Market disruptions and related uncertainty have made it difficult for companies to maintain appropriate staffing levels for transportation ops. If you add staff when business is booming, what happens when there’s a lull? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could guard against this uncertainty by outsourcing transportation and letting someone else worry about staffing levels?
Enter managed transportation services. In this article, we’ll look at the ways in which these services can alleviate this and other modern supply chain headaches for shippers of liquid and dry bulk products.
What are managed transportation services?
With managed transportation services, a third-party logistics (3PL) freight services provider can act as the transportation arm of your company – for all your shipments or just some of them. Armed with knowledge of your product and its requirements, as well as your shipping lanes, your 3PL can source capacity for your shipments, vet carriers (e.g., insurance and certifications), negotiate pricing, book and track your shipments.
- Sourcing capacity. Freight broker 3PLs have no trucks or equipment of their own, but what they do have is relationships with extensive networks of carriers. Your 3PL partner can lean on its network to find the capacity you need in your specific lane.
- Vetting carriers. If you’re going it alone and working with different carriers directly, there can be a lot of work that goes into maintaining the carriers’ licensing, insurance and regulatory compliance information. Some providers, like Bulk Connection, have a dedicated team whose responsibility it is to keep these records updated and ensure that their TMS system assigns your loads ONLY to carriers that are up-to-date and qualified to handle them.
- Negotiating pricing. In many cases, the extensiveness of a freight services provider’s network gives it options for placing your loads. It can find the best match of service and pricing and then negotiate final rates on your behalf.
- Tracking shipments. While most 3PL providers of managed transportation services will provide standard tracking information, some providers have customer service teams that go above and beyond. This includes having live, human support for you, 24/7.
Advantages of managed transportation services
Advantages of a managed transportation arrangement with a 3PL freight partner include the following.
- You don’t have to hire full-time traffic employees. When you outsource operations to a 3PL, you are saving money on salary, benefits, and training costs of new employees – and avoiding the risk of overpaying staff when volumes are low.
- 3PL freight services providers may come with very valuable experience shipping your product. For instance, at Bulk Connection, we have over 35 years of experience moving liquid bulk and dry bulk freight. So, when it comes to chemicals and other types of bulk freight, if you produce it, chances are we’ve shipped it and know exactly how to move it safely and efficiently.
- 3PL freight services providers have industry knowledge. Transportation is our industry. It is incumbent on us to stay up to date on industry trends, technology and opportunities that can optimize your operations. If transportation is not your company’s specialty, you can benefit from entrusting it to a logistics expert.
- 3PL freight services providers can augment your existing operations. If you have an in-house transportation team and don’t want to hire additional staff members, you can lean on a 3PL freight partner to handle overflow work over short-, medium-, or long-term arrangements.
- 3PL freight services providers are flexible. You can choose just how much of a team member your 3PL becomes. For example, Bulk Connection has had managed transportation arrangements in the past where one of our transportation experts worked onsite at the customer’s facility and essentially operated as a member of that team – while being paid by Bulk Connection.
Are you ready for managed bulk transportation?
In our experience, the companies that benefit most from a managed transportation arrangement are mid-size companies that are reluctant to expand their transportation departments and seek to guard against market uncertainty while keeping expenses manageable. Generally, companies that ship at least 30-50 loads a month are likely good managed transportation candidates.
Check out this article to learn how a simple phone call decades ago led to Bulk Connection providing managed transportation services for a liquid bulk shipper – while reducing its transportation costs by 12-14%. Contact us today to learn more about how Bulk Connection’s managed services can support your transportation operations.