Today’s competitive global business environment, dynamic customer demands, and unbroken pressure to reduce costs and increase revenues and profit margins are reshaping the traditional freight forwarding business.
These critical business challenges are driving the necessity to create strong end-to-end freight forwarding capabilities with visibility and transparency across the organization. To provide visibility, analytics, speed, reliability, and transparency within the entire operations, the freight forwarding visibility principles are increasingly taking shape around the control tower.
A freight forwarding control tower is an information hub that collects and integrates data from across functions and operations within and outside the organization, supported by technologies, processes, and technical experts.
The objective of the control tower isn’t limited to providing visibility and generating alerts and notifications,it also extends to providing analytics and execution in order to supply enhanced visibility and efficiency in decision making that’s aligned with strategic objectives.
Real-time access to information from across the organization allows the freight forwarders to possess total visibility on orders, shipments, employee performance, and dashboards to understand “what is occurring now?”
Additionally, analytics tools like predictive analytics allow freight forwarders to do root cause analysis of any given scenario, risk analysis and answer questions like “Why is this happening?” “What can happen next?” and “How can we improve?”
The control tower helps in the execution by providing the freight forwarders with detailed information and action plans and by monitoring every activity to enable continuous improvement.
A control tower can act as a really powerful tool for freight forwarders since it affects a variety of vendors, shippers, and customs houses delivering transactional services to multiple organizations in multiple countries.
Let us have an example to show how a control tower can help a freight forwarder achieve functional excellence in transportation utilization, cost, and on-time delivery.
When a shipper places an order, the company’s enterprise resource planning or ERP system generates outbound delivery orders. Now since the forwarder has set up a control tower, the order, rather than being directly placed with the transporter, is going to be routed through the control tower team.
The team, equipped with advanced analytics capabilities, creates the shipment plan by optimizing delivery orders, consolidating, routing, and assigning a carrier, and sends the plan to ERP. The control tower then tenders the shipments to carriers and advises each location accordingly.
After the carriers pick up their loads, the control tower provides real-time visibility, in-transit status messages from each carrier so as to manage compliance and help ensure the timely arrival of shipments. Once the consignment is delivered, the carrier submits the freight bill, and the tower oversees the audit, dispute resolution, and payment processes.
With a control tower in place, this freight forwarding company can save 10 percent to 20 percent of transport costs, achieve route optimization, improve efficiency, make timely recovery of payments, and in particular provide better customer satisfaction.
Moreover, the control tower provides a summary and detailed view of employees’ daily performance, current job status, daily operations performance, data transparency, high flexibility, and financial control and dynamic decision making support.
Given these benefits, I believe the freight forwarding control tower will soon become the most powerful tool in boosting the overall efficiency and performance of the freight forwarding business.