Maritime and Ocean Transport by SBA

Maritime and Ocean Transport

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How to Clear Forwarding & Shipping Notes

Moving goods internationally is a complex process that manages to occur millions of times each and every day. Forwarding and shipping notes are required for goods to clear and board a ship. Freight forwarders are responsible to complete these notes and help their customers move the goods from one location to the next. To complete the note, fill out the detailed forms with all the pertinent information. Although forms differ, they all have some common terms.


  1. Fill in the basic contact information about the product shipment. This information includes the origin of the goods and supplier information, the final distribution point and the purchaser’s information. Also include the intermediary information of the distribution firms.
  2. Complete the questions about the type of products. Include a detailed classification and number of the products being shipped. Match that classification with the tariffs associated with it.
  3. Itemize the fees and tariffs on the products that are being paid by your client. Demonstrate proof through a receipt or bank statement that payment was already made.
  4. Provide a detailed statement as to the risk that the materials might pose. There is a classification system for every type of hazardous or fragile material. If the material is hazardous, prove that it is packaged properly so as not to endanger the crew or other products.
  5. Submit the forwarder shipping notes and associated documentation to the captain or their representative at the shipping company. If they have questions they will return to you for additional information. Otherwise, the notes will be cleared and the products can board the vessel.

Reference: click here.


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How to Price Courier Jobs

Every courier service and delivery company has to develop the right formula to price courier jobs. Specialty couriers may try to price their jobs low to compete with FedEx, DHL and other carriers without realizing the long-term financial consequences. Each courier job has to be priced with a balance of operating costs and customer satisfaction in mind. The best formula for courier job pricing involves a calculation of mileage, labor costs and special circumstances that make deliveries difficult.


  1. Determine how much document preparation is needed for delivery. If your company offers printing and binding services, you should add a portion of the cost of paper, ink and binding materials to the job quote.
  2. Add a mileage charge between $0.50 and $2.50 per mile to each courier job to account for vehicle wear and tear. Use a tiered system of mileage charges in which businesses within 10 to 15 miles are charged lower rates than clients more than 25 miles from dispatch.
  3. Apply an airport surcharge to a job quote; this rewards the patience and time spent at an airport by an air courier. Delivery companies charge between $5.00 and $25 per air courier job depending on job length due to frequent delays, security checks and customs inspections.
  4. Discount prices on courier jobs for clients with reliable daily, weekly and monthly business. For example, a law firm that relies on your courier service for daily document deliveries should get a discount up to 10 percent to encourage further delivery requests.
  5. Charge 50 to 100 percent on top of standard rates for courier jobs that are expedited or same-day deliveries. The USPS and private delivery services charge more for expedited courier services due to the additional manpower required for delivery.
  6. Develop a flat fee schedule for delayed deliveries, late payments and after-hour courier jobs. These fees should be high enough to discourage clients from holding up your couriers, forgetting to pay monthly bills and requiring delivery staff to work after hours of operation.
  7. Insert a fuel surcharge to courier prices if your job requires a truck, car or van. The typical surcharge for gasoline on a courier job is 15 percent of the entire quote to offset fuel costs.
  8. Measure each package carried by your couriers and truck drivers and apply additional charges for oversized deliveries. You should charge a per-pound rate above the size of a standard box or envelope to account for space lost in delivery vehicles to large packages.

Reference: click here.


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Strategies for Small Business Shipping

Strategies for Small Business Shipping

If you’re not shipping hundreds of packages a day that total thousands of pounds, it is probably safe to say that you are a “small business shipper.” These can range from a person selling a few items on eBay out of their house to a formal business with an office or commercial location with several employees. Implementing the following small business shipping best practices can help save you time and money.

Small Business Shipping Considerations

In order to minimize your costs, you need to find a shipping service that will offer you the lowest cost overall. Shipping costs are determined by taking into account the following factors:

  • Delivery Time (2 Day, Overnight, Parcel Post, etc.)
  • Ship from/to addresses
  • Weight of product and packing material
  • Dimensions of your box/container
  • Insurance
  • Delivery Confirmation and Tracking Numbers
  • Handling/Special Fees

Rates Are Negotiable

Depending upon the volume that you ship every month, rates can be negotiated. The more you ship the more leverage you will have to ask for a lower rate. Discounts can be negotiated with as few as 100 packages per month.

Pick-Up and Delivery

Running to the post office or the carrier’s storefront location, is not only time consuming but costly too. If the carrier will make pick-ups and deliveries free of charge, this can save you some money. The only disadvantage is that you will be at the liberty of the carrier’s schedule.

In-House Postage Printing

Postage for packages and thick envelopes will vary depending upon the carrier’s rules and restrictions. Once you understand these, you can save time and money by printing the postage directly from your computer. Visit your favorite carrier’s website to learn how.

Handling Charges

If you ship items that are extremely fragile or perishable, you will incur additional handling charges to ensure the safe delivery of your package.

Shipping Supplies and Materials

In addition to postage, shipping supplies such as business envelopes, padded envelopes, boxes, cushioning material and tape need to be taken into consideration. Comparison shopping can help you save money on these supplies.

Drop-Off Locations

For critical orders that must be shipped overnight, you must take into account the nearest drop off location for the shipper of your choosing.

Multiple Shipping Partners

Even though you may be able to negotiate a lower cost by dealing with one shipping carrier exclusively, you can increase customer satisfaction by offering several choices so that your customer’s can choose who they would like you to use. In addition, this can create some competition between the carriers for your business.

Reference: click here.


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Trucking Industry by SBA

Trucking Industry

  • Commercial Vehicle Size and Weight Standards
    Covers the federal standards center on a commercial vehicle’s weight, length, and width.
  • EPA Transportation and Air Quality Industry Partner Programs
    Offers voluntary industry compliance programs aimed at reducing pollution and improving air quality.
  • Motor Carrier FAQs
    Lists frequently asked questions about the regulatory requirements of commercial operations of large trucks and buses.
  • Motor Carrier Forms
    Provides the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) portal for all compliance forms.
  • Motor Carrier Registration and Licensing
    Provides the FMCSA’s registration and licensing portal.
  • Motor Carrier Rules and Regulations
    Outlines rules and regulations enforced by the FMCSA.
  • Motor Carrier Safety and Security Guide
    Gives the FMCSA’s guide to providing safety and security initiatives aimed at reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. Commercial operators must comply with these safety regulations.
  • Oversize and Overweight Load Permit Information
    Details federally mandated maximum weights for the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.
  • Smartway Transport Partnership
    Explains how the EPA partners with several lenders to make loans available to small trucking companies to help pay for technologies that will save fuel and money while reducing pollution.
  • Surface Transportation Board Guide to Environmental Rules
    Assists in understanding and applying the Board’s environmental rules. It highlights the various environmental and historic reporting requirements, notice requirements, those actions exempt from environmental and historic review, and the types of environmental documents generally prepared for actions before the Board
  • Vehicle Size and Weight Standards
    Covers requirements to preserve our Nation’s infrastructure and to keep trucks and buses moving efficiently. States must ensure that commercial motor vehicles comply with federal size and weight standards. FHWA is responsible for certifying state compliance with federal standards. This site provides a ready source of information on federal standards and guidelines, state enforcement activities, reporting requirements, and contacts.

Hazardous Materials Transportation

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Top 7 Outsourcing Advantages

As you evaluate your choices and decisions in outsourcing different components of your operations, you will need to consider the advantages of outsourcing. When done for the right reasons, outsourcing will actually help your company grow and save money. There are other advantages of outsourcing that go beyond money. Here are the top seven advantages of outsourcing.

1. Focus On Core Activities
In rapid growth periods, the back-office operations of a company will expand also. This expansion may start to consume resources (human and financial) at the expense of the core activities that have made your company successful. Outsourcing those activities will allow refocusing on those business activities that are important without sacrificing quality or service in the back-office.

Example: A company lands a large contract that will significantly increase the volume of purchasing in a very short period of time; Outsource purchasing.

2. Cost And Efficiency Savings
Back-office functions that are complicated in nature, but the size of your company is preventing you from performing it at a consistent and reasonable cost, is another advantage of outsourcing.

Example: A small doctor’s office that wants to accept a variety of insurance plans. One part-time person could not keep up with all the different providers and rules. Outsource to a firm specializing in medical billing.

3. Reduced Overhead
Overhead costs of performing a particular back-office function are extremely high. Consider outsourcing those functions which can be moved easily.

Example: Growth has resulted in an increased need for office space. The current location is very expensive and there is no room to expand. Outsource some simple operations in order to reduce the need for office space. For example, outbound telemarketing or data entry.

4. Operational Control
Operations whose costs are running out of control must be considered for outsourcing. Departments that may have evolved over time into uncontrolled and poorly managed areas are prime motivators for outsourcing. In addition, an outsourcing company can bring better management skills to your company than what would otherwise be available.

Example: An information technology department that has too many projects, not enough people and a budget that far exceeds their contribution to the organization. A contracted outsourcing agreement will force management to prioritize their requests and bring control back to that area.

5. Staffing Flexibility
Outsourcing will allow operations that have seasonal or cyclical demands to bring in additional resources when you need them and release them when you’re done.

Example: An accounting department that is short-handed during tax season and auditing periods. Outsourcing these functions can provide the additional resources for a fixed period of time at a consistent cost.

6. Continuity & Risk Management
Periods of high employee turnover will add uncertainty and inconsistency to the operations. Outsourcing will provided a level of continuity to the company while reducing the risk that a substandard level of operation would bring to the company.

Example: The human resource manager is on an extended medical leave and the two administrative assistants leave for new jobs in a very short period of time. Outsourcing the human resource function would reduce the risk and allow the company to keep operating.

7. Develop Internal Staff
A large project needs to be undertaken that requires skills that your staff does not possess. On-site outsourcing of the project will bring people with the skills you need into your company. Your people can work alongside of them to acquire the new skill set.

Example: A company needs to embark on a replacement/upgrade project on a variety of custom built equipment. Your engineers do not have the skills required to design new and upgraded equipment. Outsourcing this project and requiring the outsourced engineers to work on-site will allow your engineers to acquire a new skill set.

Reference: click here.


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Study: Highly Successful Trucking Companies Use Different HR Practices with Drivers

Highly successful companies use distinct practices in building their workforces and offer more benefits to recruit and retain drivers when compared to all other trucking companies, according to new research in the 2013 Texas Trucking Industry Study.

To qualify as highly successful, referred to as a “HSS” company in the study, a Texas-based trucking company had to report revenue growth in 2012, a net profit margin of at least 10% in 2012, and a minimum of 11 drivers. It includes responses from 300 trucking company owners, CEOs and senior executives at Texas-based trucking companies.

“We think this study will move the research closer toward the Texas Trucking Alliance mission of providing scientifically quantified best practices in the Texas trucking industry,” said John D. Esparza, president and CEO of Texas Trucking Association.”

According to the study, 86% of HSS companies use contract drivers, compared to 42% of all other companies. Even so, 76% of HSS companies employ a mix of both contract drivers and employee drivers, compared to only 30% of all other companies.

Concerning recruitment venues, 91% of the HSS regards driver referrals as useful, compared to 66% of all other companies. The study also found HSS companies are twice as likely as all others to pay referral bonuses to referring drivers and the HSS companies that do pay bonuses appear to pay higher bonuses than all other companies: The average HSS bonus was $532 per driver referral compared to $321 for all others.

Reference: click here.


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6 Things Really Productive People Do

Have you noticed that some people just seem to accomplish tons and still appear happy and relaxed? Here are six tips for becoming more productive.

1. Pick Your Priorities

Make choices about the activities in your life. With most endeavors, you can either go deep or go wide. Focus on spending time that for you is fun and productive. If you like big families, have them, but recognize up front that kids require time and you’ll have to choose a lifestyle that supports quality time with them, for you to feel satisfied. I chose the life of a consultant because I like to work with companies, but don’t want the life of a big company CEO. My choices are based on the lifestyle I want.

2. Go For Efficiency

You don’t do everything well. The things you do well usually give you greater joy and require less time. Don’t take on something with a steep learning curve if you don’t have the available bandwidth. Design your life to meet your wants, and recognize when to say no to opportunities that are outside the scope of your desires. Live your life by design, not default.

3. Integrate Your Activities

Many people go crazy trying to figure out how to spend time with friends, family, work, play, etc.  Stop trying to balance time between them all. Find ways to enjoy them in a combined manner. Build your social life around people in your work environment. Find people in your company who share common interests and develop your career around the people and activities you love. If everything is out of synch to the point where you feel pulled and stressed, a change is likely imminent one way or another.

4. Actively Manage Time-wasters

Social media, family, friends, employees, co-workers and general whiners all under certain circumstances can suck precious time from you if you let them. Budget your time for necessary activities. Make a choice to limit non-supportive interactions that don’t energize you. As for social media, it can easily be a black hole for time and productivity. Use it appropriately and sparingly as a tool to support your endeavors and social needs, but lay off the Farmville.

5. Be an Active Learner

You would think learning takes more time from you, but actually there are always new tools and new ways of doing things that can save you time on mundane tasks freeing you up for your priorities. Always be looking for a new way to gain back an hour here or there. Just try it and dump it quick if it starts to drag on.

6. Lighten Up

No need to beat yourself up if you can’t do all the things you want because you are handling other stuff that needs attention. It happens. The world won’t come to an end in most cases just because you left a few things undone. Celebrate progress and keep refining toward a happy productive existence. This is why making lists and crossing off items is a staple in any productivity handbook. Every completion is a small victory that adds up in a big way.

Reference: click here.


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Lead Time versus Delivery Time?

When you are inquiring to a product manufacturer they will quote you a Lead Time. This is the entire process including Delivery Time.

Lead is the time it will take to process and prepare material, produce and transport it to you, the customer.

Delivery time is only transport period to you, the customer.

So if the product is ready to ship, you will receive a delivery time.


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Chinese shipping companies switching to RMB for transactions

SINGAPORE: More Chinese shipping companies are asking for renminbi (RMB) to be used as the settlement currency for shipping freight rates.

The shipping sector is seeing growing usage of the Chinese currency.

To help Chinese shippers manage their exposure, major shipping broker, Freight Investor Services, has even launched a freight derivative in Chinese Yuan last month.

A forward freight agreement (FFA) allows ship owners, charterers and speculators to hedge against the volatility of freight rates.

It gives contract owners the right to buy and sell the price of freight for future dates.

FFAs are built on an index composed of a shipping route for tanker (ship) or a basket of routes for dry bulk, contracts are traded “over the counter” on a principal-to-principal basis and can be cleared through a clearing house.

International settlements in renminbi have been on the rise.

Beijing has been promoting the wider use of its currency globally through bilateral currency swaps and trade settlement deals.

Global transaction services organisation SWIFT noted a 24 per cent surge in Yuan settlement in November 2012 as compared to a month before.

Shipowners like First Ship Lease Trust Management said it is a natural development for charter rates to shift from US dollars to renminbi as a significant volume of goods being transported is also priced in Chinese Yuan.

Guy Broadley, director at Freight Investor Services said: “China’s involvement in the commodity story over the last 10 years is obviously been very great… last year, China’s dry bulk commodity imports were equivalent to about 44 per cent of global seaborne trade. We feel that it is important for Chinese traders to be able to hedge that price risk by having a RMB-denominated contract.”

But shipping analysts believe this trend is limited to small and medium-sized Chinese shipping companies, which transact the bulk of their trades domestically.

Jayendu Krishna, senior manager at Drewry said: “China has a lot of restrictions in terms of foreign currencies and because of the restrictions they are not really able to trade in what exists today is the US-denominated transactions. So, with the introduction of this RMB-denominated FFA, probably more Chinese players will be interested because they are able to hedge against the risk of the freight volatility.”

Currently, most shipping chartering is settled in US dollars.

Shekaran Krishnan, partner at Ernst & Young said: “It would make a lot of sense for them to have the revenue which is the freight revenue in local RMB because it is a natural arbitrage against the cost they have to pay locally and if they have it in local currency, they can avoid the currency fluctuation that they are exposed to.”

Given the limited supply of the Chinese Yuan, analysts do not see the renminbi replacing the US dollar anytime soon, as the shipping industry is still very much a US dollar-dominated business.

Reference: click here.


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