February 1, 2005, 12:00 AM

Faster & Faster

(Page 2 of 2)

Because the Kewill system aggregates shipping information from carriers, including the actual times goods reach their destination, Mazda can run reports on carrier performance and re-set the Kewill system to favor certain carriers. "Now when a warehouse temp scans an invoice, Kewill produces a label that tells the temp how to package the order and where to place the package for a particular carrier," Rooney says.

Leaner inventories

The system also helps Rooney`s staff as well as outside freight auditors maintain control over shipment bills, making it easier to hold carriers accountable for errors and unauthorized charges. With invoices and freight documentation aggregated in the Kewill system, Mazda and its auditors can now match invoices to records of actual deliveries and check final shipment costs to those originally promised by carriers. "I can compare actual rates and times to commitments," Rooney says, adding that she can produce evidence to force logistics providers to pay the difference when costs are higher than promised. "In the past it was too hard to come up with that data."

As car manufacturers continue to add models and auto parts, squeezing the space dealers have to store parts on site, it forces dealers to stock smaller numbers of each part and increases the demand on automakers and dealers to hold carriers closer to promised delivery schedules, says Mike Rickett, manager of North American transport and export operations for the Ford Customer Service Division. "Everybody`s working on leaner inventories," he says.

To support leaner inventories, Ford recently moved from a weekly to a daily parts delivery system. But that also increased the pressure on Rickett to cast a sharper eye on the movement of shipments to assure that deliveries arrived as promised every day. With its Schneider Logistics web-based system, Rickett is able to constantly monitor carrier performance, he says.

Countrywide view

"In the past, there was no relentless measurement of carrier performance," he says. "Now it`s relentless. I measure every dealer every day and get daily, weekly and monthly reports on each carrier. I take that very seriously."

Schneider Logistics coordinates through its online Sumit transportation management system shipment information, including arrival and departure times, entered on the web by each carrier.

"When I get in at 7 a.m., I can tell if any place in the country is having a problem," Rickett says. "The key thing I want is all carrier data coming in so decisions on which carriers to use are based on their ability to deliver on time."

Because the web-based system provides Rickett and his staff a centralized view of shipment data, it frees up dealers from spending time trying to track down the status of expected deliveries, and lets them spend more time directly serving customers, he says.

"We have a 98% on-time record, so the dealer doesn`t need to use the system unless they get an alert from me," Rickett says. "Then the dealer starts tracking deliveries and takes whatever action is necessary to handle customers."

paul@verticalwebmedia.com

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