For years, says Hiller, the emphasis among shippers was on using transportation management as a means of driving down cost and streamlining operations. Today, "it's more than that. The relationship between shipper and carrier really is a partnership."
With the economic downturn and resulting shrinkage of capacity and driver availability, it has become more important to be a good customer to carriers. "We're all fighting for shelf space," says Hiller. A strong relationship with one's carriers can help a shipper to obtain better rates and a more stable supply of capacity. "It makes you much more preferred to do business with."
Barriers to the adoption of that attitude remain. Traditionally, says Hiller, the shipper's emphasis has been on streamlining its own operation. Now, it needs to take into account what it can do to help carriers and other logistics partners drive down their costs. In cases where the service provider is less technologically proficient than the shipper, the latter needs to be a better communicator, "using technology but not putting too much of a burden on the carrier."
It's tempting for each side to seek payback when market conditions shift in its favor. "Revenge is a powerful motive," says Hiller. But a successful transportation program today depends on both parties avoiding that temptation, in the interest of crafting a true partnership.
Transportation management systems can help to achieve that goal. Traditionally, says Hiller, information technology has been viewed as a tool to accomplish best practices and enhance business processes. "Now it's about creating a platform environment where all shippers and carriers can meet on a level playing field. They're collaborating, communicating and providing visibility, so everyone can be happy." State-of-the-art technology can enhance both schedule integrity and booking opportunities for carriers, he says.
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, global logistics, 3PL, third party logistics, transportation management, logistics management, logistics services, supply chain services, supply chain partnerships, sourcing solutions
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