Supply chains are subject to countless variables. From weather, to availability of resources and even geopolitical developments, a lot of upstream factors are beyond anyone’s control. Recent years have highlighted this even further, with fuel prices skyrocketing and natural disasters becoming more prevalent – not to mention the wild card of the COVID pandemic – all with an unpredictable impact on resources and shipping lane access.
Effective supply chain management calls for network visibility, transparency, and the right tools to address challenges proactively. This ensures you can always get freight from A to B, while keeping customers in the loop and costs under control.
Weighing up your customers’ freight management priorities
When it comes to outbound freight management – that is, getting products in the hands of customers – reliability is key. While some customers may prioritise low cost over speed of delivery, or vice-versa, it all comes down to expectation management. Will orders arrive when customers expect them to?
Supply chain managers need to rely on fast, accurate information not only to manage, but to ensure they actually meet customer expectations. The most important intel they need at their fingertips relates to availability of stock, lead times, and especially tracking. In other words:
- Is a particular product available?
- If not, when is it possible to get it?
- Once an order is placed, where is it?
So, the first thing to establish is your client’s priorities. What criteria are they trying to optimise for? Do they need consignments as fast as possible, or are they happy to wait a few more days as long as the timeline is accurate? Similarly, would they rather choose a cheaper carrier, even if delivery times are slightly longer? And do these priorities shift depending on the nature of the order?
Anticipating consignment management variables
There are several factors that can affect shipping costs and delivery timelines. Evidently, Australia is a land of extremes. In recent years, large sections of the country have been hit by severe flooding, as well as widespread bushfires before that.
As a result, railways and roads in WA were down for weeks with storm damage. There have also been ongoing issues around the north coast of NSW where shipping lanes were down for long periods. These kinds of events cause significant detours and understandable delays. But in such circumstances, customers still need solutions and transparency about how and when their consignments will arrive.
It’s worth noting that shipping carriers are constantly up-rating their customers, sometimes as often as twice a year. Fuel surcharges are also rising at an alarming rate. While price increases are often a result of external market forces, the fluctuations are not always applied consistently across carriers. This makes it all the more important to have visibility over price changes in real time, to avoid any nasty surprises, giving users the ability to assess other options and change carrier if required. Cost transparency and the ability to quickly compare carriers on any given route is a massive advantage for any supply chain manager.
Ultimately, the question for every customer boils down to: Given the network, given the transport mix involved, and given the freight that’s being sent – with those parameters, what’s the optimal carrier and service type to use?
A more strategic approach to freight management
It’s one thing to have access to the right info, but is it integrated and user-friendly? MachShip is not just an operational piece of software limited to consigning freight; it’s an intuitive strategic tool allowing you to run detailed analysis and benefit from unrivalled visibility.
MachShip ensures you have all the data you need, all in one place, with complete end-to-end visibility over your entire freight logistics network. Our logistics software allows you to determine the cheapest carrier, the fastest carrier, or the cheapest of the fastest carriers in any given shipping lane.
The platform offers two types of reports which provide valuable insights for users – the Bulk Quote Report and Route Optimisation Report. Both sets of data come in spreadsheet form to help you quickly identify potential inefficiencies along the supply chain. You can also clearly compare the best route, mode of transport, and carrier between point A and B.
With fuel, in particular, being an inherently volatile expense, our services provide transparency to anticipate and mitigate potential fluctuations.The Route Optimisation Report gives you a breakdown of fuel costs, including any surcharges, plus a breakdown of the base costs and taxes applied.
We also enable historical reporting, so you can learn from completed jobs and see where savings could have been made, and implement these insights on future consignments.
Want to know more about how you can control costs and save time on your freight management process? Get in touch with our team today. Or book a free demo below.