Transportation Management: Weathering the Perfect Storm

With powerful market factors converging to negatively impact transportation costs, capacity-and the bottom line-shippers can apply effective strategies to weather the storm and begin to build a world-class, integrated transportation system.

  • Maintain a formal appointment scheduling process to ensure freight pick-up and delivery efficiency.
  • Properly plan and execute yard functions to demonstrate respect for drivers' time and their Hours of Service schedules.
  • Appropriately staff dock operations at pickup and delivery times.
  • Eliminate or at least minimize driver involvement in loading and unloading.
  • Clearly communicate load, delivery and location-specific requirements and have all paperwork-and the load-ready to go.
    Consider drivers' needs, preferences and comfort, as well as Hours of Service regulations, when planning routes and schedules.
  • Be open to "out-of-the-box" ideas for innovative communications processes and cost-saving execution tactics, such as trailer pool programs, whether the ideas originate with carrier or shipper.
  • Consider non-traditional approaches, such as incentive-based contracts, to ensure top-of-mind loyalty with preferred carriers.
  • Leverage technology tools and solutions to foster trust, good will and open communications, so that when problems do arise-and inevitably they will-there will be two partners committed to finding a prompt resolution.

Part III: Conclusion

Taking a New Perspective on Transportation Management
In light of the changing transportation landscape, the time is right for shippers to take a new perspective on how they plan and execute their critical fulfillment processes. To overcome today's new challenges and mitigate the effects of rising costs and reduced capacity, manufacturers, distributors and retailers need to change how they view inbound and outbound transportation processes and their impact on business results and customer service. Rather than seeing transportation management as an isolated process, they need to view the entire supply chain execution and fulfillment infrastructure as a single, integrated logistics operation that can be synchronized and optimized for maximum profitability and customer satisfaction.

Taking a more holistic approach will enable companies to realize the inherent efficiencies of synchronizing transportation, warehouse and trading partner processes. Intelligent application of information technology will allow them to automate transportation planning, procurement and execution processes, and to measure and analyze service levels and options. And, by establishing real-time, two-way communications with suppliers and carriers, they will gain the visibility and agility required to make better and more informed decisions-both at the long-term strategic level and day-to-day tactical level.

On the Road to Supply Chain Execution Success
In today's fast-paced and demanding global marketplace, profitable customer order fulfillment has never been more critical-and transportation plays a crucial role in timely, accurate fulfillment. Despite the uncertainty and turbulence caused by rising fuel prices, industry regulations and capacity constraints, shippers can take appropriate steps to improve delivery performance, reduce transportation costs and strengthen relationships with carriers and trading partners.

Clearly, one size does not fit all when it comes to managing transportation. Every company distributing goods has its own business model, its own freight requirements, fulfillment policies and customer service goals. Yet, when it comes to transporting inbound materials and outbound products, they all need to gain better visibility and control, as well as the agility to respond quickly and effectively to events and unexpected changes in demand. These improvements can help optimize transportation and supply chain execution, reduce costs and meet corporate financial and customer service goals.

To overcome the challenges of the 21st century, manufacturers, distributors and retailers need to chart a new course. Taking a more holistic view of transportation management as an integral part of a synchronized supply chain execution strategy is a good first step. The next logical step is to leverage information technology to synchronize internal and external operations, drive real-time communications and implement process automation and collaborative workflow processes.

In fact, many progressive companies are already experiencing competitive advantages through the elimination of warehouse, distribution, transportation and trading partner siloes of information, and the integration and optimization of critical fulfillment operations-from source to consumption.

Comprehensive Transportation Management Solutions for Shippers
Manhattan Associates' Transportation Management solutions are designed to help shippers optimize their inbound and outbound shipping processes, as well as their transportation planning, procurement and execution. Our Web-native systems transmit real-time data to improve communication flow between shippers and their carriers, customers and suppliers and to provide 360# visibility of shipments, from source to destination. Both shippers and carriers benefit from faster, easier management of transportation bids and contracts, the ability to quickly adapt to network changes and events, using these unprecedented levels of cooperation.

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