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Automated Workflow Technology Boosts Agency Productivity and Enhances Communication
Landstar’s transportation management system (TMS) is helping independent Landstar freight agents save time and increase efficiencies for everyone involved in a shipment.
The TMS automates shipment workflow in a single system from the time a customer submits an order to the agent through the time the shipper is billed. The technology reduces paperwork, streamlines shipment management, and improves productivity so agents can process shipments quicker and more efficiently.
Throughout the lifecycle of a shipment, the TMS can be used to create a freight bill, secure capacity and confirm rates, track the status of the shipment, identify shipment exceptions and facilitate better overall communication to customers and carriers, according to Landstar Executive Vice President of Business Intelligence & Strategy Jim Applegate.
“The technology helps our hard-working agents streamline the shipment process while taking into account a customer’s individual needs. The result is a better overall experience for the agent, the capacity owner and the customer,” Applegate said.
Beta testing of the TMS was launched in 2017 to ensure the tool met the needs of Landstar’s more than 1,200 unique agencies servicing over 30,000 customers. “Over the past five years, we’ve addressed a large number of the complexities that can come up in an individual shipment or for a particular customer, thanks to the participation and feedback of the agents in beta,” said Applegate. “We are now in the process of accelerating the roll-out of the TMS to Landstar truckload agents.”
Moving More Freight, Faster
Carlos Torres, owner of independent Landstar agency Transtorres Inc., has been part of the Landstar network for nearly five years and has been using the TMS for the past three years. Torres says his team of six people uses the tool to manage about 650 loads a month.
“Almost 100% of our shipments are processed through the TMS now,” shared Torres. “It’s been a pretty important part of my business’s success by allowing us to move more freight in a faster period of time while maintaining a high level of customer service.”
According to Torres, a significant portion of his agency’s business is moving building materials and packaging products for repeat customers with high volume loads and loads in the same lane. “The ‘copy load’ function in the TMS saves us a lot of time processing these types of shipments because it allows us to duplicate a previous load with similar attributes instead of re-entering the information for each load.”
Torres also likes the “auto-populate” feature for things like shipper information including contact names, phone numbers and addresses for pickups and deliveries.
“The more we use it, the more time it saves us because repeat information is already in the system. Not only does it save time, but it reduces the chance of human error. As long as the information was entered correctly the first time, it will be right every time after.”
The TMS improves efficiency for single and low volume loads as well, Torres said. “We enter all the details of a load on one page, in one system. No jumping between tabs or between software programs. We can get the load posted very quickly, even when we are creating a load in the system for the first time.”
Getting money in his pocket faster is another benefit of the TMS, according to Torres. “When a shipment is completed, we review the load details, validate financial information, upload documents like proof of delivery, and click submit.” Once submitted, Landstar’s billing team can access the information directly from the TMS to invoice the customer and process settlements to the agency and the capacity provider within a few days.
Strengthening Customer and Capacity Communications
Customers and capacity providers benefit from his agency’s use of the TMS, shared Torres. “Through the TMS, we have everything we need at our fingertips when a customer or driver asks for information on a load, which means we can provide faster service for them.”
“My team also can leave internal notes on loads in the system, so if someone is managing a load or an account and is out of the office, the person covering has all the information needed should questions arise,” continued Torres. “We also have access to historical customer information in the system, which makes it easy to pull up details on past loads and provide that information to customers if and when they need it.”
The agency can deliver rate confirmations to capacity providers almost instantly through the TMS. “The rate confirmation is generated by the system from the load information, so we can email it directly from the system to the capacity provider, typically while we are on the phone with them,” Torres said. “This way, they are good to go and can get back to the task of hauling freight without having to wait for the rate confirmation to come through later.”
Overall, Torres said the TMS helps his business to be more competitive in the marketplace. “Efficiency and communication are critical in this industry. The TMS allows us to be better organized when managing shipments and communicate more effectively among ourselves and with our customers and capacity providers.”