Technology Improves Logistics Industry Performance . . . When It’s Done Right. Part 4: Routing Guide

Marc Andreessen, the serial tech entrepreneur and founder of Netscape, says, “software is swallowing the world.”  Our ability to navigate our day is predicated on how effectively we use all the screens around us. Each new website, tech company or app automates some sort of process or procedure that previously relied on manual labor or pen and paper. What used to take days can now be done in minutes from anywhere in the world.

Software is increasingly prevalent in the transportation industry. Gone are the days of hand written BOLs and fax machines; they have been replaced with full-service transportation management systems (TMS) that generate digital bills that instantly pop up on a driver’s smartphone.  In this series, we highlight six more areas where the proper use of technology improves operating performance and profitability.

Part 4: Routing Guide

Managing a customer’s routing guide on their behalf is a great way to ensure consistent business and a sticky relationship, yet it is another arduous task that can involve many calls and e-mails. Today, most companies’ processes include the following steps:

  • Rep receives an order from the customer,
  • Rep identifies optimal carrier based on routing and estimates price,
  • Rep calls that carrier to confirm capacity, rate, and availability
  • If that carrier can’t fulfill trip, rep calls the next carrier listed
  • Once a carrier accepts, rep assigns carrier to the load in the TMS and generates a rate confirmation that is emailed to carrier,
  • Carrier prints out rate confirmation, signs it, scans it, and emails it back to rep
  • Rep uploads signed rate confirmation to TMS image library for that shipment
  • Carrier dispatches driver to pick up location

It’s obvious that this process is highly inefficient and wasteful, particularly since carrier availability can be known (or confirmed) at the outset.

Automating routing guides allows you to load carriers and rates into a system and create a hierarchy of carriers for each lane and by customer. The system automatically offers the load to the first carrier via email, carrier portal, or mobile app with a deadline to accept or reject. If carrier accepts, they are automatically assigned the load and sent the rate confirmation. If they reject or don’t respond in time, the system moves on to the next carrier automatically until load is accepted or all options are exhausted.

Not surprisingly, fewer phone calls and emails frees up your reps to handle more volume!

When you automate routing guides:

Do: Look to contract pricing with these carriers. Consistent volume will mean lower rates

Don’t: Forget that great customer service is how you got this business, and how you’ll keep it.  Automated ordering doesn’t mean you can skimp on client care.


Part 1: Sourcing Capacity

Part 2: Track and Trace 

Part 3: Consolidation