Monthly Archives: September 2017

Maximizing Productivity With Integrated Shipping Software

In the last 20 years, the shipping industry has taken a giant step toward automation. Since then, transporting cargo has never been the same, but in a good way. Work has become less labor-intensive. Digital data processing has replaced paper works. In short, the entire shipping process has become faster, error-free, and much more efficient.

Nowadays, most modern shipping lines are equipped with various kinds of shipping solutions software offering best cost benefits and enhanced operational efficiency. Integrated shipping softwaresimplifies shipping processes and maximizes productivity by automating various tasks which otherwise requires a great deal of time and manual labor to perform.

Shipping company software provides scalable, enterprise-wide solutions to help carriers minimize operational expenses and maximize profits. It enables shipping lines to control shipping activities across multiple services and between ports through any internet connected device. Utilizing the power of the internet, operators can manage cargo flow from a central office, and monitor agents, equipments, and vessels from a single point which is more efficient than having several control offices in different locations.

Marine software solutions are “not one-size-fits-all” and each type is usually designed to perform certain functions only in the shipping process. Vessel operators must identify needs and find the right type of software to be integrated into their existing systems infrastructure.

Time and cost are significant factors in every shipping transaction. Carriers must always consider the most efficient and profitable transactions to remain competitive. Absent a reliable system to forecast transaction costs and risks, several problems could arise, such as delayed shipments, financial losses from unforeseen expenses, and unhappy customers.

Voyage Estimation Software or Voyage Calculation software allows vessel operators to assess the profitability of each transaction before calling a port and during a port call. All relevant expenses are considered and provide a complete picture of the costs per port call. Voyage Estimation Software can be used run multiple calculations simultaneously so carriers can compare routes and go for options with the best commercial value. Operators can estimate port costs, canal fees, charter costs, bunker costs, and load/discharge costs automatically to forecast expenses accurately.

Container Tracking Software is another type of maritime software solution which makes it easy for operators to identify current location of containers and cargo. It tracks the times and locations when each cargo is entering/leaving the port and when it is loaded/discharged.

Calling It Quits: Is Abandoning Legacy Systems for Ready-Made Shipping Software All Worth It?

One of the tougher decisions every shipping executive has to make has to do with replacing an outdated technology with more efficient shipping software. As it turns out, replacing an ageing IT platform is a lot more complicated than it sounds, particularly in such a fast-paced business environment as liner shipping. History has been a witness to countless cases where poor implementation of new technology has resulted in more harm than its supposed benefits.

Yet, despite this fact, more and more shipping operators, NVOCC’s, and logistics solution providers choose to make the difficult, and yet rewarding, decision of switching to more advanced liner shipping software for all the right reasons. Regardless of their desired outcomes, these shipping companies abandon their ageing legacy systems, not because doing so is the better alternative available, but because it is the only option that is left in order for them to remain competitive.

Around two or three decades ago, many large shipping companies chose to build bespoke IT platforms to automate their internal logistics processes. This was, without a doubt, a good decision back then because it helped operators to streamline their operations and make best use of their in-house resources. Transporting goods in containers became a lot easier and profitable using IT platforms specifically built for container shipping, such as container management software. Eventually, operational costs were significantly reduced, efficiency increased, and shipping companies gained competitive advantage over competitors who could not afford such investment.

However, the problem with using bespoke IT systems was that they generally required a huge capital of up to 50 times the cost of off-the-shelf shipping software in some cases. Aside from the hefty initial investment, maintaining those custom-built IT platforms was also very expensive. First of all, building a bespoke system required hiring a skilled in-house software programmer, and in most cases, a team of additional in-house IT staff to maintain and keep it running. And since those systems were mostly custom-tailored to exact specifications, technological developments quickly made them age in just a few years. Since software used (and still tend) to run in five-to-ten-year cycles, operators could only hope that they could, at least, make back the cost of their investment before their platform became obsolete.

To address these problems and make business more profitable, shipping software companies have developed ready-made solutions which can be purchased off-the-shelf. These types of shipping software are not only cheaper to implement than traditional bespoke systems, but are also proven to be a lot easier and less-expensive to maintain. To ensure wide-range and protracted usability, packaged software solutions incorporate a “switching” mechanism which allows each application to be customized to suit individual user or function, and other company peculiarities. This mechanism also allows operators to upgrade their existing IT platform to newer versions without the need for complicated and expensive re-programming.

Aside from a streamlined business process, shipping line software solutions are also instrumental in improving customer service and value. Unlike before, customers nowadays are more informed, and accordingly, more demanding. They want to be able to keep track of their shipments and have some degree of control over the shipping process. Container tracking software is designed to provide customers and vessel operators a complete and up-to-the-minute visibility over cargo movements. This not only enhances customer experience through value-added services, it also improves the shipping company’s reliability, which opens the door to more clients in the future.

Lastly, enterprise shipping software enables operators to reduce costs on fuel and other operational expenses. Fuel cost has always been a matter of great importance in shipping, and it truly deserves every liner vessel operator’s attention considering the fact that bunker accounts for more than half of a ship’s operating expenses. To reduce fuel consumption, shipping companies are implementing cost-saving measures such as finding more direct routes, installing more efficient propellers, and creating more hydrodynamic vessel designs. On top of these, many liner vessels now use bunker management software to monitor and manage their bunker expenses more efficiently.

Technology evolves very quickly, and shipping companies must evolve with it if they must continue to survive. By switching to modern platforms based on enterprise shipping software, liner vessel operators gain greater competitive advantage than what bespoke IT systems can provide.

Logistics Software Solutions Can Benefit Your Company in Three Basic Ways

When companies present their transportation logistics solutions, they have tendency to either engage in corporate speak and not really say much about their solutions or speak with such expertise that they fail to give you a basic understanding of how logistics solutions can benefit your company in a daily way. For small to midsized companies, transportation logistics typically arrives in one of two forms: by a company outsourcing its logistics to a third party logistics (3PL) provider or by implementing logistics software solutions that are available as an online software application.

Given that logistics software offers an easy to use interface can be customized to a company’s particular shipping needs and costs far less than outsourcing to 3PL providers, it’s usually the logistics option of preference for small to midsized companies that don’t have the luxury of a shipping fleet or a large shipping budget. If you’ve heard of logistics software but are looking for a basic understanding of how it can aid your shipping process, we offer the following overview of how logistics-software solutions help companies in terms of freight optimization, shipping route optimization and shipping method integration.

Freight Optimization

For small to midsized companies that regularly ship less than a full freight load of products, freight optimization typically subsists on finding the best less than truckload (LTL) shipping options. LTL shipping is when a shipping carrier lets companies ship partial loads that combine to compose a full truckload. The cost value of LTL shipping comes from shippers splitting the cost of a full freight load. Although less than truck load shipping offers low shipping rates, due to numerous stops for delivery and pick up, it often takes goods longer to reach their destination than in other shipping arrangements. Nevertheless, logistics-software solutions can be used to find less than truckload carrier routes that offer the best delivery time. Because warehouse stops are a common feature of freight shipping, logistics software also offers warehouse optimization capabilities.

Shipping Route Optimization

If you use a 3PL provider, you probably won’t have any idea what shipping routes your carriers are using. But shipping routes are a major factor in determining overall shipping cost. Logistics-software can analyze shipping routes according to multiple criteria, including: length of route, traffic patterns, road quality and construction patterns. One example of how route optimization can decrease shipping cost and improve delivery time is by analyzing routes in terms of travel time. For example, a route that is shortest in distance may be longer than another route in terms of travel time due to traffic patterns.

Shipping Method Integration

Shipping method integration is an unofficial term that refers to the ability of logistics software to suggest integrated shipping methods for the sake of reducing shipping cost and improving delivery time. For example, even though air shipping is traditionally more expensive than ground shipping, logistics software might suggest shipping certain shipments by air due to expensive, unavoidable warehouse fees that would result from ground shipping. In addition, logistics software may make such suggestions as shipping products halfway to their destination by boat and the other half by freight truck.

Transport Software Solutions Range From Simple to Complex

One of the most exciting aspects of starting a business is daydreaming about how it will one day become a major supplier of its particular products. But as you’re company goes from small to large, you’ll eventually be faced with the tedious process of arriving at the best solutions for your company’s particular shipping needs. If you’re company grows large enough, you may eventually purchase your own shipping fleet and hire fulltime logistics professionals to manage your shipping process. But until then, you have one of two options for achieving the optimal shipping solutions: outsourcing your transportation logistics to a third party logistics (3PL) provider or implementing transport software solutions (i.e. truckload logistics software).

Although contracting with a 3PL provider will help you realize logistical solutions, it will cost you more money and present you with less shipping options than implementing transport software solutions. Because management based 3PL providers make their money by charging companies more than the shipping solutions that they provide actually cost, you essentially end up paying for a middleman to negotiate your logistics solutions. And because management based 3PL providers only work with carrier companies that offer them a rate discount for delivering a steady stream of business, your company has the potential of missing out on the ideal shipping-solutions for its particular needs simply because a 3PL company must put its corporate interest before its clients’ shipping interest.

One of the main reasons that companies continue to contract with 3PL providers is that, because logistics isn’t one of their core competencies, they feel incapable of performing logistics. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whether your company needs local shipping-solutions that transport your products directly to retailers, multi-state shipping solutions that transport unfinished products to multiple assembly locations before transporting them to retailers, or global shipping solutions that combine multiple forms of transportation, the easy to use, customizable interface of logistics software allows management to identify and enact the ideal transportation methods.

If you’re starting your company from scratch, chances are that you want to remain in control of its operations for as long as possible. Logistics software helps you do this, and it gives you the option of using the software as an online application or an internal application, depending on your company’s needs. Regardless of your shipping needs (LTL shipping solutions, TL shipping solutions, Parcel shipping solutions, etc.) one thing is certain: implementing transportation software solutions can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Research shows that companies that implement logistics software can realize a 10 percent decrease in their overall shipping costs after only one year.