Collaboration is King – 3 Secrets to How Logistics IT Can Ensure Access to Capacity

Front page news from Transport Topics: “Carriers, Shippers Say Stronger Ties Are Forged by Working Together”. It seems carriers, shippers and the entire transportation industry are finally getting wise to something logistics IT providers have long known – cross-functional collaboration in supply chain logistics efforts is a win-win scenario for all players involved. Here are 3 secrets from contemporary, best-in-class logistics IT solution providers about how collaboration drives success.

Secret #1 – A great optimizer enables highly accurate pickup and delivery scheduling on top of optimized routes and consolidated freight.
Too many shippers overlook the schedule planning functionality of a good optimizer. Maybe that’s partly because not all optimizers offer detailed schedule window visualizations. But, best in class optimizers deliver a “Location Hours” visualization that shows load planners where each shipment is projected to arrive in relation to every location’s available delivery hours. This useful innovation dramatically reduces dwell times or deliveries arriving after scheduled windows. Develop a reputation for consistently accurate scheduling and the carriers will jump to accept your tenders.

Secret #2 – Increase lead times by wringing efficiencies from yard movements and activities using a yard management system integrated with your TMS.
Between more restrictive hours of service and restart rules and the dwindling numbers of drivers depressing the net volume of on-the-road hours available to all US shippers, finding an extra 30 to 90 minutes can make a significant difference. Especially when looked at cumulatively on a monthly basis.

This is why shippers who take the extra time (and very modest expense) to automate their yard management processes as part of their TMS implementation report greater levels of interest among their carrier base. Again, by collaborating with carriers, using up-to-the-minute dock door data conveyed via EDI, web-app or even in-cab telematics, shippers are saving drivers from wasting their available hours of service parked outside of DCs. Helping to get drivers back to their domicile (and their families) more frequently goes a long way toward fostering the kind of good will and reputation for organizational excellence that keeps carriers engaged.

Secret #3 – Build more backhaul opportunities into the mix by focusing TMS and optimizers on inbound logistics planning.
Many shippers are avid users of TMS and other logistics IT solutions for outbound logistics. Fewer attempt to tackle the complexities of inbound logistics. The multi-stop shipments typically associated with inbound logistics (say in the manufacturing sector for example) are not always the most attractive jobs according to many common carriers. However, the shipper that leverages his TMS and optimizer installation to regularly identify backhauls on the return trips from outbound shipments are able to offer profitable and efficient tenders to their base.

The technology is already in place to make these changes happen. All it takes is for the shipper to shift their thinking toward a mindset more in tune with what works for the carriers. Those that do are rewarded with more predictable and consistent access to capacity in a tight environment.

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