Tapping Into Carrier Networks

On-demand TMS solutions increase operational efficiencies cost-effectively.


For instance, it was getting tedious to shop different freight runs individually to the company’s network of approved carriers. “Even with the assistance of electronic communications, we were still sending out multiple requests to multiple carriers to try to obtain the best rates we could,” Johnson explains.

In September 2008, Johnson chose Chicago-based Real Time Freight’s On-Demand Freight Management System. “This is the first solution I saw that is simple to use, and it’s inexpensive and Web-based.”

Johnson notes that the nature of truck logistics is such that at any given time there is a piece of equipment somewhere in the country that wants to go to a particular destination. Finding that piece of equipment equates to found savings.

“The old way of doing things meant calling your usual contacts,” explains Johnson. “You would likely settle on the guy who, although he didn’t have the equipment handy, could run one 200 miles from you. He would pick up your load and get it to your customers on time, but there would be a lot of lost efficiencies,” explains Johnson.

The Real Time solution has opened up those opportunities for better rates and increased efficiencies, reports Johnson. “Our shipments are broadcast out to our approved network of carriers and we can identify an approved carrier with equipment where we need it, so we can get a better rate.”

Online postings have been around for years, especially at truck stops, explains Johnson. “But I don’t have the time to research whether a trucking company is a viable carrier who can be trusted or who has the proper insurance. So this system offers me the postings of my pre-approved corporate carriers and I am confident that when my loads go out, the only eyes looking at those loads are those carriers I am comfortable dealing with,” he says. “It is really a liability factor; I can’t afford to put my company in the position of dealing with an unreliable carrier.”

Real Time’s software takes into consideration a load’s location, where it needs to go, and the characteristics of the load such as whether it’s a load of cases, totes, or pallets. “The system posts temperature requirements, release numbers, and PO numbers for pickup and delivery,” explains Johnson. “When the initial instructions are recorded in the system, the information does not have to be retyped, re-faxed, or verbally told to someone. The driver can just run with the instructions.”

Johnson adds that the on-demand TMS solution brings a level of professionalism to the trucking industry that had been beholden to the old-boy network. “It was all about who you knew. Now there is documentation on everything, including rate confirmation in writing so there is no confusion as to who said what about rates.”

CHIQUITA EXPRESS COLLABORATES

Once Chiquita Brands International purchased Fresh Express, the company found itself using four different ERP systems and two different TMS solutions.

“We wanted to combine our transportation network and realized it would be easier for us to identify one TMS vendor who could create visibility across all four of those ERP networks,” reports Tom Shepherd, vice president of transportation for Cincinnati-based Chiquita Express. “We also wanted to be able to see what loads we had in our network so we could optimize the network in terms of reducing costs, increasing routing efficiencies, and improving customer service.”

Since Chiquita already had a working relationship with Lean Logistics, the company decided to implement Lean’s On-Demand TMS solution. Once go-live preparations were completed, Chiquita transitions to the new TMS over a four-week period beginning in May 2008. “It was one of the most successful implementations we ever had,” says Shepherd. “There was a lot of effort, focus, and cross-functional coordination among ourselves and Lean—as well as internally within the Chiquita organization to be able to pull that off.”

One of the goals was to create an execution platform for all transportation orders within the entire Chiquita network. In addition to interfacing with the four ERP systems, Shepherd wanted to create total network visibility.

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