How to Automate LTL Operations
Automate LTL Operations
Automate LTL Operations is a type of shipment. In the domestic U.S. market, LTL means less than truckload. This is when we’re moving more than one or 200 pounds, which is what we would move using parcel.
That parcel would go through our standard FedEx or UPS and it moves around in small boxes. LTL’s the next size bigger than that. LTL is one full pallet or three or four pallets of product. They range from 200 pounds or up to around four to 5,000 pounds. Once we get past about four to 5,000 pounds, then we start using a service called a volume carrier, which is part of a truck.
The next size bigger is a full truckload. LTL falls into that range when we need to move one or two pallets or even up to six or eight pallets of products. So, LTL is very common in the United States.
It’s utilized by thousands of:
- Service providers
It helps move products around, and it’s very common for us to need to move that size of a product. Therefore, it’s easier to deliver that. For example, a full truck of pallets is a significant amount of product to drop on somebody’s storefront. However, a pallet is a little bit more manageable. Everybody uses LTL services, and everybody can use it.
One of the common things is people shipping parcels (smaller boxes ). But, they’re shipping enough of it that it would be better to ship it as an LTL pallet. This would be more cost-effective. There’s a lot of opportunity for consolidating those parcels into LTL shipments.
Where LTL can get Tricky
So with automating LTL operations, there are some challenges. It’s difficult sometimes to know how much your rate is and to manage the life cycle of that shipment and so forth. And, one of the things that’s different between parcel and LTL is that it’s not as high volume as the parcel industry.
The ability to automate the processes involved in LTL is evolving. Over time, they’ve evolved to where now we can automate the LTL operations side. Although, that can pose some challenges. There are hundreds of carriers that support LTL. However, not all support automation and automating the processes associated with it.
Along with that, these LTL carrier’s rates can vary. Certain lanes are good for one carrier and other lanes are good for another carrier. Certain weights or product types are good for one carrier and not so good for another. It all depends on that class or NMFC number that we’re using. This helps us find what carrier can move this product.
Delivery times vary as well. Some carriers do well and deliver very quick to certain areas. In the United States, we have a lot of regional LTL carriers. They’re small to medium-sized carriers who have two to 300 trucks and work well in five or six states. Although, when you get outside of that, they have it a little bit more difficult.
Another area that’s a real challenge for automating LTL operations is visibility. Knowing what’s going on with our shipment as it’s moving through the process, can be difficult. That poses frustrations for clients and frustrations for logistics providers.
These are the different challenges that we deal with in the automate LTL operations space all the time.
How to Avoid These Challenges
Good TMS’s, like the Teknowlogi TAI TMS, can leverage automation for LTL. That takes away a lot of these challenges and makes them not as important. It puts those challenges on the back burner. And we’re able to do that through automation and automation of rating.
Rating automation is the first critical step. This makes sure that we have these LTL shipments moving in a way that is effective for us. It helps us keep our rates and contracts with our customers and carriers organized. It makes it easy to manipulate and easy for our staff to work with. We don’t have to spend weeks and weeks trying to train our staff members to know how to move a shipment from L.A. to Chicago. We can pull this up in our TMS and let the TMS automate that rating process. Then presented, is the different type of shipment information to each carrier.
This is another place that automation and the TAI TMS can make sure that there’s one interface. We’ll have one set of information and we can send that to hundreds of different carriers. This way we don’t worry about knowing if a carrier needs a phone number or name for the destination location. Our TMS can automate and help ease that type of information.
Pick-Ups Requests Made Easy
Then we move to the next piece that’s critical in the process, pick-up requests. We want to make sure that that freight starts moving. So with our TMS, you’re able to request that pick-up to the carrier.
We can automate that in many ways to make it so that that your:
- Logistics professionals
- Shippers or dock managers
can move freight with the click of a button. This will send it off on its way to the carrier.
After the Automate LTL Operations
And then, you’ll get back a pick-up number from the carrier.
After this, we’ll:
- Translate that information
- Bring it back into our TMS
- Make sure it’s communicated
Then as the shipment moves, once it’s picked up, we’ll track that shipment through to delivery. And that’s automated as well. This includes recovering the PRO number so we have all the status updates for the shipment. And that takes care of the core piece of the automation.
So we have:
- Our shipment
- A rate
- Our order booked
- Tracked it through to delivery
Automate LTL Operations gets Easier
There’s more to the automation that we want to get. We want to also get documents back, have a proof of delivery, or an actual bill of lading back. With the automation that’s provided through TAI TMS, we can do that.
We can pull back those PODs, which are proof of delivery. This makes sure that you have the documentation you need to support that shipment. Then, we can pull back the actual bill of lading from the carrier. This way we know that we have the bill of lading that’s used on the actual shipment, as well as the PRO number. We’ll get that PRO number back and fill it into the shipment. That way we have a complete set of information available. As well as all the documents required to make the shipment happen.
The final step is to make sure that we have the bill back from the carrier. This is another area that we can automate. Pulling a bill back from the carrier means that we can take that bill, and take that in lots of different ways. We can take it in through email automation mechanisms or traditional ones like EDI. A very few numbers of carriers support API for receiving bills. When we bring those in, we can process them through our tools.
This makes sure that we’re auditing that shipment and comparing:
- Did the rate that we asked for match what the carrier’s billing us?
- Were there any accessorials added along the way?
- Did the weight of the shipment change?
- Did anything happen that would cause some kind of variance in that shipment?
We can manage that user-entered data, all through to the carrier-verified data. As well as, make sure to link those together to provide a full picture by the time we have to bill and pre-audit your shipment.
Keeping Everyone in the Loop
Furthermore, this brings in a complete life cycle of the shipment so that you know if there was a pick-up or delivery missed.
We can show you all that information through automation tools. This way you make sure that you’re managing off exception for any carriers that support automate LTL operations. All this is done in the TAI TMS. TAI TMS is a cutting-edge TMS that supports automation of the LTL mode of transportation.
As well as many other modes including:
All types of different modes of transportation. Focused for shippers, logistics providers, 3PLs, or freight brokers.