How many times have you called your freight forwarder to check up on where your vessel is, to not receive word for hours or days? Retailers and shippers are now demanding real-time freight tracking more than ever, to shorten the gap between customers and freight forwarders.
But before we start to blame the game, what does a freight forwarder do exactly? They're the people that manage your consignment, help with customs clearance, and solve problems related to your freight. They can help lower costs with their bulk purchasing, as well as recommending the best integrated supply chain solution.
Read more on the role of a freight forwarder and the 7 steps of freight forwarding
However, freight forwarders are still human beings who are the intermediary of the multiple nodes of your supply chain, who also happen to be human beings (shocker!) As the freight forwarding industry matures, the need for technology to enhance productivity and increase visibility between parties is more apparent. Demand for real-time freight tracking and management abilities has increased significantly, and not many freight forwarders today are able to accommodate such demands.
Take an example - Scott Steeves, Vice President, Distribution and Transportation for Kellogg Co., is urgently looking for a way to simplify the communication between carriers and shippers. “We hear from customers all the time, 'if you'd just told us it was late, we wouldn't be upset—but we've waited three days to hear from you,'” Steeves said. “Providing this level of visibility as part of a basic-price offering is going to be a differentiator for transportation providers. It's not an add-on anymore."
And of course, there's also the question of cost. "There are some people we're willing to pay a little more for service and some we're not,” he said. Real-time freight tracking might not be something that everyone needs or wants, so it makes sense that it should be voluntary. Yet again, the question of limited human resources to accommodate every single request, if such does occur, limits the effectiveness of freight forwarders and transport companies alike. Despite so, freight forwarders who excel will have a clear cut system to respond to such situations and will not hindered by the sheer time and effort that comes with a high level of service standard.
How would real-time freight tracking work?
If you've read our previous article, the importance of Blockchain technology in freight industries, you would probably already know the answer to this question. Blockchain helps to record events as part of a digital ledger that is traceable to every event and party. However, Blockchain applications are still considered 'newborns', and few are completely 'automated'. In fact, automated, real-time freight tracking may not be here for a while yet.
So that leaves us with a semi-automated, human-involved system. This has been done to some success, with the likes of softwares such as Flexport, Expeditors, and more; and with the rise of digital freight forwarders such as FreightHub, it is getting easier for retailers to see exactly where their vessels are in the supply chain.
Some Australian contenders are slightly lagging behind, however more investors are paying attention to the space. Programs such as CargoWise and Vision Technologies (Whale's own software brand) will garner more interest as the locals catch up with the world demand on real-time freight management and supply chain visibility.
Regardless, the future is here and real-time freight management will be the key to bridging the gap between freight forwarders and shippers. With a robust and highly intuitive platform (ones such as Vision Technologies), retailers will differentiate when it comes to forward planning and optimizing supply chain systems, all in real time.
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Whale Logistics are Australia’s leading Freight Forwarder and Logistics company located in Sydney and Melbourne. We deliver digital-focused freight forwarding services such as Australian customs parcel tracking, parcel delivery box, and comprehensive ocean, air and road freight solutions. For cost competitive and innovative freight forwarding solutions, or if you want to get in touch with one of our Customer Success Managers, drop us a line and we will be in touch shortly.