Unsolved AMT Mysteries: A Blog Mini-Series

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Third-Party Logistics

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For employees at A.M. Transport, one of the most frequently asked questions is “what exactly do you do there?” The easiest and most frequent explanation is that we are a third-party logistics provider along with a loose description of how we help match shippers and carriers. All of that is true of course, but that explanation fails to paint a clear picture of what we do nor does it identify the specific roles that are an integral part of the process. Further, people do not seem to be satisfied with the idea that some sort of logistical magic happens while we all just kick back and search for Pokemon all day.  In an effort to make what we do here a little more transparent (without sharing ALL of our secrets of course!) we will be presenting a series of blog articles on 3PLs and our approach at A.M. Transport. We will highlight the meaning, history and trends of 3PLs and then offer a look “behind the scenes”, featuring employees and snapshots of what a typical workday looks like for them.

So what is a 3PL anyway?

The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) defines 3PL as follows:

“Outsourcing all or much of a company’s logistics operations to a specialized company…In 2008 legislation passed declaring that the legal definition of a 3PL is ‘ A person who solely receives, holds, or otherwise transports a consumer product in the ordinary course of business but who does not take title to the product.'” [1]

According to CSCMP, the term “3PL” was first used in the early 1970s. Prior to that, contracts for transportation featured two parties, the shipper and the carrier. As intermediaries began to engage in process by accepting shipments from the shippers and tendering them to carriers, they eventually became a 3rd party to contracts and subsequently came to be known as third-party logistics (3PLs). 

Check out this infographic to learn more about why 3PLs exist and how they benefit companies: [2]

benefits of 3PLs.jpg

 

Next time on Unsolved AMT Mysteries…Trends in 3PLs and AMT

 

[1]  Counsel of Supply Chain Management Terms and Glossary: Updated August 2013

[2] Top 5 Reasons Why You Need a 3PL Provider. WorldTrans http://www.worldtransinc.com

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Continuous Learning in the Workplace

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What’s in it for employees and employers?

It’s no surprise that when we come to work, we are faced with.. well, work. Our already packed schedules seem to continue to grow throughout the day and sometimes it can be overwhelming. The thought of adding something that is not required does not usually fall at the top of anyone’s “to-do list”. So why would one continue to seek education/training once they have landed the job that they want? Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight noted “I am a big believer that fostering ongoing learning in the workplace not only results in a pleasant and energizing work environment but a successful one with top-performing employees who aren’t afraid to question the status quo and work together to seek the truth during difficult situations.” [1]

As an employee, having motivation and a plan will only go so far if the company culture and/or team structure is not set up in a way that is conducive to workplace learning. This infographic highlights some common barriers in the development of a learning culture in the workplace.

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If you find yourself in a workplace that seems resistant to the idea, consider handing them a copy of the comic below (we kid, we kid… kind of), but having a conversation with your direct manager about the specific benefits to the team, company, and customers is a good place to start. Check out this article for information on how employers benefit from a learning culture as well as a list of suggestions of how employers can begin to create one:  https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232348

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[1] Skonnard, Aaron. (2014) How Making Employees Lifelong Learners Can Help Your Company Succeed. Entrepreneur.

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Email us – blog@amtransportonline.com

The “Amazon Effect”

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 Staying Competitive in the 3PL Industry

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3PL’s have certainly taken notice of Amazon’s expansion into the world of logistics. Many have expressed concern, which is understandable given the company’s reputation, innovation, and consistent growth.

But what does this really mean for the 3PL industry? Robert and Kristin Lieb of DC Velocity, interviewed 25 CEOs of some of the world’s largest 3PL’s to get their take on Amazon’s potential impact. According to these CEOs, the factor that has had the largest impact thus far is their high-speed delivery process.[1] As a result of these rapid delivery programs, customer-service expectations have significantly changed and although speed has always been a priority in 3PL, this is pushing it to a whole new level. Some have deemed it part of the “Amazon Effect” on the 3PL industry.

Amazon is certainly shaking things up with their logistics capabilities. Subsequently, 3PLs are being challenged to rethink their services as well as their technology. Adrian Gonzalez, president of Adelante SCM, maintains that Amazon’s move into the 3PL segment will “force traditional 3PL providers to ‘flip their model’ and effectively become IT specialists that work in the logistics business.”[2]

So how can 3PL’s prepare? As Michael McKinney of A.M. Transport put it, “You can be informed, proactive and involved or reactive and let someone else decide your fate. Either way you can’t avoid it.” Besides continuing to improve customer service, another recurring theme was the development and implementation of a solid omnichannel strategy. When 3PLs take advantage of technology and utilize it in a way that creates a seamless and pleasant experience for customers, it sets them apart and decreases the chance that they will be signficantly affected by the “Amazon Effect”.

[1] Lieb, R. & Lieb, K. (2015) Is Amazon a 3PL? Retrieved from: http://www.dcvelocity.com/articles/20150706-is-amazon-a-3pl/

[2] Gonzalez, A. (2016) Amazon’s 3PL encroachment to force traditional providers to overemphasize IT, consultant says. Retrieved from: http://www.dcvelocity.com/articles/20160630-amazons-3pl-encroachment-to-force-traditional-providers-to-overemphasize-it-consultant-says/

Have a topic or suggestion for a blog post you’d like to see? Let us know!
Email us – blog@amtransportonline.com

The Logistics of your Mental Load

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Paving the Way for Creative Thought

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You’ve probably heard the phrase “Work smarter, not harder”, but what about “Think better, not more”? According to a study published in Psychological Science last month, when we are consumed with a high quantity of thoughts (i.e., “high mental load”), our ability to think creatively is significantly hindered.[1]

According to the study, individuals possess a “natural tendency to explore and…favor novelty”; however when their mental loads are high, their minds will seek out the most familiar solution in an effort to conserve limited mental energy. When their minds are clear, on the other hand, they are more likely to move beyond routine responses and default to an innovative mode of thought.

There are benefits to having quick, routine responses whenever they are balanced with creative thought. Unfortunately, the latter tends to be overshadowed by mental loads that build up as a function of our daily lives, whether it’s ruminating over all of the things that we need to accomplish at work before the end of the day, memorizing the kids’ weekly schedule, or running through our “mental recipe box” to decide what to make for dinner. Then there are the more pathological forms of rumination that can lead to depression and/or anxiety. Regardless of origin, all of these “mental loads” accumulate, decreasing the capacity for creative thought while increasing the risk for stress-related diseases.

So what can we do to help clear our minds and improve our creativity? Moshe Bar, a neuroscientist and professor at Harvard Medical School, suggests that meditation is one of the most powerful tools in battling mental load. “Meditative practice helps free the mind to have richer experiences of the present,” he notes, recommending that everyone try it at least once.[1] The “mental dump” has also become a popular way of freeing up space for creativity. This buzz phrase refers to the act of writing down everything that comes to your mind, acknowledging that you will address these issues when you are able, and focusing on the task at hand (and theoretically the creative thoughts should now have plenty of room to flow!).[2] Other suggestions for clearing your mind including exercise (with music to activate the frontal lobe), taking power naps,  and talking with friends. [3]

[1]Bar, Moshe. (2016).Think Less, Think Better. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/19/opinion/sunday/think-less-think-better.html?_r=0

[2] Frey, Chuck. (2013). How to Clear your Mind or Distractions and Free it up for Creative Thinking. Retrieved from http://www.innovationmanagement.se/2013/05/29/how-to-clear-your-mind-of-distractions-and-free-it-up-for-creative-thinking/

[3] The Huffington Post (2014). 6 Ways To Clear Your Mind From All The Clutter. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/18/ways-to-clear-your-mind_n_4981108.html

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A.M. Transport Services, Inc. Earns Best New Provider Award from Nestle Mid-Atlantic Region

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Press Release

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Olney, IL (June 22, 2016) – A.M. Transport Services, Inc., a leading provider in transportation management and 3rd party logistics, was named as a regional “Best New Provider” for the second year in a row by Nestle Waters North America.

Last year, Nestle Waters, the nation’s largest bottled water company, presented A.M. Transport Services with the Best New Provider Award for the Midwest Region.  This year, A.M. Transport’s exceptional customer service made an impact on employees in the Nestle Waters Mid-Atlantic Region who were responsible for selecting the recipient of the Best New Provider Mid-Atlantic Award, which was presented to the A.M. Transport Service team on January 13, 2016.

Christopher Bertz, Regional Transport Manager of Nestle Waters Mid-Atlantic, was impressed with A.M. Transport Service and their dedication to service and support. He thanked the team for their efforts, adding, “You guys were a unanimous choice by our group here.”

“We are honored to be recognized by Nestle Waters North America,” said Michael McKinney, President at A.M. Transport Services. “It is a testament to the hard work of our team who consistently strive to provide outstanding customer service. We value the relationship we have with Nestle Waters and look forward to exceeding their expectations in the future.”

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To Post or Not to Post…

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Manners and Social Media

You might have read the story of the British grandmother who used Google for the first time and this was the phrase that she typed into the search: “Please translate these roman numerals mcmxcviii thank you.” PLEASE and THANK YOU! It has never occurred to me to preface a Google request with “please”, let alone thank it for providing a wealth of information at my fingertips. It was refreshing to see that someone was still using good manners, even when interacting with a computer. It seems like basic manners are becoming less common, even in customer service. Last week, I ordered a drink from a fast food establishment and when the individual handed me the drink, I said “thank  you” and his response was “yep.” Yep? First of all, I’m guessing that his company trained him to thank customers for their business versus waiting for them to say thank you, but I could be wrong. Another place where I’ve noticed a decline in manners (some might claim that they never existed here) is on social media. In fact, you are more likely to log onto a news feed full of hostility rather than anything resembling manners.

Today is Mashable’s 6th Annual Social Media Day, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about hostility on Social Media and share some tips to help you avoid falling into the abyss known as the social media argument, where no one ever wins.

According to VitalSmarts (2013), social media Shostility is on the rise and there is evidence that it is now spilling into real life:

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Of course, we can all relate to feeling “braver” behind a keyboard, which would explain the statistic suggesting that people tend to be less polite on social media. With the sheer number of controversial issues in society right now, it can be very difficult to avoid getting caught up in conversations related to hot-button topics that can take a turn for the worst in the blink of an eye. We should all feel free to express our opinions we just have to be aware that it can come with risks ranging from backlash from friends to disciplinary action from employers. One thing that we can do to keep our posts “in check” is to ask ourselves these 5 questions:

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If you’re “on the fence” about whether or not to post something (especially if you are angry or upset), type out the post, walk away for 30 minutes, and if when you return you still feel like it is appropriate, then post. This will help ensure that you aren’t impulsively posting out of anger.

Finally, don’t lose sight of the fact that social media can be fun! Have you seen the Huffington Post Facebook  video of the dogs trying to catch things in their mouths, but they totally fail? I challenge you not to laugh. So, it’s not all bad. It still enables us to stay in touch with friends and family and to share photos of our lunches (and we all know how much people LOVE those pics, right)?

Have a topic or suggestion for a blog post you’d like to see? Let us know!
Email us – blog@amtransportonline.com