One of the most powerful features of a globe-spanning transportation management system (TMS) is the ability to customize solutions to local market conditions. But the opposite is also true; a global TMS is a highly effective vehicle for implementing the same best practices across regions.
Users of the technology can have it both ways because managing cargo flows internationally requires tailored as well as standard logistics solutions.
Take, for example, a multi-national manufacturer of packaging products that needed a more efficient freight management solution in their India operation. The existing system was hamstrung by manual processes that were inefficient and costly. Supply chain visibility was poor down to the local manufacturing plant level. And in the absence of robust business intelligence and reporting tools, managers lacked the hard data and analytical support they needed to address these problems.
The company adopted a TMC Global Control Tower® solution. The first operation to implement the new model was in Wrexham, United Kingdom. The model was then rolled out to company locations in the United States, Mexico, South America, India, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Africa, and the Middle East. Additional locations in Pakistan, China, and Taiwan, will be live in the next 12 months.
As a result, processes such as load tendering and freight bill auditing were automated, and transportation planning optimized. The company reaped significant savings in five key areas: container and trailer utilization, carrier routing compliance, airfreight and expedited shipments, on-time performance, and shipment visibility. The operation in India, one of the beneficiaries, also gained from the business intelligence tools that came with the global system. Yet it also retained the ability to build national and local variances in freight management practices into the global system.
This is essential given the wide disparities that exist between countries and regions in the transportation space.
For instance, in India there are fewer companies providing truck brokerage services meaning that much of the capacity is provided by asset-based carriers. Infrastructure issues are of a different order in India compared to many other nations. As an example, the city of Pune hosts factories that are as modern and sophisticated as facilities in Europe or North America. But to reach them shippers have to navigate single-lane dirt roads. Sometimes the bridge to these facilities is underwater during the monsoon season. Of course not every commercial location in India is restricted in this way, but transportation managers need to know where they are likely to encounter such problems (for more on this see The Many Facets of India and 5 Practical Approaches for Transportation To and From India).
The answer is TMS solutions that, on the one hand, transfer best practices from region to region, while providing the flexibility to take account of conditions on the ground. Not every TMS offers this dual capability, one reason why truly global solutions are gaining ground among international shippers.
This post is based on a forthcoming TMC white paper on the unique characteristics of globally-connected TMS solutions, and a C.H. Robinson Worldwide case study by supply chain market research and consulting firm Armstrong & Associates, Inc. To access the case study go to: http://www.3plogistics.com/