Real-time information improves planning

Stefan Seufert, CTO/Vorstand EIKONA AG
Many colorful cargo containers at port by night

Nothing gets moved in the freight forwarding business without a waybill. The waybill sets the pace. It has to be issued and transmitted before it is officially clear what shipments will be arriving at the receiving facility. This process dates back to the early days of electronic data processing but is still being practiced in exactly the same way in 2020, at the temporary peak of digitalisation.

With all the knock-on effects for downstream tasks at the receiving facility:

  • Local transport dispatchers start their morning shift in the middle of the night.
  • When shipments volumes are high, it is almost impossible to find additional delivery vehicles in time.
  • The more time-sensitive shipments come in, the greater the risk of needing special runs to meet delivery commitments.
  • Delays can result in contract penalties.

Systematic planning minimises risk in the day-to-day operations of a logistics company and puts planning on a reliable footing.


Precision planning with early information

But there is one card that freight forwarders can play if they want to turn reasonable estimates into precise plans: information. If it is available early, freight forwarding managers know what volume of shipments to expect. They can plan their resources accordingly and provide a local transport fleet that is optimally utilised. Once a freight forwarder finds out that a customer has placed a freight forwarding order with a (network) partner, the only thing that matters is the dispatchers' planning skills. The freight forwarder no longer has to roll the dice with its capacity, nor does it need to conjure up additional vehicles out of thin air.

Data exchange

New interface types allow real-time communication

Production is not random, either. The customers have long had all the data needed for systematic local transport planning. Application programming interfaces known as REST APIs have long been used to share this data promptly and easily with all supply chain stakeholders. They are the key to a well-organised transport process. They make it possible to transfer transport orders to freight forwarders and their partners as early as possible. They also let users modify the data quickly and easily in the event of short-term changes. This technology has rendered one-way FTP-based data transmission (EDI) at fixed times obsolete – along with the waybill in day-to-day freight forwarding.

Greater efficiency

Benefit from clear facts

Information is not only the key to solid resource planning and greater process reliability. It also drives customer satisfaction, the most important asset in a market with interchangeable value propositions. As the shortage of skilled logistics workers increases, it has become more important to plan local transports the day before and prepare (electronic) loading lists. That means dispatchers no longer have to work at night, improving their work-life balance.

When are you going to do away with waybills? What other information do you need?

Stefan Seufert
Stefan Seufert

As a design guru, the software developer delves into logistics service providers' requirements like no other. He is passionate about exchanging information securely and efficiently and thus speeding up the physical logistics process.

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