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How Data Can Speed Container Delivery

The Federal Maritime Commission is trying to pinpoint how data can help speed the flow of containers through the supply chain.

The multi-phased effort is proposing “recommendations for common data standards used by the international shipping supply chain, as well as access policies and protocols that would streamline information sharing across the ocean supply chain,” according to the FMC.

Initial findings are expected to be presented at a maritime data summit next spring.

“Events of the past year have proven the need for the United States to achieve more capacity from our cargo delivery system,” said FMC Chairman Dan Maffei. “Information sharing and additional transparency in how containers move is one way we can move more containers more efficiently.”

The initiative marks the latest effort by the FMC to address supply chain efficiency and congestion.

Given the immense national economic impact and our nation’s reliance on ocean shipping, sustained surges in cargo volumes, and other operational impacts caused by COVID-19, it is clear that there is a need to develop a stronger system of information for the shipping industry.

The agency will work with the transportation industry to boost transparency around international freight systems. US port gateway corridors are limited by physical constraints, and the best options for efficiencies lie with the greater utilization of information technologies and coordination between the different modes in the supply chain.

(Ref. American Shipper November 15, 2021)


How to Pick the Right Freight Forwarding Company

The process of getting goods from point A to point B undamaged and on time will invariably present challenges because there are so many factors in flux along the average international shipping line. Some difficulties and inconveniences are just part of the overall shipping process. In contrast, others may cause a company to reconsider their partnership with their freight forwarding company.

When your business needs to choose a freight forwarding company, there are a few things you can do to make the process run smoothly without incurring surprise fees or experiencing delays in shipments. However, the onboarding process can be daunting, so you need the right partner.

Why Companies Switch Freight Forwarders
Before you change, first assess whether your current freight forwarding company is performing well and whether it’s a good time to switch providers.

Unacceptable Customer Service
When familiar contacts at your forwarder leave the company or there’s a staff change, communication tends to suffer. If the department eliminated positions, there might no longer be a local contact to handle questions and problems. If there’s a new contact person, they may not be familiar with your shipping needs and SOPs. The onboarding process takes time for someone who is new to the job and is trying to understand and meet the needs of multiple clients, creating the opportunity for mistakes and misunderstandings.

Competition from Another Freight Forwarding Company
Using the same forwarder long-term may create a situation where the best and least expensive options aren’t on the table. Whether it’s because the company is comfortable or the freight provider has already earned your trust, this familiarity opens the door for a competing freight forwarder to present new and cost-saving ideas.

Changes in Leadership
Even if a company is happy with its current freight forwarder, leadership changes in the shipping department may cause a reevaluation of the freight company’s services. The new employee may want to improve the shipping process or cut costs by introducing a freight company they used at their previous job.

How to Plan for a Smooth Transition When Changing Freight Forwarding Companies
When it’s time to switch freight forwarding companies, there are many factors at play. Understanding the possible problems and taking steps to prevent shipping delays and increased fees is crucial to a smooth transition.

Discuss a Transition Plan
A transition plan will guide the process of switching forwarders. This time is crucial for the shipper and new forwarder to determine when and how the business will transition to them.

Some companies may not want to make a sweeping, all-inclusive change by simultaneously eliminating their previous freight forwarder and hiring a new one. Then, they must decide which situations cause the most pain and start there.

Ensure an SOP is in Place
Before transitioning to a new forwarder, a standard operating procedure (SOP) should be in place. This living document is updated as changes or expectations evolve, and it outlines the practices, processes, and communication required to manage your account seamlessly. Depending on the complexity of your supply chain, an in-depth SOP covering each trade lane may be appropriate.

Rescind Power of Attorney When Making Broker and Provider Changes
After making the change and granting the new company power of attorney, verify that shipments are moving as planned. Then, be sure to terminate that right with the former company. It’s wise to limit the number of forwarders and Customs brokers that have a power of attorney.

Know the Freight terms
When getting quotes from a potential new freight forwarder, it’s crucial they understand your terms. Otherwise, you may be comparing quotes for different services. You will want to gather quotes from forwarders confidently, knowing they are familiar with their terms and that you will be able to compare apples to apples. Otherwise, if one forwarder quotes port to port and the next forwarder quotes door to door, there isn’t an easy way to see which quote is the better value.

Switching freight forwarding companies is a common practice that can be prompted by poor performance, staff turnover, or outgrowing a long-term partnership. When switching freight forwarding companies, there will be many questions. To ensure a smooth transition, anticipate possible interruptions in service, and pay attention to how you grant power of attorney to keep costs low and service running smoothly.

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So, you’ve decided you don’t want to spend too much money, time, and nerve cells on the recruiting process. That’s understandable. Luckily, you can turn to one of the common approaches to outsourcing: nearshoring, offshoring, and onshoring. While they all represent the same notion of paying a third party to do some work for your company, understanding the differences between them is critical.

Offshoring is known as the most budget-cutting approach to outsourcing. Companies offshore their processes to outsourcing vendors in distant countries, usually India (link to India page), China (link to China page), or the Philippines (link to Southeast Asia page), where the talent pools are complete, and the expenses are low. The time zone difference here plays a significant role in keeping your business working around the clock.

Nearshoring means outsourcing to a nearby country, preferably a neighboring one or that’s at least on the same continent. This helps to travel and hold face-to-face meetings more frequently, at a lower cost. You can also get more control over your business if you often visit and keep the team spirit high by inviting the development team to your HQ. Cultural compatibility reduces any chances of misunderstanding and facilitates work coordination.

Onshoring is basically outsourcing to another city in your country. By using this approach, companies don’t face the risks associated with offshoring like cultural differences or foreign taxing policies, not to mention they invest in their country’s economy.

Resilience is Key

A good logistics partner helps customers create resilience. It should be an extension of a customer’s formal logistics team or a replacement of an in-house logistics team for those customers who prefer to outsource the totality of their transportation cycle. You should be able to sleep at night knowing your goods are getting to their intended destination with no snags.

At first, it may seem like the difference between offshoring, nearshoring, and onshoring is only the distance. But in our ever-changing world, territorial proximity shouldn’t be your key factor when deciding which of these outsourcing approaches to consider. First, you must set your priorities straight and define what you’re trying to achieve by adding new blood to your team. What do you expect? Is it the lowest cost, the least fuss, or a balance of everything?

We want to see our customers succeed. Their success is our success. Our ultimate goal is to preserve the integrity of our customer’s supply chain by ensuring safe and total transportation offerings to the final destination while handling all the intricacies that occur in the process, regardless of sourcing location. We strive for both innovation and excellence, as do our customers; it’s just how we do business.

Only when you have a clear vision of the responsibilities, the duties, and the required skills of your future employees can you decide which approach to go for. And if you still have questions related to outsourcing, don’t hesitate to contact Precision Global Logistics.