Digitization….an often-used word in today’s transportation landscape. But what is it? What does it really mean? Digitization is the replacement of manual, paper-based information processes with the incorporation of electronic ones.
A great place to start for both shippers and carriers is the digitalization of the bill of lading (BOL). The BOL is a binding document that serves as a contract for that shipment as it references shipping terms, as well as a detailed description of that shipment. BOLs have been printed on paper since the beginning of time…or at the very least, the beginning of the printer. With the advent and progression of technology, that information is now being translated into digital bits of real time information.
Many LTL shippers have been digitizing their information internally for years, however, when it comes time to ship something from their warehouse, it suddenly becomes an ancient practice, and they print a paper BOL. From there, at the time of pick up, the driver takes the BOL back to the origin terminal, passes it to an entry clerk who then types the information into the carrier’s performance management system. The craziness of this highly antiquated, manual process is obvious and one that needs to be addressed – and addressed quickly. The technology and capabilities are there.
Why is this important? From a carrier standpoint, this digital gap is a very costly one, as carriers use paper and printing to generate freight bills and then must rely on manual intervention of having to audit and correct them when errors are made (either by the shipper or the carrier). This is critical because all of this is happening at the beginning of the shipment and creates a domino of inefficiencies down the line until the shipment is delivered. If, at the beginning of a shipment cycle, the manual components can be eliminated and that shipment is digitized, cleaner data will then be available at all touch points until the shipment is delivered.
Digitization is not only beneficial to the carrier. It also helps the shipper along the way as well. Moving from paper to bits of data allows shippers to increase their visibility to their shipments, as well as provide a much higher degree of accuracy which eliminates corrections and adjustments to freight charges. Another often overlooked advantage of digitization from a shipper standpoint is the improved communication and relationships with their carriers. Carriers want to work with shippers who are moving towards the digital age, not stuck in the stone (paper) age. Carriers get much earlier visibility to shipments entering their network and they have the efficiencies they gain from reducing paper and manual efforts. This is a huge win for them and has a positive impact on their margin. For that effort, many carriers are working with shippers to improve pricing, mitigate increases and improve service. A win-win situation for both parties.
At Green Mountain Technology, we work with the largest Parcel and LTL shippers and have great relationships with their carriers. Our goal is help eliminate freight bill corrections and get to zero disputes. With clean data, we then offer a myriad of strategic solutions to help promote a symbiotic shipper-carrier relationship leveraging technology and digitization to improve the overall supply chain. If you have any questions, or would like more information, please reach out to us at GMT for a brief meeting where we can explain all our offerings.
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