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Getting the Most Out of Your Freight Broker: Part 3

Posted - December 4, 2013

Getting the Most Out of Your Freight Broker: Part 3

Rounding out our 3-part series on getting more from your freight broker, we turn our attention to supply chain visibility and disruptions, and how critical this partnership becomes when the unexpected happens.

The globalization of manufacturing and its supply chain has created a transportation network at considerable risk of disruption. Blizzards, tornado outbreaks, hurricane events and other natural disasters all impact regional infrastructure and vital systems within the affected areas.  But the true chaos begins after the event —supply chain disruptions are inevitable after large-scale disasters and political unrest. The more companies can do to improve their transportation visibility and agility, the better prepared they are to mitigate the impact of both major disasters as well as navigate around the daily disruptions, such as market fluctuations in capacity and pricing.  Below are five key steps to ensure your company and your freight broker are fully prepared for events that could disrupt your transportation needs:

1. Change the Mindset From Transportation Management to Exception-Based Management.

It’s not enough to have transportation data being integrated up and down the supply chain; what’s valuable is how the data is used to anticipate and prepare for disruption. Supply chain visibility gives shippers access to data that can be used for tracking key performance indicators and other metrics. Exception-based management takes advantage of the visible supply chain and uses the data to identify a problem and make fast, accurate decisions based on this data.

2. Determine Visibility Levels and Needs.

Identify the key players or partners in the freight network that need visibility, and determine what level of visibility is needed. To determine what you need from a brokerage provider, first determine what you need to achieve by asking yourself these questions:

  • What carriers, shipping lines, and other modal partners do we need to connect to in order to access and transfer data?
  • How integrated is our freight broker with all of our partners?
  • Who needs access, and to what level of visibility?
  • What data and metrics can help us function better?

3. Work With a Provider With Strong Technology Integration Expertise.

A supply chain is only as strong as the information pipeline that serves as its foundation. A robust transportation management system that is integrated with multiple data repositories is going to have more information that can be accessed and shared throughout the system.

4. Incorporate Compliance Intelligence and Proactive Notifications into the System.

A key to exception-based management is defining those exceptions and building the logic into the transportation management system that can flag the data and build intelligence to proactively manage this information. There’s a tremendous amount of power in the ability to get notifications on exceptions.

5. Use Timely, Accurate Data as Far Upstream as Possible.

Another way to mitigate disruption or risk is to promote access to data that provides real upstream visibility.  By accessing data sooner in the supply chain, such as booking details, volume and origins, a company can pre-plan, and transportation visibility is something that most companies can achieve, but what makes the supply chain truly resilient is real, upstream visibility of highly-accurate data.

Download this infographic as a helpful reminder of how to be better prepared for supply chain disruptions.