This was a relatively quiet week for news, so let’s get right to it…
- Ryder Launches Mobile RydeSmart® 3.0 App
- Intermec To Be Acquired by Honeywell for $600 Million
- FedEx employee emails claim firm overcharged businesses (Reuters)
- Freight Shipments Fell 1.9% in October from September
- Cass Truckload Linehaul Index
- Driver Turnover at Truckload Carriers Remains High in the Third Quarter
- Trade deficit widens, imports and exports decline (Reuters)
Next week we will publish our predictions for 2013, but here’s a sneak peak at one of mine: mobile technologies will continue to dominate the headlines next year (along with Big Data, Social Media, and Cloud Computing). The news from Ryder this week is yet another example. The company announced that it has launched a mobile application of its onboard telematics system RydeSmart 3.0® for the iPhone® and iPad® devices. Here are some excerpts from the press release:
With this application, existing RydeSmart customers will be able to track their vehicles and access real-time data on their fleets from their mobile devices at any location, any time of the day. In only seconds, customers will be able to access detailed maps and check the movement and status of their fleets.
“In this business where fleets are constantly on the move, our customers need the tools to make decisions about rerouting vehicles or responding to emergencies at a moment’s notice,” said John Gleason, Senior Vice President of Fleet Management Solutions (FMS) Sales & Marketing for Ryder. “With this new app, dispatchers and fleet managers no longer have to be tied to their office computers in order to view the status of their vehicles. Now, they can conveniently access real-time fleet data even when they are on the go through their iPhones or iPads.”
The reality is that desktops and laptops are no longer the preferred computing plaform for a growing number of business professionals. What they prefer to use are tablets and smartphones, and we’ll see more enterprise applications designed and optimized for these devices in the months and years ahead.
At the peak of the RFID hype about ten years ago, the future looked very bright for solution providers like Intermec. Things didn’t turn out as planned for RFID, or at least not as quickly. This week Intermec got acquired by Honeywell for $600 million, net of cash and debt acquired. The good news is that there is growing interest and momentum for RFID solutions, as this report by the VICS Item-Level RFID Initiative (VILRI) shows (see also what Macy’s is doing with RFID at its stores).
Of course, RFID is only part of Intermec’s product portfolio, which also includes barcode scanners, ruggedized mobile computers, and other Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) solutions. If you believe my prediction that demand for mobile technologies will continue to grow, then this acquisition has the potential to deliver good value to Honeywell and its customers in the years ahead.
How carefully do you review your FedEx bill? According to a Reuters report, “FedEx Corp ignored suspicions by an employee that it ‘systematically’ overcharged business customers for years by billing them for higher residential delivery rates, according to emails made public in a lawsuit against the company.” Here are some excerpts from the emails sent by Alan Elam, a FedEx sales executive, in August 2011:
“I have brought this to the attention of many people over the past five or six years, including more than one managing director, and no action has been taken to address it.”
“My belief is that we are choosing not to fix this issue because it is worth so much money to FedEx.”
I remember speaking with a consultant several years ago who specializes in parcel shipping auditing. At the time, there were several startup companies promising to save parcel shippers money by identifying shipments that arrived late (after guaranteed delivery times) and filing refund claims with the carriers on behalf of the shippers. While the consultant acknowledged that claiming refunds was a missed opportunity for some shippers — although he warned against overdoing it because carriers could respond by increasing your rates at the next contract renewal — he said that many shippers, especially high volume ones, were losing even more money by not identifying and correcting address errors or classification mistakes.
A common problem, for example, is having the wrong zip code or street number for a customer’s address in your database. Every time you ship to that customer, the parcel carrier charges you an “address correction fee” that you can easily miss in the tons of billing data you receive. And these fees can add up quickly if you ship to that customer frequently, or if you have many customers in your database with the same problem (for related commentary, see “The Problem with Big Data”). The other common problem I remember the consultant pointing out was parcel carriers (not just FedEx, but UPS and the others too) incorrectly classifying business addresses as residential and charging “residential delivery” accessorial fees.
The bottom line, regardless of any alleged wrongdoing by FedEx in this case, shippers need to take responsibility too, and put in place the systems and processes necessary to get more granular visibility to their transportation spend.
Finally, while I normally don’t comment on new hires or retirements, I’m making an exception this week to wish Jim Butts, Senior Vice President at C.H. Robinson, all the best following his retirement at the end of this month after 34 years with the company. I’ve had many conversations with Jim over the years about transportation management and other industry topics, and I’ve learned a lot from him. Thank you Jim for your insights and contributions to the industry, and I wish you all the best moving forward.
Have a great weekend!
Song of the Week: “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons
(Note: C.H. Robinson and Ryder are Logistics Viewpoints sponsors).