Logistics Planning Software and Freight Shipping

Since the deregulation of the trucking industry in the 1980’s, trucking companies have offered an increasing range of shipping solutions that helps the manufacturer minimize shipping costs; one of which is less than truckload (LTL) shipping. In LTL shipping, companies that ship less than full truckloads of goods can save money by paying a fraction of full load shipping fees. For trucking companies, shipping earnings remain the same. They create a full truckload out of partial load shipments and receive payment from each company. For manufacturers, arriving at the optimal LTL solution usually requires the implementation of logistics planning software, which analyzes the cost of shipping and transportation needs in relation to product destination.

The obvious advantage of LTL shipping is that it allows companies to decrease shipping costs. But the downside is that products often take longer to reach their destination due to the multiple destinations implied by the shared load. In such cases, using logistics planning software to analyze a shipping situation instead of opting for standard LTL is the best way to integrate a solution that brings lower shipping costs while ensuring timely delivery. Whereas as LTL companies specialize in LTL, logistics software specializes in developing solutions that combine each element of the shipping process into a streamlined, cost effective delivery system. A company that requires freight tracking services in addition to simple pick up and delivery would benefit more from using logistics software than relying on the advice of an LTL shipping company.

Most companies that utilize logistics software consistently run a large number of products that are assembled at multiple locations before they arrive at retailers. At first glance, incurring the start up cost and service fees of logistics software might seem contrary to the goal of decreasing operating costs. However, studies show that companies who implement logistics software regularly reduce their shipping costs by ten percent in the first year alone. Exactly how is this savings created? In part, it results form the fact that logistics software eliminates costs associated with other logistical solutions, such as annual software maintenance costs, TMS software costs, 3PL costs, freight margins, gain shares and common rate base licensing costs.

While logistics software is popular among companies whose yearly shipping costs can amount to more than a small company’s annual earnings, it can also offer solutions for smaller companies. For example, a company that simply wants to improve delivery time can use the software to analyze road construction trends and highways traffic patterns. In either case, the software never fails to improve a manufacturer’s finances by making its system of delivery markedly more efficient.

Six Benefits of Implementing a Software-Based Logistics Management Program

A logistics management program-also referred to as a transportation management program-is a comprehensive approach to managing every aspect of the logistics process while developing innovative shipping solutions that save time and money wherever possible. A logistics management program is achieved in one of three ways: hiring a team of in house logistics experts, hiring a third party logistics (3PL) provider or implementing third party logistics software.

Hiring a team of experts is usually too costly for small to midsized companies, and hiring the type of 3PL provider that would implement a comprehensive, innovative logistics management program is usually too costly as well. But implementing logistics software allows companies to develop a comprehensive, innovative management program without the aid of paid professionals. Logistics software does the work of a logistics expert, meaning that its users don’t need to possess logistics expertise. Instead, they use a user-friendly interface to choose from among recommended shipping solutions for every area of the shipping process. Below, we list six benefits that shippers experience after implementing logistics software.

Reduction of Expedited Order Costs

Expedited shipments can significantly drive up the cost of shipping if they occur on a regular basis; and without a comprehensive logistics solution, they typically do. Logistics-software allows shippers to reduce expedited shipments through better shipment planning and system directed exceptions handling, which resolves exceptions before they necessitate an expedited shipment.

Increase of Load Consolidation

Upon implementing logistics-software, shippers immediately realize the ability to consolidate parcel shipments into less than truckload (LTL) shipments, as well the ability to consolidate LTL shipments into truckload (TL) shipments, each of which significantly lessens annual shipping costs.

Automation of Carrier and Mode Selection

When companies automate the selection of the best carrier and the best shipping mode, they save money in terms of both saved time and saved manpower, especially considering that logistics software immediately pairs optimal carrier and optimal mode selection.

Identification of Invoice Discrepancies

Searching for discrepancies in invoices on your own can be tedious and time consuming. But logistics software can instantly compare the audit of a freight invoice against the shipping contract, allowing you to never pay for services that weren’t rendered as promised or that were rendered in violation of the shipping contract.

Tracking of Carrier Performance

Tracking a carrier’s performance can help you negotiate better rates. Logistics software provides information on a carrier prior to your forming a contract with them, which can allow you to receive a lower rate if, for example, a carrier’s promised delivery times average a few minutes or more less than the promised times.

Reduction of Product Breakage

Regardless of the cost effectiveness of shipping routes and load arrangements, a company doesn’t profit from an economical shipping process if its products regularly break en route. Logistics software solves this problem by connecting shippers with carriers that offer the right mixing and stacking strategies for a particular type of freight.

LTL Software Versus Other Logistics Resources

LTL Software is logistics software that is designed for shippers who need Less than Truck Load (LTL) shipping arrangements. Unlike a Full Truck Load (FTL) shipment, in which a semi trailer contains the freight of one shipper, an LTL shipment combines two or more shipments from different shippers into a semi trailer. This arrangement can benefit shippers that have a small to medium shipping volume in one of two ways:

  • It can be more cost effective than parcel shipping
  • It can be more cost effective than FTL shipping

A potential drawback of LTL shipping is that, depending on the number of times a shipment is sorted and routed during transit, it could take longer to reach its destination than is acceptable. When freight has a wide delivery window, this issue doesn’t pose a problem. When it has a narrow delivery window, delivering it via an LTL airfreight carrier, or combining into a full truckload and transporting it to a break-bulk facility located in the region of its delivery may be better options. After arriving at a break-bulk facility, LTL freight is separated and sent to its destinations.

LTL Softwareand Other Logistics Sources

LTL Software is an alternative to two sources of logistics that can also arrange LTL shipments: an in house logistics department and a freight broker, also known as a Third Party Logistics (3PL) provider. As small and midsized shippers know well, creating an in-house logistics department to oversee a small to medium volume shipping process can be cost prohibitive. But by the same token, not having a logistics resource can make the shipping process unaffordable. Faced with this dilemma, many shippers turn to 3PL providers for logistical expertise.

Today, there are four types of 3PL providers that offer different types of service. Standard 3PL providers offer the most basic shipping services; service developers offer value-added shipping services; Customer adapters manage an already existing shipping process; while customer developers manage an already existing shipping process and propose new shipping solutions.

How does logistics software compare to the services offered by these providers?

It does not manage the shipping process, but it allows shippers to manage it in the same capacity, and with the same resource-based effectiveness, as the 3PL providers above. By using logistics software instead contracting with a 3PL provider, shippers can pay less for shipping, gain control of the shipping process and realize more shipping options. Some 3PL providers arrange shipments using an electronic posting system, where available loads are matched up with available carriers. But logistics software can present options that aren’t available in a posting system.

Conclusion

LTL software is an ideal solution for companies that need an affordable alternative to 3PL or creating an in-house logistics department, one that doesn’t sacrifice the resourcefulness that these options provide. To learn more about how LTL software could benefit your shipping process, and how you can benefit from implementing it on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, consult a provider of logistics software.