Digitalisation has progressed from being a mere buzzword in the shipping and freight industry to something more real and tangible..
The industry is beginning to see the benefits of digitalisation and there is a big surge in the number of startups entering the freight technology business..
Digitalisation helps in optimising current processes and creating new business opportunities while transforming global supply chains..
Maritime transport accounts for around 80% of global trade and currently, there are around 6,135 active ships shipping millions of containers across the globe – 23.8 million+ TEUs currently in fact..
Such a large volume of trade also creates a mountain of data.. This, coupled with IoT allows for exponential growth in the process of digitalisation and automation in the industry..
However, the term digitalisation could be very subjective with people consider anything from a simple laptop to a high-end ERP system integrated with the latest IoT, AI as digitalisation..
But the fact is that not all digital systems are built the same and not all systems benefit the user in terms of cost and time.. The true benefits of digitalisation can be reaped only with the use of the right system and technology..
How many times have you heard the cry “Oh I wish there was an easier way to manage my freight rates” or “Why can’t I get all the liner information that I need in one place” or “Oh why does it take so long to do a booking“..
You are not alone with these frustrations..
In fact, in a recent survey that we ran on this site, a whopping 50% of participants admitted that they do not use any software for freight management, 23% use part automation and part manual, 20% use a custom-built solution and 7% use an off the shelf product..
Out of those who are using systems, only 8% of participants were happy with their present systems, with 26% stating that they needed to automate processes, 22% saying that they definitely needed an enhanced system with more capabilities, 12% admitted that their systems were not meeting their needs and 29% stated they “may need a better system”..
The general flow of a shipment on the trade side is as below :
Behind this trade flow, there are several processes :
- Carrier analysis ;
- Sourcing of rates from various Carriers, NVOCCs ;
- Freight rate negotiations ;
- Identifying the carrier and their capabilities to handle your business ;
- Tracking carrier schedules ;
- Booking with the carrier ;
- Submitting documents required for the booking ;
- Monitoring and following vessel ETAs, progress ;
- Picking and packing of containers ;
- Movement to port ;
- Bill of lading instructions to the carrier ;
- Payment to the carrier ;
- Releasing bill of lading ;
- Transmission of documents to the various parties in the chain ;
- Track and trace of container till delivery
In any sea freight transaction which covers the above processes, there are challenges that BCOs and/or Freight Forwarders face in terms of managing Rates, Bookings, Documents and Visibility..
In addition, market studies have shown that 25-30% of all freight invoices issued are erroneous and that businesses have been overpaying service providers for years due to incorrect invoices.. In a $350 billion ocean freight market, this accrued revenue loss can be quite significant..
Now Haven Inc, a solutions-focused TMS provider is aiming to simplify the processes for the customers through their easy to use and intuitive app-based TMS platform specifically aimed at international shippers..
The platform is said to have proven successes with some of the largest companies in shipping including Top 5 CPG, and Top 5 US Exporter using it..
Haven’s TMS Platform has a simple mission “Deliver the best Transportation Management System (TMS) for global shippers”
So I had a look at the capabilities of the Haven TMS platform..
Those of you who are involved in carrier and rate negotiations know the many intricacies involved in ensuring that you get what you want.. If things are not clear, you could end up paying heavily for additional costs that you didn’t consider..
Haven’s Rate Explorer allows you to store all the rates that you have negotiated with the various carriers whether it is Contract, Spot, FAK or Long-term in one location within the Booking Management module..
The beauty of this module is that you as a customer can book with any carrier you like based on your relationship with the line..
The module just makes it easier for you to manage these relationships through their integration with Top 40+ ocean carriers and forwarders..
This module has a powerful search and filter capability which allows you to instantly find and easily compare freight rates for the various port pairs..
No more lengthy and time-consuming spreadsheets and pivot tables and always having to cross-check whether you made any errors in the formulas in your spreadsheet..
Within the booking management module, you have the option to view the sailing schedules of the various carriers that you may want to use for a particular port pair.. You can quickly compare routes, transit times and choose the best possible options..
For convenience, the booking management module also records your most recent routes and offers the option to repeat the same which is very convenient for customers who have regular shipments between the same parties and port pairs..
Charlie Cunnion, Vice President, Global Transportation, International Forest Products LLC (IFP), currently the 7th largest exporter in USA is one of the customers who use Haven’s TMS..
On this specific aspect of bookings, Charlie said
“The biggest tangible savings we achieved using the Haven solution was with respect to time. A booking, which would take 2 hours earlier could now be completed in 30 mins using this platform.”
Shipping is a highly time-sensitive business and there could be several consequences if certain tasks are not done in time..
The platform has a Task Management module which has mapped all the processes and tasks required to be done by the various parties in the chain..
This module provides the option to set up tasks, and the message centre automatically notifies the user of when certain tasks are due (like document submissions etc) and tracks the progress, updates or changes done to the tasks..
This is a very important tool to promote collaboration in a team-based environment as it allows the supervisor to assign tasks to specific users and allows them to have a birds view of the progress of the tasks..
Documentation is the main cause of many delays in shipping causing many problems such as delayed delivery of goods, demurrage, detention, storage, loss of documents and even cargo abandonment..
If you are a BCO operating across multiple trade lanes, time zones with huge volumes, managing the various shipping and trade related documents could become a nightmare if proper systems are not used..
The document management module within Haven’s TMS seems to address this serious issue efficiently.. The module offers a simple drag and drop option from any of the integrated systems which saves the user a lot of time and space..
This module integrates with the Task Management module to allow the assigning of rules-based document tasks which ensure visibility of the document flow and assign accountability to the user..
When working in a team, there may be times where multiple users may be accessing the same documents and not using the latest version of a multi-access document could lead to issues..
The document management module not only allows the user to organize and share documents effortlessly, but it also has a document version management tool which ensures that the latest version is always used..
The module’s OCR (Optical Character Recognition) option allows for oft-repeated terms to be mapped so that it can be recognised and harmonised across the various providers using the platform and allows for maximum data extraction..
This saves data entry time and also mistakes that could happen during the process..
Since they have invested a lot of money in the system, I feel that Haven should have added an option to integrate with the carrier’s system to generate/print bills of lading from the TMS itself.. Hopefully this will be something that Haven will consider in the future..
Visibility is one of the main factors that many customers especially BCOs look out for when it comes to their cargo movement.. Their production lines, assembly lines, manufacturing plants, business plans, all depend on this one crucial item in the shipping cycle..
The Haven system is said to integrate with the carriers’ and ship’s AIS systems to provide real-time status, updates and milestones of the shipments in a simple and easy to view graphical display..
Although this technology is not unique to the Haven TMS, because it is an integral part of an ocean freight shipment, it will add great value to the customer.. However, there could be some blind spots as the tracking technology is dependent on network coverage which may not be reliable at all times..
The system also provides delay and exception alerts automatically but of course, you have to be a registered and authorised user to view this..
As per Cunnion, “Having used the solution for over a year, I envision Haven as being the one stop shop for full freight visibility for our entire supply chain that encompasses air, road and rail freight.”
Freight invoices are often wrong due to incorrect surcharges billed, rate fluctuations, rate of exchange variations, and changing port pairs..
The time and effort required to check, audit, rectify, and recheck the volume of invoices generated for ocean freight is enormous, and so far, customers have had only 3 options available:
- Use their own employees to rectify the anomalies – which often comes at the expense of compromising on new business development or maintenance
- Outsource to a 3rd party and pay up to 2% of freight spend – which is an expensive enterprise, especially when costs are high in the current scenario
- Do nothing and overpay
But with Haven’s FIAP, customers now have a 4th option.. The FIAP is simple to understand, easy to use, seamlessly integrates with many of the existing ERP systems, and can be customized to the unique needs of different businesses..
Using this module, BCOs can identify the root cause for discrepancies, initiate a dispute process with the defaulting party and ensure that the right payments are made within the specified time..
However, since the rates are already being managed within the TMS, this FIAP may not have much use for the customers who are managing this, unless it sold as a stand-alone product.. This module could be a good plugin to other customers if this is packaged and sold by itself..
No matter which system you use and no matter the information you input into the system, if you are unable to extract the data from the system in an easy and meaningful way, it defeats the whole purpose of using the system..
The whole concept of Big Data and digitalisation is not just the systems being present, but the ultimate value that a customer can get out of the system..
Haven’s TMS comes with a strong Analytics base with several capabilities to provide detailed analysis to the customer based on the data input into the system..
Analysis like the use of selected trade lanes and the performance of the carriers selected on those trade lanes including their reliability and response times allows the TMS users the option to really understand the strengths and weaknesses of the service providers..
After all, your service to the industry and customers can only be as strong as your service provider and it is crucial for you to get a full understanding of the performance of your service provider..
Shipping is a dynamic industry and many factors such as weather, strikes, maritime disasters and the like, could cause delays to the movement of goods.. While some of this could be unavoidable, there are certain areas of the business which can be monitored for potential risks..
The TMS platform comes with a predictive risk analysis tool which warns the users about potential risks they face in terms of potential delays which could impact the production schedules of the customer or bring about additional costs like demurrage/detention..
This predictive tool assists the customer in improving their transportation efficiencies and avoiding such costs..
All the above features of this platform come packaged in an easy to access Customer Portal which allows you the option to access this platform anywhere and at any time..
Customers, especially those with large volumes and complex supply chains like food producers or commodity traders require specialist systems to manage their varied supply chain requirements..
A key focus for them is integration.. They need systems that can do the work intuitively and efficiently to keep their shipments moving smoothly so that they can focus on their core areas which are global trading and sales..
Instead of throwing people and money at problems, Haven’s TMS has reimagined technology in a way that simplifies and streamlines the customer’s operations..
The system’s main success lies in the saving of many man-hours spent on endless paperwork, hours of coordination trying to identify the status of cargo, time spent in trying to understand and make sense of the various supplier invoices received and ensuring that everyone is on the same page when it comes to global shipments..
What IFP’s Charlie Cunnion said bears testimony to the easy on-boarding process and the simplicity of the platform..
With the Haven team, onboarding did not entail a technology session with buzzwords such as AI, ML & blockchain. It was functional and made sense in the way it fit our business needs..
Training has been minimal – the platform is intuitive – user experience is positive. Anyone who has bought anything through e-commerce can transact on the Haven platform.
The platform is very simple to use and bring everything we needed to one place.
Great reading and extremely comprehensive post – pretty much covers everything…