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Transportation and Logistics

How to clear supply chain backlog with LTL shipping and location data

With COVID-19 business shutdowns and stay-at-home regulations, more people are shopping online, resulting in an ever-increasing number of shipments all over the world.

And to make matters more complex, there's a backlog of supply waiting for distribution due to factory and border closures in China, the EU and North America.

Now, more than ever, it's important that logistic providers maximize truck capacity.

Enter in: LTL freight pooling.

What's that?

“Less-than-truckload" (LTL) shipping is an existing delivery option that allows businesses to pay only for the part of the truck they use, instead of being charged for the entire container. This option applies when a company's products don't fill the whole truck.

Rather than wait for a “full truck load" (FTL) and waste valuable resources, the remaining space is loaded with products from other companies going to the same location.

This kind of package 'carpooling' is called freight pooling, or pool distribution.

While this might already sound like a money and time saving option, logistic firms have found a way to make LTL freight pooling even more efficient: location technology.

Supply Chain Backlog during Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

As economies around the world begin adjusting to a new normal, logistic companies are taking on a new set of supply chain challenges using location technology.

In the economic end of the pool

Traditional LTL carriage operates on a “hub and spoke" system; cargo is transported through a network of warehouses and freight consolidators to a processing facility using trucks.

Then the goods are distributed to the destinations via even more trucks.

This is how FTL freight moves, and it requires the purchasing of an entire truck to do it.

Until now.

With location technology supporting LTL pool distribution, a shipper can store several merchants' orders in a conveniently located warehouse: one close to their final destination. Then they're grouped using a cloud-based algorithm and sent out on a one-stop delivery route guided by GPS and geo-coordinates.

The best part for retailers?

The freight isn't taken off the truck until it reaches its final destination, eliminating the potential to lose or damage goods. And, because the storage facility is close to the target, same-day deliveries are made easier.

When combined with asset tracking technology, LTL freight pooling can offer a guaranteed ETA, helping companies avoid hefty fees associated with late deliveries.

The tools benefit those who work with multiple retailers requiring drastically different pallet configurations.

Titan Supply Group, for instance, imports high-quality laminate flooring. All of the company's products are imported, stored in warehouses, and sent to retailers across the U.S.A.

As a business using complicated intermodal transit, time is a priority.

Warehouses work on strict schedules, customers have small delivery windows and international freight requires detailed planning. The “last mile" must go off without a hitch to maintain working relations and build a positive rapport.

This is where a tech-savvy third-party logistics (3PL) firm comes in handy.

The agility of location-based logistics

Flock Freight, used by Titan Supply, is just one of the many logistic companies leveraging location technology to revolutionize LTL shipping.

They are a logistics technology company that enables scaled freight pooling. Flock Freight uses cloud-based algorithms to pool multiple less-than truckload (LTL) and partial truckload (PTL) shipments that are going in the same direction onto one truck. As FlockFreight CEO Oren Zaslansky puts it, “The aggregation is virtual... not literal."

They also use a company-specific mobile app that matches drivers according to shippers' specific requirements; rates, routes and schedules.

An asset tracking system, similar to HERE's Supply Chain API, helps Flock Freight automate their procedures while providing detailed real-time information such as consignment info, load finding, pickup details, en-route location and delivery confirmations.

They also employ automated fleet management tools in order to ensure more reliable and efficient dispatch and routing.

When approximately 20 billion (USD) is lost annually due to “empty miles" and excess capacity problems, automated LTL freight pooling can minimize operating costs by improving asset utilization and fuel efficiency.

The benefits of tech-driven LTL freight pooling

There are many advantages for retailers and shippers when they choose tech-driven freight distribution rather than traditional long-haul LTL shipping methods. With LTL freight pooling you can expect:
  • Quicker transit and reduced transportation times due to accurate
    mapping technology like HereWeGo, Routing and Traffic tools
  • Increased service levels organized by an efficient dispatch management system reduces the number of times your product is loaded and un-loaded onto different trucks, resulting in less potential for damaged goods
  • Lower rates as a result of shortened travel distances and a reduction of overall costs - including fuel
  • Less damage and easier tracking because your product changes
    hands less frequently and is backed by real-time tracking data
  • Reduced environmental impact due to decreased number of separate shipments and individual trucks emitting CO2

It's interesting to imagine the day when tech-based LTL shipping is paired with automated trucking technology (possibly as soon as 2030). Then things like same-day delivery could become same-hour and warehouse sizes could decrease by 30 percent, leaving room for other architecture or even green space.

LTL freight pooling backed by location technology champions data rather than expensive retroactive solutions to mitigate uncertainty

Something to consider as we move towards building more resilient supply chains.

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