The American trucking industry is the leading and most vital transportation service for the shipment of industrial, commercial and retail goods. In the United States, the trucking industry is responsible for moving more than $10 billion tonnes of goods annually. About 70% of all freight moved within the U.S.A. is less than container load (LCL) or full container load (FCL) shipping from port to truck, or to rail (transmodal).
Until recent years when electronic logging devices (ELDs) were mandated by the Federal Government to track HOS (hours of service) and new safety regulations for the industry, trucking companies have been relatively low-tech operationally.
Each container or palletized good carries a UPC code that is scanned. At each interval of scanning, a cargo GPS system registers that ‘check in’ which is updated in a centralized database for the carrier. Real time alerts can be provided to the cargo owner, to track the progress of the freight delivery.
Where much of the bottle necks occur for American owner-operators, or trucking fleets, is at the border and at the Marine Port where the containers are received via import vessel. At these two junctures, documentation is required as well as potential inspection of the truck and cargo for contraband. The truck driving in most cases, will have to manually process this paperwork, and it is a time intensive activity, particularly if there is an issue with the documentation or anything missing as required by the border authorities.
If an independent contractor owner-operator or a fleet driver has an issue, they will dispatch to the carrier for assistance. This could mean emailing additional forms and documentation, providing owner-authorization signatures for pick-up and other solutions to expedite the freight pick-up and drop-off.
It has been a very manual process for hundreds of years within the trucking industry. And what is true of manual processes (other than the disproportionate time it wastes) is that any manual documentation procedure is also prone to inaccuracies, error and sometimes even fraud.
What is the Average Commercial Customer Experience with a Logistics Carrier?
Logistics companies establish often long-term relationships with commercial businesses in their area of service. The average interaction between a logistics carrier and their customer is fairly brief and involves four steps:
1. A Call or Email for a Rate
The customer will contact the carrier and speak to the rate or customer service department to acquire a competitive quote for freight management. The quote provided to the customer does not include any incidental fees from Customs, or penalties for late return of freight containers.
2. Scheduled Pick-Up and Drop-Off Order
The arrival of the Full Container Load (FCL) or the palletized goods that require breakbulk services as they are Less Than a Container Load (LCL) are scheduled and a driver is dispatched to pick up the freight. There can be multiple carriers involved requiring a cross-docking service (or transfer of freight from one carrier to another), including from rail to truck.
While commercial trucking carriers can estimate the amount of time it will take to pick up domestic freight and deliver it to the end user business or customer, delivery schedules are truly an estimate.
Marine shipping Ports (particularly in the Gulf of Mexico) can be notoriously backlogged resulting in idle time in queue. Depending on the amount of freight volume, truck drivers can find themselves waiting hours before acquiring the customers goods or container.
3. Freight Management and Real Time Updates via GPS
The security of any freight shipment is top priority for the owner, and also for the carrier. There is always a concern that freight will be hijacked, and this does happen with some frequency. The truck driver will provide updates through GPS to notify the carrier (or employer) of the status of the shipment. This data is also provided in real-time in many cases, where the cargo owner is also updated regularly by text or email.
4. Return of Container to Transmodal Depot or Port
After a freight shipment has been delivered to the end user owner, the next step may be to return an empty container to the Port of arrival. Shipping containers are expensive and in demand; each ship that departs American waters for an overseas destination will have hundreds of empty metal shipping containers ready to be filled by offshore suppliers and exporters.
If a carrier or truck driver does not return the container in a reasonable amount of time, the cargo container is viewed as unrecoverable, and a replacement cost for the container may be fined as a result.
Why Do Commercial Carriers Need More Predictive Analytical Tools?
There are many opportunities for logistics providers and the freight and trucking industry to model new business processes that rely on predictive analytical tools. From improved driver scheduling, to tracking seasonal increases in demand for specific types of freight, compliance management for hazardous materials shipping and HME truck drivers.
Having the right number of truck drivers available to meet customer demand is an opportunity to improve profitability, while providing a higher level of customer service and reducing unnecessary costs and fees.
What Solutions Are Available in the Salesforce Cloud for Logistics Businesses?
Right now, in some of the world’s busiest marine freight ports, virtual reality and AR headsets are being used for smart order picking, including the use of heavy-duty drones for break-bulk or separation of cargo from less than container load (LCL) shipments. How is that for freight handling of the future!
The Salesforce Service Cloud for instance, can help logistics providers strengthen customer relationships and build loyalty and recurrent revenue from satisfied B2B clients. In the past, B2B organizations did not realize that wholesale commercial purchasers wanted the same customer experience as a retail consumer. Now, logistics companies are highly engaged in customer relationship management (CRM) for sales growth and retention of long-term contracts.
At 6 Street Technologies, we have two headquarters to serve our commercial customers; in Texas and in North Carolina. Our proximity to Houston Texas and the Port of Houston commercial freight center is ideal to assist South Texas commercial logistics companies with a full integration into Salesforce, for scheduling, analytics, sales, warehouse and consolidated freight management and more.
Contact us today to learn more about our team, and the customized workflows we can develop for your business. We are a certified Salesforce Partner (SI) with a solid reputation within our industry for helping mid-level to enterprise organizations achieve digital transformation with agile cloud-based software solutions.