Technology is constantly changing and advancing, which allows business to change as well. Shippers understand the importance of these advances and often apply them to their modes of transportation. However, when it comes to flatbed transportation, technology tends to be overlooked.
By leveraging a 3PL’s technology, flatbed shippers have the potential to increase visibility to freight, and develop consistently across all modes of transportation. Here are five key ways technology can improve the flatbed shipping process as well as dramatically impact the visibility of transportation activity:
Business Intelligence―Shippers take advantage of business intelligence (BI) tools when it comes to the majority of shipments, but often miss the same opportunity when it comes to flatbed shipping. By utilizing BI tools, shippers have the ability to drill down into their freight and break down information across all modes. The utilization of BI allows an organization to perform a mode-specific cost analysis to help ensure they make the best decision when it comes to selecting the appropriate mode of transportation. Lastly, accurate seasonality forecasting across the business can be a major benefit, especially in the flatbed industry.
Tracking/Tracing—Improving efficiency is a focus for all shippers. Technology can provide on-demand, simplified tracking, and automated alerts for increased awareness of shipment status. Proactive tracking also allows for better utilization of jobsite crews giving full visibility to the current location and delivery estimated time of arrival (ETA) of a particular shipment. Utilizing a 3PL’s website/mobile app can be a great tool for on-the-go notifications.
Consistency―When working with a 3PL, it is crucial to stay consistent across all transportation modes. By utilizing the available technology for van and less than truckload (LTL) shipments, but not flatbed, a process breakdown somewhere in an organization could affect all departments from dock level to accounting. The organization can, and will, benefit from a leaner process and data integrity.
Risk Assessment—In the flatbed industry, it is critical to stay up to date on current liability terms, especially with over dimensional and other unique shipments in the mix. Technology allows shippers to obtain the most recent information available through active score carding and carrier insurance and authority reviews. These practices help organizations actively mitigate their risk and confirm all parties are on the same page.
Payables―A consistent process for invoicing and payables can be achieved through the use of technology. The ability to obtain PODs online offers convenience that will make business processes more efficient. On the carrier side, carriers can receive payment up front, which is increasingly important in a high-fuel market.
As you can see, 3PL technology can have a profound, beneficial impact on flatbed and transportation business. From my experience, a growing number of flatbed shippers want to dig into their shipment information and technology is the key factor that allows them to do so.
What have you experienced with technology and your flatbed shipments? Where do you see transportation technology progressing in the future?