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20 Most Promising Logistics Solutions Providers

by Marly Hazen McQuillen
17. August 2015 08:15

Interview with Josh Miller, Vice President of TMS, CTSI-Global

CIO Review

Logistics as a business concept evolved in the early 1960’s with the dawn of increased complexity concerning supply chain processes. It is an integral fraction of supply chain management and cannot be shunned by industries. The traditional methods of logistics that involve analyzing and tracking inventories fail to comply with the requirements of the present day industry operations. With the introduction of GPS (Global Positioning System) and the Cloud, logistics operations have become incredibly user-friendly, helping businesses to proficiently monitor and keep a track of their business activities.

Currently, the functionalities of logistics have transformed enormously with a significant rise in E-commerce industries, discount stores, and integration of cloud computing. Presently, Logistics providers are offering customers with inbound logistics, multi-enterprise grid functionality and shared distribution networks for efficient manufacturing, storing inventory information and obtaining an integrated view of all their activities.

Citing the swift growth and expansion of manufacturing businesses, the necessity for a competent supply chain has increased immensely. Subsequently, a number of companies have achieved distinction in delivering these services. In the last few months, we have come across hundreds of logistics providers and shortlisted some of the pioneering companies who have helped manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers in tackling the challenges related to supply chain management.

Our selection is based on the vendor’s capability to realize the needs of manufactures through supply chain that support core business processes of various industries. Additionally, we evaluated the vendors support through support based on the integration of technological
innovations into their systems.

Today, we present to you CIO Review’s 20 most promising Logistics Technology Solution Providers of 2015.


  • Company: CTSI-Global
  • Description: A leading provider of supply chain management technology which controls all aspects of supply chain operation
  • Key Person: Josh Miller, Vice President of TMS
  • Website: www.ctsi-global.com


CTSI-Global: Carrier Agnostic Logistics Solutions

Operational functionalities of logistics have extended to various areas including integrated planning, intelligent shipping, instant delivery and hassle free product return. To provide adaptable logistics services that support core shipping operations, CTSI-Global took one step
further with their valuable and cost saving logistic solutions. Headquartered in Memphis, TN, CTSI-Global is a leading logistics technology which offers integrated solutions to manage all aspects of supply chain operation physical, informational and financial. “We offer a SaaS based Transportation Management System, Freight Bill, Audit and Payment, BI Management, and Freight & Parcel Cost Reduction Services.

CTSI provides an integration platform to manage and receive all transactions associated with the inbound and outbound movement of freight“Clients can automate the shipping process, utilize workflows to make more informed decisions, track the status of orders and shipments, manage by exception, and utilize BI to identify trends and areas for improvement,” asserts Miller.

CTSI-Global enables unparallel access to transportation data through their state-of-the-art web based, on-demand TMS (Transportation Management System). TMS has a multi-tenant architecture which streamlines manual processes, improves performance levels, increases realtime order visibility and reduces transportation costs.

CTSI-Global’s BI capability is based on SQL database to enable vendors obtain instant access to data and identify developments in logistics operations. “We receive data from carriers, ERP systems and suppliers which can be made available to authorized users,” says Miller. The company’s innovative dashboards combine third party dashboard applications that are integrated within their system and provide a combination of operational and strategic reporting capability. In addition, CTSI-Global has more than 100 weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual reports in any aspect of logistics operation. Clients can choose from these reports or can customize reporting.“We have executive dash boards and modeling tools that allow clients to
not only track historical trends, but to perform “what if analysis” and focus on predictive analytics. Our special work assignment team (SWOT) comprises of senior level business analysts and technical analysts who work with clients during an on boarding process to create, KPI’s specific to the customer’s transportation network” adds Miller.

CTSI-Global’s domain experts work hand in hand with engineering teams to deliver client specific solutions. As an example, one of their clients in the logistics industry is responsible for packaging and distribution of DVDs for most of the major motion picture industry. In the case of important releases, the client has to deal with over million orders that have to be delivered
within a two or three days delivery window. As a Logistics Service Provider, their customer requires that 99 percent of orders be delivered either on or before the due date. To meet such as tight window all orders need to be tracked, exceptions identified, and delivery commitments met. To accomplish the task, CTSI integrated with the customer’s ERP and inventory management systems, multiple suppliers, and numerous carriers to create a centralized data warehouse with one version of the truth. CTSI then utilized workflow engines and web based dashboards to easily enquire and track a large number of orders. This solution improved client’s service level requirement to their customer and provided new business opportunities for client.

Amazon and NASA Propose Delivery Drone "Highway" with Air-Traffic Control System

by Marly Hazen McQuillen
29. July 2015 14:00


Animation from 'The Jetsons,' via Giphy

The FAA has approved dozens of companies (6.4% of applicants) to fly commercial drones below 200 feet in altitude, but Amazon has been granted extra leeway, test-flying up to 400 feet high over its campus. (Business Insider reports that Amazon has also been testing drone flights outside the US, including over British Columbia.) Amazon's extra flying experience has given it a leading role in helping to define the future of commercial drone logistics in the US.

Gur Kimchi, Vice President of Amazon Prime Air, spoke at a NASA-sponsored conference July 28 to outline Amazon's proposed strata for commercial drone flights. The Washington Post describes airspace below 200 feet as "a local service road" for drones with less refined collision-avoidance technology or with specialized tasks such as videography or surveying. In contrast, 200-400 feet in altitude would be "a highway for drones," primarily autonomous delivery or mapping drones.

According to Manufacturing.net, "The 'best' class of drone, with 4D trajectory planning, an on-vehicle Internet connection, geospatial awareness of all other vehicles and hazards operating at over 200 feet, and other automated systems would be allowed to operate in urban areas. This would also be the only type allowed to fly beyond line of sight, at night, and in inclement weather."

No drones would fly in the next hundred feet up, to prevent contact between drones and traditional aircraft.

Amazon's proposed map for drone flights
Map from Amazon, via 'Washington Post'

Beyond what is being commonly touted in the news as "drone zones," NASA's Silicon Valley team is working with tech giants to design an air-traffic safety system for drones, known as Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management. Kimchi explained that drones in the "high-speed transit" zone must file flight plans and use sensors to avoid accidents with hazards (e.g. other drones, birds, towers, emergency helicopters). According to The Seattle Times, both Amazon and Google support greater visibility through a centralized system of flight plans but oppose instituting a single drone air-traffic operator.

h/t Megan Crouse, Manufacturing.net

Simplifying Infrastructure Management with Microsoft Solutions

by Marly Hazen McQuillen
27. July 2015 07:00

James Hanauer, CTO and VP Engineering of CTSI-Global, and Art Saisuphaluck, Solutions Architect and R&D Lead of CTSI-Global, recently provided their expertise on Microsoft Solutions for a special Microsoft edition of CIO Review.


Simplifying Infrastructure Management with Microsoft Solutions

Throughout my career, I have had the luxury of fulfilling various roles responsible for steering the technologies used by enterprises and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers. What I have found to be ubiquitous in each role is the need to have the right people around you to develop joint strategies and a joint vision. Gaps in knowledge and experience -- for IT or other subject matter experts -- present the risk of an organization falling into a mostly maintenance or survival mode. I consider vendors as part of my team, so I look for them to have a vision and the ability to execute just like any other team member. Microsoft is a technology provider that has continued to meet the current needs of many IT organizations globally while also contributing to the future of the technology landscape.

Microsoft's effort in establishing technology platforms is key to ensuring organizations remain agile and focused on business value. Successfully establishing platforms that meet the need of IT teams and business operations requires having a unified focus in providing solutions for your infrastructure team, development team, and the vertical business functions of the organization. With Microsoft Solutions, CTSI-Global is able to keep the costs of training, development, and operations down since the solutions Microsoft offer fulfill the needs of both our enterprise operations and our product research and development teams.

Our primary Solutions Architect and R&D Lead, Art Saisuphaluck, has utilized Microsoft Solutions to enable our existing teams to achieve more in many areas such as advancing our DevOps adoption, simplifying infrastructure management, strengthening our high availability, increasing our product development throughout, and improving quality. He is enthusiastic about the direction Microsoft is headed.

"I'm always looking at our processes to see where we can gain the most efficiency. Years ago when Microsoft expanded the enterprise capabilities of Hyper-V, I was thrilled because our current staff could leverage it to address the server managerment needs of the infrastructure team while also addressing the testing and resource needs of our R&D team. Hyper-V provided a means for reducing our rack space and power consumption while increasing server density and maintainability. The developers are able to utilize predefined machines for isolated testing of software. The Live Migration capabilities of Hyper-V allow the virtual machines to be migrated across hardware boundaries without the need shut them down. Windows Server Datacenter enhances the value of using Hyper-V by providing a better means for cost control in its virtual machine licensing model," says Art.

Our development team utilizes Microsoft .NET and Microsoft SQL Server to provide robust solutions quickly, so they spend a significant amount of their time in the Microsoft Visual Studio IDE. Developing applications in Microsoft Visual Studio has brought regular increases on our ROI as Microsoft advances coding functions -- such as refactoring capabilities -- and continues to integrate the IDE with their server technologies and their Azure cloud technologies. Since Visual Studio has native support for the Microsoft Web API REST services framework, HTML5, CSS3, and rich JavaScript development, the developers can stay in the Visual Studio to develop, test, and debug services and applications while also having the ability to spin up and manage VMs, connect to SQL Server, provision Azure resources, and deploy into isolated testing environments -- all within Microsoft Visual Studio.

Since CTSI-Global provides a hosted suite of transportation and logistics services that are customizable extensions to ERP systems, we are always enhancing our testing capabilities to improve quality and prevent regression. Using Microsoft's Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V, PowerShell, and Visual Studio in our testing solution, we were able to establish an automated method of creating ad-hoc testing environments that isolate changes for various levels of testing.

Microsoft's evolution of Azure is beneficial to anyone utilizing Microsoft products. Since they are using their own technologies -- like Windows Server, Hyper-V, IIS, SQL Server, and Visual Studio -- to build Azure, Microsoft becomes a major consumer of their own products. This means that needed features and bugs that Microsoft observes will be much closer to the perspective of their customers. Features needed to enhance Microsoft's ability to evolve the Windows Server versions that organizations use on-premise. A feature in Windows Server 2012 that relates to cloud capacities and has helped us is the ability of VMs to leverage virtual fiber channels for attaching SAN storage directly to a VM."

Microsoft is serious about the cloud and specifically Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). This initially became apparent to me when Scott Guthrie was moved from Corporate Vice President of the Development Group to Corporate Vice President of Cloud and Enterprise in 2011. His work over the development group dramatically changed the development experience with Microsoft technologies, and he is doing the same throughout Azure and Microsoft's cloud enabling technologies. Under his guidance since 2011, Microsoft Azure has gained a solid Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering that is simple but powerful to use along with many additions to its PaaS offering. The Azure platform services now comprise of Azure SQL Service as a service, Azure Active Directory as a service, Azure Websites as a service, Azure Service Bus, Azure Mobile Services (NodeJS as a service), Azure Media Services, Azure BizTalk as a Service, Azure Traffic Manager Service (Global DNS as a Service), and Azure Machine Learning (Data Analytics as a Service) as examples. To increase adoption, Microsoft offers a free version of the Visual Studio development environment, and to enable community involvement they open sources many parts of the .NET framework. To CTSI-Global, this shows Microsoft has a vision toward the future of their platform while executing solutions for business today.

CTSI-Global is a company with 60 years of experience in the transportation and logistics domain, and like Microsoft we have a vision of adoptiong modern technologies and methodologies to package and deliver our expertise to our customers in a way that is simple to leverage for all areas of the organization while continuously delivering value along the way.

As CTO, the technology solutions and platforms provided by Microsoft allow me and my team to spend more time with decision makers focusing on how to build the company and less time implementing and managing specific technologies. Having time to work on business strategy is vital now that the role of the modern CIO consists of being a strategic business partner and solutions provider in the organization.

Freight Payment: From Data to Intelligence

by Marly Hazen McQuillen
14. July 2015 08:00

It’s not about the data you accumulate; it’s what you do with it.

John Powers, The Journal of Commerce

Transportation costs account for as much as 10 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, and the number is similar for more developed economies worldwide. Unsurprisingly, shippers and their logistics providers are more than ever looking toward their supply chains to unearth cost efficiencies and control their ultimate cost of delivered goods.

Critical to their efforts is the ability to identify, garner, manipulate and interpret the seemingly countless data elements associated with a single freight movement. These range from macro analyses of costs by country of origin to the granularity of delivered cost by individual SKU number. Savvy logistics professionals are turning to “business intelligence” partners to help them fine-tune their transportation chains.

“40 to 50 percent of shippers in North America outsource to an FAP provider. While this percentage is lower outside of North America, the number of international companies outsourcing is on the rise,” said Kristy Sutton, vice president of freight payment operations, CTSI-Global, referring to freight audit and payment services. Larger companies in the United States are even more invested. “An estimated 60 percent of major corporations in North America currently outsource their freight payment function as a result of high labor, processing and technology costs. While the concept is still somewhat new in Europe, we are seeing increased interest in this type of service,” reported Tom Zygmunt, Cass Information Systems’ manager of marketing and business development.

Read more: "Freight Payment: From Data to Intelligence"

INFOGRAPHIC: Delivery Drones Prepare for Liftoff

by Marly Hazen McQuillen
23. June 2015 08:45

The FAA has received hundreds of requests from companies that want to fly commercial drones. Less than 7% of these requests have been approved, and those that were approved face severe restrictions. A beta version of Amazon's proposed drone program has been approved for more thorough study on Amazon's grouds (or skies).

Check out CTSI-Global's infographic, below, for details!

Delivery Drones Prepare for Liftoff (INFOGRAPHIC)

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