SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Communication, and real-time freight visibility are two priorities for shippers when selecting carriers to haul their freight. These expectations are increasing, especially in an environment where capacity is suddenly abundant.
Several shippers came together at an American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition panel, to explain to carriers what they’re looking for and to discuss ways to better collaborate. Darren Hawkins, CEO of YRC Worldwide, moderated the panel, which included: Yone Dewberry, chief supply chain officer of Land O’Lakes; Bob Welsh, senior director, sourcing and procurement with Walmart; and Jess Baumhoff, strategic carrier partnerships and performance with Wayfair.
The importance of visibility
Knowing where their freight is at all times is essential to shippers today.
“For us, visibility has become table stakes,” said Dewberry. “It’s something we have to have if we’re going to keep our massive network flowing. We have facilities with less than a day left of raw material inventory. If I don’t know what’s incoming at any point in time, it could shut a facility down.”
Baumhoff agreed, noting it’s a cultural expectation. “It’s incredibly important for us to see what’s happening within the network,” she said.
Welsh also said freight visibility is “vital.”
“Information is key and it has to be timely. We’re really getting to be on a real-time basis right now,” he said. “We have to be able to make snap decisions at a moment’s notice.”
Be on time, but don’t be early
Getting a load to its destination early may be a point of pride for some truckers. But don’t expect to be praised by Baumhoff. She said an early load is as difficult to accommodate as a late one.
“From our perspective, if a load arrives early, it means the wrong product getting into the wrong truck,” she said. She also said it adds congestion in a busy yard, creating safety hazards.
“The supply chain is getting so tight, so it’s really important things arrive when they need to,” she said.
Driving down dwell
“It’s not a carrier issue, it’s not a shipper issue, it’s an industry-wide issue and one we have to work on together,” Dewberry said of driver and equipment detention.
Everyone on the panel concurred.
“I think dwell is such a major issue,” said Welsh. “All of us as a supply chain community have to maximize the time our drivers have the ability to actually be driving, and to take that friction out of the supply chain wherever we can.”
Baumhoff said Wayfair has conducted internal reporting to see which suppliers or buildings are holding up drivers. She also encouraged fleets to communicate with her about locations that are tying up trucks and drivers.
At Walmart, internal tools are used to aggregate information from carriers on which suppliers and Walmart locations are causing delays.
“We have a team assigned to that within our operations group that does nothing but monitor where we are from a dwell perspective,” he said.
Becoming a trucker of choice
Last year, when capacity was tight, there was a lot of focus among shippers about becoming shippers of choice. Now that the tables have turned and freight growth has slowed, Hawkins asked how carriers can become truckers of choice.
“For me, it’s really simple,” said Dewberry. “The idea that we have to share data. There is nothing better for us as an organization than to understand when somebody is going to be late or early, to share that information with us…We look at truckers who are willing to share that information with us and those are the ones we want to do business with.”
For Wayfair, Baumhoff said carriers need to be proactive when they get behind and not accept loads they can’t handle. She also likes when carriers approach her with suggestions as to how to be more efficient.
Welsh said Walmart wants to work with carriers that are safe, and provide on-time service.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies