September 1, 2005, 12:00 AM

Shifting Gears

(Page 3 of 3)

Stuck trucks

Another hosted service, One Network Enterprises, has been pushing into integrated transportation and replenishment management to better coordinate deliveries based on when particular categories of products are needed in stores. This has helped retailers such as supermarket chains, which get frequent deliveries from a large number of trucks that get backed up at distribution centers, to better coordinate deliveries and reduce the amount of time truckers have to wait in loading yards. "In the grocery industry, it`s been horrific to get trucks in and out of yards quickly--it can take several hours," Enslow says. "By being able to smooth out replenishment activity, it`s attacking a root cause of a problem in transportation. It`s setting a new performance bar for grocers."

LeanLogistics has developed an expertise in helping retailers and suppliers better collaborate with carriers to smooth out delivery schedules and avoid rate hikes. By using LeanLogistics to share demand forecasts with carriers several weeks before scheduled deliveries, retailers and suppliers can get better assurances from carriers that they`ll maintain steady rates and have the trucking capacity to meet expected delivery dates. "This is mostly about making sure carriers have trucks available, which is a huge issue now for companies," Enslow says.

LeanLogistics also recently upgraded its On-Demand system in version 4.4 to offer a way of tracking the ongoing value of trucks and other assets for retailers who operate their own fleets. The On-Demand system costs about 0.75%-1% of a user`s freight costs, plus initial implementation fees. For a user with annual shipping costs of $5 million, for example, the On-Demand would cost about $50,000-$60,000, Potts says.

As competition continues to drive improvements in transportation systems, the number of options in both hosted and licensed transportation management systems available to shippers is presenting users with a broad range of options for both near-term and long-term strategies, Enslow says.

"Now`s a great time to upgrade transportation, because there`s a very stable set of vendors to evaluate in on-demand or licensed areas," she says. "There are plenty of hardened solutions out there."


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