainably. Maintaining a fleet that complies with safety regulations is paramount for ensuring successful operations.

However, rail transportation remains one of the safest freight transport methods. In fact, the time between 2010 to 2020 proved to be the safest decade ever for United States railroads, and the industry is projected to grow by 50% over the next 30 years. Therefore, the need for maintenance, compliance, and increased vigilance over rail safety will grow proportionally.

Rail fleet maintenance and compliance are even more critical for companies shipping hazardous materials, where adherence to stringent safety protocols is a top priority. Despite fluctuations in intermodal rail volumes, chemical rail shipments have remained relatively steady over the past few years and will continue this trend in the foreseeable future.

By leveraging the expertise of a rail management provider, shippers can take advantage of the current market no matter how it may ebb and flow while remaining compliant, safe, and successful.

 

Why Rail Freight Operations are Successful

The key to success and safety in rail freight lies in effectively documenting, tracking, managing, and maintaining equipment and assets. CLX Logistics, for example, possesses a deep understanding of regulatory requirements and railroad operations. This knowledge allows us to ensure that customers’ existing fleets remain up to date with inspections and comply with evolving regulations. By taking a proactive approach to fleet management, CLX minimizes disruptions and helps its customers achieve long-term success on the rails.

 

Common Rail Service Challenges

Customers utilizing rail freight services often encounter time-consuming and costly hold-ups such as compliance issues like unapproved railcars, railroad and railyard miscommunications that cause shipping to stall, and the need for rail car repairs and servicing preventing shipping from beginning entirely.

As organizations primarily focused on moving large quantities of products, railroads may not prioritize customer service as efficiently as some would prefer or need. Also, your company may not be aware of evolving industry changes or requirements or even possess the ability or human resources to mediate these issues effectively or as quickly as needed. A rail management partner will be an extension to your team to remove these burdens from your workload and clear any roadblocks on your behalf, getting your freight moving as quickly as possible without interrupting your other vital operations.

 

Why Choose Rail Management Service?

CLX Logistics’ rail management services set it apart from traditional providers by offering more than just the transportation and tracking of goods from point A to point B. Led by seasoned experts with extensive railroad experience, CLX understands the industry’s intricacies. We can bypass the red tape commonly associated with railroad operations by leveraging our insider knowledge. Instead of relying on customer service representatives, CLX connects directly with the individuals who can get things done—train masters, yardmasters, and other key personnel. This streamlined approach ensures quicker issue resolution, enhanced troubleshooting, superior rate negotiations, and improved customer satisfaction.

We remain closely connected to the regulatory environment, ensuring we’re current with any changes and that each customer rail car is tracked, documented, and monitored for upcoming servicing needs. By promptly communicating modifications to customers, CLX assists in navigating the evolving regulatory landscape. Whether it’s coordinating repairs for outdated braking systems or facilitating transport to the nearest repair facility, we help clients maintain compliance and peace of mind.

 

Rail Shippers Who Receive Rail Service Management from CLX Logistics Receive:

Tailored Solutions and Rail Rate Negotiation

CLX Logistics provides individually tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of both large and small shippers in rail freight transportation.

With a specialty in rate negotiation, CLX ensures that businesses receive competitive pricing and cost-effective transportation solutions for every shipment.

Rail Freight Tracking and Visibility

CLX Logistics offers comprehensive freight tracking and visibility tools, allowing shippers to monitor the status and location of shipments throughout the transportation process.

By leveraging advanced technology and systems, CLX enhances transparency and enables real-time updates for improved logistics management.

Unmatched Railroad and Railyard Connections

CLX Logistics has long-established and valuable relationships with rail service operators, providing shippers unparalleled access to a vast network of railroads and railyards.

These connections enable CLX to navigate the complexities of rail operations and ensure smoother and more efficient transportation for clients.

Route Optimization and Network Studies

Leveraging its industry expertise, CLX Logistics conducts network studies to identify the most efficient routes for transporting freight.

By optimizing shipping routes, CLX minimizes transit times, reduces costs, and enhances your overall supply chain efficiency.

Improved Benchmarking, Procurement, and Bidding

CLX Logistics leverages our deep knowledge of the rail freight industry to optimize benchmarking, procurement, and bidding processes.

By analyzing market trends, negotiating favorable rates, and conducting efficient procurement practices, CLX helps businesses achieve cost savings and maximize operational efficiency.

This repertoire of capabilities prevents minor problems from escalating into more significant, expensive disruptions. It ensures smooth, effortless operations for our customers— translating into significant cost savings and enhanced rail freight transportation efficiency.

 

CLX Logistics is Here to Help

CLX Logistics stands out as an industry leader in rail management services. Armed with decades of experience and a deep understanding of railroads, regulations, and operational challenges, we offer a comprehensive suite of solutions to streamline operations, ensure compliance, and generate cost savings. By leveraging our insider knowledge, strategic partnerships, industry-leading technology, and customer-centric approach, we’re a trusted partner for businesses seeking reliable and efficient rail management services to mitigate and remove problems many have become accustomed to and ensure satisfaction for our customers.

Ready to apply our rail management expertise to your business operations? Contact a CLX representative today and discover how we can leverage our services to improve your rail freight operations immediately.

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Air Freight vs. Sea Freight: A Comparison

Logistics professionals need to make critical decisions about their freight every day, including selecting the optimal modes of transport. Sometimes it’s an easy decision, but not always, and it can be especially confusing for newcomers to the industry. Air freight and ocean freight are two of the most common methods of transportation to consider when moving goods throughout your supply chain.

Though there are obvious differences between air and sea transportation, shippers must frequently consider various variables and potential unknowns. This in-depth guide on air and sea freight will help you grasp the pros and cons of each and guide you toward the best decisions for your upcoming shipments.

What to Know About Air Freight

When to Use Air Freight

Air freight involves transporting cargo via airplanes. Although it represents a smaller volume of global freight than sea freight, air freight has distinct benefits. Generally, the choice of transportation mode depends on factors like:

  • The type of goods being shipped (e.g., perishable food items, pharma, flowers)
  • Delivery speed requirements
  • The volume of goods to be transported
  • Distance between origin and destination ports
  • Facilities and access (e.g., warehousing, yards, transport connectivity)

 

As a general guideline, air freight is more suitable for transporting smaller volumes and high-value goods, while sea freight makes more sense for bulk shipments.

Cost of Air Freight

Air freight is most suitable when shipping costs are below 15-20% of the value of the goods. For lightweight shipments, use a chargeable weight calculator to determine whether your shipment will be billed based on actual or dimensional weight. While air freight is faster, safer, and more dependable than sea freight, it comes with a higher price tag – a $195 ocean shipment could cost $1,000 by air. Additionally, airlines impose stricter regulations on hazardous materials such as chemical products.

Air Freight Environmental Impact and Emissions

The aviation industry is a rapidly expanding global transportation sector, and like other forms of transport, it contributes to various negative environmental impacts. Some of the risks associated with air transport include:

  • Air pollution, primarily from greenhouse gasses
  • Incidental water and soil pollution
  • Noise pollution
  • Waste generation with high amounts of dangerous waste

Under the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading System, all European flights must monitor, report, and verify their emissions. Each airline receives a tradeable allowance covering a specific level of emissions from its annual operations. Air cargo has a larger carbon footprint compared to sea freight.

What to Know About Sea Freight

When to Use Sea Freight

Sea freight is the most prevalent method for transporting goods, especially in international trade. Goods are packed in intermodal containers for transport by cargo carriers. It is a less-expensive option when compared to transporting cargo by cargo planes. As a more cost-effective option compared to air freight, sea freight is better suited for transporting bulk cargo. The handling of large or irregular-shaped loads is are easier when ample space is available, such as in container yards, ship decks, and cargo holds.

Sea freight is generally safer for shipping chemicals, as risks are limited compared to air freight. The slower transportation speeds and controlled environments aboard cargo ships help ensure the secure handling and containment of hazardous materials during transit, further minimizing potential hazards.

Most common types of sea freight are:

  • Roll-On Roll-Off (RORO)
  • Bulk carriers
  • VLCC, LNG, and CNG carriers

RORO services involve large ships designed to transport vehicles in bulk. Vehicles are driven and secured in designated slots within the RORO vessel using ramps. Upon reaching the destination, the vehicles are driven out and stored in respective yards for customer collection.

Bulk carriers transport bulk cargo, such as grains, ores, and cement, stored in the ship’s holds as loose cargo.

Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC) are vessels specifically engineered to transport liquid cargo like crude oil from oil-producing regions to refineries and storage facilities across the globe. They are frequently used for long-haul voyages from the Middle East to Asia, Europe, or North America. LNG and CNG carriers are similar vessels designed to transport bulk gases such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

Cost of Sea Freight

On average, sea freight is considerably more affordable than air. A World Bank study reveals that shipping goods by air can be up to 16 times more expensive than sea freight.2 For the most cost-effective overseas shipping method, sea freight wins.

Sea Freight Environmental Impact and Emissions

The average cargo ship produces 16.14 grams of CO2 per metric ton of goods shipped per kilometer. That same ship also emits an average of 140 million tons of CO2 annually, while bulk carriers emit 440 million tons.1 With this data, it’s easy to see significant potential for reducing the carbon footprint the cargo freight sector leaves behind.

Various technical and operational approaches can help lower carbon footprints, including propulsion efficiency devices, weather routing, slow steaming, and contra-rotating propellers. 2015 emphasized the need to curb pollution as shipping emissions accounted for approximately 13% of the transport sector’s EU greenhouse gas emissions. The EU has since intensified efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through monitoring, reporting, and verifying CO2 from bulk ships using EU ports, establishing targets, and additional short- and long-term measures.1

Air Freight vs. Sea Freight: Picking the Best One For Your Business

Air freight is faster than ocean freight, reaching its destination in only a day or two. While the logistics surrounding sea freight are constantly being refined and improved, it just can’t compete with air in terms of speed.

Shippers primarily choose air service when speed is of the utmost importance. Air freight allows for shorter timetables than ocean service, which is crucial for items with short shelf lives or time-sensitive chemical shipments. However, the price for faster service is almost always higher than monetary costs that rapidly increase with the weight of the freight.

Ultimately, determining what makes sense for your shipping strategy is up to you in any given situation. Evaluate when your goods must arrive at their destination, your budget, and how each mode will affect your business’s top needs. If you have a stringent, fast-approaching arrival deadline and your budget allows, ship via air. Air freight offers speed, safety, and reliability, making it ideal for transporting perishable goods, time-sensitive deliveries, and even specialized chemical or HAZMAT freight. If you’re more concerned about costs or need to move bulk cargo, sea freight offers a more economical and highly reliable option.

Ensuring Logistics Success

By evaluating the type of goods, speed of delivery, distance, and environmental impact, businesses and consumers can choose the most appropriate method for their shipping needs. As global shipping, particularly chemical logistics, becomes increasingly complex, partnering with a reliable logistics provider like CLX Logistics can help you navigate these challenges and develop tailored solutions for your unique requirements.

Looking to Get Started with Air Freight or Sea Freight Shipping? Contact CLX Today

Contact us to learn how CLX can support your business in handling chemical shipments and other logistics needs.

  1. Kilgore, Georgette. “Air Freight vs. Sea Freight Carbon Footprint (The Real Numbers in 2023).” 8 Billion Trees. March 28, 2023. https://8billiontrees.com/carbon-offsets-credits/carbon-ecological-footprint-calculators/air-freight-vs-sea-freight-carbon-footprint
  2. Air Freight: A Market Study with Implications for Landlocked Countries.” World Bank. March 31, 2023. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/transport/publication/air-freight-study

What is Intermodal Transportation, and How Does it Work?

Intermodal transportation is a commonly used term in freight and supply chain logistics, but what does it mean? The experts at CLX Logistics are here to explore the concept of intermodal transportation, how it works, the types of intermodal transportation, who can benefit from it, what can be shipped using intermodal, and the advantages it offers for shipping bulk liquid chemicals

Continue reading “What is Intermodal Transportation, and How Does it Work?”

CLX Partner e2open® Named Leader in Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for TMS 2023

CLX Logistics, LLC (CLX), a global 3PL and 4PL provider of chemical transportation management solutions, supply chain consulting, and intermodal transportation, recently announced that our technology partner, e2open®, has been named a Leader in the 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Transportation Management Systems for its competitive TMS.

The 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Transportation Management Systems evaluates vendors based on their Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision. Gartner recognizes e2open as a Leader in the Transportation Management System category for the software’s growing strengths and capabilities that differentiate it from competitors. This recognition also ensures that CLX TMS powered by e2open remains among the transportation management system power players and is poised to continue growing within the supply chain management industry.

E2open is integral to CLX TMS, providing a comprehensive solution that manages planning, bidding, routing, tendering, tracking, and settlement. The platform handles the most complex use cases and combines with CLX TMS to offer insights and analytics for proactive and predictive decision-making unique to the chemical sector.

Gartner’s research for the Magic Quadrant evaluates innovative technology companies’ ability to execute their mission and completeness of vision. This coveted distinction helps buyers assess vendor capabilities compared with close market competitors, promoting more educated purchases and stronger partnerships. Gartner’s Magic Quadrants are valuable because they influence the buying decisions of organizations of all sizes and verticals. Large companies often use Gartner and its reports to support their strategies and influence vendor selection.

Although there is no Gartner Magic Quadrant for procurement specifically, CLX Logistics is also Gartner-recognized for procurement, benchmarking, and bidding abilities. With a cohesive logistics operation, these trusted solutions combine to help chemical shippers manage all aspects of transportation planning, including execution, tracking, and end-to-end supply chain management.

To learn more, download the 2023 Gartner Magic Quadrant for TMS Report.

About CLX Logistics

CLX Logistics, LLC, the world leader in chemical supply chain solutions, is a leading 4PL provider of comprehensive chemical logistics management, technology, and supply chain consulting services. With offices in North America and Europe, CLX Logistics solves 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. For more information, visit www.CLXLogistics.com.

About e2open

E2open is the connected supply chain software platform that enables the world’s largest companies to transform the way they make, move, and sell goods and services. With the broadest cloud-native global platform purpose-built for modern supply chains, e2open connects more than 400,000 manufacturing, logistics, channel, and distribution partners as one multi-enterprise network tracking over 13 billion transactions annually. Our SaaS platform anticipates disruptions and opportunities to help companies improve efficiency, reduce waste, and operate sustainably. Moving as one.™ Learn More: www.e2open.com.

Gartner Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in its research publications and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designations. Gartner’s research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

GARTNER and Magic Quadrant are registered trademarks and service marks of Gartner, Inc. and its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and are used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

3PL vs. 4PL: What’s the Difference?

3PL vs. 4PL: What’s the Difference?

Chemical shipping can be a complicated and involved process. For many companies, outsourcing their shipping efforts is the best way to create economical logistics programs while maintaining a focus on core competencies. But to enjoy the benefits of outsourcing, you must choose a partner who will meet your needs and maintain industry standards. One of the primary considerations in selecting the right provider will be whether they’re a third-party logistics (3PL) provider or a fourth-party (4PL) logistics provider.

Often confused, 3PL and 4PL providers share some characteristics but ultimately fulfill different logistics needs for their partners, which is why it’s essential to know the difference between the two before signing a contract.

A 3PL manages specific areas of the supply chain for a chemical shipper, for example, the chemical freight company that handles transportation. A 4PL has a much broader reach, overseeing these individual networks and managing the entire logistics operation. 4PLs handle comprehensive planning and execution for a client, determining what modes and networks need to be tapped for appropriate shipping, establishing who will manage these, and creating the processes and governance for each mode. Simply put, a 4PL manages your entire supply chain, while a 3PL focuses on logistics.

Let’s take a deeper dive into 3PLs and 4PLs and what sets them apart.

Continue reading “3PL vs. 4PL: What’s the Difference?”