Technology + LTL Shipments = “Best in Class” Shipper Status
We finalize our "Best in Class Shipper" of LTL Shipments series today by going into more detail on the last areas that a shipper must master in order to gain "Best in Class Shipper" status. You can view all 10 in our first overview post, dig into 1 thru 3 in the second post, and then in the third post of the series, see the 4th and 5th areas to master.
If you feel you are not as efficient as you would like in the shipping process and management of LTL shipments and are having trouble attaining "Best in Class Shipper" status, reach out to us here at Cerasis, and with our technology and services focused on transportation management, we will create a strategy and execute it to get your company recognized too as a "Best in Class Shipper."
"Best in Class Shipper" Status for LTL Shipments: Focusing on Technology, KPIs, Operational Excellence
For shippers to gain “Best in Class Shipper” status for LTL shipments, technology is a natural partner. This includes Transportation Management Systems (TMS), report generation, and monitoring of key performance indicators. Technology also precedes operational excellence by allowing for enhanced communication between all parties and ensuring unparalleled commitment to the successful, on time, and accurate pickup, transit, delivery, and billing of shipments. Before jumping towards the first visible technological system to improve your shipper status, you need to consider how technology affects each of these areas and helps prevent problems.
Technology’s Impact on Transportation Management Systems
A shipper’s TMS is the shipping equivalent of a beating heart. The TMS enables the shipping controls to what inventory is going out, when it’s going out, where it’s going, when it will get to its destination, and how it’s billed to the respective business. However, technology continues to grow and change as society demands faster, more efficient ways of conducting businesses. This same principle can be applied to the management of LTL shipments as well.
In addition to the centralized TMS, technology helps shippers attain “Best in Class Shipper” status by identifying errors and problems in shipping processes. This may involve using driver GPS coordinates to recognize geographic boundaries, construction zones, and other problems while in-transit. Technology may also be applied to rapidly identify if items are packaged incorrectly, where empty space will exist in LTL shipments, and how quickly a driver may pick up a shipment at the loading dock. Ultimately, technology allows shippers to more closely monitor their processes by an advanced, integrated TMS system.
Similarly, this same system could be integrated across the supply chain to enhance distribution center processes, which would increase the number and accuracy of LTL shipments. Therefore, the overall efficiency of the shipper is improved, and the shipper’s relationship with customers, businesses, and other carriers grows.
Key Performance Indicators and Reports on LTL Shipments
Anyone can generate a report on the basis of a few factors and minimal information. However, technology provides a means for mass data capture of thousands of variables in real-time. For example, key performance indicators may show live temperatures of climate-controlled LTL shipments, the current routes being used, and when a truck will arrive at a given distribution center. Additionally, KPIs may be used to assess the accuracy and efficiency of loading and unloading times for LTL when changing drivers, routes, or other issues.
Similarly, KPIs can be used to minimize errors in billing, auditing, and reviews of shipments. For example, KPIs can be automatically gathered and analyzed to generate a comprehensive look at what routes caused the most damage to deliveries, which drivers had additional, unaccounted lag time, and when shipments could have been made more efficient. If a shipper’s KPIs begin to waiver and fall, the shipper needs to have a plan in place for restoring them to their standards. This may seem to have a negative connotation and allude to punishment for shipper staff. However, use of KPIs in report generation allows shippers to monitor all staff and provide guidance in real-time. Additionally, they may be used to identify areas of needed training and changes in staff workload ratios. Therefore, the opportunities for controllable errors can be reduced, which reduces shipping expenses.
KPIs and reports are also a measure of compliance and visibility in shipping processes. They allow shippers to reduce the opportunities for violations of public trust and trade laws, which propel the shipper towards “Best in Class” status. For example, KPIs could be applied to digital tracking applications of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips to ensure optimum tracking of shipments.
Technology also partners with all of the other elements of “Best in Class Shipper” status to create a paragon of efficiency and accuracy. This is referred to as operational intelligence. A shipper may have strong leadership, an understanding of shipping processes, and excellent communication with staff; however, the finite execution of the whole process is never achieved without combining all of these factors into a single entity.
For example, a shipper may conduct daily audits to determine accuracy and accountability for load and dwell times. However, this information proves useless if the information is not passed along to the responsible parties in coaching, or additional instruction of job duties. Furthermore, operational intelligence takes advantage of the willingness to learn as discussed in “Part II.” This willingness is part of the driving force behind communication and teamwork in shipping.
Technology has given rise to a new era of enhanced communication, commitment to quality, and accuracy in shipping processes across the supply chain. Through the use of fully-integrated TMS systems and analysis of data through KPIs and reports, shippers are taking hold of technology and applying it to the supply chain.
Shippers face countless, different challenges from receiving an order to billing of shipping charges after delivery. All of these challenges can be overwhelming, yet applying specific elements to each challenge allows shippers to grow and overcome such problems. After reading this series, you will notice how many of these elements cannot function without the presence of corresponding elements. Ironically, these 10 elements are the definition of and instructions for gaining “Best in Class” shipper status.
How are you achieving "Best in Class" shipper status with LTL Shipments? Let us know in the comments section below!