By 2020 We Should All Be Booking Loads in the Future

Have you seen the movie Looper?  It stars Bruce “Won’t Retire” Willis, that Angels in the Outfield kid, and Emily Blunt.  The movie involves low-life assassins who are contracted to kill victims sent to them from the future using illegal time travel.  The killer will blow the target away, then collect the gold bars that were strapped to their bodies as payment.  

Where are we going with this?  Let us explain.

The killers are told the precise date and time to show up at an exact set of coordinates so that moments later their blindfolded victims appear out of thin air in front of them.  They fire their “blunderbuss” hand cannon and it is all over.

 

This is how those of us at Quantified Freight think that pairing up trucks with loads should operate in the very near future.

Load boards of some form will always be needed for shipment level details and tracking of transactions — but by nature, they are reactive.  For the supply chain networks of the world to hit the next level and get more efficient, they need to better use data to forecast and become proactive.  There’s currently no forecasting and predicting to where the next load will pop in on the map so that a driver could have already been moving into position.  This would result in the shipper having less down time so their product gets moving more rapidly.

Think about it.  Yes the economy ebbs and flows.  Consumer buying goes up and down.  There are plenty of variables to consider.   However — for the most part — in relation to the geography of manufacturing regions, population distribution and trade routes — these factors do not really change.  

There are millions of data points going back decades and decades, within the trucking industry.

 

What if supply chains could leverage the power of this data to make things more efficient and reduce wait times.  Many truckers will already be doing this in their head as they all experience successes and failures with filling their trailers in various parts of the country.  It is only human nature to store that information and use it to influence your decision next time.   Let’s consolidate and harness all of that knowledge and make it accessible to everyone.

Say you drop a load and want to get a good idea of where you’ll be headed next.  You pull up an app on your phone that shows in real time the probability of load counts by zip code including what they’ll weigh, where they will be going, and even what type of freight is involved.  The sooner you check before wanting to make pick-up, the higher the percentage will be and more accurate the forecasting will become.

Wouldn’t that be great?  If we can effectively predict weather, financial markets, business cycles and so much more — we can definitely predict the flow of goods around the country.  Those factories, warehouses and retailers ain’t moving around.  The next step is doing this on a micro level, as macro is much easier as there’s less to be accountable for when you are wrong.

 

 

 

– QF

The Ways Getting Creative With Your Supply Chain Will Save You Time and Money

Everyone is a genius, but if you ask a fish to climb a tree, it will feel stupid its entire life.

~ Not Einstein

If you wouldn’t request this of a fish, then why on earth would you of your supply chain network providers?  A truckload carrier is not going to save you money by consolidating 15 small shipments that all require delivery at 15 different locations.  An LTL company won’t be the best option for your final mile treadmill delivery (even if their website propaganda says they are).

The beauty of today’s supply chain ecosystem and the technology that we have all come to rely on daily, is that freight can be optimized!  There really is no limit.  Since we do not purchase transportation in a box from a department store shelf — why are so many treating it that way?

First, look at what makes the most sense for your business model.  Are you shipping regionally, nationally, or globally?  It’s more complex than deciding parcel, LTL, or truckload.  Understanding your carrier partners and what drives cost for them is vital to requesting of them the things that they excel at (and are willing to give good pricing for).  One LTL carrier will build their rates and lane factors different than the next, based on their line haul strategy, terminal network, and freight volumes.  Have that conversation with your sales executive.  Ask them if they could have any portion of your freight spend — which would it be and why?

 

The sign of a great business partner and carrier rep is that the good ones won’t lick their lips and say “all of it.”  They will recognize and own up to their weaknesses, and focus on their strengths.  The really great ones will even recommend an acquaintance or another company that you can reach out to.

Planning ahead and knowing your freight needs inside and out is so important when it comes to matching up the best transportation provider.  Usually the best way to mix and match your modes is to run the numbers several different ways to see what makes the most sense.  When you want to maximize service, reduce cost, and limit handling — there’s no easy, out of the box answer.

Are you a display manufacturer and need to ship out a big roll-out from St. Louis, MO up into several Northeast states?  Look at sending a couple truckloads over into PA and dropping off at an LTL service center, for terminal to consignee distribution.

Are you sending freight across the country and it isn’t super time sensitive?  Throw it on a rail network, or a freight consolidator for much cheaper (albeit slower) rates.

Another example.  You’ve ordered some wooden patio furniture from an online retailer like BuildDirect.   It’s too large to ship parcel, too small for FTL and too fragile for LTL.  That is the exact reason their logistics arm – Gateway Supply Chain Solutions has built up a network of final mile carriers that service several major population hubs in the US.  They have been doing this for years and know how to pull it off.  Gateway is beginning to branch out as well and is partnering with 3PL’s and shippers that are in need of final mile service.

 

So know when to commit to your carrier partners with services needed that they own and excel at.  Know when to shop around to different transportation networks and companies.  And by all means — know how to quantify your freight spend so that you are running as lean as you possibly can.

— QF

Cracking the Code: LTL Chapter 1

Habits and systems, when built and implemented in the right way, are powerful tools for productivity.  Ultimately, it’s a way to automate a human process which will conserve your cognitive load and reserve that mind juice for more important, high value decisions.

This model can and should be applied to shipping LTL.  Seemingly simple, but with many factors at play due to freight classification, packaging options, carrier selection, and more — effective navigation of this trucking mode is vital to saving costs and ensuring your company get’s its products where they need to go.

 

An effective way to do this is to step out of the weeds and develop a systemic approach to solving problems and finding answers.  Not every situation is automated and repeatable — especially in LTL.  This is why humans are still required and robots or computers are not yet manning outbound warehouses.  There is not a standard sequence or algorithm to program into a machine.  Lot’s of gray area.

By building your process a few floors up from the micro level view — this will make it easier to automate scenarios that you haven’t done before and need to solve on the fly.

For example:  rather than memorize and habitually input the same NMFC classification code, automate a system where you can effectively research and navigate this complicated information and find the correct result.  There has never before been a search function tool that so badly needs Google’s help (online users you know what I’m talking about).

 

QF has long thought that there needs to be an app or program built that uses reverse engineering and a process of elimination to decipher the correct NMFC code.  It could be similar to the Akinator entertainment app () – but rather than guessing characters it would ask questions that can either identify or eliminate the correct group, article and classification for what you are shipping.

If this already exists or someone decides to take a stab at it — let QF know and we’ll help share the word!

Yes…shipping LTL is complex and many people do not pull it off in the most cost effective way.  Some of that wasted time and money can be prevented by putting in place the right systems, habits, and process to mentally automate and streamline the operation.  Identifying and reducing waste and redundancies can also bring to light company byproducts or what we like to call them…additional revenue possibilities (ARP’s).

 

 

How a Mid-Sized Company Can Drastically Reduce Freight Costs

Don’t ship anything.

Yeah — that’s the easy answer.  But that isn’t what we are here to talk about.  Let’s talk about the B word.  Byproducts.  Every single business out there produces one or more byproduct whether they know it or not.

[bahy-prod-uh kt].  noun.  A secondary or incidental product.  The result of another action, often unforeseen or unintended.

Going back in history – many companies have capitalized on, benefited from, and even re-branded completely based on a byproduct they discovered.

No I’m not talking about some cheesy one-liner that’s supposed to magically elevate everyone’s mood at work — therefore making the entire company more productive and sales go through the roof…Bonuses for everyone…yay.

I’m not sure about you, but I sure feel better now.

I’m referring to something of value that your company already produces either by accident or in conjunction with the output of another core commodity.  These elements need to be recognized, harnessed, and recycled so that they either become another revenue stream for the business or will flat out eliminate the cost of disposing of it.  Your company may break even on another key investment, or maybe it’ll allow for a strategic partnership with another business in your area.  The commonly told example of selling a byproduct is this:

Henry Ford was going through wood like nobody’s business.

Back in the day Model-T’s were outfitted with that sweet ligneous trim.  Now they’re all fiberglass and carbon…  Anyway — Ol’ Henry was famous for constructing a sawmill or two in the same vicinity as his motor car plants.  I’d like to think he was also selling its services to local contractors and builders as well since he had the equipment and facilities to produce lumber packages, but I’m really not sure about that.

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Freight Density Is King in the LTL Kingdom

Everything.

It’s everything.

Gone are the days of “cover the floor and shut the door.”  The carriers have been upping their game since 2008 by hanging their “fricking lasers” from the rafters of their barns.  No longer does an LTL pricing analyst look over a bid request and utter the words “meh…I see a lot of class 50 on here…that’s probably like 45 PCF freight.  It’s probably square too.”

Nope.

Everything is data driven now (how it should be).  This drives transparency in the market.  The only ones upset are the shippers who were getting a sweet deal by minimally describing their freight and slapping the ol’ class fitty on der.

Nowadays – nothing is going to make a pricing manager more skittish than a data file showing up with all one rated class and no den

sity info.  Luckily enough – if they have the commodity identified, they can run averages based on various other handled accounts shipping similar freight — but yeesh, that just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Precise shipment data = confident, competitive pricing proposals.

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