Four Tips for Optimizing Trucking Rates and Capacity

MercuryGate Blog - Pricing & Rate Category
The December 2017 mandate for electronic logging devices (ELDs) has come and gone, despite last-minute efforts by special interest groups to stop the rule from going into effect. So, now that the dust has settled, is it business as usual? Not totally.
According to a research report done by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the ELD mandate is still a cause for concern among carriers. While many recognize the potential benefits of the new technology, trucking company leaders expressed concern in the survey about the cost of deployment and potential lost productivity due to the implementation process.
ELDs also play a role in the number one concern for carriers – the driver shortage, which many predict may worsen as some drivers simply choose to leave the industry. Some industry sources predict a shortfall of 48,000 drivers in 2018.
And this is where the concern for shippers comes in. Fewer drivers can lead to tightening capacity and higher rates, a potential trend that has been written about in several trade journals.
It is an old adage, but when change occurs, it is important to focus on controlling what you can.

Here are four ways shippers can maintain control of costs, rates and service , all by using a Transportation Management System (TMS) solution.

Know the carriers, know the market
When market conditions change, you want to be sure that you have complete information about the stakeholders being directly impacted. A TMS with carrier management capabilities provides up-to-date information about providers, from their rates to their safety scores.
Unlike tools that simply show the lowest rated carrier for a particular lane, a TMS allows you to factor your own past experiences with a certain carrier in the selection process. Some TMS providers also offer advanced solutions that integrate driver, equipment, and freight information on a single platform, an easy and efficient way to manage across the market and your transportation network.
Look at options across modal lines
If you cannot access capacity at the rates you need from one mode, it may be time to look at other modes, depending on your service requirements. TMS solutions that address all transportation modes on one platform – parcel, less-than-truckload, truckload, ocean, air, rail, and intermodal – give you the greatest flexibility. For example, you may be able to combine several small parcels into one less-than-truckload shipment. Or, combine multiple LTL shipments into one truckload. So, it may be time to take off your “modal blinders” when searching for capacity.
Use Data to Uncover Opportunities
If you are consistently having tenders rejected from a particular carrier, how do you decide if this reflects an opportunity to improve your own processes or if it is time to move on to other carriers who say “yes” more frequently? A TMS with business intelligence (BI) capabilities helps you to uncover trends, easily and quickly, using data you already have about carriers, lanes, and your own distribution network. This saves time and supports more informed strategic decision making.
Be the customer that carriers want
Finally, be the customer that carriers want – the one they will put at the top of the list when capacity is tight. There are many ways to develop positive carrier relationships. However, with the right TMS, you can set the stage for great collaboration before you tender the first load.
How? Make the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, arguably one of the most time-consuming tasks for you and our carriers, a better experience. Using a TMS with procurement capabilities designed specifically for transportation avoids unnecessary steps for you and potential carriers and ensures a good fit for both parties, faster and with less “pain” along the way.
From carrier selection through the entire lifecycle of a shipment, a TMS provides capabilities that put you in control, regardless of the changes that may be impacting any stakeholder in the supply chain.

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