Where is the freight market heading and how can a shipper be prepared to address changes as they occur in real time? More importantly, how does a shipper synthesize the seemingly endless stream of conflicting market analysis into proactive plans that avoid simple, reactive responses to the often confusing and counter-intuitive moves in the market?
– Realize the goal of cutting through the static using analytics as a “knife” in your TMS
– Choose technology that supports operating with actionable data instead of making decisions based on questionable, public information
– Contradictory streams of conflicting industry media market perspectives is no way to plan for actual supply logistics
The answer lies in harnessing transportation/logistics data and using powerful, predictive analytics to identify patterns and trends over time that can help determine what a shipper can expect during any given time of the year. You may have some questions about how to realize the goal of cutting through the static using analytics as a “knife”. Here’s how, in simple terms, this goal can be accomplished for shippers.
First, accept that it is nearly impossible to rely on trends data derived in industry media outlets for any kind of effective transportation planning. News feeds from logistics industry media have become as contradictory (and functionally useless) as the ones we read in financial industry media where one headline screams “Gold is About to Soar” and the very next warns, “Gold is Dead as an Investment”. Clearly both cannot be true at the same time. Similarly, headlines pulled from supply chain industry media just over the last several days make confusing claims like, “Reefer Demand Spikes as Temperatures Drop”, “West Coast Volumes Crash in All Modes” and “Intermodal Rail Outperforms in October”.
What explains the contradictory and outright confusing stream of conflicting market perspectives provided by sources of industry news? Is it seasonality? Trade war ramifications? The early onset of cold weather in the Northeast? The effect of Chinese holidays on import schedules? A spike in diesel costs? State regulations? A manufacturing slowdown? Capturing eyeballs, gathering clicks, selling papers – these are the reasons why every outlet is overrun with conflicting information; something to confirm every reader’s individual bias. But this is no way to plan for actual supply logistics.
It’s all static. However, very real evidence of the impact of seasonality, holidays (here and abroad), weather patterns, manufacturing cycles and more exists within the historical shipping data captured by your TMS solution. The power of predictive analytics – using computing power to identify patterns in historical data to accurately predict future capacity changes, order/demand volumes, transportation obstacles/delays, and a host of other factors – is driven in direct correlation to the amount and quality of the data captured by your TMS solution.
But simply capturing the data is not the entire ball of wax either. Data fed into and out of TMS tools comes from (and flows back out to) adjacent supply chain tools like ERPs, order management systems, warehouse management tools, visibility solutions and others. Shippers today are, in greater numbers, selecting the “best in breed” technology for each link of the chain and then must integrate them into a cohesive and effective supply chain tech stack. This requires disparate tech systems to be able to effectively, efficiently parse, cleanse, manipulate and pass along data regardless of the differing formats in which each was derived.
If they can achieve this goal, they can operate in a truly proactive, predictive and highly effective manner. Shippers must rely on the individual providers of solutions for each segment of their tech stack to be equipped to handle, manage, synthesize, analyze and actualize this data. If they’ve chosen partners wisely, they’ll be able to operate with actionable data and not be reliant on making decisions based on conflicted and questionable trend information. Instead, they’ll be able to exert full control over their operations with a solid foundation of applicable information.
For a simplified illustration of how UltraShipTMS delivers exceptional levels of support for digitization and data management, visit our infographic on the Nucleus Digital Supply Chain Data Hub. Then schedule a demo or a free product trial.