In today’s world, there are very few reasons why freight shipments are delayed. With high-tech tracking and transportation-management systems, following a shipment is something that anyone can do.
Consider how the average consumer can track a package ordered online. If a single package can be tracked from the moment it leaves the warehouse to the moment it arrives at the door, then companies relying on large freight shipments should be able to do the same.
Late shipments create inconveniences for everyone involved. Freight is necessary for manufacturers to get to work, so late shipments become problematic. When they know that shipments are delayed, they can plan appropriately. When they don’t know, they are in limbo until their necessities arrive. Fortunately, there are several tools available that help stakeholders track their shipments.
Use your shipping company’s website. Most major shipping companies offer rail-container tracking software on their websites. It’s important to know some details about the shipments that are headed your way so that you can access the information on the websites. If you’re shipping freight, you should share the tracking numbers with your customers so they can follow their items from point A to point B.
Package your shipments for quick arrival. When you ship materials, you should prepare them for the journey. Most freight ends up on pallets, which measure 40” x 48”. Freight isn’t always treated with kid-gloves, so you should be sure everything is packaged to be safe on a rough journey. Riding in the back of a semi or in a railcar can be tough on packages. So make sure you’ve packed everything in protective packing material, too.
If you have questions about properly packaging your freight, contact your shipping company. If your freight needs to be repackaged, the arrival date might be delayed. Along with packaging properly, be sure to include accurate measurements to keep shipments on schedule.
Trust AEI tags. Railcars, locomotives, and semi trucks rely on automatic equipment identification (AEI) tags for tracking details. These tags are located on nearly every vehicle that moves freight across the U.S. AEI tag readers use radio frequencies to read the tags as the vehicles pass by them. Freight companies, railyards, and trucking companies use software to watch their assets travel across country. The readers share data in real time, giving stakeholders detailed information they can share with their customers. The tags can reveal when there are delays.
Plan for road conditions. In some parts of the U.S., bad weather is expected. If your company is in one of those areas, you should plan ahead. For example, if you’re anywhere near Lake Michigan, you can expect to have weather-related shipping issues in the middle of the winter. To avoid those problems, it’s wise to place orders for necessary supplies in the months that don’t have weather issues. Then you can maintain business as usual, while others are waiting for their shipments in snow and ice delays.
Along with planning for ice and snow, it’s also important to track road conditions in the other seasons. Several places in the U.S. consider spring, summer, and fall to be road-construction seasons. It’s possible to see where road construction is scheduled and how it affects traffic. If you’re expecting shipments to arrive by a specific time, you should take time to see what slowdowns could happen due to road work.
Invest in a transportation-management system. If shipping freight is important to your business, investing in a TMS might be the solution for you. The software lets you track shipments from start to finish and everywhere in between. With that data, you make money-saving decisions, and connect with AEI readers for real-time accuracy.
Some of the software is accessible on a smartphone. These apps might not have the same robust data that computer apps offer, but they’re useful if you’re on the road or need a quick update. Some let you track details about the location of freight, and how the road conditions affect fuel economy. Some apps serve as logistics logs, too.
Know the conditions at destination. Some shipments can be delayed when the driver isn’t prepared for conditions at destination. If the destination doesn’t have a loading dock or is open on limited days or for limited hours, your shipment might be difficult to track. If you’re expecting a shipment and know the delivery conditions could be surprising, you should inform your delivery company and arrange a meeting time. Being prepared is an important way to track your shipments and ensure they arrive on time.
Drew Dennis is marketing manager for Industrial Networks.
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