Electronic Logs: A Step-By-Step Guide for Produce Shippers

There are a lot of factors that go into being a produce shipper. Whether it’s the time you’re waiting at the dock to get unloaded or the constant fight against the clock to deliver fresh products, produce shippers don’t always have it easy. With a big change in the transportation industry set to take place in December 2017, produce shippers across the country can expect to see a transformation in the way they drive and deliver their product. Read more below to find out everything you need to know when it comes to electronic logs and their effect on produce shippers.

What’s the Deal with Electronic Logs?

If you haven’t already heard, the FMCSA implemented at ELD mandate requiring all truck operators to start using electronic logging devices to track their hours and duty status starting in December 2017. This mandate was set in place to increase the safety of drivers on the road and enforce the hours of service a driver can log. With the hope to fight dozing drivers and fatal accidents on the highway, the ELD mandate will effectively get rid of all paper logging that is currently in use today.

What Does This Mean for Produce Shippers?

Produce shippers require special sets of circumstances and additional complexities when shipping their products. Transporting produce means taking precaution and extra care to prevent spoilage and considering things like harvest seasons and bumper crops. Many produce truck drivers are on a strict timeline to get their product where it needs to be before it spoils, rots and becomes unsalvageable. This means produce shippers are often exceeding their allowed hours of time logged in order to deliver quality produce. With the ELD mandate in place and electronic logs put on all vehicles, it will be impossible for drivers to exceed the hours of service limit. This could mean an increase in cost for the shippers, a decrease of pay for the drivers, and a longer wait time for produce.

 

Less Standby Time

A survey done by DAT solutions found that out of 257 carriers questioned, 54% reported waiting three to five hours every time they pulled up to a shipper’s dock. Nine percent reported waiting even more than five hours on average. When you take into consideration the cost of keeping an idle refrigerated truck running for long periods of time that’s a lot of time and money going down the drain. The good news is that with the new ELD mandate and strict hours of service regulations, drivers will see a decrease in wasted standby time.

An Increase of Rates and Need for Trucks

The not so good news that comes out of the ELD mandate is that with produce drivers unable to exceed the regulated hours of service and no longer driving through the night, produce will very likely see an increase in transit time. The problem is that when it comes to perishable items like produce, an increase in transit time can lead to spoilage. This means that shipping companies are going to have to hire more trucks and drivers to get the produce to its destination on time. This is going to cost the companies money, meaning they’ll have to raise their shipping prices to break even. It’s very likely that because of the electronic logs and an increase in shipping rates, consumers could see an increase in the price of produce in the near future.

Bottom Line

The ELD mandate and the implementation of electronic logs have been causing a stir across the transportation industry. There are both good sides and bad ones to enforcing drivers to use electronic logs and increasing regulation on hours of service. When it comes to produce shippers, time is money. With fewer hours available to work, there will likely be an increase in rates for shippers and produce that can have a ripple effect on entire communities.

ELD Mandate Time Line: A Look at Key Dates and Milestones for 2017 & What They Mean

The ELD mandate can be confusing at times with all its details and requirements. Luckily for you, we’re here to break down the ELD mandate timeline for 2017 and what it means for truck operators across the country.

If you’re involved in the transportation industry you’ve probably already heard about the federal rule that was implemented back in December 2015 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This mandate requires that truck operators start using an electronic logging device to record their driving miles and duty status. The mandate explicitly states that all truck drivers must stop using paper logs and make the transition to ELD’s two years after the mandate’s introduction, December 16, 2017.

What makes the ELD mandate so confusing is that it’s being implemented in several phases over several different dates. Below we explain each date in the implementation phase, what they mean, and what the requirements are that need to be met by each date.

Here are the three important stand out dates that you need to know about the ELD mandate.

  • December 16, 2015 – Publication date. This is the date that the ELD mandate was first introduced and made public, announcing its presence but not yet having any official status.
  • February 16, 2016 – Effective date. This is the date that falls exactly 60 days after the publication date, which means the mandate is officially in the Federal Register.
  • December 18, 2017 – Compliance date. This is the date when all truck operators have to make the full transition complying with all of the mandate’s regulations. It falls two years after the first publication date.

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of how the ELD mandate has been unfolding from its original publication date in 2015, let’s talk about its three phases.

Phase 1: Awareness and Transition Phase

This first phase in the mandate stretches over a two-year period starting on the effective date February 16, 2017, and ending on the compliance date December 18, 2017. During Phase 1, carriers and truck drivers are given time to prepare and transition to the rules of the mandate. This means that they don’t have to necessarily start using ELD’s right away, but they should start becoming familiar with how they work and comfortable with the idea of transitioning into this new way of doing things.

During Phase 1, drivers and carriers can still use any of the following in order to record their duty status:

  • Paper logs
  • Logging software
  • AOBRDS (Automatic On Board Recording Devices)
  • ELDs registered and listed on the FMCSA website

Phase 2: Phased-In Compliance Phase

The second phase is a two-year period that starts from the compliance date December 18, 2017, and ends two years later December 16, 2019. It’s important to keep this second phase in mind because the start date for it is coming up soon. During this compliance phase, carriers and truck drivers are required to eliminate all paper logs and logging software they have been previously using to record their duty status.

Starting December 18, 2017, all carriers and drivers are required to use on of the following:

  • AOBRDS that were installed before December 18, 2017
  • ELDs that are certified and registered according to the rule publication from December 16, 2015

Phase 3: Full Compliance Phase

The third and final phase of the ELD mandate starts when the second one ends on December 16, 2019. After this date, all drivers and carriers that fall under the mandate rule must be using certified and registered ELDs that comply with all the ELD regulations.

There you have it, all the important dates and phases of the ELD mandate timeline from its implementation to its effective stay. If you’re a truck operator who is going to be affected by the ELD mandate, an important date to watch out for in 2017 is the compliance date on December 18, 2017, which is also the start of Phase 2. Say goodbye to your paper logs and logging software, and hello to the future of duty status recording – the ELD!

ELD Exemptions: Who is Exempt from the Rule in 2017?

ELD Mandates and what they mean for shippers has been the talk of the industry for the past several months. Inevitably, there will be much confusion on the road to compliance.

First, what are Electronic Logging Devices anyway? You can learn more about that in our recent blog article. There’s a lot to know, but despite all these new rules and regulations, there are some minor exceptions. What are those exceptions? We break down the ELD exemptions here for you so you can get on the road and be up to code.

Who is exempt from the ELD rule?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):

“Drivers who use the timecard exception are not required to keep records of duty status (RODS) or use ELDs.  Additionally, the following drivers are not required to use ELDs; however, they are still bound by the RODS requirements in 49 CFR 395 and must prepare logs on paper, using an Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD), or with a logging software program when required”

Source: FMCSA website.

This includes:

Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period

If you are a driver not required to maintain Record of Duty Status (RODS), then you don’t have to comply with the ELD Mandate. What is RODS? The driver’s record of duty status, commonly known as the driver log, is the document used by the driver to record their time on the road. A driver’s RODS status is defined in 49 CFR 395.8. 

Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.

A driveaway-towaway operation describes any operation in which any motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer, singly or in combination, new or used, constitutes the commodity being transported when one set or more wheels of any such vehicle are on the roadway during the course of transportation between:

  • A vehicle manufacturer’s facilities
  • Between a vehicle manufacturer and a dealership or purchaser
  • Between a dealership, or other entity selling or leasing the vehicle, and a purchaser or lessee;
  • To a motor carrier’s terminal or repair facility for a repair or disabling damage following a crash
  • To a motor carrier’s terminal or repair facility for repairs associated with the failure of a vehicle component or system; or
  • By means of a saddle-mount tow-bar

Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000.

In the instance that your vehicle was manufactured before the year 2000, you may be exempt. But, the ELD may use alternative sources to obtain or estimate the required vehicle parameters, in accordance with the accuracy requirements in Section 4.3.1 of the ELD rule.

Are rented or leased commercial motor vehicles exempt from the ELD rule?

No. If you are a motor vehicle carrier operating rented or leased commercial motor vehicles, you are still required to record hours of service with an ELD, no exceptions, unless the driver or commercial motor vehicle carrier is exempt.

In regards to support information requested, authorized safety officials may inspect and copy motor carrier records and request any records needed to perform their duties.

Are Canada- and Mexico-domiciled drivers required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) when they are operating in the United States?

Yes, if you live in Canada or Mexico, drivers have to comply with US rules while driving in the United States. This includes the use of ELDs unless they have an exception. If the driver is operating in multiple jurisdictions, they’ll be able to annotate their driver RODS to denote periods of operation outside of the US.

How should an ELD record a driver’s hours of service when operating in another country such as Canada?

The ELD provider can alter a device to suit its customers’ needs/operations in accurately monitoring drivers’ hours.

Can drivers operate commercial motor vehicles equipped with ELDs if they are not required to use them due to an exception?

This is possible, yes. Even if you drive a CMV equipped with ELD technology you can still use an exception.

How can the model year of commercial motor vehicle (CMVs) be found to determine if the CMV was manufactured before 2000 for the exception related to these vehicles?

The model year information necessary to make the determination can be found in this table:

Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year
A = 1980 L = 1990 Y = 2000 A = 2010 L = 2020 Y = 2030
B = 1981 M = 1991 1 = 2001 B = 2011 M = 2021 1 = 2031
C = 1982 N = 1992 2 = 2002 C = 2012 N = 2022 2 = 2032
D = 1983 P = 1993 3 = 2003 D = 2013 P = 2023 3 = 2033
E = 1984 R = 1994 4 = 2004 E = 2014 R = 2024 4 = 2034
F = 1985 S = 1995 5 = 2005 F = 2015 S = 2025 5 = 2035
G = 1986 T = 1996 6 = 2006 G = 2016 T = 2026 6 = 2036
H = 1987 V = 1997 7 = 2007 H = 2017 V = 2027 7 = 2037
J = 1988 W = 1998 8 = 2008 J = 2018 W = 2028 8 = 2038
K = 1989 X = 1999 9 = 2009 K = 2019 X = 2029 9 = 2039

The model year code is the 10th digit in the VIN.

If a commercial motor vehicle is equipped with a glider kit that is newer than the model year 2000, but the connections and motor vehicle components (such as the engine) are older than the model year 2000, is the vehicle exempt from the ELD rule?

No. ELD use is required for vehicles whose VINs reflects a model year of 2000 or newer. The ELD rule requires a reasonable proxy for this data if the engine control module (ECM) or ECM connectivity does not provide it. If the currently installed engine cannot support an ECM to obtain the required vehicle parameters, then the operator has to use an ELD that doesn’t rely on ECM connectivity.

Can a driver use an ELD on a commercial motor vehicle with a model year older than 2000?

Yes. However, the ELD must comply with the ELD rule’s technical specifications. The ELD may use alternative sources to obtain or estimate the required vehicle parameters, in accordance with the accuracy requirements in Section 4.3.1 of the ELD rule.

 

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) —What Are They Anyway?

In case you haven’t heard, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or the FMCSA finalized an Electronic Logging Device (or ELD) mandate in December 2015. Ever since they published the mandate, electronic logging devices have been a hot topic amongst folks in the transportation industry. We’re here to talk about what exactly are electric logging devices and how they work.

What Exactly is an Electronic Logging Device?

To put it simply, an ELD is an electronic piece of technology that was created for truck drivers so they could easily track their hours of service (HOS). The idea is that by having a legitimate and automated way to track truckers’ hours, they won’t go over the legal limit of hours worked. This is supposed to keep both truckers and other drivers on the road safer by fighting truckers’ driving fatigue.

An ELD connects to the truck’s engine and can electronically record when the truck is in motion and when it’s not. It also allows drivers to login in their hours by selecting on-duty, off-duty or on-duty not driving. The driver’s driving record, status and hours logged are then displayed on a graphically on a screen so they can easily see their stats.

Another feature of electronic logging devices is that they are able to transmit data to both shippers and law enforcement via wireless web, USB and even Bluetooth. While the FMCSA hasn’t released the standards for official ELDs, electronic logging devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes created by different manufacturers.

How Much Does an ELD Cost?

Electronic logging devices can actually be quite expensive and end up costing shippers a large chunk of change. The FMCSA estimates that companies can expect to pay anywhere from $165 to $832 dollars annually for a single ELD. The average price of the most popular ELD on the market now is $495 per truck.

While ELDs can have a large upfront expense for shippers, they are projected to actually save money over time. They eliminate the need for paperwork and hand logging while also reducing the number of hours that truckers are authorized to work. New ELDs are also being introduced by manufacturers that meet the FMCSA standards but come at a much cheaper price.

There has also been an introduction of ELDs for smartphones and tablets in the form of applications. These solutions could save installation and maintenance fees and reduce the overall cost by a large percentage for shippers.

How Do ELDS Save Time and Money?

The whole point of the FMCSA introducing ELDs is to save truckers and shippers both time and money. So, just exactly how do ELDs do that? Well, before the ELD mandate was introduced, truck drivers had to log all their hours manually on paperwork.

The FMCSA projected that drivers could save upwards of $705 every year just by eliminating the cost of paperwork. They also estimated that drivers were spending 20 or more hours every year logging, filing and sending out their drivers logs. By getting rid of any work needed to be done by the driver, an ELD can do all the logging and recording automatically saving drivers time and money.

 

How Else Can ELDs Benefit Drivers?

Aside from saving drivers time and money, and increasing safety on roads electronic logging devices can decrease fuel costs by monitoring excessive truck idle times and speeding. They can also help build incentives for drivers who increase their fuel efficiency. ELDs also work to lower the total crash rate. In fact, drivers who were using ELDs had an 11.7% reduction in crashes than drivers who weren’t using ELDS.

ELDs are a hotly debated topic in the transportation industry right now as drivers are beginning to make the transition towards using electronic logging devices on their vehicles. Now that you know what ELDs are all about and how they work, you can join in on the discussion!

ELD Mandates: What They Mean for Shippers in 2017

The ELD mandates have been a hot topic in the transportation industry ever since their announcement last year by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The idea behind the ELD, or electronic logging device, mandate is to improve safety in the transportation industry.

If you didn’t already know, an ELD is a device that is synchronized with a vehicle’s engine so it can record driving time automatically. This makes it easier for drivers to log their time on the job and provide a more accurate number than traditional paper logs. By having this system automated, the drivers’ safety and the safety of other drivers on the road will greatly increase.

The mandate states that all carriers and drivers need to have ELDs installed by the appropriate deadline. Those shippers who are still using paper logs or other logging software have to transition to the ELDs before December 18, 2017. The new ELD mandates are a huge change to drivers and shippers across the country.

These mandates are going to transform the way drivers work, the safety on the road, and shipping companies’ enforcement of protocol. There are people on both sides of the ELD mandates—some who think they are going to change the industry for the better, and others who think it will be for the worse. Read more below to find out what all the hubbub about ELD mandates is really about, and what it means for shippers in 2017.

What’s the Purpose of the ELD Mandates?

The FMCSA states that its objective for imposing the ELD mandates is to considerably strengthen commercial truck drivers’ compliance with hours of service regulations. By doing this, their plan is to reduce the amount of driving fatigue that leads to unsafe roads. Aside from recording driving hours, the ELDs will monitor the driver’s location, miles, and even vehicle movement. This kind of technology in the transportation industry can be transformative and is definitely going to be a game changer for drivers everywhere this year.

So, what did driver’s do before the introduction of ELDs? The answer to that is simple—they wrote down their hours on a paper log. It’s a method akin to something you would see before the invention of computers, but it is one the transportation industry still relies on to this day. This system was long due for an overhaul, which is where the ELD mandates come in. Although it may seem like ELDs are a great fix-all solution to driver safety and efficiency, there is a lot of controversy around how much ELDs are actually going to benefit drivers.

Why Truck Drivers are Concerned

There are a number of reasons why the drivers who this mandate effect are concerned about its implications on their work hours, pay and flexibility. ELD’s mean less privacy for drivers and a harder time managing shipper expectations.

Inflexibility

Many truck drivers are concerned that the ELD will have a significant impact on their pay. The FMCSA wants to put a strict enforcement of the 55 hour work week legal limits. But for most drivers, this just isn’t their reality. The mandate could put a strain on how much they could potentially earn in a week because they now have to adhere to 55 hours a week max. This diminishes any flexibility for drivers when it comes to logging hours during the week.

Costs

Shippers are also concerned about the costs that come with an ELD. For starters, one ELD can cost on average $584 for one truck to install. On top of that, there is another $20 monthly fee shippers have to pay for subscription services and maintenance. A recent solution to this problem is the availability of aftermarket ELD options, and the allowance of ELD smart phone apps by the FMSCA. Both of these options could keep costs down considerably.

ELDs Could Make Carriers Less Efficient

In order to meet shippers’ high demands, it isn’t unheard of for drivers to go over the legal hours per week work limit. With the ELD mandate, this would render the ability to do so completely impossible. A lot of people in the transportation industry are worried about the effects of the ELD and the pressure to meet shipper’s demands. The argument is that with less time allowed to log, drivers will feel the need to engage in aggressive driving such as speeding, passing and tailgating to make up for the lost time.
Benefits of ELDs

While there are plenty of negatives about the ELD mandate out there, let’s talk some of the positive changes it can bring to the transportation industry. Some of the positive effects include:

• Enhanced ability to monitor drivers
• Safer roads for drivers and everybody else
• A convenient depart from traditional paper logs
• A saving on the shipper’s end for operation costs
• Less fuel used with fewer hours worked

There is a lot of talk about the ELD mandates and how they are going to affect the transportation industry, for shippers and drivers alike. Whether your pro ELD, against it or somewhere in between, the mandates aren’t going anywhere. Only time will tell how beneficial ELDs truly are to shippers across the nation.

How TMS Software Helps Handle Data and FSMA Regulations

The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the most sweeping reform of food safety in laws in more than 70 years. Signed into law by President Obama in 2011, it aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting focus from responding to reports of food contamination, to preventing it from happening in the first place. The Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food (SFTA), is the last rule of the FSMA series, and it applies directly to the transportation of food.

The SFTA has specific requirements around temperature control and tracking, cleanliness, training, data retention, and temperature certification. (You can find a more in-depth explanation here).  Each of these regulations presents a new set of challenges for food shippers. Namely, the mandate on temperature tracking and data retention. And with this heightened focus on data and visibility, it’s made TMS and other supply chain software essential. Here’s how TMS software helps with FSMA rules and regulations:

Automation of administrative work

The new FSMA regulations – by definition, requires more paperwork. Everything must be documented and recorded. The rule states that carriers must have written procedures, agreements and training documents.  However, with TMS software, you have the benefit of automating each of these processes. TMS software helps immensely with productivity by greatly reducing the workload caused by processes that were historically manual. It allows you to simplify processes, collect the necessary data and ensure compliance, without having to worry about adding more to your workload.

Tracking & Data

The FSMA rule has put an emphasis on visibility through tracking and data collection. For example, in the new rule, the FDA considers container sanitation and temperature monitoring a preventative food safety measure.  Thus, a shipper is required to provide carriers with written instructions on sanitation and temperature controls for the safe transport of their food.  In return, the carrier is expected to comply and offer further documentation.

A TMS software serves as a valuable data repository, allowing you to quickly view, manage and analyze your data in real-time. Also important is the historical record of all loads you’ve carried. With a software that makes your life easier, you will find more time to work on other aspects of your business.

 

Added Shelf Time

Most refrigerated foods – especially meat, cheese, fruits, and veggies – already have a shorter shelf-life than other food products. These highly perishable products need to be in stores as soon as possible to ensure they are stocked and consumed when intended. With TMS software and various optimization integrations, you are able to reduce the amount of time products spend in transit by optimizing routes and avoiding potential setbacks. When your TMS software can drive time out of the supply chain with 100% visibility into every step, you are going to impress your customers and have a chance to grow your revenues and profits. 

 

For a complete overview of Food transport guidance and regulation, visit fda.gov

How the ELD mandate impacts the trucking industry

 

Over the past few years, the trucking industry has seen a lot of changes.  Following the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed in 2011- shippers, carriers, and supply chain professionals have been forced to adhere to a new set of strict requirements. In an effort to prevent food-borne illnesses, carriers must comply with a variety of food safety precautions including temperature monitoring, cleanliness, training, and data retention. (You can read more about that here).

The biggest hurdle, however, came in December 2015 when the FMCSA announced the ELD mandate.  The new rule requires all commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with certified Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) in order to enforce accurate hours-of-service (HOS) recordings.  The FMCSA reasoning for the new ruling is as follows … “to improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue.”

 

The ELD mandate is perhaps the biggest change seen by the trucking industry in over 50 years and one that many people are unhappy with. There’s no doubt it will have a dramatic impact on the industry. What’s not as clear, is exactly how. In an effort to gain more clarity on the topic, we will discuss the implications of the ELD mandate and how it impacts the trucking industry.

 

PRODUCTIVITY

Productivity is one area that no one seems to agree on. The initial thought was that ELDs would help to increase productivity for drivers by acting as a personal time-management tool. Matter of fact, the FMCSA estimates that the ELD mandate will result in a $2.44 billion savings. Most of which will be attributed to the amount of time drivers will save by not having to complete and submit time logs.

There has been a lot of skeptics, to say the least. Numerous reports have emerged that claim quite the opposite. John Larkin, managing director of transportation capital markets research, estimates the trucking industry will actually lose between 3% and 5% of its overall productivity once the federal regulations for ELDs go into full effect. He adds that small carriers will be most negatively affected, losing an estimated 6% to 10% of overall productivity.

 

COST

The FMCSA projects the ELDs to save over $1.6 billion annually from paperwork savings alone. They also suggest carriers will save in additional ways, with decreased fuel costs, reduced truck downtime and lowered total crash rates, to name a few. Even still, $1.6 billion in paperwork savings in slightly hard to believe.

Here’s a breakdown of the findings from a Regulatory Impact Analysis by FMCSA.

Estimated paperwork savings per driver per year:

  • Driver Filling RODS: $487
  • Driver Submitting RODS: $56
  • Clerk Filling Rods: $120
  • Elimination of paper driver log books: 42
  • Total: $705 per year in paperwork savings

Let’s face it, the savings are impressive, but do they make up for the costs of implementing the ELDs? The most common device will cost carriers about $495, per truck. For a small or medium-sized business, that’s a huge expense. One that could drastically change the state of their business.

 

SAFETY

The driving force behind the ELD mandate is first and foremost, safety. The ELD mandate applies to over 3 million drivers on the road. That’s 3 million drivers that could cause fewer accidents due to fatigue and inaccurate HOS logging. An analysis by the FMCSA, predicts that the ELD mandate will prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year, due to driver fatigue. By ditching the paper and pen method and adopting the ELD method, it will ensure all drivers are following the specific safety and compliance standards.

 

Sources:

ELDFacts
FleetOwner.com
OverDriveOnline
FMCSA.gov

FSMA Rules & Regulations: Everything You Need to Know in 2017

In 2011, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), in an effort to improve food safety and monitor food handling regulations more closely. After years of inactivity, the FSMA rule has been made final, presenting a host of new challenges for shippers, carriers, and supply chain professionals.

The newly enacted legislation places a focus on prevention-related measures from farm to table, pertaining specifically to transportation. In order to decrease the risk of food contamination during transportation, the new rule requires shippers, loaders, carriers, and receivers involved in transporting food to use the highest standard of sanitary practices. It should be noted, that these requirements exclude transportation by ship or air.

The FSMA rule requires strict adherence to various shipper-defined requirements in order to keep the food safe and unaltered during transportation. If any specific requirements are not met by shippers, the receiving facility is unable to accept the product into their facility. Thus, if you don’t remain compliant, companies could potentially lose a lot of money.

To ensure you meet compliance, we’ve compiled a guide with everything you need to know about FSMA rules and regulations.

 

Who does FSMA affect?

The new FSMA act has few exceptions.  The rule applies to shippers, receivers, loaders and carriers who transport food in the U.S. Also effected, are any shippers who transport food into the country (from Canada or Mexico). However, the rule does not apply to shippers or exporters who ship food from the U.S. to surrounding countries by motor or rail.

 

What should 3PLs do comply?

Asset-based carriers will of course need to comply. Straight 3PLs without any of their own assets will need to reexamine their truck procurement process and approved-carrier list to make sure that the trucks you broker in to pick up food loads are in compliance. Expect food customers to begin asking, and to begin requiring new paperwork to prove that the trucks you’re sending in are in full compliance.

 

When does it take effect?

The deadline to meet compliance requirements varies. For instance, if you are a small business that employs less than 500 people and motor carriers, then you have up to two years to comply.

See the referenced compliance sheet from GMA.org for a breakdown.

Here’s a PDF with the breakdown.

 

Key Requirement Categories

Vehicle & Transportation Equipment
Vehicles must be suitable and adequately cleaned for the use of food transportation. They must be able to maintain the necessary temperatures to ensure safe transport of human or animal food.

Operations
During transportation, the measures taken throughout the operation must be in compliance with the new rule in order to ensure food safety.  Here are some of the key elements:

  • Temperature Control and Monitoring – Proper refrigeration or temperature control of all food products
  • Cross- Contamination – Correct management of transportation units and storage facilities to prevent cross-contamination. This includes meeting proper sanitation requirements and the correct segregating of foods vs. non-foods in the same area to eliminate any potential risk.
  • Food Safety Plan – A specific food safety plan must be put in place that is documented and being followed by all parties involved.

Training
Specific training of carrier personnel must be upheld and documented. Once the training in completed, the carrier is responsible for all sanitary conditions during the transport of the products.

Records
All procedures must be highly documented. This includes written procedures and processes, any legal agreements, and training documentation.  Usually, it’s necessary to file these documents for at least 12 months following transportation.
For more information and the official FSMA Rule on Sanitary Transportation, please visit FDA.gov

Startup Logistics Company: Scaling Your Enterprise

You’ve done it. You have officially launched a successful startup logistics company. You have a 3PL service you are proud of and you are financially stable – an impressive feat! Now, after much success and positive feedback, you naturally want to improve and start scaling your enterprise.

The scalability of any startup is based on its ability to grow and readjust to a larger workload without compromising performance or revenue. While your main focus may be on growth, you need to ensure you have the infrastructure to sustain that growth.  Making the leap from small-time to big-time is a process that involves reevaluating and redistributing many key aspects of your company.

Here are a few tips to help you start scaling your enterprise.

Delegate and Shift Responsibility

After building a company from scratch it can be difficult to take a step back but when it comes to scalability, but it’s necessary.  Your business needs to function successfully without your oversight into as much of the day-to-day tasks that you were responsible for out of the gate. Its growth depends on you shifting from the all-encompassing “doer” to senior management.

In order to do this, you need the right people to replace you. This is where hiring processes and talent becomes important. When writing about talent and scalable teams earlier this year, Alon Alroy stated, “Your product is not innovative; it is the people behind it who are.” And he couldn’t be more correct in his assessment.

Here are a few things to consider during the hiring process:

  • They are eager and possess more than one skill. Although it’s helpful to have a few token experts at their craft, it can be equally as beneficial to onboard employees that have multiple skills and a wide range of understanding about the supply chain industry. Even though you are trying to grow at this point, you are still a startup. And startups have an “all hands on deck” sort of atmosphere. When you hire someone with multiple skills, they are able to be agile, moving from one task to the next easily, which facilitates growth and cuts costs.
  • They have a good attitude. Stakes are high and at this point in the game, you need champions on your team. Talent, skill set and overall knowledge are important characteristics to consider. But to don’t completely sacrifice good character for talent. You need team members that are with you for the long haul
  • Hire leaders and Contributors. Look for those people that are capable of assuming more responsibilities in the future, people that are self-motivated and interested in growing their career.

Remove Manual Labor & Automate

Automate everything you possibly can. When you are in a growth phase, you are balancing limited resources with an increasing demand. In order to do this successfully, it helps to have the manual, tedious tasks automated. One of the most helpful automation tools is freight broker software. Good freight broker software can literally cut time in half by eliminating manual tasks and human error.

Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts

To scale, you need to be able to implement a well-curated content marketing strategy. Amplify your current marketing efforts and use previous data and insights as a guide. Content marketing is the best-known method for gaining leads and facilitating actions from your customers. Build content around the benefits of working with a 3PL and your specific services. What is content marketing? It’s the practice of producing helpful information that potential sales prospects can download and become leads in your marketing and sales pipeline. In essence, you enable yourself to be found by your potential buyers by having helpful content on your blog and website.

Stick Together

Many times as companies begin to expand and grow, the collaborative element can start to vanish. Eliminate unnecessary silos within your company by fostering communication and encouraging feedback. Remember, supply chains are built on relationships. Without open communication, it’s easy to make mistakes that could otherwise have been avoided.

Scaling your 3PL startup and taking it to the next level requires a shift in thinking to create company-wide involvement, communication, and forecasting. As you move into this growth phase remember these tips. With the right processes, automation and overall will to succeed, anything is possible.

 

How to Start Your Own Logistics Company: Sales Planning Guide

Creating a solid sales plan is perhaps the most important and vital step towards the success when figuring out how to start your own logistics company. Your sales plan and marketing strategy work together to form a blueprint that acts as a guide to keep your business on track. Once completed, a sales plan should outline your business’s goals, how you’ll pursue them, what you need to get there and a forecast of some potential obstacles. There are a handful of components to consider when developing your sales plan, so we’ve outlined an easy to follow sales planning guide to get you started.

Market Research

Always start with data. An effective sales plan relies heavily on your market analysis and research. Without data, you are essentially operating blind. Gather information on the following:

Customer Audience/ Market Segments

If you haven’t defined your audience already, this should be your very first plan of action. It is impossible to build a successful sales or marketing strategy without knowing exactly who your target audience is. In marketing, this is called your buyers persona. Gather as much information as you can about your customers.

Start with the following questions and build on from there

– Who are your customers?

– Where are your customers located?

– What tools/platforms do they use?

– What is the biggest issue they are facing right now?

Market Size

Is the market growing?
What is the market size?
What share of the market are you getting?

Industry Trends & Changes

Next, you need to get a firm understanding of the growth and trends within your industry or niche. The logistics industry is changing at a rapid rate and it’s important that you consider emerging trends and how they could impact your sales goals.

In the past 10 years, for instance, supply chain management has drastically changed. With people shopping more and more online, eCommerce has challenged the traditional models of supply chains and logistics. Companies like Amazon have pushed the expansion of same-day delivery and product visibility. With logistics innovation continually pushing the envelope, you need to consider how your niche will fit in with these emerging trends.

Competitor Research

This is an obvious one. It’s imperative that you have a good understanding of your competition – especially in the supply chain industry. A thorough competitive analysis can give you a lot of insight on your own products, pricing, and even marketing copy. Learn from your competitor’s mistakes. Start by answering the following questions.

  • What are your competitive advantages?
  • What makes your business different?
  • Do your competitors offer something that you don’t?
  • How do your competitor’s rates compare to yours?

Once you’ve gathered some information and feel you have a better grasp on the competition, complete a SWOT analysis.

Strengths: What does your business offer that your competition does not? Essentially, how are you better?

Weakness: What does your competition do better than you?

Opportunity: Highlight something outside your business that can lead to a strength or improvement.

Threats: What external factors pose a threat to your business? This is something that is beyond your control.

Sales Planning

Once you’ve compiled your market research, you can start developing your sales plan. A sales plan is comprised of six basic components.

1. Goals

A good rule of thumb is to ensure every goal is “SMART”. That is, each goal is specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time bound.

2. Target

This is where your buyer personas come in. Your sales plan needs to consider your audience at every step of the planning process.

3. Strategy

What are you going to offer your customers? What is your strategy to capture their attention and convert them into a customer?

4. Tools, Tactics & Messaging

This portion of your sales plan defines exactly how you will be reaching your target audience. What online channels will you be using? What specific messages will you be conveying?

5. Timeline

With so much going on it’s easy to forget to attach every action to a timeline. Specify when, what time, and how frequently, you will be doing each activity.

6. Measurement/KPIs

Always, always measure and track your results. This will help you to create an even stronger sales and marketing strategy in the future.

Simple Sales Plan Chart:
simple sales planning chart

As mentioned, the supply chain industry is constantly evolving and so should your sales and marketing plan. Your sales plan should evolve in tandem with your business. Remember to consistently make edits, set new goals and improve upon your strategy.