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GLOBAL FORWARDING: BIGGEST, FASTEST SAVINGS FOR GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS

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GLOBAL FORWARDING: BIGGEST, FASTEST SAVINGS FOR GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS

Increasingly complex omnichannel business models are resulting
in correspondingly complicated global supply chains. Maximizing
efficiencies for time and cost in moving freight around the world
is mission critical. This paper takes a high-level look at three
opportunities for optimization: cargo consolidation, cargo risk
management, and customs management.

The multichannel retail business model, along with increasing levels of global sourcing, have created staggering opportunities for importers and exporters around the world, whether huge multinationals or small companies shipping globally for the first time.

Global supply chains are becoming longer and more fragmented,
presenting significant new issues for logistics professionals. In one
survey, 104 global supply chain executives reported that visibility
(21.1%), fluctuating consumer demand (19.1%), and inventory
management (13.2%) were their biggest challenges (1).

Many factors add complexity to global supply chains, including longer lead times and lead-time variability and an increasing number of suppliers, partners, carriers, customers, countries, and logistics channels. Contrary to what you might think, global freight forwarding can offer relief for these concerns and when people, processes, and technology are leveraged, can even offer competitive advantages.

10 Approaches to Savings in the Global
Forwarding Supply Chain

EASY

1. Align shipping activities to leverage benefits of consolidation
services.

2. Minimize financial impact of cargo loss and damage by
purchasing marine cargo insurance.

3. Take advantage of transportation providers’ TMS to create
visibility and take control of the supply chain.

MODERATE

4. Develop strategies to match service modes with inventory
planning and sales forecasting.

5. Create a risk management strategy—identify and understand
risk types, probabilities, and potential costs.

6. Integrate with a single transportation provider’s TMS and
connect with suppliers and carriers globally.

DIFFICULT

7. Effectively use Incoterms® when negotiating with suppliers to
impact unit price, cash flow, inventory levels, and logistics costs.8. Actively engage with a customs professional to deploy best
practices in customs management.

9. Leverage transportation provider’s business intelligence
reporting and analytics to improve supply chain performance.

10. Utilize PO management to control the purchase order lifecycle;
go upstream to supplier order fulfillment logistics activities.

CARGO CONSOLIDATION

What it is
Few companies can fill an entire ocean or air container with their
own freight. Both ocean and air carriers require shippers to work
with freight consolidation services to accommodate small volume
shipping needs. These freight consolidators accept complementary
freight from multiple shippers, and consolidate freight all kinds
(FAK) containers for ocean shipping or unit load devices (ULD) for
air. This results in better freight rates and cargo security measures.

Why it’s important
One of the biggest areas for savings in a global supply chain is
taking advantage of space. Companies of any size can use freight
consolidation services, but it’s particularly useful if you have a lean
supply chain or operate in a just in time environment. Using logistics
efficiencies from freight forwarders, consolidators, and third party
logistics providers (3PLs), you can choose to move smaller quantities
of material more frequently. In doing so, you make a strategic
decision to spend more on consolidation shipping services and less
on inventory, storage, returns, and other costs.

Ocean versus air
Whether air or ocean consolidation is the right choice for you
depends on the required service level and transit time. Globally,
ocean is the less expensive transportation method. That cost
advantage must be carefully weighed against longer transit times, as
well as potential delays caused by adverse weather conditions, port
strikes, or other issues.

In addition, there are faster and slower ocean options. Some ocean
freight goes directly to the port of call. Other shipments can stop at
multiple ports of call, which is less expensive, but takes longer and
is more prone to unexpected disruption. Working with a reputable
freight forwarder can help reduce unexpected supply chain failures
and delays, and provide options if disruptions occur.

Air freight consolidation service is a faster, more expensive option
than ocean, but here, too, there are faster and slower options that
determine the cost. For example, if you don’t need direct service
(next flight out), choose a slower transit time at more favorable
pricing.

Best Practices for Cargo Consolidation

Choose a forwarder with:

-Sufficient freight volumes to effectively consolidate without delays and to aggressively negotiate rates with ocean and air carriers.

-Dedicated space allocations for capabilities when they are needed.

– Work in major markets with high flight capacity.

Generally, in any type of transportation, the more time there is between pickup and delivery, the less you pay. In air, for instance, use providers with gateways (vs. a hub and spoke approach)
to get cost-efficient options that meet your deadlines. Use consolidation schedules if you can for more savings.

CARGO RISK MANAGEMENT

What it is
Global shipments are exposed to risk from a wide range of human
and natural forces. Yet, global shipments are subject to a unique set
of international laws and/or treaties that limit the liability of carriers. Whether you import or export, you should understand the various types of risks that cargo could face and how you can help protect the value of the goods shipped globally.

Why it’s important
Even with proper packing, stowage, and securing of containers on
a container ship, severe weather and rough seas can cause rare but
catastrophic events like ship groundings, structural failures, even
collisions, any of which can result in loss of cargo. On average, the
World Shipping Council estimates that there were 1,582 containers
lost at sea per year between 2008 and 2016; 1,012 of these
containers (64 percent) were lost due to a catastrophic event.2 Theft, counterfeiting, hurricanes, floods, political unrest, labor disputes, documentation errors, or mechanical problems can also delay or ruin delivery of the most perfectly planned global shipment. Protecting the value of products while they are in transit across the globe can have a significant impact in protecting the bottom line.

Air and Ocean Carrier Liability

When events occur, companies are often dismayed to find that not
all risks or damages are covered by carrier liability.

Air carriers are not liable if damage was caused by:
-An inherent defect, quality, or vice of the cargo
-Defective or insufficient packing of the cargo
-An act of war or armed conflict
-An act of a public authority carried out in connection with the
entry, exit, or transit of the cargo

Even if an air carrier is held legally liable for damages, they pay the
value of the goods or 19 SDRs3 per kilogram, whichever is less.
If a ship experiences an extraordinary sacrifice or expenditure at sea,ship owners may declare general average. The concept of general average hearkens back to the days when a crew tossed cargo overboard to lighten the ship in a storm. During the emergency, there wasn’t time to figure out whose cargo should be jettisoned. After the fact, to avoid quarreling, merchants whose cargo landed safely would be called upon to contribute a share or percentage to the merchants whose goods were tossed overboard to avoid imminent peril. Today, general average declarations still mean that all the merchants with freight on the vessel are required to share in the cost of the expenditure before the goods are released.

General average is a growing risk and concern for many risk
managers and insurance experts. In recent times, there has been a
rise in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events that
have led many vessels to become grounded, causing container loss
and/or vessel damage. In addition, fires on container vessels are
more common now than in the past.

Today, when these events occur and general average is declared:

1. Ship owners have a lien on the ship’s cargo. At the time
the voyage is completed, the level of sacrificial losses will not
normally be known. Ship owners will usually call for security
from cargo interests, against which the assessed contributions
can be enforced. The amount of the claim is usually calculated
by average adjusters, appointed by ship owners. Each cargo
owner’s contribution is calculated on a percentage of the cargo
owner’s interest or commercial invoice value, ranging from
1 to 100 percent.

Ship owners have a lien on the cargo until each cargo owner’s
contribution or security is satisfied. Unless a shipment is secured
with all-risk marine cargo insurance, the cargo owner will be
required to post their contribution or security in cash before
their cargo will be released. As the frequency of general average
declarations has increased, so has the amount of the required
securities—from about 12% a year ago to about 50% today.

2. Ocean carriers are not automatically liable for loss or
damage to your cargo. The U.S. accepted the Hague Rules in
1936 through the passage of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act
(COGSA). The rules expressly remove the ocean carrier’s liability
for loss or damage to cargo that arises from one of the 17 stated
liability exclusions. Legal liability claims are often met with
resistance by carriers.

Even if the ocean carrier is found liable at the end of a legal
process that can take months to settle, their limit of liability
under COGSA is $500 per package or customary shipping
unit, or the actual value of the goods, whichever is less. In other
words, the onus is on you to assess and minimize your
risk exposure.

Best Practices for Cargo Risk Management

-Buy the appropriate amount of marine cargo insurance for ocean or air shipments.

-Ensure the valuation clause for a given shipment defines the maximum amount an insurance company will pay for a loss. Most valuation clauses include the commercial invoice value and any prepaid charges associated with the shipment, such as freight, customs clearance, or duty. This clause can be modified to include other charges or profit margin—if requested and approved by underwriters.

-Choose an insurance intermediary with experience or specific training in international logistics and transportation insurance.

Calculating Costs to Determine Risk Exposure

The risk of lost cargo is real. Yet, without a crisis to motivate
action, most companies place risk management at the bottom of
the priority scale. The most common method used to protect the
value of goods from physical damage, theft, or other calamity is the
purchase of marine cargo insurance.

The first step you can take is to understand your risk exposure
by tying dollar values to varying types of risk. The challenge is
quantifying the potential cost. You can brainstorm to gather that
information, or can work with a logistics provider that has in-house
risk management professionals to help uncover potential liabilities
in the supply chain.

You can apply subjective probability to calculate possible losses. In
other words, you can estimate the chances of a risk event happening
and multiply it by the cost if it did happen (see below). Once the
dollar amount is calculated, the next step is to reduce the expected
loss by reducing the probability of the occurrence, or the cost of the
occurrence.

Armed with subjective probability estimates, you can effectively
buy the appropriate amount of insurance. While insurance is readily
available, it is your responsibility or the consignee’s to ensure the
coverage purchased best fits the unique exposure.

CUSTOMS MANAGEMENT

What it is
Most companies choose their customs broker for the long term.
That’s because the customs broker must truly understand your
company and products. They must also know how to navigate each
country’s compliance requirements with their own specific set of
customs rules, governmental regulations, VAT, duty rate calculations, and payment plans.

Why it’s important
Even simple trade-related mistakes, such as an incorrect spelling on
a declaration, can result in fines, penalties, or even cargo seizure.
Penalties for transgressions can be severe, depending on the
seriousness of the infraction.

For example, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) imposes
fines of up to $10,000 per entry for recordkeeping infractions.
Non-financial costs, such a shipment delays, the diversion of staff
resources to correct problems, and in rare instances, the loss of
trade privileges, can be detrimental to an importer’s business.
When you work with Trusted Advisor® experts in customs, you can
learn where the most common mistakes occur and implement best
practices to avoid them. In addition, CBP can conduct a customs
focused assessment—essentially, an audit—with any U.S. importer. A
customs expert can help your company prepare before, during, and
after a focused assessment to minimize risk exposure.

Compliance programs and options that are worth investigating
Not every compliance option will fit or resonate with every business.
Discuss specific issues with an attorney or Trusted Advisor® expert
in customs compliance and learn which elements might be the most
useful. Always seek out an expert opinion.

-Customs bond sufficiency. If you import into the U.S., you must
have a customs bond, generally 10% of the duties and taxes
you expect to pay to CBP for import transactions throughout
the year. CBP can shut down all imports if they discover you
have an insufficient customs bond. Since tariffs (and duties)
are increasing substantially, existing bonds may no longer
be sufficient. Bond insufficiency will lead to additional costs
and delays if not monitored or addressed in a timely manner.

Consider the increased duty amounts well before the bond
renewal period comes up. If the customs bond will need to be
significantly higher, the surety company may require additional
documentation—including financial statements and possibly
letters of credit—before they issue a new customs bond, all of
which will take time to get into place.

-Duty drawback programs. Duty drawback programs refund
99% of certain import duties, taxes, and fees for goods that are
subsequently exported; this supports both U.S. manufacturing
and foreign export sales. Before 2018, duties might only have
been in the 1% to 2% range, and since there is paperwork to file
to get the refund, many companies did not bother with it. Today,
those 1.2% duties have jumped up to 25% in some instances,
making duty drawback programs a potential game-changer for
your business. The downside: duties must be paid up front; your
company may wait for 1 to 2 years to receive the refund under
the current drawback environment, which can become a cash
flow issue for some companies.

-Foreign trade zones (FTZs). Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) are
secure areas located in or near CBP ports of entry, and are under
CBP supervision. Unlike duty drawback programs, companies
don’t have to pay duties when goods enter an FTZ. Instead, FTZs
enable duty deferment; the duties are paid when the goods
enter CBP territory for domestic consumption. At that point, the
importer pays the duties at the rate of either the original foreign
materials or the finished product.

-Exclusion requests. If a company thinks their product should
be excluded from Section 232 and Section 301 tariffs, they can
request an exclusion. When filing an exclusion, make certain that
the classification used is the best classification for the product.
Also, work with a trade attorney; they can help you navigate
the law and apply it to a specific product so the exclusion isn’t
rejected on a technicality.

-Changing sourcing locations. It’s not always easy to change
suppliers, but some companies are looking at it in a new era of
tariffs. Yet, suppliers for some materials are only found in China,
and even if you locate a source in another country, there can be
issues. Can they supply at the necessary level? How long will it
take to test the new supplier against specifications? The more complicated the product, the more challenging a switch will be.
Also, keep in mind that if the cargo ships from Singapore but its
origin is China, U.S. tariffs may still apply.

-Incoterms®. Incoterms®, or International Commercial Terms,
are published by the International Chamber of Commerce.
They are the rules that define the responsibilities of sellers and
buyers for the delivery of goods under sales contracts, and
they establish where the transfer of risk takes place. However,
they vary from situation to situation. For example, if a container
being moved across the ocean from Shanghai to the United
States falls overboard, who is at risk? The Incoterms® tell the
story. If the U.S. buyer purchased the product FOB (free on
board), the importer took responsibility for the risk as soon as
the freight was loaded on the vessel in Shanghai. If the same
product was purchased DDP (delivered duty paid), the shipper
would be responsible until the product reached the purchaser’s
door in the United States. You can save money if you ensure
your purchasing team understands how Incoterms® rules will be
applied to freight.

Best practices in Customs Management

-Buyers are not transportation and compliance professionals who understand Incoterms®—they choose suppliers based on favorable pricing. You can establish internal structures or education to help buyers understand how Incoterms® impact risk management and pricing.

-Rely on a customs professional to leverage U.S. Customs data. They can combine a company’s unwieldy historical shipping data into usable trade reports to reveal whether an organization is taking proper advantage of free trade agreements around the world.

GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY CAN TIE IT ALL TOGETHER

As companies large and small continue to expand internationally,
they can no longer afford to single-handedly manage the countless
details and nuances of global freight forwarding. Shortened lead
times, the use of multiple transportation modes and carriers to
deliver product efficiently across continents, and an environment
fraught with risk requires both worldwide and regional management
of cargo flows.

Many companies rely on a transportation management system
(TMS), hoping to keep their fingers on the pulse of their global
supply chain providers. However, TMS products were developed
initially to track domestic or regional truck shipments and to
automate tedious, low-value processes performed by an enterprise’s
transportation staff. Today, few TMSs can enable global visibility to
every shipment, or can interconnect disparate systems on multiple
continents to provide the level of visibility to show where products
are at any given point in time.

A truly global supply chain network has a single TMS architecture
that spans all continents. Global visibility enables your organization
to clearly see the entire supply chain. Utilization reports for multiple
services and modes (air, ocean, rail, and road) on all continents
confers specific strategic advantages:

-Continuous improvement to supply chain logistics in real time

-Access to business intelligence, crossing all freight and spend.categories to strategically understand the impact of decisions

-Access to a centralized network of multiple providers–without
integrating individually with each provider

Work with a logistics provider that offers a full suite of services,
manages service performance, consistently communicates
performance metrics, and offers strategic optimization to gain
distinct advantages in the marketplace.

A case in point: purchase order management

-Purchase order management (POM) within a TMS delivers end to end visibility throughout the purchase order (PO) life cycle. POM enables you or your provider to manage shipment windows, work
with overseas vendors to coordinate bookings, manage exceptions,
collect and distribute documents, and provide reporting at the shipment and PO/line item level.

-POM options include PO tracking and visibility, reporting, online booking, document management, check and verification process, vendor self-service, vendor management, exception management,
and PO and shipment analytics.

5 Questions to Ask a Potential Global Freight Forwarder

IS YOUR TMS TRULY GLOBAL? There should be one system architecture that works across regions and covers all types of transportation.

CAN YOU PROVIDE CAPACITY OPTIONS?
They should ship goods by ocean, air, rail, and truck,
choosing the option that best aligns with the business
need. Ask about their consolidation programs to
optimize spend, routings, and transit time performance.

DO YOU HAVE “BOOTS ON THE GROUND” IN KEY
GEOGRAPHIC REGIONS?
Your global freight forwarder should think globally, act locally.
That is, they should know global transportation, but also
have deep knowledge of the local population, infrastructure,
languages, politics, economy, customs, currencies, tax laws,
and tariffs for each country your shipping routes touch.

CAN YOU HELP ASSESS CARGO RISK?
They must adequately help you assess and mitigate cargo
risk to help protect your bottom line.

DO YOU OFFER CUSTOMS ADVICE?
They should be experts in leveraging customs information
and programs to your company’s advantage.

 

_________________________________________________

1. “What is the biggest challenge you are facing in your supply
chain?” eft Supply Chain & Logistics Business Intelligence,
April 2018. Accessed at https://www.statista.com/
statistics/829634/biggest-challenges-supply-chain/.

2. “Containers Lost at Sea-2017 Update,” World Shipping
Council, 2017.

3. SDRs, or Special Drawing Rights, refers to a basket
of currencies designed to iron out currency exchange
fluctuations in International valuations, now used to express
the limitation under the Hague-Visby Rules and the MSA
Limitation Convention.

4. “Global Trade, Trade Statistics,” World Shipping Council,
2018. Accessed at http://www.worldshipping.org/about-theindustry/global-trade.

5. “Containers Lost at Sea-2017 Update,” World Shipping
Council, 2017.

6. Larry Kivett and Mark Pearson, “Understanding risk
management in the supply chain: Using supply chain data
analytics to drive performance,” Deloitte, 2018.

freight invoicing

How to Tackle the Freight Invoice Management Obstacles

A freight invoice is a detailed bill which includes information regarding the transportation of a company’s goods from one place to the other, along with the inclusion of the amount of charges, its weight, due dates, complete goods’ description, contact information, and names of both the receiver and the shipper, etc.

On the other hand, logistics is defined as the process of planning, implementing, and controlling the storage and movement of services and goods from the point of origin to the point of consumption within a supply chain, explains a top provider of Invoice Processing Services. The companies which deal with these processes become a part of the logistics industry and handle a few or all of the functions of supply chains as per the logistic requirements of the client.

Past Examples of Invoice Issues

-In recent times, an IT company was overbilled throughout 14 days by an amount of $935,578 owing to the incorrect weight applied by a parcel carrier.

-Auditing helped a national level entertainment retailer in saving around $35,000 from a wrong monthly invoice charge

-A worldwide renowned LED manufacturer had to pay $93,147 more due to incorrect billing currency, but the amount was recovered after the fault was discovered during the auditing process.

Top Freight Invoice Management Obstacles

Multiple Challenges

Managing invoices is extremely hard as a lot of challenges like reconciling contract terms with Bill Of Lading (BOL), invoices’ rating for correct rate selection, decisions about the acceptance of differences in charges, getting invoices resubmitted after making the carriers do corrections, etc. have to be dealt with extreme care. When these challenges are not addressed properly, they lead to errors, which further lead to overcharging, eventually adding to the overall Invoice Processing complexity.

Tedious Information Processing

The processing of information for the invoices is really tiring and tedious in nature. This is the reason employees who process the information for billing, weight, ledgers, data entry, and more commit multiple mistakes and make the final outcome inaccurate and hard to understand.

Bill Entry Issues

The very first concern which the logistics industry has to deal with during invoice management is the efficient functionality of the billing entry process which is defined below:

-Shortage of non-standardized processes and control due to operations which are not centralized for billing entry

-Multiple systems integration

-Due to missing BOL information, incomplete billable items are captured

-Multiple formats for BOL 

-Lost information regarding a customer or local-specific procedures for billing

Refund Management Issues

There are a lot of instances where the goods and services do not land safely at the doorstep of the receivers. In such cases, goods and services are returned back to the suppliers, which involves going through all the invoice processing steps again, which is extremely time-consuming for the owners of the logistics company.

Best Practices to Tackle Invoice Management Obstacles

Must-Include Invoice Listings

-Consignee and consignor names

-Shipment date

-Packages number

-Freight description

-Volume, weight, and measurement of freight

-Total outstanding charges

-Each carrier name engaging in transportation and movement route

-Shipment’s transfer point

-Issuer’s business address and remittance address

Freight Management Controls

It is important to incorporate internal controls which are powerful into the management structure of the freight. An authorization system, duty separations, and internal audits on a periodical basis are one of the most important tasks for managing risks like favoritism and fraud, which have the potential to bring down the overall profitability. 

The main objective is to make sure none of the employees have any chance for concealing and committing any illegal or unethical activity. For example, an employee who has been given the responsibility of getting the estimates should never be made the in charge of making the final freight invoice payment or selection.

Proficient Auditing System

According to a report by ReconLOgistics.com, wrong freight bills appear in about 5-6% of the entire invoices, which can raise the expenses of transportation to a great extent. With a proficient auditing system in place, along with a thorough recalculation and review can save you from overpaying due to inaccuracies in the freight bills. 

Apart from this, normal dealing procedures for lost shipment or damaged dealing, and timely claims reconciliation are an imperative part of a cost-saving management program for the freight.

Outsourcing Payment and Freight Audit

When it comes to finding the best solutions for streamlining the freight invoice management process, Outsource Invoice Processing remains a top favorite amongst the businesses due to its cost-cutting feature, along with the following benefits provided by it:

-Paper routing, filing, and handling elimination

-Centralized system for entire processing functions of the freight invoice

-Eliminating multiple systems and non-uniform processes

-Real-time insights into the invoices

-Latest technology use like artificial intelligence and automation

-Invoices’ long-term archival in the electronic form

-Carrier queries

-Increase cash flow to the maximum levels with timely invoice payments

-Receive correct and detailed accrual files and cost allocation straight into your system

-Gain visibility into operational metrics, invoice status, and payment information

Invoice Automation

Most of the industries have already incorporated the use of automation in a majority of their work processes, and have reaped great benefits in the following forms:

-Faster processing of invoices

-Elimination of costly human errors

-Invoice costs reduction by 80%

-Preventing payments duplicity and maximizing initial incentives for payments

-Enabling enhanced cash flow control and visibility

-Achieving 100% accuracy for invoice entry

Freight Software

Businesses who are trying to manage their freight invoices by themselves can ease their management workload with some of the top freight software mentioned below:

The Magaya Cargo System

This user-friendly software helps in eliminating duplicity of data entry, streamlining shipment workflows, generating Bill Of Lading, etc., along with a fully-integrated system for Invoice Accounting.

A1 Tracker

This software meets the unique business demands of the present scenario, make the working of the logistics systems smooth, and bring the required value to your business.

Freightos

The online platform for global trade management and freight booking, along with providing logistics owners with digital sales tools.

Excalibur WMS

This is a software which is fully integrated for warehouse management, accounting system, and third-party logistics (3PL) service billing.

CargoWise One

A central software system platform for worldwide providers giving logistics services.

Managing the freight invoices is definitely challenging owing to the various complexities in the form of inaccuracies and irregularities in the data and work processes, respectively. These complexities can be brought down greatly with the use of automation, outsourcing, audit systems, etc., eventually streamlining the process of freight invoice management at large, along with saving time and money at the same time.

_________________________________________________________________

Gia Glad holds the position of Business Content Writer at Cogneesol – an outsourcing firm offering finance and accounting services along with other value-added services to the small and mid-sized businesses globally.

The Relationship Between Technology & Intermodal Capacity

In a world where operations don’t have an option to slow down, capacity concerns are issues that will always be a burden in the back of any operator’s mind. Whether you’re running a rail, port or even distribution center, capacity options are vital to keeping operations running–and efficiently. The last thing you want to see is a competitor taking the business you could’ve easily handled, but didn’t, all due to capacity restraints. Even worse, capacity restraints you didn’t anticipate, leaving your company seeming to look unprepared. Not only that, it ultimately tells prospective, lifelong customers that proactivity doesn’t exist in the company strategy and day-to-day operations. Proactivity is equally important as visibility.

These two features are complementing elements to operational success, but it’s nearly impossible to tap into their potential the old-fashioned way. The good news is there are options in the form of technology and innovation that stay one step ahead of you–meaning you have a system completely capable of updating you on what’s going on and what needs to be addressed, all at the click of a button while taking the stress off you. Insight given from leaders in transportation all share a common theme: visibility is key.

“There is not any difference in the requirements for [handling] truckload versus intermodal in today’s market,” InTek Freight and Logistics President Shelli Austin recently told Intermodal Insights. “It’s now falling into the need for visibility and on-time service. Before, it was the deferred ‘it will get there when it gets there’ type of freight. All successful 3PLs need to have the same real-time information for intermodal that they do for [over-the-road] freight.”

“3PLs are being asked to do more multi-leg management, particularly of drayage at both origin and destination,” says Tommy Barnes, president of project44, which bills itself as the world’s leading advanced visibility platform for 3PLs and shippers. “It is a little bit harder, but they are providing a lot more value to customers.”

Automation continues to make news headlines with its unmatched ability to seamlessly connect almost every aspect of each industry, including intermodal transportation. The main takeaway from automation integration is the level of visibility and connectivity provided among workers and companies that partner for the bigger picture. This shows customers the level of expertise and preparedness your company provides for their needs, ultimately creating competitive advantage and ensuring business keeps moving. The theme of the solution in demand is an increase in more accurate information.

“The key technology for the intermodal product is the ability to capture real-time drayage information at pickup and delivery,” Austin noted in the article. “It is easy to get the information once the container is in the possession of the rail lines. The challenge is grabbing the information from all the different truckers that can and will be used to create capacity for these moves.”

With that being said, blockchain technology continues to provide the solutions, information and visibility necessary for providers and terminal operators to ensure the measures needed are in place to avoid operational hiccups such as terminal overload and miscommunication.

More recently, Kalmar Global announced how it would provide its SmartPower rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs) to Norfolk Southern in an effort to extend capacity efforts through its integrated system.

Norfolk serves as a transportation industry leader, boasting 19,500 route miles in 23 states. The company can also brag about an extensive network at every major container port in the eastern United States. Kalmar’s SmartPower RTGs were specifically chosen to improve capacity at Norfolk’s intermodal terminals in Chicago and Rossville in Memphis, Tennessee.

“We are very pleased to be able to continue our collaboration with Norfolk Southern and to support them with the optimization of their intermodal operations,” says Troy Thompson, vice president of Sales at Kalmar Americas. “The proven Kalmar SmartPower RTG provides the perfect balance between productivity and cost efficiency in a variety of container-handling applications.”

Whether it’s partnering with a company that knows what it takes to keep capacity issues minimal or implementing a technology platform—or both—the bottom line is to ensure visibility, ability and operations are not compromised. In a C.H. Robinson blog, author Phil Shook, the director of Intermodal, explains that intermodal shipping will play a role in driving business growth for American railroads, citing that “the 70 intermodal ramps continue to expand.” With this expansion will nonetheless come capacity concerns, providing even more of a reason to invest in automated technology that can keep up with rapid expansion and demand without falling behind.

In his post, Shook makes a fantastic consideration by adding that, “Knowing exactly where a shipment is in transit has quickly become the expectation rather than exception. Companies and consumers expect near real-time notifications about every step of a product’s journey—including facility and town names. And just like the truckload sector, intermodal providers are working hard to deliver.”

This snippet from his blog reiterates the need for an uncompromising level of knowledge from when and where the next load is going. Because the market and its ever-evolving nature continues more demand, it’s imperative to invest in an all-in-one transportation management system that goes beyond what an average TMS provides. Why? Your business simply cannot afford to not have a reliable TMS in place. If you’re lucky enough to find a provider that can not only provide a robust TMS but also integrate new levels of technology, even better, albeit difficult to come across.

Beyond your company’s terminal capacity management, technology integration is now the new standard to global operations. Customer demands will continue to rise, at times becoming more complex and challenging than before. Consider the missing elements in your operations strategy that ultimately hinder providing the very best to customers. Additionally, don’t forget to thoroughly educate and inform employees of changes to come, showing them how to work smarter and not harder. Through this level of anticipation, proactivity and integration, you will foster an environment that motivates instead of overwhelming.

TMS

Signs You’re Ready for a Transportation Management System and What to Look For in Finding the Right One

The transportation management system (TMS) market is growing globally, and for good reason. Common objectives like controlling costs, establishing internal efficiencies and managing capacity restrictions have established the need for technology that provides uninterrupted visibility across the supply chain and helps streamline operations.

In fact, in Gartner’s first Market Guide for Real-Time Visibility Providers, published November 2018, supply chain leaders surveyed for the report ranked visibility as the highest priority in the supply chain.

But it’s not simply a given.

Especially in today’s volatile global trade climate, having a TMS in place can ease the burden on transportation leaders to ensure goods get to their destination on time without crippling costs. The modern supply chain requires the flexibility and scalability provided by transportation management systems.

Knowing when a TMS is right for your business

A growing business means more robust transportation needs. Being equipped to manage the increased volume and complexity is crucial, especially as you onboard new customers, some of which likely have strict retail compliance policies that can result in fines and penalties for not following suit.

Greater complexity in your transportation needs also means the need for greater visibility. If you can’t confidently say you know where all of your shipments are at a given time, it’s time to consider a TMS. Implementing a TMS arms your business with visibility and provides the real-time information needed to also keep customers informed. That access to real time data and insight is not merely a nice to have, as it was in the past. With trade volatility on the rise, the ability to stay informed and to make quick pivots is imperative. Those who can accurately see the whole picture at the click of a button will surpass the competition as they rush to make less informed decisions.

In addition to business growth and the complexity that comes with it, a TMS is an especially crucial tool to have in place if your business is considering M&A activity. As shippers are suddenly faced with the myriad challenges that comes with integrating disparate systems, having a TMS in place serves as a binding source for systems and data.

I know I need a solution. What now?

TMS solutions have become more robust and powerful over time while also decreasing in price. This has made them more accessible to companies of all sizes, especially given the ability to get them up and running quickly thanks to cloud-based software.

A few questions to consider as you think about which kind of TMS to purchase are: What key pain points am I hoping to address? Do I want a standalone TMS solution or a TMS and a 3PL that can I partner with to manage my logistics needs? And how do I ensure disparate systems are cohesively integrated?

Businesses will commonly implement a TMS to increase supply chain visibility and operational efficiency, integrate disparate and/or legacy systems, optimize costs and have access to detailed analytics and reporting. To achieve these goals, you’ll want a solution that includes the following:

-End-to-end automation and dynamic collaboration so you can seamlessly manage your entire supply network, across all modes;

-Detailed shipment visibility providing insight around pricing and load management to ensure your shipments are delivered on time and on budget;

-Actionable business intelligence and analytics that can provide the immediate insight needed to make better shipping decisions;

-A healthy carrier network of local, regional, and national multimodal carriers to provide services on a shipment-by-shipment basis or dedicated lane opportunities. If you opt for a managed TMS, your provider can help you pinpoint more efficient routes, cost reductions and opportunities to explore new markets versus needing to do that work internally.

As transportation management technology has advanced in recent years, the price of transportation management systems has dropped, offering businesses of all sizes the opportunity to take advantage of the myriad benefits. From providing an unprecedented level of visibility to compelling opportunities for cost savings and increasing operational efficiency, the decision to adopt a TMS in today’s uncertain global trade environment should be an easy one.

Ross Spanier is senior vice president of operations at GlobalTranz, a leading technology and third-party logistics solutions company providing award-winning Transportation Management System (TMS) products to shippers, logistics service providers and carriers.

release

5 Tips for Launching New App Features

Plan the release. 

While you’re still in the planning phase for a new feature, it’s a good idea to also think about how you will release it. This is something often done within the design process.

Things you should incorporate into this include: 

-Who will see this feature first? (Are there internal or external beta groups?)

-What is success for this feature?

-Who will see the feature once it’s in a steady state? (Is this for VIP customers or everyone?)

-Is there important timing tied to this release, such as an event or special time of the calendar year?

Tools that will help you with this include product delivery and tracking tools

Build awareness.

Awareness around a release is important for both internal and external groups. Within your organization, do teams have the support they need to be successful? Think about what your sales, marketing, customer success, or any other team will need in terms of understanding the feature being released, and how to answer any questions they might face. Externally, awareness should be tied back to how you will measure success. 

Tools that will help you accomplish this include go-to-market plans, centralized information repositories, and any other tools that will help your teams (and customers!) stay connected, informed, and collaborative. 

Measure your release.

After the release has happened, how will you know if it was successful? Because you already thought about success metrics in the planning stage, you should be ready to measure whether or not it was successful. 

Tools that will help with this include those that surface sales and ops metrics. Also, it’s important to consider these together—look at performance and monitoring metrics, support requests by volume, and qualitative feedback from customers and prospects.

Celebrate and recognize.

Take time to celebrate your wins. Shipping software is like a muscle, the more frequently you do it, the easier it is to execute. If you ship less frequently, the process begins to atrophy and the action becomes more difficult. Celebration (even for small wins) provides motivation to continue practicing the act of shipping, and results in more stable services and products.

Reflect and iterate. 

Software is never done, and neither is a process for software delivery. After the release has occurred and you’ve paused to enjoy the moment, now it’s time to reflect back on what went well and what didn’t. Reflect on both process and product.

Tie process back to culture—consider the tools that you use for process, what enabled you to do more and what was a hindrance? Use this feedback and apply what you learned from measuring success in the planning phase for the next release. Learn how you can adjust and improve upon what you shipped.

 

Adam Zimman, VP of Product and Platform, LaunchDarkly

Adam has over 20 years of experience working in a variety of roles from software engineering through to technical sales. He has worked in both enterprise and consumer companies such as VMware, EMC and GitHub. Adam is driven by a passion for inclusive leadership and solving problems with technology. One additional objective is to be a part of a diverse and equitable company. Not simply an organization that accepts diversity, but one that actively pursues a more diverse and inclusive team as an imperative for building better products and services. Adam is also an Advisor for a number of startups and nonprofits. His perspective on life has been shaped by a background in physics and visual art, an ongoing adventure as a husband and father and a childhood career as a fire juggler.

Transplace Adds Visibility Standards for TMS Offerings

Transplace has set itself apart as a provider of transportation management services once again. The company is now known as the first to integrate real-time visibility as a standard for all of its TMS customers and offerings, without added costs. By adding this feature into standardization, the company provides customers with a broader picture of their freight with increased quality coverage and efficiencies. Additionally, customers are better equipped for proactive management operations and predicting supply chain disruptions.

“By making real-time visibility a core component of the Transplace Technology Platform, Transplace is providing an enterprise level, real-time control tower capability within reach for shippers of all sizes and scale,” said Frank McGuigan, CEO, Transplace. “And though our control tower has always provided visibility for our customers’ most service intensive shipments, we believe that the speed and accuracy of the technology has evolved to the point that, when applied across our $9B transportation network, it will enhance both our AI-powered service prediction capability as well as our Network Continuous Move solution, driving improved service and cost positions for our shippers.”

Descartes MacroPoint™ was confirmed as the visibility partner of choice, as Transplace will integrate into its current TMS solutions. The integration will focus on truckload/TL shipments in the U.S. and Canada beginning in January 2020 with additional regional expansions planned.

“Expanding our relationship to make real-time tracking the norm allows Transplace and Descartes to deliver even greater value to the market,” said Edward J. Ryan, CEO, Descartes. “Through our Descartes MacroPoint technology and network, Transplace can offer comprehensive visibility, opening new opportunities for efficiency, automation and predictive analytics to their customers.”

Source: Transplace

Transplace Earns Challenger Position by Gartner Inc.

Gartner Inc. confirmed the inclusion of leading logistics solutions provider, Transplace as a Challenger for the 2019 “Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems.” The company’s robust portfolio offers top grade technology solutions for companies both large and small, creating streamlined operations with a strategic approach.

“Companies are constantly seeking new ways to improve supply chain performance and reduce costs while maintaining high levels of service to increasingly demanding customers, and today’s technology solutions that give them greater visibility, predictability and control over their logistics operations than ever before,” said Jim French, CTO, Transplace.

“We believe our positioning in the Challengers quadrant by Gartner continues to validate Transplace’s commitment to provide innovative transportation management solutions that enable shippers to better manage their transportation networks, improve financial performance and deliver outstanding service to their customers.”

Transplace’s transportation management services are credited for supporting businesses in manufacturing, retail, automotive, chemical, distribution and more, ultimately increasing visibility while improving efficiencies.

“As the supply chain continues to become faster and more complex, shippers need technology and logistics platforms that enable them to more effectively plan and execute a strategic, data-driven logistics strategy,”
Transplace CEO Frank McGuigan said. “Transplace continues to invest in its logistics solutions and services, including integrating machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics, to achieve greater supply chain automation, optimization, predictability and visibility.”


Velocity 2019 MercuryGate User Conference

Billed as “the premier industry event for transportation and logistics professionals,” the conference includes the world’s leading shippers, logistics providers, industry experts and, of course, MercuryGate software experts.

The three-day conference will feature keynote speakers Adrian Gonzalez, president of Adelante SCM, and American Blockchain Council’s co-founder and executive director, Jack Shaw. The conference will take place at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas with topics of discussion focusing on blockchain, parcel shipping, TMS best practices, high velocity multimodal frieght, and much more.

This year’s event will kick-off the morning of May 5 with a full day of activities including an exciting escape room experience at Escapology, a Pink Jeep tour, and a supercar driving experience at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The day will conclude with an official Welcome Reception at the Madame Tussauds of Las Vegas.

Don’t miss out on this informative, fun, and unforgettable conference May 5-7 and RSVP your spot today.

R2 LOGISTICS: SETTING THE BAR HIGHER

In a market with increasing demand for disruptive technology and automated solutions, R2 Logistics understands not only how to create these solutions, but how to create the best version that exceeds customer expectations. The award-winning third-party logistics provider, which is known for its multi-dimensional variety of specialties from Managed Transportation, Full Truckload, Less-Than-Truckload (LTL), to Expedited and Air Freight, Intermodal, Ocean and Specialized Hauling, boasts a TMS that takes operations one step further.

“Roughly 90 percent of companies with less than $250 million in revenue do not utilize a Transportation Management System today,” explains Frank Dreischarf, vice president of Supply Chain Solutions at R2 Logistics. “Our TMS is specifically designed to bring transparency, reporting, mode and carrier management to these customers. Many of these companies still operate off of paper routing guides and Excel spreadsheets with little to no KPI’s surrounding one of the largest line items on their P&L, freight.”

Additionally, R2 Logistics offers their TMS on any device, increasing visibility for their customers while removing all barriers. This feature is one of many that serves as a differentiator, setting the company apart from the others in the logistics sector. R2’s customers are assured they have the knowledge needed to understand every dollar coming in and going out, instantly.

“From Mode selection, quick quote capabilities, document retention and track and trace, R2’s TMS provides all of the functionality that you would expect from a cutting edge TMS,” Dreischarf says. “Where we really excel though is in taking the transportation data and presenting it in an automated way that helps to speed up the pace of decision-making while at the same time providing unparalleled transparency into a shipper’s transportation spend.”

Dreischarf adds: “With most other TMS systems, a customer can expect to receive freight bill payment data, and then it is up to the customer to hire an infrastructure of analysts to make sense of the data. R2’s TMS system is designed to automate much of that function, allowing shippers to concentrate their limited resources on managing their operations rather than worrying about collating data.”

Customers are always the focal point for R2 Logistics, from automation and transparency, to satisfaction and reputation. As identified in their 10 company principles, at No. 1 is to obsess over the customer while creating competitive advantage. From the early days as an expedite carrier for Tier 1 automotive manufacturing to the multi-dimensional company it is now, R2 has stuck to the core of the business: customers.

“In all things that we do, we consider the customer’s needs first,” Dreischarf says.  “We ask ourselves, ‘Will this benefit the customer? Does it eliminate a headache for them? What can we do to provide a better experience?’ If you are passionate about adding value to your customer and putting them first, it makes everything else easy. It was this beginning that drove our ‘Customer First’ and ‘Do it Now’ culture.”

As a solutions-based and results-oriented company, R2 understands quality comes from every part of a business and must start at the employee level. With a significant amount of concern looming over retaining competitive talent, R2 provides some insight to their success.

Dreischarf notes, “As we have continued to grow over the past decade, we knew we wanted to maintain that high service culture. We spend a significant amount of time on recruiting, training and developing our people to ensure that we hire individuals who have a passion for service and then have all the tools necessary to provide great service to our customers.”

For future goals and planning, R2 Logistics aims to stick with what works while creating innovative ways to exceed customer expectations and demands. As Dreischarf puts it, “Our short-term and long-term goals can best be summed up as ‘to continue to grow, add value to our customers and always be the best 3PL in the business.’”

 

Frank Dreischarf is a graduate of The Ohio State University, where he dual majored in Operations Management as well as Transportation and Logistics. He started with R2 Logistics in 2017, when he filled the role of Vice President of Supply Chain Solutions. Frank has 20-plus years of distribution and supply chain experience, and has spent the past 10 years managing $200 million+ transportation spends. In his current role, Frank is responsible for developing and managing R2’s multi-modal and Supply Chain service offerings, which include: LTL, Reverse Logistics, inbound Supply Chain Logistics and Distribution, Intermodal and Final Mile Delivery. Frank believes logistics is a relationship-based business and the foundation for any successful relationship is integrity and trust. In his own words, “That means doing what you say you will do, always seeking to find and add value, and to treat others as you want to be treated.”