We recently wrapped up our third-annual Carrier & Broker Summit, in which some of the leading logistics pros throughout the industry take the stage to share their thoughts on how visibility technology can benefit not only large shippers, but carriers and brokers, as well. This year’s event drew quite a crowd — over 1,700 participants at final count — and over the course of the two-hour-long virtual conference, we welcomed speakers from all over the industry to discuss what visibility means for their companies.
One of the brokers leading the way in adopting visibility is Connectrans Logistics. I recently sat down with four members of their team: Steve Hodowany, President & General Manager; Samantha Sturgeon-Crabbe, Business Development Manager; Jeff O’Connor, Business Development Manager; and Jason Peirson, Senior Manager of Business Development, to discuss some of the ways in which FourKites’ data benefits their organization.
Here are some of the things I learned.
Going from Reactive to Proactive
Connectrans Logistics was founded in 2004, in the Toronto suburb of Milton, Ontario. An asset-light transportation management provider, they specialize in the movement of domestic and cross-border freight throughout North America, with the objective of simplifying the complexities of global, cross-border and domestic shipping.
Connectrans partnered with FourKites in an effort to advance their philosophy of developing, implementing and managing innovative transportation management programs on behalf of their customer base — most of which consists of large enterprise shippers throughout North America. Using FourKites, they were able to grant their customers end-to-end visibility into not only the real-time location of a shipment, but also the lifecycle of that load. This, in turn, supplies Connectrans customers with critical information that helps them make impactful business decisions and effectively collaborate with their supply chain partners.
Core among these business improvements was the ability to make proactive decisions and plans throughout the business. Though many Connectrans clients have strong contingency planning already in place, their processes are often highly reactive, without strong real-time data to rely upon. When augmented with FourKites data, however, these contingency planning procedures can often be enacted before disruptions even occur, let alone before they impact productivity.
Improved Efficiency for Customers and Carriers
One of Connectrans primary goals with FourKites was to reduce operational inefficiencies and better align with service partners. One very important result of better visibility at all ends of a shipment’s journey is that it allows companies to safely reduce the number of touch points an order must go through, enabling them to reprioritize internal resources and process increased order volumes more precisely and at lower cost. In fact, during our talk, Jeff estimated that simply by implementing FourKites, Connectrans would be able to save roughly 7-8 man hours per week by enabling workers to reallocate operational resources to enhance customer and carrier service capacity.
This holds true for customers, as well. Another thing that came up during our talk is how FourKites empowers Connectrans to proactively engage with customers at a granular level, providing them with real-time analytics that have been validated by an outside party. Not only does this make it easier to spot inefficiencies and identify areas for improvement, but it also fosters a higher degree of trust between both parties. Internally, it means Connectrans personnel can spend more time focusing on customer care and building strategies that align with customer needs. Externally, it offers the opportunity to work more closely with carrier partners to detect issues before they occur and mitigate potential delays. Particularly for the smaller midsized fleets that Connectrans partners with, this gives them the ability to better plan future shipments and avoid cancelations, which in turn drives improved bottom-line performance.
For example, visibility data and analytics have become key elements of Connectrans’ customer business review sessions. During these sessions, the company uses key areas of operation, such as miles driven, along with other empirical data, to demonstrate how they have been working collectively with their carrier partners to reduce their carbon footprint. In this way, FourKites data validates the company’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality, build a more sustainable supply chain, and reduce the transportation industry’s overall impact on the environment.
Logistics is all about making plans, implementing and executing them, all the while anticipating unpredictable variables like mechanical failures, weather disruptions and human fallibility… Expertise goes a long way to respond to those factors, and good brokers do their best to help clients through them. Great brokers keep looking for ways to go above and beyond expectation.”
Manager, Business Development
One of the things that was emphasized time and time again throughout our talk was the need for constant improvement throughout the organization in order to meet and exceed customer expectations. Over the past 20 years, Connectrans has earned a strong reputation as a premier transportation supplier, which regularly meets or exceeds KPI standards. With on-time rates in the 97-98% range, it can be easy to sit back and point out how great you are. The best companies, however, will instead sit down and take a hard look at how they can manage that remaining 2-3%. In Sam’s words, “How we respond to a shipment that is NOT on time is what takes us from being a very good transportation provider to a business partner that has our client’s success at the forefront of our transactions.”
Technology is at the forefront of Connectrans’ push to address that last 2-3%. But technology alone is no silver bullet. Transportation, like any industry, will always have an element of human error and unpredictability with which to contend. Balancing new tools with smart processes and strong personnel who know how to use them will always be the key to success as a transportation and logistics provider. Through FourKites, Connectrans has been able to optimize their processes to minimize error and unpredictability as much as possible, and allow for smooth, process-oriented decision-making in the few remaining cases where errors break through.