How Automation & AI is Revolutionizing the Processing of Periodic Cargo Bills or Freight Invoices
With rampant disruptions to the supply chain and increased demand with the rise of e-commerce, logistics companies are hard-pressed to improve efficiencies. One area where companies can achieve faster processes is in how each freight bill and invoice is handled. With automation, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), logistics companies can reduce the workload placed on their teams.
Technology is changing every industry. Logistics and freight companies that adopted early technology experienced successful improvements. According to McKinsey, successful AI implementation for logistics companies improved inventory capacity by 35%, logistics costs by 15% and boosted service levels by 65%.
Additionally, 78% of logistics companies say supply chain transformation has accelerated due to the pandemic, and 64% say they are increasing investments in supply chain technology, according to the 2022 MHI Annual Industry Report. The report says 40% are piloting new technologies in hopes of improving resiliency.
Even before the pandemic, companies were changing how they handled demand. Technology has allowed companies to collect more data and use it to improve every aspect of the manufacturing and transportation process. Technology has made it easier to handle vendor communication, cargo bill processes and data collection.
AI has already been responsible for improving supply chain strength and shipping capacity. Use cases for logistics companies can help explain where improvements are being made with AI technology. Companies that aren’t using AI and ML are hampered by their inability to keep up with demand and are likely to fall behind competitors who do adopt the technology.
Optimizing supply chain flow can help reduce waste and improve product availability. With the ongoing threat of supply chain disruption, manufacturers can use AI for dynamic supply planning to reduce the risk of inventory shortages.
Utilizing real-time data, companies can predict demand for a smoother planning process. Accurate demand forecasting can help companies reduce operational costs and optimize manpower usage. With a more accurate understanding of future orders, companies can also avoid holding too much inventory (creating holding costs) or stockout that leads to frustrated customers.
Some companies—most notably Amazon—have used AI technology and robots in the warehouse to help manage the supply more efficiently. Robots can pick orders, sort inventory, track products, stow packages and more.
Damaged products can lead to expensive return processes and unhappy customers. Companies have been able to use AI vision technology to spot quality issues and identify damages. When damage is caught quickly, the manufacturer can make changes to stop the problem before it becomes a larger issue with many more ruined products.
Machines that are able to predict their own upkeep needs are helping companies avoid unscheduled downtime. Machines can alert users of potential upcoming issues with analytics tools and ML predictive analysis. If companies are able to accurately forecast maintenance needs and avoid breakdowns, they can often make smaller repairs during more convenient times.
Delivery drones have already been taking packages to hard-to-access locations with AI technology. These machine-driven delivery bots can often get medical and food supplies to destinations faster than man-powered transport. While self-driving delivery trucks aren’t currently allowed on the road without a human operator, it’s just a matter of time before they are commonly used by carriers. AI-powered freight can help reduce the workload and speed the transportation process but will still likely need an operator on board, similar to a commercial plane.
Companies are using technology to choose the most efficient routes for their delivery paths. With shorter trips, shipping costs go down and the process speeds up. Real-time road conditions and construction spots are examples of route information that can alter suggestions for the best route. Eventually, tech should also help schedule driver arrival at ports so loads are staggered and detention times are lowered.
For freight forwarders, determining the costs of loads can be a time-consuming job. AI software can help predict pricing that will appeal to shippers and still leave large enough margins after carriers agree to the job. With this kind of technology, teams have been able to save time in procurement while boosting their bottom line.
Time spent entering numbers from documents into tracking software can be eliminated by automation. Software can take a variety of document types (like paper invoices and emails) and use machine-learning technology to pull important information. This keeps company records updated while reducing human resource costs.
As invoices are handled, the majority of companies are allowing around 10-15% of overcharges to occur because they don’t have the time or manpower to perform careful audits. Companies can use AI auditing to help improve the accuracy of their data and stop hemorrhaging funds stemming from unchecked discrepancies. Better finance operations with automated auditing can improve regulatory compliance, fraud detection and customer service.
As new emails come in, AI-powered software can help handle information and organize accounts. By automating data processing, teams are able to spend more of their time on more complex issues—like seeking out additional sales or helping customers with larger problems. AI can convert unstructured documents into digitalized data that works best for the company’s record-keeping process.
For many teams, keeping up with the barrage of quote inquiries and customer questions can be impossible. Increased demand has many teams overloaded and slow to respond. However, AI software can now respond to certain email inquiries with appropriate information. Chatbots are often used on websites or Facebook pages to help speed response time and sift through questions. Not only does this kind of automation help reduce team workloads, but the responses from automated programs can also provide faster answers, quotes and resources to build better relationships with leads, customers and vendors.
Software can help teams determine priorities by scoring leads. When teams realize there are highly qualified leads in the company’s sales funnel, they can provide additional attention and help to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Machines can help pinpoint the areas where current processes are sluggish or inefficient. With ML technology, companies can find areas where they can reduce the bottlenecks and roadblocks to create higher productivity levels for the company.
Sending out emails, posting content and placing ads can all be done through automation. Marketing and sales tactics based on AI prediction can increase the likelihood of campaign successes.
Measuring campaign outcomes is the best way to determine success or failure, shaping the path forward. AI can help track key metrics and provide a report that clarifies outcomes. It’s important for companies to have information-backed strategies and adapt to trends as they occur.
For some companies, growth might seem impossible until specific points of improvement are pinpointed. Many companies don’t know where they can cut costs or simplify their workflow. Invoicing and bill paying are two areas where most companies can achieve a faster and more accurate process with AI.
Rose Containerline has 30 years of industry experience, operating in over 50 countries all over the world. With the help of Expedock’s AI technology, the company was able to greatly improve its billpaying and invoice auditing process. Improving the cash flow cycle by 3-5 days meant saving the company nearly $500,000 in labor by reducing OPEX by 80%. The company was also able to catch $16,000 in invoice discrepancies with automated auditing. Before the use of Expedock, Rose Containerline operators were overwhelmed by thousands of drayage invoices, leading to data entry mistakes and shortcuts that caused issues with account transparency.
JUSDA was able to prevent $100,000 in weekly demurrage fees that occurred from slow payment processing. Using Expedock, the supply chain logistics management company improved cash flow with faster invoice processing and auditing. Not only did this save them directly on fees, but it also helped speed up shipment times for their customers.
Most companies can start by addressing the most common issues for freight forwarding operators. Implementing simple solutions for finance can help free up time and resources to focus on more complex issues that may not have straightforward fixes.
When productivity is improved, companies are able to scale and obtain sustainable growth. Automating basic finance processes lead to many benefits, including:
Utilizing AI-powered software for data extraction, data entry, and auditing, companies using Expedock have experienced 20-80% cost savings.
The Expedock platform provides automation for your shipments, consols, and invoice processes. Data extraction from documents and emails is automated with AI capabilities and customized to work with your specific sets of documents. On top of that, our quality assurance team validates every output before finalization, giving you close to 99.97% accuracy overall.
If you are ready to consider how automation could help your company, reach out to our team for a quick demo!