When is a Control Tower not a Control Tower?

A Control Tower is not a Control Tower if it only provides shipment visibility. Claiming that shipment visibility is a Control Tower is like saying you only need radar equipment and you don’t need Air Traffic Controllers or the ability to have bidirectional communication with pilots. A true Control Tower means:

  • finding alternative ways to satisfy customer demand if a shipment is late.

  • utilizing detailed dock and yard information to prevent late shipments in the first place.

  • knowing your customer’s inventory levels and demand forecast to make your supply chain more resilient.

  • managing the challenges inherent in complex supply chains.

IntelliTrans has provided shipment visibility services since 1992, and our visibility platform remains a core part of our business today. However, we don’t stop with visibility, our Control Tower has integrated on-asset monitoring hardware, integrated mapping solutions, and proactive exception notice delivery to our customers and customers’ customers. If you want to take control of your supply chain and do more than look at your shipments, reach out to IntelliTrans. We have a team of experienced supply chain professionals leveraging mature processes and world-class technology ready to drive improvement on your behalf.

Reliable ETAs in a Changing World

In today’s shipping environment, it’s tough to make accurate predictions on shipment estimated time of arrival (ETA); things like yard congestion, weather, service schedules, block size, and resources available compound unpredictability. This unpredictability is causing shippers to turn to freight visibility platforms now more than ever to gain control of their supply chains. In the age of Amazon, it’s not enough to be given ETAs from the outset, shippers need current data points and dynamic ETAs updated throughout the course of the shipment.

IntelliTrans has been innovating supply chain technology for over 25 years. For ETAs, we couple the most current data with historical data analysis on a route. When shippers view our dynamic ETA, they are seeing the past, the present, and the predicted future. We provide intervention services to ensure complete and accurate data in conjunction with machine learning algorithms to find signals in noisy data, allowing us to discover systemic insights and provide more accurate information to our customers and staff. 

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If your service partners are not providing you with accurate ETAs, better visibility, and incremental value improvement then it’s time to leave them behind. Inaccurate empty railcar supply can lead to facility shutdowns that negatively impact customer relationships, so expect more from your Transportation Management System provider.

After all, if we can order a $10 gadget on Amazon and track it all the way to our front door, shippers should be able to gain the same level of granularity with their $100K+ asset loaded with high-value inventory. Don’t settle with the status quo because it’s easy; IntelliTrans is here to help you navigate change.

Introducing the CarrierPoint API Suite

Our goal at IntelliTrans is to drive successful outcomes for shippers, and helping carriers and 3PLs better serve our shipper customers is a key part of that mission. That’s why we’ve released an API suite to extend CarrierPoint functionality to carrier and 3PL apps, platforms, and enterprise systems. Its REST architecture allows you to do things like gather load details, accept and decline contract loads, and provide location updates.

Traditionally, these types of integrations have involved extensive development time, complex requirements, and significant upfront fees. But with CarrierPoint API suite, we help abstract the complexity so you can start moving freight and scale more efficiently.

What you can do with it

You can do just about anything you can do using the CarrierPoint app. For example:

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  • Search for loads and pull full load detail

  • Accept and decline contract loads

  • Place and revoke spot bids

  • Upload important documents like delivery receipts, signed BOLs, and damage photos

  • Provide location updates and delivery confirmations

  • Accept and decline fixed-rate offers

How to Get Started

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We have detailed documentation to set you on the right path and we are more than happy to help you get started. Contact us here to get started!

What’s Next

This is just the beginning. We’re excited about what this new development means for our IntelliTrans customer community, and we can’t wait to see what you build with this new set of capabilities. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Shipment Visibility

Shipment visibility has come a long way since we released our rail shipment visibility platform in 1992. It seems like this foundational capability has gone from relative obscurity to being on every shipper’s radar (pun intended) overnight. Demand for shipment visibility solutions will only increase, too. Staffing and inventory reductions will push shippers to further adopt technology providing time-definite delivery information and real-time order visibility across all modes. We’ve taken note of this evolution. Over the years we’ve expanded our tracking capabilities to cover multi-modal shipments.

Obtaining complete, multi-modal shipment visibility requires a multi-pronged approach to obtaining data. The use of ELDs in the North American truck market has increased truck tracking capabilities just as the use of TransCore’s AEI tags & readers increased rail tracking capabilities. Acquiring ELD data is no small task. It requires endless collaboration with carriers, especially in a carrier market where it is crucial to be a “shipper of choice” to get loads covered. It requires many system integrations, deployments, and data acquisition methods:

  • Integration with carrier TMS systems in a manner that THEY can implement and support
  • Integration with ELD providers and Value-Added Networks (VANs)
  • Deployment of app-based technology for gaps in capability / visibility
  • Web Services and API / RESTful endpoints

Every trip must have complete key events, too. A missing delivery confirmation can have a ripple effect impacting on-time delivery metrics, carrier performance KPIs, and even the ability to audit a detention bill. In addition, it isn’t enough to just know where your shipment is and know that it is going to be late; someone needs to act on that information to minimize the impact to your customers. It’s crucial to have a provider who commits to:

  • Managing your implementation process.
  • Monitoring data flows continuously and ensuring all gaps are closed and all trips have complete data.
  • Intervening on late pickups, dwell time, and deliveries to turn assets quicker and eliminate unused equipment from the fleet.
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If you want to drive the global supply chain transparency needed to truly achieve success in shipment visibility and management then look no further. Shipment visibility and exception management has been our bread and butter for over 25 years. We’re constantly learning and evolving, too, improving our offerings with new features, market knowledge, and outstanding partnerships.

For example, through our partnership with Tranzlogix we can provide automated, real-time location updates and proactive notifications from ELD devices and geofencing. Tranzlogix is also working on implementing voice-activated commands available for in-truck use, allowing truck drivers to interact with GPS, clock in and out, and make reports without taking their eyes off the road. As you can imagine, this will lead to major improvements in tracking efficiency and driver safety. Tranzlogix employs capabilities to associate multiple trailers for the same trip and provides guaranteed superior customer support access with all packages.  We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Tranzlogix and their streamlined digital purchasing process ELDmarketplace.com.

IntelliTrans provides multi-modal shipment visibility and exception management in both North America and Europe, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Roper Technologies, a $4.8B/ $30B market cap publicly traded company. Contact us to pro-actively manage your inventory and delivery cycles for greater efficiencies in your global supply chain!

Use a TMS to Improve Service and Reduce Cost

2018 - the year of the capacity crunch – has been a challenging year for freight shippers. Not only have they faced significant upward cost pressure, but also declines in service. And, these market dynamics likely won’t let up anytime soon as new and existing environmental factors emerge and persist:

  • Fuel prices and uncertainty around future prices increase.
  • Economic growth increases demand for freight transport, especially road transport.
  • Service challenges in other modes shift more freight to road transport.
  • Driver shortages continue and increasing qualifications make it harder to become a driver.
  • Regulatory initiatives like the ELD (electronic logging device) mandate are introduced.
  • Financing terms on truck and equipment purchases increase with interest rate hikes.
  • Tighter monetary policy leads to fewer bank loans for smaller, less credit-worthy carriers.

Needless to say, there are quite a few uncontrollable factors at play. Shippers can, however, take a fresh look at how logistics consumers can achieve better customer service without significantly exceeding their budget.

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.
— Epictetus

What’s in Your Control? Harnessing the Power of People, Process, and Technology.

Relationships will always matter, especially in the logistics industry. It’s important to treat your drivers and carriers well – whether capacity is tight or not – and you might find a competitive advantage in carriers working harder to cover your shipments when times get rough. Using a TMS, particularly one with dock scheduling capabilities, is a great way to improve your relationship with carriers. Easy ways to book appointments, update those appointments, and ensure minimal dwell at origin and destination can attract carriers to accept your freight before others - all other parameters being equal. And, if you can audit and pay carrier invoices quickly (with transparency), you are well on your way to becoming a shipper of choice.

  Dock Scheduling Software

For manufacturers and retailers whose costs and quality of service are important, it’s imperative to have processes in place to ensure loads go to transport providers offering cost-competitive rates and high-quality service for each lane. And, to do so quickly and efficiently with minimal administrative cost. Booking a load easily and “instantaneously” is critical; otherwise, the carrier might book a competing load with the same equipment and driver. Which is why having an automated tendering process that gives visibility to an ever-expanding set of carriers in a structured, defined order is one of the best ways to optimize coverage and cost.

Using the IntelliTrans TMS to Drive Information Accessibility, Visibility, and Efficiency

The IntelliTrans Transportation Management System (TMS) is a web-based software solution comprised of shipment mode modules that can be used individually or in combination to allow command and control of shipments across all modes of transport.

  SaaS TMS

The truck module of the IntelliTrans Transport Management System (TMS) will assist with procurement, coordination of all transport activities, and execution of loads – reducing time-consuming, error-prone business processes. Administration to manage your needs is simplified, which results in minimal effort in contacting providers, tracking loads, monitoring carrier performance, and ensuring invoice accuracy. The road transport element helps streamline truckload and less-than-truckload operations, optimize carrier selection, maximize carrier capacity, and reduce truckload spend.   

The TMS records complete, timely, and accurate data backed-up by data specialists who ensure each shipment has complete data. We also provide interactive data visualizations and data-driven alerts, giving you the ability to ask deeper questions and deliver more meaningful insights in areas like shipment visibility, cost control, and tendering automation. Whether you’re an operator looking to manage shipment exceptions or a strategic, long-term planner, you’ll be able to quickly spot outliers and trends across complex datasets.

Let us show you what we can do for your business! 

The P's and Q's of Rail Rate Negotiation

Partnership

Develop relationships. One of the most important things you can do is to build a relationship with your railroad partners. Do the carriers consider you a customer or a partner? Encouraging the rail carriers to view you as a partner is helpful to a successful rail negotiation. From the local freight agent to the yardmaster to the switching crew, the sale representative to the vice president, from the customer service department to the commodity manger, there are many people with whom you should be acquainted. Though many of these positions may have been eliminated, try to maintain those that you can.

A great deal of current and pending regulation constrains the railroads. Determine ways in which you can help your carrier by backing legislation or initiatives that make sense. Get involved, offer your company’s support. Whatever regulations the railroads face will ultimately affect your company, so the more informed, involved, and supportive you are in the process, the better a partner you will be.

Preparation

Know your freight volumes. Most freight ships under contract rates, but that doesn’t mean that all freight does. If you ship a reasonable amount of volume, it is in your company’s best interest to pursue a contract with your carrier. Even a poorly negotiated contract is typically better than paying tariff rates. If you have enough freight to make a contract negotiation worthwhile, be prepared to invest the time, research, and effort to ensure the negotiation produces the best outcome for your company.

Know your industry. You certainly know your business, and you probably have a pretty good handle on your industry in general, but how do the rail carriers perceive your company as compared to competitors in your industry? Analyze your freight spend, determine patterns of shipments, and understand your private car vs. free runner equation (if applicable).

A common misconception is that rail pricing is a cost-plus strategy. In reality, rail carriers set prices based on the customer’s market health. A great example is the frac sand market. Frac sand is a premium sand used in oil/gas drilling. To the carrier, there is no difference in the overhead/cost of moving frac sand vs an equivalent car hauling raw sand, but frac sand rates are 20% to 50% higher because the railroad believes the oil and gas industry can afford to pay the premium.

Know about your competition. Are they rail-served? Where are their facilities located and, if they are rail-served, on which rail carrier? Is it easier for the rail carrier to serve your competitor than to serve your company? What is your competition’s market share? The railroad may be very interested in helping you grow your market share if it directly improves their market share versus their competition.

Know your railroad’s key drivers. Anticipate carrier positions and develop a sound negotiation plan. Know the increase that your carrier plans to seek, and determine what is driving it. Why is the railroad seeking an increase? Is there new investment or planned upgrade to track or terminal operations that will benefit your company in more expeditiously handling your freight? Is the railroad investing in new equipment that will help your company load/unload more efficiently or that will help improve load factor? Is the increase tied to rising interest rates or other global factors? Is the increase tied to the market, to interest rates, or is there something more involved?

Something often overlooked in a rail bid is the annual escalator in multi-year contracts. We’ve seen multi-year contracts signed with escalators as high as 8%. A $1000 rate with an 8% escalator would increase 36% over a 5-year contract. This compounded increase is frequently overlooked, but negotiating a lower escalator can be one of the best strategies for long-term cost avoidance. Try to negotiate the escalator to be in line with the All-Inclusive Less Fuel Index, which is an index of the rail cost adjustment factor without the influence of fuel cost. This is an industry standard for measuring rail operating cost adjustments over time (the index has shown an annual increase above 3% in 10 years – typically around 1.5% to 2.5%). In most cases, the escalator is never in line with the actual increases in annual operating cost.

Know when to employ Rule 11. With a thru-rate, the escalator in the contract applies to all segments within the thru-rate. Rule 11 allows the customer to negotiate each segment individually, which allows the customer to negotiate each the rate and escalator with each carrier separately.

While negotiations may seem weighted in favor of the railroad, remember that the rail carriers have massive infrastructures to maintain, fluctuating fuel prices, unions to support, economies of scale to manage, and modal competition to deal with. Like your company, railroads must deliver value to their shareholders and continue to draw investors. Know your carriers’ pain points: labor negotiations, weather and other acts of God, capital expenses, congestion and a physically constrained network, and government regulations are just a few of their concerns. What amount of resources has the railroad had to commit to PTC (Positive Train Control) and other government mandates? While at historically low levels, the operating ratio of most rail carriers is often higher than in other industries. Rail’s competition is primarily motor carrier, and while the motor carriers do pay highway taxes help to support the highway infrastructure, they have much less overhead allocated to physical plant. Without railroads, competition in other modes would most certainly increase and capacity would not be adequate, driving up prices.

Understand fuel surcharges, accessorial charges, 15-day payment terms, escalators and other factors that affect your total rail spend. You may do a terrific job of negotiating linehaul rates, only to find your company subject to other charges you hadn’t considered as part of the negotiation. This is a commonly overlooked piece of a negotiation. Remember that the freight rates should not be the only aspect of the negotiation. In many cases, the contract term, annual escalator and volume incentives yield better long-term results than the initial base linehaul rate.

It is very challenging (virtually impossible depending on the railroad) to get an established rate lowered. That’s why it is crucial to negotiate the lowest possible rate in the beginning and then work keep the rate low by limiting the escalator.

Know your options. Consider all options, not just freight rates. Are there areas in which your company can help the rail carrier? Be willing to offer concessions in exchange for something – is your company able to pre-block traffic, stagger switch times, eliminate weekend service, or otherwise assist the railroad in cost reduction?

Prepare a written bid package to present to the railroad. Your rail negotiation should be well planned and researched. Know your goals going in; this is not the time to shoot from the hip or to capitulate to general industry averages. Putting a written bid package together forces you to deal with facts and remove emotion. Calculate the railroad’s cost and profit for each of your lanes and educate the railroads when you believe they are not pricing their movements properly or competitively. Know the pivot point for each railroad in your bid evaluation. Negotiate your entire rate structure and not just individual movements—potentially be prepared to give something to gain overall.

Prioritize

Allow enough time, but don’t become overly consumed by the process. You still have day-to-day freight to manage and many other internal responsibilities. Does the tactical suffer at the sake of strategic or does the strategic suffer because of tactical demands? Some companies spend many months in negotiation, only to do it again the following year. It’s helpful to ensure that not all contracts expire at same time, and expiration dates in the middle of the month are often easier to manage since they don’t conflict with regular month-end reporting. Consider multi-year agreements if you are going to invest a significant amount of time in negotiation. Every hour spent on the process is an hour you don’t have to devote to other things. Many contract negotiations will go several rounds; do not be deterred or lose sight of your goals.  IntelliTrans can help manage your daily operations, freeing you up to spend time on stratetic matters.  Conversely, we can partner with you to manage strategic efforts, including rail rate negotiaton, so that you can continue to manage your company's daily needs.

Predict

Establish a long-term rail transportation strategy. While it may be tempting to award freight strictly on price, remember that partnering with your rail carrier is a way to ensure viable modal competition remains. Where will your company be in five years, 10 years? Be honest about volumes and provide accurate forecasts. How much growth do you anticipate? Can the carrier handle the amount of planned volume increases with the current infrastructure and personnel? Develop a story for why you need a better rate structure to keep rail viable in the long-term. Just as you need to understand the factors driving your carriers’ request for a rate increase, make the case for why your company needs lower rates. What value proposition does your company bring to the table?

Always utilize expert legal counsel for the final transportation contract. As with any contract, be sure to use your company’s legal counsel before signing anything. Negotiation is your job, but the details belong to the attorneys. And, remember, the STB does not get involved in contract disputes, but does in tariff disputes.

Quantify

Once your negotiation is complete, continue to benchmark your performance. If having a contract rate in place is important, then so is following the stipulations of that contract. Undertake a thorough examination of tariff rates versus contract rates, as well as how well your company executes those contracts. Is your shipping department using the wrong junction or the wrong type of equipment? You may have negotiated the best rate possible, but if your shipping department doesn’t execute properly, your company has left money on the table and may be subject to unplanned and unnecessary fees and accessorial charges. Internal routing procedures and enforcement are required.  Our analytic dashboards make quick work of highlighting discrepancies and outliers. 

Questions

Ask questions; knowledge is power. Arm yourself with a thorough knowledge of rail industry standards regarding haul cost, rates, and agreements. Resources are readily available. IntelliTrans can provide multiple analytical dashboards for use in understanding your baselines, looking at your shipping history and options, as well as running different scenarios to determine your best-case outcomes from negotiations. In addition, our sister company DAT provides rate and capacity information on dry van, flat and reefer trucks for use in modal comparison. The railroads use this information themselves to benchmark their competition so it behooves any savvy negotiator to be operating from the same knowledge set. The amount of information available has never been greater, so equip yourself as well as possible.

Having the ability to undertake a modeling analysis will help you achieve the best possible results, however day-to-day duties may prevent you from being able to do so. Seek outside guidance where necessary.

IntelliTrans has many years of experience in assisting our customers with rail freight rate analysis, negotiation, and execution. We can share with you the successes we’ve had helping clients of all sizes – from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Because we track a very large portion of the North American rail volume each month we have an extraordinary view of the marketplace. Coupled with DAT’s truck rate benchmarking, we have an unprecedented view into areas of opportunity to help you conduct the best possible rail negotiation.

IntelliTrans can provide a cost/benefit statement that will help you easily see the value we bring to your specific situation and share some of our recent success stories with you. Contact us for more information on how we can help you achieve your most successful rail negotiation.

Rail, Road, and Intermodal Freight

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK - Gatwick Group meeting 2017

If the members of the Gatwick Group were unsure of what IntelliTrans and its parent company Roper Technologies Inc. actually did and where they fitted into our logistics and transport scene, James Reading their Account Director for the UK and Europe, soon put matters to rights during his presentation in February.  He started off by placing IntelliTrans, with its headquarters in Atlanta Georgia (the ‘freight capital’ of the USA) in the context of its American parent company, before explaining where his own field of responsibility fitted in.  IntelliTrans was founded in 1992 and acquired by Roper in 2006.  In the USA, 46% of the freight miles are handled by rail and, for goods with a low product cost and high volume, the freight costs are critical.  The parent company covers a wide range of activities from industrial technology, energy systems and controls, traffic and toll systems, to medical imaging and freight analysis.  RF technology is at the heart of much of what the company does, with its use for scanning vehicles on toll roads and for tracking every railway wagon in the USA.  The transport management systems and software services supplied by IntelliTrans fit very well into this overall picture.

The company’s European arm is responsible for transport, warehousing, procurement and automation technology.  Its offering is centered on ‘software as a service’ and covers areas as diverse as depot management, yard management and the monitoring and refilling of storage tanks and silos.

James Reading covered the UK rail freight business, which he said was in the middle of a process of substantial change, in some detail.  Traditional sources of traffic, primarily coal, are declining rapidly and rail’s overall contribution to freight movement is quite small, particularly by comparison with the United States.  However, at a time of increased environmental awareness it has to be recognised that rail produces 76% less carbon than road transport and that one freight train can take the equivalent of between 43 and 76 lorries off the road.  Rail freight volumes, other than for coal, increased by 58% between 1994/95 and 2015/16 and the rail operators are clearly both commercial and customer focused.  At the same time developments in the road freight industry should lead to a reduction in its carbon footprint.  Waitrose is introducing a fleet of CNG powered vehicles and Mercedes-Benz Trucks are launching a small series of all-electric heavy duty trucks, while vehicle platooning trials hold out the prospect of a 20% reduction in fuel costs due to improved aerodynamics.  Other challenges such as the shortage of lorry drivers and the high proportion that have been recruited from Eastern Europe in recent years still remain.

On the UK rail scene, freight volumes are holding up well, despite the reduction in coal and steel traffic, and substantial investment is taking place to support growth alongside the creation of more capacity in the network, including the planned construction of HS2.  There is an opportunity to grow aggregate traffic, including two way loading in some cases and, despite intermodal traffic through the Channel Tunnel having been hit by the migrant crisis, there is confidence that it will grow again in the future.  The arrival of a through freight train from China in January (an 18 day and 7,456-mile journey) points the way to the development of a link that would be both quicker than the seaborne alternative and cheaper than air transport.

The market is changing however, with the growth of internet shopping and next-day deliveries taking place alongside an increasing awareness of the need for carbon reduction.  Price sensitivity remains.  Road transport benefits from long-standing customer confidence, its high efficiency, well organised trunk network, flexibility and its ability to tailor loads to vehicle size.  In addition, chilled and frozen movements are important.  However, major food retailers, such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s, now see rail as an option, while shared trains are starting to be considered and deep sea multimodal freight can be well suited to rail in the right circumstances.  To increase rail’s share further, network capacity will need to be increased and the average speed of freight trains (reported to be less than 30 MPH) will need to be raised.  In addition, the main logistics consumers and providers and 3 PL planning teams will need to be given increased confidence in this mode.  Intermodal rail has, however, doubled in the last ten years with services to the UK main deep sea ports, 33 trains per day serving Felixstowe, 18 from Southampton and 8 from London Gateway currently.

James Reading explained how the GVP multi-modal transportation management software brought all the elements of ‘track and trace’, analysis, monitoring, management intervention and performance reporting together.  The example of IntelliTrans’ current work tracking 50,000 shipments each year for automotive companies with North American assembly plants was examined as was the role of the GVP iCargo Control Tower journey planning and booking system.  This latter system books shipments from origin to destination across different transport modes and compares journey options to permit a choice based on price, transit time and carbon footprint.  The detail behind these packages was particularly impressive covering everything from GPS position updates and Proof of Delivery to the scoring and evaluation of carriers against a range of standard criteria.  Multi-modal journey selection was a particularly impressive capability.

The discussion which following the presentation covered such matters as the differences of approach between British and continental rail freight operators; the potential for distributing beer by rail and the scope for rail to capitalise on the delays frequently found on the road network at present. The Chairman closed the meeting by proposing a vote of thanks that was warmly supported by all present and by presenting James Reading with a well-earned Speaker’s Certificate.

Written by John Baggs FCILT

Multi-Modal Transport Operations

  Multi-Modal TMS

The execution of end-to-end journeys with multiple transport providers can bring benefits to all logistics consumers, particularly where transport cost is important.

For some freight movements, the use of multi-modal transport can bring very measurable cost and environmental benefits with no detriment to customer service. Logistics consumers require route optimization, just-in-time supply chain operations, a secure environment, and low cost transport. Control tower technology is an enabler to achieve shipment visibility and optimize inventory and assets in a congested environment. To provide optimum results the technology that supports a control tower must be specific to the company’s need. IntelliTrans supports the seamless completion of journeys using more than one operator. IntelliTrans’ Global Visibility Platform is designed to simplify multi-modal operations, covering the aspects of planning, execution and track and trace. Information can be sent to destination points and partner operators alike with real time updates on journey progress and the estimated time of arrival.

The use of multi-modal transport can reduce transport costs and CO2 emissions while achieving a highly predictable delivery performance. Achieving this reduced cost may involve complex planning and operational processes that can be overcome with technology that allows services to be tailored to needs. Combining different modes of transport (sea, road, rail or inland waterways) to create a journey that meets cost and time objectives can provide a real competitive advantage. Technology that allows journeys to be planned and modes of transport to be synchronized with simple operational control and paperless transactions is critical to successful utilization of multi-modal transportation.

Multi-modal transport steps are easy to state but difficult to achieve:

  • Plan to create a journey that will satisfy the delivery time required by the customer
  • Consider product characteristics, such as hazardous or temperature requirements
  • Search from a number of available options to complete end-to-end services within the journey time allowed
  • Calculate the overall journey costs and compare those with other routes
  • Calculate carbon emissions for a journey
  • Book all legs of the journey – a single point of booking with information entered only once is preferred
  • Dynamically re-plan and re-book transportation based on real-time information
    • (i.e., if a drayage move to port is going to be late, re-book the container on the next voyage)
  • Integration of information in the logistics processes to track progress and provide an ETA that can be shared as needed with parties involved

These needs can be combined with other services such as Proof of Delivery obtainment using IntelliTrans ePOD application and automated calculation of emissions at the shipment level.

See also http://www.intellitrans.eu/icargo-1/

Freight Brokers vs. Shipper's Agents

Transportation Services in the Age of Transparency

Brokers have their place in every shipper’s roster of available carriers and capacity. Brokers often fill the need for infrequent, one-off, unusual, and complex transportation services.  If a shipper doesn’t have the time or the means to find asset-based carriers to haul their business, brokers can help—but there is a cost. 

All shippers need a broker strategy. At a minimum, a shipper should have relationships with at least 1-5 brokers, have contracts in place with them, and have rates established where possible.  Shippers need to be careful to work out liability, payment terms, accessorials, and required minimum carrier quality standards in advance with their broker partners so they are protected from unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances that may occur with their shipments.

Brokers are needed in the transportation marketplace. They fill the gaps between shippers and owner-operators and draymen, assist resource and technology-constrained shippers and trucking companies, help with capacity shortfalls, and innately provide transportation management outsourcing.

Brokers are in business for the same reason as everyone else - to make money. They earn their income by making connections and by knowing their market as well or better than anyone else.  Brokers live and die by information.  They use arbitrage and leverage between available truckload capacity and shipper demand.  When there are plenty of trucks around, brokers keep their fees to a minimum and work hard to put available capacity together with shipper needs.  When capacity is tight, everyone’s rates go up and their fees are higher because of the more difficult work in securing capacity and to increase their margins over time —sometimes resulting in significant markups over the actual cost of the truck.  It doesn’t take long for them to cover enough shipments to make a profit that offsets any losses or break-even shipments they covered when trucks were plentiful.  What’s interesting here is that these capacity tightening’s are often quite seasonal and occur with regularity—barring catastrophic events like hurricanes, major storms, etc.—yet, shippers always seem willing to pay the premium when capacity tightens.  Brokers can usually be assured that they will be able to make most of their annual profits come Produce Season, Fall Peak, and other regularly occurring surges of demand.

What makes a shippers’ agent different from a broker?

A shipper’s agent acts as an extension of your staff. Like your employees, they are measured by a combination of service, cost, and quality of work.  However, the shipper’s agent model minimizes your fixed costs, allowing you to not have to make difficult staffing decisions in either good times (difficulty in finding personnel) or bad times.  The transparency that is possible with this model also allows you to see exactly how well your partner is doing in terms of providing the shipper’s agent services, and potentially allows you to change the level of services provided without having to make a technology change.

A company like ours, IntelliTrans, augments the shipper-broker-carrier relationship and provides complete transparency. Transparency to rates, pricing, capacity, and throughout the entire supply chain.  We provide accurate, easy-to-access metrics, and we give our customers a clear picture of their freight in the marketplace.  Our pricing is tied to services provided and value delivered and is on a per-shipment basis, making it purely transactional—if your shipment volumes fall, so do your costs for the service.  Our success is enabled by our team of career professionals, using honed business processes, and the robust performance of our Transportation Management System, CarrierPoint, that provides the underlying infrastructure we use to perform these services.

You can rest assured that we work hard to manage your freight regardless of the season or state of capacity in the market. Rather than take advantage of limited truckload supply, we work on your behalf to keep your costs as low as possible by making sure we effectively manage the commitments you have in place with your carriers and avoiding having to pay higher fees during periods of high demand and low supply as much as possible.

IntelliTrans is looking to form long-term trusted partnerships with our customers and earn our fees based on the quality of services we provide and our ability to innovate. You can depend on us to come up with creative, technology backed solutions to your freight challenges.

  Shipper's Agent

VMI: Power in the Background

  Vendor Managed Inventory

Sure, you've heard of it.

Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) has been heralded in many industries, including automotive, consumer products, retail, and more recently healthcare and pharmaceuticals. However, the use of this tool spans wider than just those industries and there are a multitude of applications based on specific industry needs. For example, most companies that use the IntelliTrans Global VMI solution primarily produce or consume chemicals, plastics, and oil & gas products. Regardless of the industry, successfully implementing VMI will require senior management "buy-in", collaborative mindsets and trust, great technology, and the ability to rethink the traditional ordering process. Without these essentials VMI initiatives often fail. If those basic building blocks are in place, you are set to reap the rewards: improved inventory turns, service, and sales.

Although there are a multitude of applications for VMI, supplier managed inventory, continuous replenishment, CPFR, or whatever you choose to name it that day, the principles remain the same; electronically send demand information to suppliers and let them generate replenishment orders based on that demand and mutually agreed upon objectives for inventory levels, fill rates, and transaction costs. Sounds easy, right?  Not exactly. VMI needs can vary even across your own supply chains, so it’s essential that you consult VMI experts with supply chain expertise specific to your business.

A VMI solution should be tailored to meet your needs.  If you have a short lead time supply chain with relatively simple replenishment logistics, then your solution should allow you to set high, re-order, and safety stock inventory levels, obtain readings multiple times per day, and allow alerts sent to the customer service team to drive order fulfillment.  This will ensure the customer always has enough product, while the supplier always has enough lead time to fill the order using the desired mode & transport carrier.

Consider too the lifecycle of VMI solutions.  Providers of reliable solutions will seek a long-term relationship, offering service that includes a hardware warranty for the LIFETIME of your agreement. 

Look for automation that goes beyond measurement.  Game changing VMI will have the capacity to integrate electronic order creation and send replenishment orders directly from the VMI system to your ERP system.  Such solutions will exchange the necessary purchase order information to create the transaction, and then monitor quantities delivered against that purchase order.

Have a longer lead time in your supply chain?  Integrated Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, and Replenishment (CPFR) solutions integrate a demand forecast, silo inventory, and in-transit inventory tracking to provide a forward-looking replenishment plan.  This allows the creation of orders with enough lead time to use the preferred mode of transport (i.e., rail) and carrier instead of having to rush orders in higher-cost modes.

What all this means is that the supplier has a lower cost-to-serve their customers, the inventory at the site is maintained at a lower level than before, and the relationship between supplier & customer evolves from transactional to strategic.

IntelliTrans provides a unified and proactive way to integrate shipping and inventory needs across all modes of transportation, especially rail, truck and intermodal.  Our world-class GVMI solutions leverage sensor technology and six sigma data analysis to help customers lower cost and maximize efficiency in their supply chain, and meets all of the aforementioned requirements, from availability of Supply Chain experts to an integrated CPFR solution.  Contact us to learn more about how we can help you do the same.

Further Reading & References

https://www.intellitrans.com/gvmi/

http://scm.ncsu.edu/scm-articles/article/vendor-managed-inventory-vmi-three-steps-in-making-it-wor