It takes a lot of work to get a spot on the FourKites Premier Carrier List. But the reward far outweighs the effort. Among other things, it means that your customer will be better able to meet their own goals, KPIs and benchmarks. And as everyone in this business knows, if you can help your customers win, you win.
As one of the original companies on the list, Connectrans Logistics offered a strong example of agile supply chain success when I recently sat down with them in the wake of our third-annual Carrier & Broker Summit. Connectrans was founded in 2004 in Milton, Ontario. As I covered in my previous blog post in this series, Connectrans partnered with FourKites to help their clients, their partners and their own personnel make better, more informed business decisions, save time and improve efficiency.
“Being a FourKites Premier Carrier has separated Connectrans from our competitors and provided additional validation of our commitment to service excellence with our customers,” Jason Peirson, Connectrans’ Senior Manager of Business Development, told me during our meeting. “We’ve engaged in several new opportunities with Fortune 500 companies as a direct result of being a FourKites Premier Carrier, and it’s allowed Connectrans to leverage a greater spend across our network delivering exceptional value at market competitive prices.”
As everyone in this industry is aware, when the COVID-19 pandemic came around, everything within the transportation and logistics industry was turned on its head. Essential businesses began ramping up, others began slowing down, and all the while capacity was falling off a cliff.
One of Connectrans’ major clients operates within the PPE and virus management industry. Their customer base includes hospitals and government institutions. And though the past year has seen momentous growth in customer demand, it has also come with new pressures to ramp up production and meet increasingly higher contractual obligations. From raw ingredients to packaging, any unforeseen delay in inbound supply can throw off tightly scheduled production plans. In order to prevent lost time on the production floor, they need to receive accurate information about impending delays well before a product’s expected arrival, so that they can switch out delayed shipments for an alternate product. This visibility is a vital element in an agile supply chain’s ability to circumvent delays that could be disastrous.
Using FourKites’ real-time tracking and Dynamic ETA capabilities, Connectrans was able to provide this customer with the information they needed to retool their operations well before they were impacted by delays. Whenever a missed shipment or product shortage was about to threaten an active production line, they were able to find out about it in time to pivot from manufacturing one product to another in less than an hour. This allowed them to build a lean and agile supply chain, and you can bet that it will be top of mind when it comes to renew contracts.
“Our customers recognize the benefits of real-time visibility, and it’s helped them be proactive in managing the relationship with their customers,” Jason said during our call. “FourKites has increased the level of trust with our customers and allowed us to earn a seat at their management table, as opposed to just being another transportation vendor.”
Prior to FourKites, it took Connectrans personnel anywhere from four to six hours from first catching wind of a delay to the time they finally tracked down their drivers in the field and relayed that information back to the client. Needless to say, this wasted valuable time, both on the part of Connectrans own personnel, as well as their customer. Like I’ve said before, there’s two people on every phone call, and if you can save one of them from ever having to make the call in the first place, you’re saving time for the second one as well.
Especially as production floors have grown increasingly reliant on just-in-time delivery models — and in the middle of a pandemic, no less — this kind of proactive information is critical to achieving an agile supply chain. This is especially important when you’re talking about getting essential goods to people who need them.
With FourKites’ data at their fingertips, Connectrans could send notifications well in advance so that their client could alter production lines to accommodate the delay. This visibility gave them the flexibility they needed to manage fast-paced product lines running on non-stop, 24/7 schedules. Getting a heads-up about a delayed shipment 3-4 hours prior to its expected arrival is the difference between seamlessly saving a shipment and causing a disruption in the flow of goods to hospitals and other critical institutions.
“Managing the just-in-time transportation model has never been more important in modern supply chains, so our goal is to have the majority of our customers reap the benefits of this technology. Connectrans has introduced the operational value provided by FourKites to a number of the strategic accounts we represent.”
– Jeff O’Connor, Connectrans Logistics
Large companies know what it means for a supply chain carrier or broker to differentiate themselves with visibility technology. It means they’re willing to adapt in an ever-changing world. It means that they’re willing to put money on the table to ensure that they stay at the cutting edge. Those are the kinds of qualities leading companies look for in a transportation partner — other leaders.
This industry is changing faster than we can keep tabs on it a lot of the time. That goes not only for the disruptions that seem to come along faster than ever before, but for the tools that help us manage those disruptions as well. Striving for and achieving agility in the supply chain, and utilizing the best tools available to do so, is in the best interest of your customers and your organization.
In the words of Connectrans Business Development Manager Samantha Sturgeon-Crabbe, “The best way to remain relevant in the digital age is to embrace change and seek out uses for new technology…Staying at the forefront of evolving technology and introducing new tools that will assist clients in maximizing their transportation spend is how we retain our value as a partner.”
Carriers, brokers and owner-operators may not get too much front-row attention or recognition for the work that they do, but this does nothing to lower the importance of the critical role that they fill. As was brought up time and again, these are the men and women making everything else possible. Without them, the world we know would be a very different place.