Plenty of food shippers already have some form of solution in place to automate their transportation planning and management processes. Whether they use a solution provided by a logistics IT provider, a basic tool provided by their 3PL or a homegrown system, it’s clear that manual processes are no longer up to the increasingly complicated task. If you’re a food or beverage shipper using any of the above defined solutions, now is a pivotal time to consider what you can do to improve your transportation management solutions. Here are three reasons why food shippers will rely more heavily than ever before on logistics IT and why it is imperative they don’t procrastinate.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
Bud Rodowick, Strategic Relations executive with Thermo King published an op-ed in Transport Topics reporting on the nearing implementation of the USDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act. “The act changes the way the government regulates the safety of the food supply, shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to food-contamination issues to preventing them from occurring” says Rodowick. According to Rodowick’s research the new regulations will require food and beverage producers to automate product traceability across the supply chain and maintain comprehensive manufacturing and delivery data covering every product across every mile of its transport. Rodowick urges food shippers to ask themselves the following questions regarding their readiness to be compliant with the FSMA:
• How do we plan to comply with these new requirements?
• What do we expect from our shipper and hauler partners?
• What is our implementation timeline?
• What data will we need recorded, in what format and how will it be transmitted?
If you can’t answer these questions for your organization, then you really should consider engaging a logistics IT provider with expertise in automating transportation processes for food/beverage shipping companies.
Fleet Integration Improving
Achieving competitive advantage, especially in the business of delivering fresh/perishable product, is largely reliant on being able to deliver products to customers, on-time and according to very demanding schedules. Leading the charge are a number of forward thinking TMS solution providers who have anticipated the growing reliance of food shippers (and other industries) on private fleets to improve their competitive edge. The problem with many TMS solutions is they lack any capacity for managing private fleet resources alongside common carriers. Several claiming to offer this functionality deliver lightweight functionality. Very few deliver robust fleet management tools including settlement functions. But the number of providers with such as solution is growing rapidly in correlation with the growing reliance on private fleets. If you’re using a private fleet, you must do solid due diligence to ensure your chosen solution can accommodate the needs of a private fleet operation. If you succeed, you’ll capture the competitive advantage.
In an environment where trucking capacity is about as hard to come by as it has ever been, shippers need an advantage they can rely on. Time wasted navigating spreadsheets or using outmoded technologies is time that your competition is using to capture capacity ahead of you. TMS systems enable the automation of load tendering using pre-negotiated lane/rates squeezing efficiency out of the process. Moreover, transportation optimizers help build and route the most efficient shipments and delivery scheduling – something that can help you earn “Shipper of Choice” status among carriers who are very much in demand and prefer working with shippers who make their work easier and get them quickest from point A to point B.
With business volume high, now is the best time to reexamine your supply chain logistics methodologies and practices while there is a pressing need and the capital to implement a new solution.