Challenges in Every Direction

Industry executives discuss how they're coping with today's tough transportation issues.


This is especially important during peak volume times. Also, planning/optimization are used to provide optimal compliance with consignee requested arrival dates (RAD) while minimizing costs through consolidation and master billing orders. Real time supply chain event visibility provides automated in transit exception reporting.

Hardy: Currently, we have a very manual transportation planning process with limited visibility. But with that said, we have been able to find ways to help manage our costs through cross-functional collaboration with our sales force, warehouse personnel and carrier partners by implementing pool programs and combing freight whenever possible to take advantage of cross-docking opportunities.

Koerner: One way to make better decisions is better information—visibility in transportation planning helps tremendously. We are definitely getting value from the visibility tools we have. The key benefit is faster, more informed decisions on what to do with a specific piece of equipment. Prior to this visibility tool, information resided with several dispatchers, and great communication was the only way to find out what others were doing. With complete visibility, everyone has that same information and decisions are better and come much faster.

Parry: We do have income targets that are projected each year. However, those are no longer our focus or main objective. The value we gain from visibility is the ability to substitute information for activity. We are able to streamline work flows because of increased visibility. Actionable information is now available to us via our transportation planning design.

Abernathy: Visibility into a transportation network is essential to effective scenario planning and optimization of such factors as mode selection, LTL consolidation, optimal carrier assignment, continuous moves matching and shipment routing. Better visibility through technology solutions supports overall network design and optimization, site selection analysis and product flow analysis.

How is your company using new technology and/or procedures to improve the management of inbound and outbound transportation activities? What benefits have you achieved?

Reilly: We fully utilize our TM system for visibility to both inbound and outbound activities in the planning stage. Expected value includes improved continuous movement capabilities offering cost control and carrier/equipment utilization.
Other areas are real time cost based freight optimization, pooling capabilities and robust reporting which has led to 12 percent to 17 percent cost savings for our clients.

Bostick: LeanLogistics' Supply Chain Monitor will allow Pinnacle to see "cradle to grave" in our supply chain. This is from the time the PO is generated for raw materials/ingredients and packaging to the point (DC) to the customer and possible continuous move opportunities with the carrier. This will allow us to help our carriers more effectively manage their empty miles and for Pinnacle to capture this capacity.

Abernathy: Shippers are leveraging on-demand transportation management systems to connect all aspects of transportation and all of the players involved over the Internet. Sophisticated cross-docking is just one of the features that links inbound and outbound for continuous moves and overall network optimization. The benefits are unprecedented efficiencies and cost savings, which can be maximized beyond what one shipper could do on its own by working with a technology-enabled 3PL that has access to a broad network of shippers and the ability to tap that network for the benefit of each network participant.

Koerner: We are using technology to gain three benefits. The first one is a fuel optimizer technology that helps us route drivers to the best fuel prices for that traffic lane…that day. We take the guess work and emotion out of where to fuel and how much to buy there. The second technology gain comes from having visibility to all trucks and freight available in the hands of all of our dispatchers.

As mentioned previously, this helps us make much better decisions and in much faster time. The final technology gain comes from a route optimizer that looks at all the freight we have moved and the rate at which we moved it. It analyzes this information and tells us what things we could have done—or need to do—to improve our margins.

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