In this installment, we speak with Matthew Tillman, CEO and co-founder of Haven Inc. about common mistakes shippers make, securing shipping data, and automating to meet global demand.
We asked Matthew how outdated technology and human error can cost shippers thousands of dollars or more and what shippers can do to reduce error and cut costs.
Tillman’s company, Haven Inc. builds transport management software, which they call, “a new kind of TMS: cloud-based, easy to implement and designed to improve team coordination.”
Haven’s TMS software allows both carriers and shippers to have visibility into their cargo free from third-party interference, confusing terms, and opaque pricing.
SFR: Can you start out by talking about how today’s outdated procedures complicate global trade, and where you see biggest need for improvement?
Tillman: Right now there are thousands of people on scooters driving around southeast Asia with backpacks full of bills of lading–negotiable financial instruments! That’s broken and needs fixing. Global trade moves slowly because the movement of money is almost as slow as the movement of cargo.
Does the current freight industry consistently over charge, and how can shippers learn whether they might fall into this category?
I don’t believe the freight industry overcharges intentionally. I think the industry receives poorly structured data from customers which leads to poorly structured invoices. Our solution is about data consistency and accuracy, not only malicious overcharging. Many customers can’t afford to review every invoice as a room full of bookkeepers won’t fit in their budget. Before solutions like Haven, regular audits were perhaps the most affordable option.
What sort of mistakes to you most often encounter with bills of lading, and what’s causing these mistakes?
It seems like it doesn’t matter how large the customer is, their name will eventually be misspelled on a bill of lading. This is because carrier back office systems are outdated and they’ve hired people to bridge the gap. You may send an EDI message to the carrier, but 6 out of 10 times it’ll be re-typed by someone in the back office.
Industry-wide, what sort of time and financial constraints are these documentation errors causing, and who shoulders the costs?
Trade involves many different parties and as such the cost is distributed throughout the supply chain including the end customer. Oddly enough, we find that the direct costs hit both carrier and customer so a solution like Haven’s isn’t one-sided. The last thing a carrier wants is to go through hundreds of hours for a dispute resolution with a customer on an $800 shipment.
What sort of security and data risks are posed by the current system, and how does your cloud-based system address that?
Global trade runs on email, a tool that’s less secure than a Post-it note on someone’s desk. Our system notifies only the intended party and requires authentication to review and take action on the documentation. One of the largest mining companies was successfully phished to the tune of $12 million and our system could have prevented that problem from occurring.
How does your product address incorrect bills of lading, and can you talk a little about how shippers go about onboarding your technology and using it?
Haven is a SaaS based platform so customers license our product on an annual basis. Our product does a first pass to validate the bill of lading vs the original shipping instructions before notifying the booking party, or bank in the case of Letter of Credit shipments. This means that 90 percent of the manual labor associated with approval is automated.
Global trade is no longer a human scale challenge. Logistics automation isn’t about reducing costs for the sake of margins, it’s about growth and servicing a growing global population.
When communication breaks down along the supply chain, it’s not just shippers that pay the cost. As Tillman noted, carriers are losing out on legitimate fees as well, and ultimately, the consumer is paying more on the retail level.
The logistics industry is where supply chains have the opportunity to cut costs, and often times, the answer is as simple as getting it right the first time. And because that’s challenging, it’s important that your technology strategy is aligned with your operations.