3PL, Transportation Management Systems (TMS), VisibilityBy enlisting the help of a 3PL, shippers can connect to carriers’ systems and gain real-time shipment tracking information.Robert Walters, President, Freight Management Inc., 714-397-3262Many clients have been asking how to address the issue of keeping track of their inbound (and outbound) shipments without relying on the carrier’s self-reporting, which can be confusing or sometimes misleading.If you can’t do this yourself, the gold standard for tracking your shipments and at the same time verifying the carrier’s on-time performance is through the help of a third-party transportation management system (TMS).Ideally, customers would like to track the inbound shipments until delivered; they would like to know if a shipment may be delayed or delivered with damages or shortages. Carriers know this, but many receivers have no way of getting that information on a timely basis.Why? Because many receivers lack the technology or the staff with knowledge to efficiently extract and manage information from the carrier’s computer. The 3PL SolutionWhat is the solution? Enlist the assistance of a 3PL to use their software to hook to the carrier’s computers and gather the information that is needed to produce proactive and real-time information on all movements.What will this give you? The status and location of every shipment en route. Notification of freight that will be delayed. Identification of shortages and damages at time of delivery—and, if you wish, automatic filing of the claim for recovery.The system is designed to identify such information on inbound collect shipments, as well as prepaid.But what do you do about those carriers that do not have EDI capability? One method is to provide carrier access to your web portal that would allow the carrier to manually input shipment status information, even if on a delayed basis.But if you have a high-volume carrier, this isn’t feasible, so this is when the technology of an outside provider becomes even more critical. They can bridge the information gap between you and your carriers.As a VAN (value-added network), third-party companies can take something as simple as a spreadsheet and load it into their database in a method that "wraps"/converts data into a 214 transaction set so you, the end user, see a seamless end product.The third-party logistics company should provide full detail of all orders with all carriers and do so every few hours. You can pull individual reports or have all data pushed to your computer for all inbound shipments or even outbound freight.This is just one aspect of the overall logistics picture, so it is wise to consult a trusted source for guidance on what to look for and how the whole process functions.We encourage you to reach out to our consulting team for discussion of this topic at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 866-FRT-MGMT.FMI is one of the industry's most experienced and knowledgeable providers of logistics management, including freight bill audit and freight payment services. We offer local, national, and global solutions that reduce your costs while streamlining operations. FMI is not a traditional third-party logistics company (3PL) or a freight broker. FMI is a full-service logistics company with advanced data management and reporting capabilities. We offer business intelligence (BI) reporting as well as customized reporting and services.
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