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The Future of Forwarding

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Mid-sized freight forwarders are under the gun. They must broaden their service portfolios to meet the increasingly global service needs of customers. Affordable, state-of-the-art IT makes this possible.

“Our biggest challenges are tracing freight, knowing where it is and tracking it,” says Wayne Martin, senior account manager at Global Link Logistics, an Atlanta-based freight forwarder. This is no small task for a company that manages the movement of more than 40,000 containers a year for its clients. “We use multiple carriers to handle cargo throughout the United States and Canada. We need to know what’s happening with our customers’ cargo at any point in its movement.”

Thanks to its state-of-the-art information management system, Global Link can do exactly that.

“A customer calls and wants to know where their shipment is,” Martin explains. “We can get a container number, or a purchase order (PO) number, and access that shipment record in our system. Every event that occurs in a shipment’s life we record. We can tell the customer their container was sighted in Yuma, AZ, and its ETA in Memphis is three days, and four days to deliver to their distribution center. Or a customer calls and thinks their container was not delivered. We check and find that it was — the warehouse simply hadn’t informed corporate of the arrival yet. The customer can check all of these things themselves on the website. They don’t have to stop to make a phone call. And we’re more productive. We can move on to their next container.”

Global Link provides these immediate answers through its robust freight forwarding software solution, developed by Silver Bullet Technologies of Miami. “Our old IT system didn’t allow us this real-time access to information. Nor did it allow us to process information to the Web,” Martin remembers. “We used paper-based spreadsheets and manually input data. If a customer called with a question about a container, it might take us the better part of an hour to track down the answer with a manual spreadsheet-based system. With Silver Bullet, we can access that information immediately. That’s a huge time savings.”

Global Market Drivers

Global Link’s business, like that of its fellow freight forwarders and third-party logistics service providers (3PLs), is all about managing customer inventory movements around the world on a 24/7 365-day basis. “The world has evolved from a collection of national economies with import-export activity to a global economy,” says Satish Jindel, an air industry economist and principal, SJ Consulting, Pittsburgh. “We have gone far beyond just import-export. A U.S. shoe manufacturer may buy leather in Brazil, ship it to China to manufacture shoes, and then import the finished product to the United States for sale. This behavior creates a complex criss-cross flow of goods around the globe, occurring on a greater order of magnitude than ever before.”¹

The demands of this business environment are changing the face of freight forwarding today.

Companies shift sourcing and manufacturing locations around the world in their continual search for better or less expensive raw materials, components, labor and production capacity. At the same time that businesses are expanding their global supply chains, they are reducing inventory – substantially wherever possible. And they are increasing the velocity of the inventory that they do hold to accelerate the cash-to-cash cycle.

Leaner inventories have one downside, however. They make supply chains significantly more sensitive to disruption and interruption.²

“The globalization of business introduces its own risks and uncertainties,” notes Yossi Sheffi, professor of systems engineering at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in an interview for Strategy + Business magazine “First of all, lead times grow. So we have to forecast further in advance. And one of the basic truths about forecasting is, the longer the period you have to forecast, the less certain you are about the outcomes.

“Second,” Sheffi continues, “globalization brings a lot more participants into the supply chain. These include foreign manufacturers and their supplier networks, foreign transportation and port operators, and myriad government regulators. The global network of participants is not always transparent, and there are many more opportunities for theft, accidents, use of substandard labor practices and terror, so you introduce a lot more uncertainty on both the demand and the supply side.”

With more players on the supply chain team spread out across the world, communication requirements become exponentially more complicated. This can create challenges that exceed traditional homegrown information processing and telecommunications infrastructure.

These in-house systems may not be able to handle such unforeseen supply chain disruptions as unexpected cargo delays caused by port congestion or work stoppages. Such delays can wreak havoc on company operations, shutting down assembly lines, costing retailers sales. During the past year or more, for example, rail congestion on the U.S. West Coast has been causing headaches for many companies. “The steamship lines are having trouble moving freight out to the rails, and there is a lot of congestion on the railroads as well,” reports Martin of Global Link. “We have to be able to stay on top of all these developments in real time.”

The Value of Certainty

“Supply chain executives within global organizations value certainty, predictability and reliability over cost,” says Brooks Bentz, co-manager of Accenture’s Transportation Skills Group within the Supply Chain Management Practice. “What they really mean is that they want high reliability at the lowest possible cost. No supply chain executive wants to tell the CEO that the reason we had stock outs before Christmas is because we saved a nickel a mile on transportation.

“So the fundamental driver in supply chain management today is reliability, predictability – or the lack thereof,” Bentz says. “Companies typically hedge against uncertainty by adding inventory at various points in the channel. Naturally, this ties up valuable capital and ultimately eats away at profit margins and performance.”

This supply chain uncertainty presents a significant opportunity for freight forwarders. Bentz elaborates: “If I’m a category manager for shoes at a major retailer, and I can see the inventory in my pipeline – not just what’s in the distribution center, but what’s in transit, at port, on a vessel, with the consolidator in Asia, on the shipping dock at the manufacturer and so on – I can adjust my pipeline accordingly. So say I have a trailer load of patent leather pumps going to New York, but I see that the shoes are selling well in Seattle and I’ll soon be out of stock. I want to be able to strip that container when it lands at Long Beach and send half those shoes to Seattle and the other half to New York. Supply chain visibility lets me do this.

“The other thing visibility does,” Bentz continues, “is enable you to look at the events at the various links and nodes in the supply chain, and set performance standards all the way from point of origin to destination. You can then measure actual performance against those standards to give you reliable statistics and show you where bottlenecks exist.

“If you look at inventory in the pipeline, there is always more than there ought to be,” the Accenture manager notes. “So the issue is not about speeding that inventory up but having better visibility into the pipeline so I can make alternate choices, fix or eliminate delays, or re-set my performance standards. All of this creates a more reliable supply chain, and that has tremendous implications. If my supply chain is 21 days door-to-door and I’m hitting that schedule 99 percent of the time, I can reduce the amount of buffer inventory I carry.”

Claude Germain, chief operating officer of Schenker Canada Ltd., agrees that managing supply chain unpredictability is critical for logistics services providers. “We have to engage in managing our clients’ working capital more than ever,” says Germain. Schenker of Canada is an operating division of Schenker AG, a global 3PL.

“Gone are the days when companies like us used to broker carriers and shippers,” Germain observes. “We are being asked by our clients to take responsibility for their working capital position. This implies management of cash-to-cash cycle speed and transit time predictability, which strips out working capital. “The goal is to create as lean a supply chain as possible, to cut down on days of inventory held,” Germain says. “Each day can mean millions in carrying costs.”

Role Expansion

What do these market dynamics mean for freight forwarders? In the simplest terms, more business if the forwarder can manage the predictability challenges of global freight. Outsourcing of supply chain activities continues to grow. The U.S. 3PL and contract logistics market grew from an estimated US$31 billion in 1996 to US $85 billion in 2004, reports Armstrong & Associates, a research firm that tracks the 3PL sector.

According to the 2005 Third-Party Logistics annual study (3) conducted by Georgia Tech, between 1996 through 2001, the percentage of 3PL users remained relatively constant among North American respondents (between 68 and 73 percent). In the years 2002 to 2005, however, the percentage of North American users grew to 80 percent. In Western Europe that number is 77 percent; Asia-Pacific is 83 percent; and Latin America is 67 percent.

On a more granular level, companies are looking to their logistics service providers for an increasingly broad array of services. “More customers are recognizing that to realize the full value of the potential trade-offs from outsourcing, they need to broaden their span – from purchasing many piecemeal transportation and warehousing services to fewer, bigger contracts with much wider scope,” says IBM Global Services in a recent white paper on the 3PL industry (4).

Companies want access to an extended logistics network with visibility from the offshore manufacturer to final consumption. But they don’t necessarily want the big company bureaucracy that traditionally provided these resources. In response, logistics providers have been evolving to offer greater scope and more complex solutions.

According to IBM Global Services, looking across all buyer types, the key buying criteria are, in order of greatest importance:

  1. Greater reliability
  2. Lower total costs
  3. End-to-end integration and visibility
  4. Speed through more tightly engineered synchronization
  5. Flexibility
  6. Consistent capability globally
  7. Industry specialization
  8. Optimization and data warehousing
  9. Deeper integration with buyers and partners

For service providers, adding capabilities up the value chain into planning and control activities can increase customer lock-in and drive higher margins. These capabilities include more sophisticated technology tools.

Competitive realities in the forwarding industry also have a hand in reshaping the role of forwarders. As Brandon Fried, executive director of the Airforwarders Association explains, “The large integrators, such as UPS and FedEx, have dominated the just-in-time aspect of the industry. Non-asset-based air forwarders have responded by carving out specialized niches and offering a broad range of services that blur the lines between freight forwarders and third-party logistics providers.”(5)

In addition, consolidation in the industry means mid-sized freight forwarders are now competing with mega-organizations that are putting big money into their IT resources.

The Other Half

In any supply chain, the physical movement of freight is only half the equation. The other half is information. As Martin of Global Link notes, companies want to know the exact status of their supply chain at any given moment. They want service providers that can offer complete visibility from beginning to the end of the transaction. Such capabilities are tremendously valuable and can be a deciding factor in the selection of a global air-expedited service provider by a shipper (6).

“In the old airfreight model,” recalls Carl Asmus, vice president international marketing, FedEx Express, “the forwarder hired a cartage company to pick up a shipment, move it to his location, build a pallet, tender it to a passenger carrier that delivered it to a cartage company warehouse on the other end, and then on to the end receiver. The cargo passed through a number of hands – and through a number of information systems, none of which were linked. To find out where your freight was, you had to call the forwarder, who then started a telephone chain to all the other players to find out the status.” (7)

This telephone-tag system is no longer acceptable to shippers. Nor is non real-time information. “It’s no longer sufficient to get a notice three days after a ship sails that your container missed the boat,” Martin stresses.

“Having better information is a differentiator for companies like us,” the Schenker Canada Ltd. COO says. “It prevents us from becoming a commodity.”

Findings from the Georgia Tech 3PL study bear out the fact of the increasing importance of information technology (IT). Approximately 90 percent of survey respondents agreed that IT capabilities are a necessary element of overall 3PL provider expertise. The study indicates that the role of IT in the design, delivery and ongoing enhancement of 3PL services will continue to grow in importance and visibility. The implementation of IT ranked third behind only cost pressures (97 percent) and improving supply chain management (89 percent) as a leading factor affecting 3PL user organizations in 2005. (8)

According to Georgia Tech, in 2005, the top five IT-based services that users look for from 3PL providers are:

  • Export/import/freight forwarding/customs clearance
  • Transportation management (execution)
  • Shipment tracking/tracing/event management
  • Warehouse/distribution center management
  • Web-enabled communications

Technology Leadership

Forwarders today are not equal in the technology resources they employ. The slow adoption of technology by some forwarders, particularly by some small and medium-sized players, has put those businesses at higher competitive risk. Technology, however, levels the playing field. A good technology and communications platform enables small players to provide levels of services equal to that provided by the large players (9).

“Data about the shipment is just as important as the shipment itself,” says Andy Bordash, head of logistics management and operations for Bayer Health Care’s Professional Testing Systems Division. Forwarders that don’t have such technology, including exception alert capabilities, are at a significant competitive disadvantage (10).

Chart showing 3PL software expectations and projections

Additionally, forwarders must be able to deliver not just data to their customers but also readily usable information. “Shippers want information delivered to them in a way that’s tailored exactly to their needs,” says Marcia Dorer, chief operating officer at Silver Bullet Technologies.

“In any customer’s organization,” Dorer explains, “a freight forwarder has multiple stakeholders, all of whom require information tailored to their span of responsibility. The warehouse manager needs to see information in a different way than the supply chain executive. The finance person wants to know all the costs associated with the company’s freight flows, whereas the warehouse manager has different priorities. He just wants to know when the goods are arriving and what’s in the containers so he can schedule his labor and plan operations. The supply chain executive needs a more top-down view with optional access to detail when he needs to be able to see what’s going on with the goods. And the sales director needs to be able to see when goods arrive.”

The freight forwarder must be able to supply this information to each of the customer stakeholders in the format desired. At every level, information concerning the location and status of the freight is crucial. These customized information requirements are commonly met with painstakingly prepared Excel spreadsheets for each of these stakeholders, detailing the data they needed. “But creating these spreadsheets manually is time-consuming and costly,” Dorer notes. “One forwarder, for instance, has 50 operators, each of whom spends two hours a day developing spreadsheet reports for clients.

“The better solution,” she asserts, “one that actually becomes a selling point for the freight forwarder, is to be able to automatically configure responses to customers in the way they prefer to work with the information. Much is said about web tracking, but in practice this is very much a customer self-service function. The forwarder has pushed the tracking job back into the lap of the customer by using this basic technology to give access to data. We prefer to avoid commoditizing this responsibility and make it a value-added service from the forwarder. Our approach allows the forwarder and the client to work together to configure the information according to customer needs and deliver it according to customer needs. It is our IT version of 'whiteglove' treatment, and we have yet to find a forwarder who doesn’t see the value of this.”

Until now, however, the technology to accomplish these tasks was too costly for the small to medium-sized freight forwarders. Today, that is no longer the case.

Cost-Effective, Scalable Solution

Silver Bullet Technologies has developed a software solution targeted at the growing mid-sized freight forwarder. “Our solution is tremendously cost-effective,” says Dorer. “In the past, an equivalent system would cost 10 times the price of ours. This creates opportunity for the small to medium-sized forwarders to take share from the global logistics giants. Their IT deployments are more manageable and less complex so they can embrace transformations with less risk than their larger competitors. Our solution is fully scalable to handle any growth – anywhere from $20 million to $500 million in annual sales. Ultimately, our solutions are always evaluated in terms of economic benefits. We help clients do this through an independent analysis of ROI and have routinely found that these systems pay for themselves in nine months or less.

“Our research has shown an urgent need for software of this kind in the freight forwarder market,” Dorer notes. “The front office hand-to-hand combat that wins logistics business is intense. We help forwarders return sanity to their workplace and improve client retention.

“We have considered every last detail of the forwarding business in a way that our customers tell us they never thought could be done by a vendor,” Dorer continues. “We provide a dashboard of information that gives users a real-time view of their business – laid out right in front of them in the way they want to see it.”

The Silver Bullet solutions also address another common problem for forwarders. “In the past,” Dorer explains, “most forwarders managed their business with parallel systems – one for operations and another for financials. And, the two were never integrated, causing all sorts of disconnects that created a vicious circle of customer service and billing errors leading to poor financial controls and reporting. With our system, all data is originated from the business process and routed automatically to the embedded Microsoft Great Plains financial management and reporting system. It’s great because you have information on a real-time basis, and it is right the first time. There is no data-entry error.”

Freight forwarders work on slim margins, so they need to be able to manage their costs intelligently – to see whether they are losing money on a particular lane and to act quickly to remedy the situation. Historically, forwarders lacked the real-time financial control systems to do this. They may have learned of losses weeks after the fact. By integrating the Silver Bullet solution with financial control systems from Microsoft, users gain this capability.

As to operational functionality, the Silver Bullet COO says, “We focus on business process events. So if you are an operator, there are certain functions you need to handle – receive original documents, pay steamship lines, invoice customers, receive customer payments, send information to brokers, monitor customs clearance and so on. We allow you to define those tasks and report on them. So at any time in a shipment’s process, you can check its status and see what needs to be done next. Our system gets into the nitty-gritty of the forwarder’s business.”

Silver Bullet chose to develop its software as a client-server solution rather than a web-based application. This decision was shaped by the needs of forwarders. “Every forwarder’s operation is a little different,” Dorer notes. “Our core modules are fullfeatured and can be modified to fit the unique business requirements of each forwarder. You cannot get this customization with a web application. And you will never see a ‘page not found’ screen in our system.”

Reliability also was a key concern. “I don’t like web-based solutions,” says Stephen Dedola, executive vice president, Dedola International Inc., a freight forwarder in the Los Angeles area and Silver Bullet customer. “They are unreliable. The Internet is unreliable. It’s slow and you don’t have the functionality of an installed solution.

“It’s one thing if all you want to do is go online a couple of times a day and look up stuff,” Dedola observes. “But if you’re online all day long and it’s your only source for data and you lose it all and have to input everything all over again, well … I just wouldn’t do that to my people. Not for a mission-critical system.

“I just can’t afford to have the system out of my control,” the Dedola EVP stresses. “With an installed solution, I control what happens so if the system goes down, I know I can get it back up.”

What does the Silver Bullet solution do for freight forwarders? Global Link and Dedola International offer a first-hand view of the benefits gained from this system.

Global Link Logistics: Everything We Need to Know

Global Link implemented a solution in 2004 that combined the Great Plains ERP system from Microsoft Business Solutions and the SB Freight suite from Silver Bullet Technologies.

The Silver Bullet package replaced a legacy in-house system. “We wanted to be able to manage per diem charges, storage, etc., and there was no way to do that with the old system,” says Martin. “Silver Bullet monitors expenses in real time, so we can see any erosion we may have had on a movement – we can track anything that eats away at our profit in real time. We can find out immediately if there’s a problem with a trade lane or an account. We can look at why we are incurring additional storage or drayage charges. We can take steps to fix the situation as it is happening – not three months later.

“The system enables us to perform a good intelligent analysis of our rating structure,” Martin continues. “We can also see if an operator is making a mistake, a trucker is failing or perhaps the customer is experiencing a problem for which we can offer additional solutions like warehousing. After all, they hired us not just as a point-to-point transportation service provider but as a logistics company – to get their freight from Asia into their store.”

The Silver Bullet solution has made a big difference to customers of Global Link in terms of the level of service the forwarder can provide. It has also helped the company’s profitability.

“We can see volumes in trade lanes, volumes into cities and so on,” Martin says. “This information lets our team make better decisions in managing the carriers we’re using. We also can help the liner companies manage their equipment better. Say we have 500 containers on a Maersk ship coming from Shanghai into Long Beach. We receive an automatic transmission from the freight forwarder in China telling us the containers are under way. We contact Maersk here to find out whether it has enough chassis at the Long Beach terminal to handle them. This information helps us create a kind of safety net to make sure our customers are taken care of. It all gets back to the idea of us providing world-class service to our customers.

“The Silver Bullet system gives us a snapshot of customer volumes at any point in time, and we use that information to manage our internal work load,” the senior account manager says. “If we see that one customer team doesn’t have a lot of freight for the next three weeks, but another is overloaded, we deploy A to help B. We end up with far greater employee productivity and satisfaction, and better customer service.”

Global Link uses the system to track profitability every day on every container. “Each account manager verifies the ocean freight charges with the steamship line and against the agent invoice,” Martin explains. “That information is entered into the system along with any other shipment costs. We can then develop a P&L for every shipment. Our trade group reviews the information, checks whether our steamship line contract rate was applied and verifies that we charged the customer the correct amount based on our contract.

“With this information at our fingertips,” he continues, “we can make sure we are not overpaying or underpaying the steamship line. This makes everyone happy and avoids the frustration of trying to straighten out payment discrepancies long after the cargo shipped.”

The Silver Bullet system performs a number of other important management-related tasks, including:

  • Enabling Global Link to look at sales volume by sales person. “If an individual’s performance drops off, we see that immediately and can take action to remedy the situation,” Martin notes.
  • Running reports by steamship line and by lane. “This gives us leverage in our carrier contract negotiations,” Martin says.
  • Pulling un-posted transaction reports to ensure that customer invoicing remains current.
  • Preparing a “loss file” report that shows any account sustaining losses.

Silver Bullet also provides real-time business alerts. “These alerts cover a lot of territory,” Martin reports. “For example, the system notifies Global Link that a container has arrived at port but has no delivery order or no out-gate event. The system in effect is saying, ‘Hello, you haven’t done something with me (a container). It’s time to check on me.’ Or, the system notifies us if we haven’t received inbound shipment documentation from the agent in Asia. It’s critical that we receive these documents within seven days of sailing so we have time to make arrangements on this end for handling the cargo.

“The alerting system also tracks how long it takes for a shipment to clear customs upon arrival,” Martin notes. “It alerts us when a container is about to go off ‘free’ time and start incurring per diem storage fees. This saves the customer money.”

Customers can access customized reporting from Global Link’s website. “We can update and export our customer account managers’ reports about a customer’s activity to Microsoft Excel and send those reports directly to the customer,” Martin says. “This tells them everything about a shipment. In the past, we provided customers with manual spreadsheets. It took hours to look up and input information. It was very cumbersome for us to have to stop and create those reports.”

Finally, Global Link liked the fact that Silver Bullet is an installed rather than web-based solution. “We like the flexibility of being able to modify the program to fit our exact needs,” Martin says. “And system speed is very important to us. We need to have immediate access to whatever information we need. We can’t afford to wait if the Web’s running slowly.”

As a result of this IT overhaul, Global Link has increased productivity 20 percent, improved its customer service and saved an estimated US$1 million.

ROI from Silver Bullet logistics software for client

Global Link eliminated the immediate need to hire three full-time employees, a savings of US$90,000. In addition, with realtime visibility into the entire shipping process, the company can improve shipment routing and pricing from the very start. This real-time visibility has saved Global Link an estimated US$500,000 just in the first year.

Global Link now has more efficient billing processes and can collect payment from customers in a more timely fashion, thereby enabling it to pay down its own debts faster. Clark Christensen, CFO at Global Link, estimates that the company has approximately US$1 million to US$1.5 million in additional available funds each year – funds that can be applied directly to growing the business. In addition, because Global Link can now provide customers with improved reports and electronic data, the company expects to see an increase in sales that will bring significant additional profits.

And finally, the company is now confident that it has a scalable solution that can accommodate any future business growth.

Dedola International Inc.: The Heart of My Business

“Our reason for existing is to deal with the issues and problems that arise as a matter of course in global trade,” says Dedola of Dedola International. “If there were no problems, if freight flowed easily and freely, companies would manage it themselves. But in our business, the physics concept that says any object in motion is at risk couldn’t be truer. In fact, the only thing you can rely on is the certainty that some shipments will have problems, and those will be the most important shipments, of course.

“Given the nature of this business,” the executive VP observes, “it’s how we respond to problems that defines us.”

Transparency is key. Customers want to know more and more about their shipments. “It doesn’t matter how technologically sophisticated they are, they all want visibility,” the EVP observes. “So that’s a challenge.

“Smaller shippers don’t have a lot of technology and infrastructure at their disposal,” he continues. “We provide that for them, and give them all the visibility they need. They don’t have to be a big company to get state-of-the-art visibility. We also need to help them make their supply chains more efficient and cost-effective. So we serve as a consultative partner.”

From an internal perspective, Dedola International is transitioning from a small to a mid-sized freight forwarder. “It’s very important to manage this transition efficiently or you collapse under your own weight,” Dedola observes. “We are becoming a more finance-based company, with a more structured technical point of view vs. a small business that does a lot of things from the gut.

“As we’ve grown, our information requirements have become a lot more sophisticated,” he says. “Metrics – like how efficiently we are operating – are very important. We need to be able to see shipment profitability immediately. Rates change all the time, which means that a shipment that was profitable last week may be unprofitable this week. If you don’t know your shipment profitability until three months after the fact, you’ve really left a lot of money on the table.”

Silver Bullet provides good reporting tools and ties in very well with Great Plains accounting software. The fact that Silver Bullet is so integrated into Great Plains enables Dedola International to pull information out of the system quickly. “I don’t have to wait until I get an end-of-the-month report to know how I’m doing,” Dedola says.

Silver Bullet enables the forwarder to track employee productivity and performance. “It allows us to recognize people for doing outstanding work,” he reports. “For example, if someone is consistently doing things error-free and on time, the system captures that and we can recognize the person.”

And finally, Silver Bullet eliminates a lot of the errors that creep in as a result of repetitive re-keying of data. “It eliminates duplicate data entry and so cuts out that entire opportunity for errors,” Dedola says, adding, “This system is the heart of my business.”

Future Look

What does the future hold for the freight forwarding industry as a whole, and for mid-sized service providers specifically? “Globalization will continue to build and re-shape economies and companies,” says Max Ward, director of value chain development, DHL Global Forwarding, Hong Kong. “This is particularly true with regard to Asia, where companies are not only sourcing production but also are gearing up to serve that huge emerging market.”

Shippers will want to off-load more and more of their logistics activities onto third parties. The demand for bundles of value added supply chain services will continue to grow. “The big companies want us to provide a bundled end-to-end value chain solution,” Ward notes. The big integrators like DHL, UPS and FedEx are scrambling to realize this business model, often buying up smaller firms that complement their portfolio.

Where does that leave the mid-sized freight forwarder then? “There will always be a place for smaller forwarders,” Ward believes. “They may not be able to offer the fully bundled end-to-end service package that the big integrators do, but what they can offer is a personal relationship and lower price.”

The mid-sized forwarder, as well as its customers, must develop new skills for managing the supply chain. State-of-the-art business process software can enable these new skills, helping organizations move up the learning curve of managing global supply chains.

They eliminate or curtail the risk of stock outs, ensure production continuity and reduce the excessive working capital required to support the bloated inventories endemic in old-style “blind” supply chains.

Today, with the help of technology such as the Silver Bullet solution, mid-sized freight forwarders can offer the same kind of visibility and IT capabilities as their larger counterparts. “They can help their customers become more competitive,” concludes Dorer, “which, after all, is what business is all about.”

Notes

1. Lisa Harrington, “Speeding Global Shipments,” Inbound Logistics November 2004.

2. Ibid.

3. C. John Langley, Jr., Ph.D., Erik van Dort, Alec Ang, and Scott R. Sykes, 2005 Third-Party Logistics: Results and Findings of the 10th Annual Study; available from http://www.ca.capgemini.com/DownloadLibrary/requestfile.asp?ID=482.

4. IBM Global Services, Building Value in Logistics Outsourcing: The Future of the Logistics Provider Industry; available from http://www-1.ibm.com/services/us/index.wss/ibvstudy/imc/a1023466?cntxt=a1000068.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. C. John Langley, Jr., Ph.D., Erik van Dort, Alec Ang, and Scott R. Sykes, 2005 Third-Party Logistics: Results and Findings of the 10th Annual Study; available from http://www.ca.capgemini.com/DownloadLibrary/requestfile.asp?ID=482

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid


© 2006 Silver Bullet Technologies, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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