What the company needed, says senior director of international transportation Kathleen King, was a means of optimizing its air-freight shipments. Air accounts for a large portion of Ralph Lauren's transportation spend, totaling between 10,000 and 15,000 expedited shipment requests a year. The problem was that it had very little visibility to those shipments. "We couldn't see routing, booking or handover [data]," King says. "The first time we saw an airfreight shipment was 24 hours after departure, when our freight forwarder would put a shipment-confirmation notice into our core visibility system." As a result, freight was already in the U.S. before Ralph Lauren knew about it. There was no way to match a shipment to its appropriate level of service.
One part of the solution was a vendor-routing portal that was developed in-house, says David Lande, director of international transport development and support. It gave the company visibility to "first-mile" shipments, including the actual handover of the goods by the vendor. Ralph Lauren could learn which airport was being used, the number of cartons, and the weight and measure of each shipment. That capability allowed it to calculate "chargeable waste" earlier in the process. At the same time, the company could sort out the various service options, including deferred, sea-air, air-sea and ocean expedite. "We needed a mechanism to look at each targeted service level," Lande says.
Ralph Lauren ended up implementing an innovative air-optimization system in partnership with Acuitive Solutions. Together the partners enacted a multi-phased initiative to deliver "breakthrough freight savings," in the words of Acuitive president Phil Marlowe.
Ralph Lauren's case study was a finalist in the Supply Chain Innovation Award for 2011, co-sponsored by SupplyChainBrain and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.
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Keywords: Air Cargo, Apparel, Technology, Business Intelligence & Analytics, Business Process Management, Collaboration & Integration, EDI Communication (XML/EDI), Event Management, Sourcing & Procurement, Supplier Relationship Management, SC Finance & Revenue Mgmt., SC Planning & Optimization, Supply Chain Visibility, Global Trade Management, Freight Forwarder, Acuitive Solutions, Shipment Confirmation Notice
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