The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate compliance date is around the corner, and shipping capacity is tightening at a phenomenal rate. Experts predict the 2017 holiday shopping season to be one for the record books, and steady growth in the stock market alludes to a new manufacturing boom. As the shipping industry prepares to face these challenges, figuring out how to take advantage of available shipping capacity can be challenging. However, shippers can help overcome the challenges of a shipper capacity crunch by considering how technology can help.
Use Technology to Search Through More Carriers During a Shipper Capacity Crunch
During periods of a shipper capacity crunch, certain carriers may not have any available capacity. However, capacity exists somewhere, even in carriers from you may not have worked with the past. In addition, there are hundreds of more carriers than FedEx, UPS and USPS. In some cases, intermodal shipping, using a combination of rail, ground and air shipping options, may be necessary, but this will require collaboration between local and major carriers. So, having a system in place to manage intermodal shipping is essential.
Moreover, Local and regional carriers can help get your freight where it needs to go, but you need to use technology to identify carriers with available capacity. This might include the creation of a database that searches through available carriers, but how do you know you are paying competitive rates for freight?
Implement Better Shipping Processes With a TMS, Including the Use of Value-Added Services
A transportation management system (TMS) can help with carrier selection, and it considers the cost of freight shipping when searching for available carriers. Using a TMS can also help implement better shipping and labeling processes, reducing the amount of work required by carriers. This makes freight more attractive to intermodal carriers, asserts Transport Topics, and therefore, carriers may offer discounted rates or other perks to shippers, reducing the impact of the shipper capacity crunch.
For example, a carrier may offer additional auditing services that reduce instances of double billing, overbilling or missed delivery guarantees. If this is not available, third-party logistics providers (3PLs) may pick up the proverbial tab, implementing better processes and continuing faster, more effective invoice and billing auditing procedures. The savings alone can be a major factor in holding carriers accountable and ensuring continued capacity availability throughout a shipper capacity crunch.
Use Technology to Reduce Deadhead Through Co-Loading With Other Shippers
Another consideration goes back to the use of technology to enhance collaboration with other shippers. During a shipper capacity crunch, deadhead, including both empty miles driven on a return trip and extended dwell times, reduces available capacity, asserts Dustin Braden of the Journal of Commerce (JOC). However, shippers can work together to reduce deadhead by co-loading with other shippers and ensuring filled trailers on return trips as well. Although this may seem counterproductive, co-loading reduces work and costs for carriers, alleviating the pressures deriving from a capacity crunch.,
Take Advantage of Carrier Technologies to Reduce Carriers’ Work
Different carriers may also offer unique technologies to reduce the amount of work that goes into prepping a shipment for pickup. In addition, some carrier systems may integrate with an existing TMS, so the process is streamlined even further. Ultimately, this goes back to reducing the burden for carriers and making freight more attractive to carriers, which reduces freight shipping costs.
Let Someone Else Handle the “Tech” Side of Regulatory Adherence
The impending ELD implementation compliance date is among the top stressors in today’s capacity crunch. Shippers must find an appropriate vendor, negotiate contracts and ensure systems are installed and running by the compliance date. Depending on the size of the fleet, this can involve countless hours of work and extensive integration with legacy systems. However, shippers can outsource this process by working with a 3PL, such as Cerasis. Thus, the 3PL bears the burden of ensuring compliance and managing drivers. To a shipper, this simplifies operations and allows the team to focus more on reducing other costs to offset increased freight rates.
The Right Technology Considerations Can Reduce the Effects of a Shipping Capacity Crunch on Your Business
Across the board, major carriers are planning to increase rates in response to tightening capacity, and industry insiders suggest shippers should plan for a minimal 10-percent increase in freight costs, and by some accounts, the shipper capacity crunch could lead to more than a 20-percent increase for freight spent. However, shippers that take these technology considerations into account across all processes can help mitigate freight spend increases and rise to the occasion during a capacity crunch. The capacity crunch shows no signs of stopping, so shippers need to use all available resources to stretch capacity to its limits and beyond.