Manual processes can be the death of an efficient supply chain. And there are few areas where this is more obvious than in the scheduling and coordination of shipments.
Even in an age where artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are more powerful, accessible, and cost-effective than ever, countless companies task their staff with manually arranging and executing pickups. That means that even the simplest pickup requires multiple phone calls and emails to coordinate. And when issues arise, staff are forced to get back on the phone again.
Is this really the most efficient way? And if not, what can companies do instead?
The problem with phoned and emailed pickups
Manually scheduling shipments is needlessly time-consuming and frustrating. Staff waste their time visiting carriers’ websites for quotes and digging through their files for contact information. They’re left on hold. They struggle to get through to the right person. The line is fuzzy and they have to ask the person on the other end to repeat themselves again and again.
Email can be just as bad. Important updates are missed or lost in a cluttered inbox. The back-and-forth can drag on for hours or even days, with one party left frustrated while the other is away from their keyboard.
If there was only one call or email required per shipment, perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. But that’s rarely the case. The process is incredibly error-prone, leading to more wasted time spent chasing down vital information. And if either party has to send an update or make a change, that’s another call or email, and more time added to the clock.
Things only get worse as a company grows and team members are left frantically trying to coordinate a growing number of shipments. And with almost zero visibility into what’s been scheduled, other than any details have been hastily scribbled down by hand or manually entered into the computer system, there is plenty of room for mishaps and chaos. Drivers are left waiting at the loading dock while the ground team scrambles to get equipment ready and load the truck. The bill of lading is full of errors. Deliveries go out late and everyone is frustrated.
And the worst part of all? All these frustrations can be sidestepped with just a few simple changes.
Bringing shipment planning online
A transportation management system (TMS) can transform a company’s shipping processes overnight. By bringing all aspects of transportation management together via one streamlined online portal, it’s easy for team members to schedule and execute shipments in just a few clicks—without the hassle or headaches.
This puts countless minutes back into employees’ days—time they can then dedicate to more value-added tasks. But this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of handling shipment planning online.
For one thing, using a TMS allows companies to quickly ensure they’re always selecting the optimal carrier for each shipment. It also makes load optimization much more intuitive. And since all the necessary information is captured automatically by the system, team members have complete visibility into scheduled shipments, meaning they’re never left playing catch-up when a truck pulls into the loading dock.
This data adds up, giving supply chain managers and leaders greater insight into their shipping patterns over time. Manual processes stifle the amount of correct, up-to-date information that gets through, all while making it harder to view and analyze. But with a fully integrated TMS, all that data is at leaders’ fingertips whenever they care to explore it.
Get off the phone
How many calls and emails per shipment is too many? The answer may be one. By adopting a robust TMS solution, companies can get off the phone and make their own lives—and the lives of their carriers—much simpler.
Still scheduling shipments manually? Get in touch today to turn that around.