4 Ways Automation Has Transformed the Entire LTL Lifecycle

The less-than-truckload (LTL) freight process has always been complex. With various dependencies and unknown factors, there are a lot of steps that can cause a ripple effect throughout the rest of the shipment.

Because LTL is arguably the most challenging mode to simplify, it’s where project44 decided to start over six years ago. This meant building relationships and collaborating with all of the leading LTL carriers. Since visibility providers hadn’t yet touched this space, it also included working closely with our customers to build an LTL roadmap that resolved their biggest pain points.

Over the last half of a decade, we worked to build a solution that enables shippers and logistics service providers (LSPs) to build a more efficient and accurate LTL workflow. With products spanning all modes, more than half of our customers use project44’s LTL solution. We have led a Digital LTL Council to bring forward-looking LTL carriers together to take the entire market to the next level. Additionally, we have used our expertise and learnings to launch groupage visibility in Europe, building the most extensive global coverage.

With these experiences, we have seen how shippers and LSPs have used automation to save time and money throughout each and every step of the LTL freight lifecycle — from before pick-up through billing. Here are four key benefits throughout the process that shippers and LSPs have seen first-hand over the years.

1. Increase Shipping Efficiency and Reduce Costs by Automating the LTL Process

While transportation visibility is often thought of as tracking, it’s becoming increasingly essential to digitalize the entire shipment lifecycle. Processes related to LTL shipping can cost a significant amount of time and money.

One of the largest office furniture manufacturers in the world realized they were spending an excessive amount of resources for a small portion of their business. LTL is only about 1% of their business, yet because of their manual processes, they were spending a disproportional amount to manage LTL shipments. Once they started using project44 to handle pre- and post-shipment activities, in addition to tracking, they were able to reallocate those resources.

With instant access to quotes and transit times, shippers and LSPs can streamline and optimize the dispatch process. They can even add supplemental insurance without ever picking up the phone. Without close partnerships with LTL carriers, this wouldn’t be possible.

“Working with FedEx Freight allows us to embrace new web service capabilities and the resulting benefits at a faster pace,” said Dave Bush, VP of LTL Procurement & Technology at Coyote Logistics. “Within days, our team had instant visibility into real-time volume LTL quotes and transit times without any manual intervention—immediately increasing our shipping efficiency and enabling smarter decision making.”

Even during the pick-up process, pre-PRO scan-and-go capabilities help increase efficiency by reducing driver dwell time and dock congestion.

2. Provide a Better Customer Experience with More Accurate and Useful Insights

With real-time visibility, shippers and LSPs can improve the experience for their customer. Real-time pick-up status gives customers an accurate view into when their shipment left. From that point on, customers can see exactly where their shipment is throughout the transit process.

Gaining accurate and real-time shipment tracking information is critical to resolve issues and improve on time delivery rates while also allowing customers to better prepare for their shipment to arrive. RR Donnelley — a leading global provider of multichannel business communications services and marketing solutions — was spending hours manually tracking LTL shipments to give their customers this insight.

These phone calls and related costs were cutting into profitability. They turned to project44 to increase efficiency around tracking down rates, scheduling pick-ups, tracking shipments, and searching for delivery documents. Seeing results across the LTL lifecycle — which included eliminating 700 – 900 phone calls per day — they were excited to better meet the needs of their customers.

“This technology is changing the way we ship freight by allowing us to ship faster, more efficiently, and allowing us to communicate data to our customers and clients in an efficient manner,” said Sam Hong, Director of Integration at DLS Worldwide, an RR Donnelley Division.

3. Eliminating Errors and Accelerating LTL Freight Settlement

With a complex process, there are many ways incorrect information can make its way onto paperwork even with a diligent team. Removing paper from the equation ensures everything is kept together digitally, making it much easier to ensure consistency and accuracy of documentation.

In addition to an easier way to collect and share paperwork, digital paperwork also accelerates the review and reconciliation process. A digital 3PL, Opus9, saved 60 hours annually from processing digital paperwork. This is in addition to increased efficiency during the rating, dispatch, and tracking workflows.

When invoices are seamlessly available in the system and are tied back to shipment details, settlement processes can move quickly.

4. Reduce Physical Interaction with Digitalization throughout the Process

On top of these other business benefits, digitalization can help create a safer work environment as Social distancing has become the new standard for people around the world, and this has caused supply chains to rethink traditional practices. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that truck drivers,​ “Use paperless, electronic invoicing for fueling, deliveries, and other tasks, when available.”

In many situations, a paperless option is already available. For example, project44 has partnered with several leading LTL carriers to offer an electronic bill of lading (eBOL), which reduces the contact between truck drivers and dock employees. While project44 and many LTL carriers have offered this technology for several years, safety concerns are making it an urgent priority for shippers and LSPs.

Full LTL Lifecycle Automation Is Key for Transformation

LTL tracking is important, but it’s also essential to have automation across the full lifecycle. With LTL automation from rating and dispatch process through transit and settlement, project44 helps customers increase efficiency, gain more accurate transit times and provide customers with a better experience, reduce invoice errors leading to faster settlement, and build safer work environments.

“The accuracy and timeliness of freight data – from freight quote to payment – is critical to providing value to our customers,” said Jeff Hiller, Vice President of Products at digital 3PL Opus9. “Many partners just focus on visibility, but project44 delivers end-to-end seamless connectivity, allowing us to automate the entire shipment cycle.”

Learn how project44 can transform your LTL process.