Adapt to the New Normal with Shipment Visibility

shipment visibilityWith the advent of electronic logging devices and supporting technology, shippers can take advantage of unprecedented shipment visibility into their supply chain. Connected to most commercial trucks, ELDs are generating a flood of data that gives shippers who are also using a robust, modern TMS solution a new level of strategic insight into their supply chain.

An ELD-equipped truck generates 100 to 150 data points per load, a far cry from a phone call a few times a day. The industry is learning how to use that data flow to support up-to-the-minute information on the location and status of shipments. With this deep insight, shippers are revising not only their tactical decision-making but also increasingly their strategic thinking about the overall network.

In the post-ELD world, it’s clear trucking capacity will be constrained for the foreseeable future. As freight demand and the economy continue to show signs of strength, rates are predicted to continue to rise or at least stand firm. The current rate and capacity environment is the new normal, so shippers, along with their service providers, must adapt or fall behind in a highly competitive environment.

Using data generated from ELDs is one way shippers can focus on boosting their supply chain efficiency while realistically responding to the new standard.

Reclaim Capacity with Visibility

Not too long ago, real-time shipment tracking was the latest technological marvel. But, location tracking was only the beginning.

Today, data is supporting analytic decision-making based on whether a shipment is on time, what traffic and weather delays it may encounter or any other impediments to the delivery schedule. Now shippers and carriers can use real-time shipment visibility to route trucks, adjust delivery windows and schedule labor accordingly.

With the right tools, shippers are able to see where their shipments are today and where they should be tomorrow. Better visibility drives efficiency in the supply chain and supports strategies such as just-in-time and lean manufacturing.

Shippers can see which lanes are the most and least efficient. Under the ELD mandate, many one-day runs are turning into two-day deliveries, and two-day timeframes are morphing into three. The ELD data can help shippers realign their delivery expectations and adjust the rest of the supply chain accordingly.

Saving time at any step in the logistics process helps release capacity back into the system. Reducing the time carriers spend waiting at loading docks is one fundamental way to improve capacity. With better shipment visibility, shippers can essentially create additional capacity through enhanced efficiency.

Tap the Power of a TMS

Shippers are increasingly expecting to have visibility into all modes and all steps within each mode, such as terminal dwell times and estimated arrival times. The concurrence of the ELD mandate combined with advanced TMS technology makes it easier for shippers to connect and analyze end-to-end supply chain data.

Shippers expect to be able to directly track individual shipments as they move from mode to mode and facility to facility. For the LTL environment, that means being able to pinpoint shipments in the pooled truckload, through deconsolidation, cross-docking and the last-mile delivery.

With greater visibility into each shipment, shippers can help lower their costs by partnering with their service providers to make the network more efficient for all parties. ELD data can be integrated into a TMS via APIs, adding the tracking data to the overall visibility view.

While the transition to the ELD environment has been challenging, it has also offered opportunities to re-evaluate the way we do things. We’re learning to be more disciplined in our operations with a better understanding of how a delay can ripple through the network.

We’re coming to understand that time is a supply chain asset just like equipment and people. We can’t change how many hours a truck driver is allowed to drive. However, we can work together to ensure that those hours are as productive as possible.

The information flow is just as important as the movement of the actual cargo. Those with shipment visibility will have the power to shape their supply chains rather than being subject to forces beyond their control.

As Senior Vice President of Sales and Solutions at GobalTranz, Ross Spanier leads the enterprise sales organization as well as the design and delivery of innovative and customized supply chain solutions that drive efficiency, cost savings and competitive advantages for current and prospective customers. With over 15 years of experience in the supply chain and logistics industry, Ross has developed and grown sales and operations teams specializing in best-in-class service execution of LTL, TL, expedite, supply chain management, projects & heavy haul, white glove and managed transportation service lines.

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