It is surprising to me how many companies still rely on spreadsheets and fax machines to manage their transportation operations. But ultimately, these companies reach a point where they need to automate their transportation processes in order to meet customer requirements and scale their business. Such was the case of Republic Plastics, a leading manufacturer of premium foam private label tableware products.
For Republic Plastics, the company was seeing a shift in freight transportation to a more regionalized approach. The company traditionally shipped freight in long distances of about 1,500 miles until retailers began opening more regional distribution centers allowing product into the stores more quickly. The average shipping distance decreased to 500 miles which obviously required a different carrier strategy and a more nimble business process to support this supply chain change.
Like most companies searching for a transportation management system, Republic Plastics made a list of exactly what it hoped its ideal transportation solution would bring to the company. Of utmost importance was the need to reduce the time devoted to logistics planning and decrease transportation costs while the company continued to grow and evolve. Additional items on its list included the ability to:
- Support comprehensive internal transportation management with a transportation order lifecycle solution
- Maximize efficiency of staff
- Provide detailed metrics and reports
- Improve customer service
- Foster better visibility and collaboration across supply chain partners
- Lower freight spend
Republic Plastics chose a SaaS-based TMS to manage outbound transportation from the manufacturing plants and distribution centers direct to retail stores. SaaS technology helps to drive collaboration among all trading partners while optimizing the shipping process. Additionally, many systems are able to monitor carrier performance, automate procurement, and streamline settlement. Republic Plastics chose a SaaS model because alternatives had longer deployment times and higher costs for initial fees, upgrades costs, maintenance charges, supplemental reports and ongoing support. Plus, the SaaS based platform regularly introduces new features with regular upgrades that Republic Plastics can use without any additional internal IT resources.
As someone who is not always doing business from behind a desk, I understand the importance of being able to manage real-time data from anywhere. Republic Plastics is able to manage transportation remotely by logging onto the system from anywhere in the world to see shipment statuses in real-time. Furthermore, Republic Plastics is able to collaborate with all supply chain partners by providing authorized staff, carriers, and customers with different views into the transportation process which reduces the burden on the entire transportation department.
Now instead of spreadsheets and faxes, Republic Plastics is able to report at a granular level to improve profitability of shipments and customer service. The company’s transportation team creates reports down to the order level detail of how many cases per order, which allows them to track buying patterns. Republic Plastics continues to see:
- Lower freight costs
- Improved shipment and costs visibility
- Ability to collaborate internally and externally
- Better team efficiency and productivity
Republic Plastics’ logistics manager summed it up best: “Rising fuel costs, customer demands, and ever-tightening carrier capacity make it imperative to implement rigorous transportation cost management. Our TMS technology provides us the visibility across customer, internal, and carrier touch points.”
Eric Meister is Vice President of Technology Operations at LeanLogistics. He is responsible for all aspects of customer technology implementation, post-implementation tactical customer support, strategic support services, and client services. Prior to joining LeanLogistics, Eric drove operational excellence through the adoption of technology in supply chain leadership roles in best-in-class manufacturers and a third party logistics provider including the implementation of LeanLogistics’ solutions.