Need a primer on “smart” freight documents such as electronic Bills of Lading and Proofs of Delivery?
Transflo recently partnered with Heavy Duty Trucking on a piece that dives into the trends surrounding digitizing and automating freight paperwork, and how parties across the supply chain — brokers, shippers, and motor carriers — are putting those digital documents to work in streamlining customer invoicing, cash flow, freight audits, and carrier-broker relationships.
Read the piece in full on Truckinginfo.com, which quotes Transflo’s Doug Schrier, to learn how freight brokerage M2 Logistics cut the average time it takes to invoice shipper customers after a load is delivered from 12.7 days to 9.4 days and automated back-office paperwork tasks by bringing its carrier base onto the Transflo network.
It’s not just brokers — motor carriers should be evaluating these processes, too, to make paperwork processing easier for their own drivers and back-office personnel and to comply with broker and shipper demands.
Though pivotal hurdles remain ahead for lawmakers in Washington to actually pass and enact a major infrastructure spending package, Congress over the past week made a few strides forward. The Senate just passed its infrastructure package this week. The House passed its version earlier this year. Now, the two chambers must work to produce a unified bill that can pass both the House and Senate.
Aside from money devoted to spending on highways, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure, lawmakers have included a few trucking policy riders that could institute reforms in the trucking sector.
Those include a potential jump in the liability insurance minimums required of motor carriers, allowing CDL holders under the age of 21 to drive interstate, a mandate for automatic braking systems on new trucks, money devoted to expand truck parking, establishing a task force to encourage more women to join the trucking industry, greater use of data from electronic logging devices, and potential scrutiny of carriers’ lease-purchase programs, among other policy updates.
Capacity stress and concerns have become an ongoing theme in the COVID-era economy. From maritime shipping to domestic trucking, freight transportation capacity across all modes has been stretched to its limits, and carriers have been pressing to find strategies for keeping their heads above water.
The good news is the capacity woes have been driven primarily by a surge in freight volumes amid sustained economic growth since the COVID-19 recession last spring. The bad news, however, is that the supply chain was caught mostly flat-footed and unprepared to handle that influx in freight.
Last week’s Transflo newsletter noted there had been a wave of new entrant trucking company registrations with the U.S. DOT — and how that has actually compounded some of the capacity imbalances in the marketplace, rather than shoring them up.
A few new numbers came in over the past week around the issue of capacity and freight demand.
The Department of Labor Friday reported that for-hire trucking fleets added 3,600 new jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in July, building on strong month-to-month hiring gains throughout the spring for the trucking sector as a whole. However, many of those jobs have been funneled to localized trucking operations, rather than the long-haul segment, where the need for drivers persists.
U.S. Xpress, for example, issued a report Thursday predicting the record-tight environment to last through at least the end of this year, with pressure perhaps easing in the first quarter of 2022. Major maritime carrier Maersk sounded the alarm on the likely tidal wave of import volumes headed for already-maxed-out ports.
Motor carriers and shippers alike are also making big moves to try to fortify their distribution channels for the long-term — but also as peak freight season looms. Knight-Swift, in a $1.3 billion deal, acquired less-than-truckload fleet AAA Cooper in early July. Last week, Old Dominion announced a major investment in building new service centers and expanding its footprint. Walmart is raising pay and offering bonuses for warehouse workers to try to ensure it can handle holiday volumes.
And if the current and ongoing capacity crunch hasn’t fully whet your appetite for shipping havoc, Fortune last week detailed how parties across the supply chain can start preparing their networks for a more turbulent future.