The business community is abuzz with talk of automation. It has already altered the landscape of many industries, with more changes to come. Robots seem able to do just about anything. Self-driving cars are already being tested on the roads and factories are shifting towards near total automation of most blue- and white-collar jobs.
Freight forwarders now have access to cloud-based software that automates tasks across many facets of their operation.
Could automation threaten the freight forwarder industry? Could an algorithm eventually replace freight forwarders, allowing companies to handle their own shipping using automated software?
Though freight forwarders benefit from the ability to automate certain rote tasks, freight forwarders themselves remain and will remain essential. An algorithm cannot replace a freight forwarder professional, who must handle complex tasks an automated program cannot, such as managing customs and many customer service responsibilities. Instead, automation makes freight forwarders more efficient and profitable.
The Benefits of Automated Freight Forwarder Software
Freight forwarders used to run labor intensive operations involving many phone calls and hours tracking loads and manually entering data. Many of these tasks can be handled by automated freight forwarder software.
Automation benefits freight forwarders with the following tasks:
Before automation, customers needed to contact a freight forwarder. The customer service agent would need to gather information about the order and manually enter it into the system. Additional data entry would be required along the way. The accounting department also needed to spend long hours entering financial information and performing manual calculations.
Automated freight forwarder software integrates with customers’ IT infrastructure, allowing them to place orders from their own systems. In addition, freight forwarder software includes accounting features that automate the entry of financial information and produces reports automatically based on how the software owner programs it.
Today’s sophisticated freight forwarder software offers automated order tracking. This capability also integrates with customers’ IT infrastructure, providing customers with the ability to monitor their own shipments.
Freight forwarder employees also benefit from automated order tracking. The system automatically alerts them when an order falls behind schedule, allowing them to intervene right away.
Metrics That Boost Profits
Today’s marketplace continues to grow more competitive. Increased efficiencies are needed to match and beat competitors’ prices. Freight forwarder software provides built-in metrics algorithms that search for areas where efficiency can be improved.
For example, management can run reports that show financial data for different parts of the operation, such as labor costs. They can them determine return on investment of various operations. These reports can provide a granular view of specific parts of the business or a top-line overview of total performance.
There is Much in a Freight Forwarder Operation That Cannot Be Automated
Though freight forwarders certainly benefit from automating some tasks, there are many aspects of the business that are not automation friendly. Freight forwarding needs organized management of customs clearance and vendor logistics, which cannot be completed by an algorithm.
For example, imagine a company needed to send an overseas shipment. The initial order can be placed through the automated, customer-facing software. However, this is only the start of the process.
The freight forwarding company must review the order and process the required customs documents for each organization and government agency necessary. Often the information submitted is inaccurate or incomplete. Then, an employee from the freight forwarder company must liaison with the customer and agencies to ensure the needed data is transferred in a timely manner.
In addition, the requirements of each shipment vary, making it a challenge to automate the entire process. Freight forwarders must recognize issues that will delay shipments right away, else the order may sit in limbo, causing late deliveries and customer dissatisfaction.
Automating simple, redundant tasks saves freight forwarders money and enhances efficiency, resulting in faster deliveries. However, it is impossible to automate the entire process. An algorithm cannot comprehend context or vendor relationships. That requires a knowledgeable freight forwarding professional.
Automation has already resulted in sweeping changes across all industries. The pace of change will only accelerate. Freight forwarders who embrace automated technology and use it to their advantage will have the resources to dominate the marketplace of the future.
CSA Software Inc. is a developer of state of the art, world-class Cloud-based software solutions for freight forwarding, transportation management, air freight, ocean freight, and logistics organizations. Increase your productivity and take your freight business to the next level. Contact our friendly sales staff for your Free Demo!