What is a Freight Visibility Platform?
In the past, tracking and tracing usually came in the form of a website or outsourced programs to track shipments using information such as container numbers, airway bills, rail numbers, and the like. Information was limited and oftentimes data wasn’t accurate and didn’t account for real-time exceptions such as port delays, warehouse inventory issues, or how far the trucker was from the destination. Today, technologies such as GPS and ELD data, we have advanced to the point where you can now track shipments to 30ft from their location.
With the rise of customer expectations for next-day and expedited delivery, companies are seeking more integrated systems to share and collect data across the supply chain to provide end-to-end visibility to not just customers but partners as well. A freight visibility program is a powerful tool to have a wider view of their shipping operation, from start to finish.
Defining A Freight Visibility Program
A Freight Visibility Program (FVP) is a system that provides real-time tracking information on specific loads to everyone in the supply chain, including shippers, carriers, 3PLs, and customers. FVPs take advantage of existing technology to track loads and shipments and collect data to pinpoint exceptions and monitor processes.
FVPs can integrate data from different systems, such as Warehouse Management systems, Transportation Management systems, Electronic Logging Devices, Global Positioning Systems, and Driver Cellphone positions into a single integration point. Acquiring all pertinent into one spot, users at any level of the supply chain see the same information and can share details across all partners. FVPs can also take said data and analyze it to detect delays, faults in procedures, and provide alternative scenarios and focus on off-schedule or late shipments. By focusing on exceptions, users can see exactly where shipments are stalled or where delays result in added costs.
Implementing an FVP can reduce the need for check calls by providing up-to-date information on loads and shipment locations. It also provides awareness of incoming shipments to adjust adequate staffing levels during peaks and troughs throughout the quarter. Essentially it’s a one-stop system for planning, dispatching, tracking delivery, and billing – a holistic view of the process that’s accessible to all partners in the supply chain.
Implementing FVPs into your Supply Chain
Adopting a Freight Visibility Platform can greatly increase end-to-end visibility and reduce costs across the supply chain. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before making the change.
Best practices before implementation
Before you decide to implement an FVP, gauge your companies’ strategies to make sure they align and don’t limit an FVP’s full capabilities.
Participation from all players
FVPs work best when everyone in the Supply Chain is involved. That means that carriers, shippers, and brokers should all participate in routine data exchange and updates. A smooth flow of information goes much farther and prevents informational gaps when exceptions arise.
Take the time to analyze how your company approaches exceptions.
- Does your strategy include proactive data-sharing to prevent exceptions or simply putting out fires?
- Are data points like Inbound ETA shared among TMS, WMS, and ERP systems?
- Do root-cause analyses prescribe solutions to minimize exceptions?
Before adopting an FVP or working with an FVP provider, make sure your company’s processes reflect proactivity and open communication.
Data Quality & Acquisition
For FVPs to be effective, the systems in place that acquire data must provide accurate data to analyze. If data is acquired using antiquated systems or manual labor, they may need to be updated before fully integrating an FVP.
Choosing a Freight Visibility Platform
The high demand for increased visibility and real-time data has birthed several companies that specialize in providing freight visibility solutions and systems to connect your supply chain. Choosing the right platform should be a well-researched decision that focuses on the following:
A company that invests in innovation and new technology will ultimately give your company a competitive advantage that will remain relevant as technological advances roll out. It’s also a good sign to form a partnership with a company that values continuous improvement.
Look for an organization with a history of working with large logistics companies. Partners with a history of working with other players in the field will know how best to serve your needs. They’ll also have experience with rules and regulations specific to the logistics industry.
Above all, look for an FVP provider as a long-term partner that will grow with your business. An FVP can help your company gain end-to-end visibility and reduce costs over time, so long as you have a strong system in place already.
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