Less than Truckload (LTL) Track & Trace
When you pass your shipment off to a carrier, you are trusting them to ensure that your shipment arrives at your customer on time. There are standard transit times, and you expect that if they say a shipment will make it to its final destination in three days, that it will. This is especially important to those practicing just in time (JIT) manufacturing. A delayed shipment could mean an entire plant shut down, and that is not cheap. This is why real-time track and trace capabilities are so important.
What is Track and Trace?
Track and trace is a process that will determine the current and past locations of a unique shipment. Typically, this can be done through individual carrier websites, unless you partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) company that offers track and trace capabilities. A reputable 3PL should offer a freight management system that keeps track of your shipments from when it leaves your dock doors to a safe arrival at its destination. Now, there are two different types of track and trace software:
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) has become the most common system used to exchange information between shippers, carriers, and brokers. This is a little more difficult for track & trace capabilities, though. That’s because EDI information is updated in batches every couple of hours, and is always one-way. So, your updates are not in real-time.
Application Programming Interface (API) on the other hand allows for two software programs to communicate with each other in real-time. Requests and responses are exchanged within seconds, as opposed to hours.
Types of Status Updates
Throughout your shipments journey, you will be able to follow and receive status updates on your freight. This becomes extremely helpful providing pro-active opportunities should a delivery fall outside of standard transit times.
Dispatched for Pick-up: Dispatched for pick-up means that the carrier has received your request for pick-up and that a truck will be there sometime today for pick-up.
In Transit: Majority of the time you track and trace your shipment it will show as “in transit” meaning that it is on its way to the carrier’s destination terminal.
Out for Delivery: This notifies you that the shipment has been picked-up from the destination terminal and is out for delivery to the consignee.
Delivered: This means that the delivery has been delivered, and signed off on by the consignee.
Now, this is the order of status’s you hope for. No delays, no issues. But, there is some additional status’ to keep an eye out for:
No Carrier Response: This means that the carrier has not responded to your request for pick-up. That could mean their EDI/API system never received the order, or they are unable to fill the request. Either way, this shipment needs direct follow up with the carrier.
Shipment Delayed: There could be any number of reasons for a delay in your shipment, but when you receive this status update, it should also notify you of the new expected delivery date.
Appointment Requested: If an appointment is necessary for delivery, this status means that your shipment is being held at the destination terminal until an appointment is set and can be delivered.
Refused by Consignee: Again, there could be a number of reasons why your consignee refused the shipment, but this should trigger you to contact your customer about the issue at hand. It could be that they needed a liftgate, or inside delivery that the carrier was prepared for in which case you would need to reach out to the carrier to reschedule. Or it could mean the freight was damaged, requiring you to file a freight claim.
Track and Trace with a 3PL
In the grand scheme of things, track and trace is most useful when partnering with a 3PL and their customer service team. While I may obsessively track my latest online shopping purchase, most warehouse and shipping managers aren’t constantly tracking their freight…especially when they have hundreds of shipments a week. When partnering with a third-party logistics company, their customer service department can keep track of all that for you. They keep an eye on the board, being notified when an issue arises such as a delay, they contact the terminal to find out what’s going on and get an update the customer. They stay on top of making sure the carriers receive the pick-up request the same day to ensure on time pick-up. Basically, they save you time and problems.
If you’re interested in learning more about the LTX freight management software, our real-time track and trace capabilities and how our personalized customer service team can increase your efficiency, then contact us today!