Your business is often only as strong as its freight management. Better freight management can make it possible for you to save money, improve your day-to-day operations, and increase your reputation with those you ship to. Meanwhile, poor freight management cuts dramatically into your bottom line and can vastly reduce your effectiveness.
Here are a few important tips on how to improve your freight management.
1. Begin with a plan
It's impossible to fine-tune or optimize any type of process without a plan. Take a look at your current freight management, complete with any issues or pain points. Once you've recognized the major issues that relate to your freight management system, you can then start planning to alleviate them one by one.
This is very much like an audit. Go over everything involved in your freight management and see if there are things that you could potentially improve. Stick to your plan for greater effectiveness. However, if your plan doesn't work, you may need to try different tactics.
2. Implement better warehouse management
Everything begins at your warehouse. Implement better-written processes and improve your warehouse management technology. Your warehouse and inventory are the heart of your freight management, and you need to know when your items are moving in and out and where they are at all times.
The Internet of Things (IoT) can greatly improve warehouse management by tracking and analyzing the position of items within the warehouse on-the-fly. IoT sensors can be placed on shipments both to verify where they are and to track them for analytics and metrics.
3. Fill up the trucks
When you use trailers or trucks for shipping, make sure that they're filled. When moving from department to department or center to center, consider filling the empty spaces with merchandise or other items that may be needed. A full truckload is a sustainable truckload, and it's best to hold off on sending trucks if they aren't full or critical to operations.
4. Improve your packaging
Assessing and improving your packaging has multiple advantages: you will enhance your shipping process and you'll have a hand in protecting the environment. Reducing the amount of packaging you use will reduce your costs. Analyze how you can use as little packaging as possible, and consider lumping shipments in together when they're going to the same hub.
5. Implement green initiatives
Green initiatives are an excellent way for a company to save money and to show its commitment to the environment. Perhaps even better, most green initiatives are also implemented to optimize a business. Green initiatives focus on reducing the amount of waste and improving efficiency, which is a desirable feat for any organization.
For green initiatives, you can work with green transport services, such as services that presently use solar energy. You can use recycled materials in your packaging and shipping materials, and take action to reduce your packaging overall.
6. Establish metrics
Without metrics, you can't know whether you're improving. The easiest way to see how well you're doing in terms of freight management is to establish metrics. Do you want packages to get there in a certain amount of time? Do you want to reduce your packaging costs?
Do you want to reduce your packaging complaints?
Take some time to consider this before you move forward. Having goals is the only way to know whether you're achieving them.
7. Invest in analysis
By getting an analytics solution for your freight management, you can take a look at your current performance and project out your future performance at-a-glance. Invest in a complete analysis for your business frequently, and you'll be able to train your system to accurately predict future results. Your analysis will tell you how well you're doing, so you can take measures to improve in any areas in which you are falling short.
It's not easy to optimize freight management. There are a lot of moving parts. There's a reason why many companies dedicate a lot of time and energy into this. But if you can improve your freight management, you can improve your bottom line.
About Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.