June 1, 2022

How Forwarders & BCOs can Save 100s of Hours a Month in Overtime with Freight Process Automation

Reduce Overtime and Worker Strain with Freight Process Automation

Saving time means impacting your bottom line. If you can streamline your process, you can improve productivity and boost your profit margins. Saving hundreds of hours by increasing freight automation to cover repetitive, low-level jobs (like data entry and formatting) means your team is able to focus on the jobs that utilize their skills.

The right solution isn't replacing people with technology or robots but finding ways to make their jobs easier. When tech is used to help improve your processes, you should walk away with a better system in place and a team that is able to be more effective because of it. Tech can perform certain jobs—like organization and formatting—far faster than a human team.

The landscape of freight forwarding is changing—really, all logistics players face a turning point in the industry. Companies will either find modern solutions to help them adapt or be outpaced by the competition.

What's Causing So Much Overtime and Inefficiency?

Freight forwarders and other logistics companies are facing increased overtime, frustrated teams and sluggish workflows. There are many factors impacting companies and causing current logistics challenges.

Unexpected Disruptions and Market Changes

Market Volatility due to COVID has only added to the problems freight forwarders are facing in their workflows. The backlog at ports, driver shortage and increased consumer demand for certain goods have completely disrupted the typical supply chain for most logistics companies.

COVID Lockdowns and Restrictions

COVID lockdowns, including the recent closure of the Shanghai port, have only added to the complexities of freight forwarding. Teams have been dealing with more exceptions than normal over the past two years and need more support.

Overwhelmed Teams and Worker Shortages

Stressed teams are making it difficult for box lines and forwarders to keep frontline staff. High turnover rates are expensive for companies who face workflow interruptions, slowed productivity and low team morale. The cost of hiring, onboarding and training employees is another factor that adds to the expense of high turnover rates.

But even if high turnover rates weren't expensive, it's difficult to find enough people to fill the jobs. People don't want to take on a job where they are under a lot of stress and overworked. McKinsey reports, "Despite wage increases, logistics operations are still having difficulty hiring and retaining frontline workers, while also seeing increased absenteeism, causing knock-on effects across the supply chain." The U.S. labor force has decreased by 4.7 million since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Outdated Technology and Practices

Another issue is the lack of modern tech in U.S. logistics. Companies overwhelmed by paperwork and the lack of shared data are examples of contributing factors causing overtime and inefficiency. Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, told the Washington Post, "The United States is decades behind foreign ports in getting carriers, terminals and shippers to provide each other access to commercial data for planning purposes."

Tech solutions are changing at a very rapid pace and aging quickly. Most companies are dealing with ancient technology that hasn't kept pace with the current demands for data, accuracy and automation. Instead, clunky manual processes are still in place and taking time away from other crucial tasks—like procurement and customer service.

Why Forwarders' Frontline Workers Must Stay Strategic

Human capital is one of the most valuable assets a logistics company has. The growing shortage of skilled workers is impacted by several things:

  • The aging Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement
  • Changing demographics and public perception of logistics jobs
  • Lack of available training programs to bring in skilled workers
  • Increased demand for workers in the logistics industry
  • Resigning due to feeling overworked and overloaded

According to Lloyd's List, people on the frontline are "resigning in droves" because they are fed up. Not only do frontline logistics workers have to deal with constant complaints from customers, but they also have to handle increased workloads from heightened demand and worker shortages.

The more overloaded the team, the more people quit to pursue a different line of work. This can become a vicious cycle, since every departure increases the strain put on remaining workers. And turnover takes time because even when new hires are brought in, they often have to be trained on basic industry concepts before they can be trained to cover a specific job.

In order to build sustainable growth, companies need access to an adequate workforce and an incoming talent pool. A strategic company will take the threat of worker shortages seriously. Using automation and AI, companies can reduce OPEX and utilize human resources more effectively.

How Automation Augments Frontline Workers and Reduces Overtime

While some circumstances and exceptions are out of freight forwarders' control, the right tech can help improve efficiency for their teams. Forwarders need modern solutions designed to handle the current explosion of data. Most logistics companies are working with antiquated tech that doesn't support their current needs for control, organization, insight and automation.

Automating tasks makes it possible for frontline logistics workers to focus on areas where they are needed more. For example, companies can use software to convert documents into one format in just minutes, saving hundreds of ongoing data entry hours.

Freight process automation through machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) can help remove the burden of busywork from the shoulders of frontline workers. Automation can help with redundant tasks that take up to half your frontline staff's working hours and cost millions in unnecessary charges, including:

  • Document digitalization and formatting
  • Data organization and classification
  • Auditing invoices and reconciling accounts

Automating key processes has helped logistics companies increase capacity while reducing workloads and improving the bottom line. Freeing up your frontline staff means empowering them to spend more time on customer concerns and procuring new business.

Rose Containerline Saved Over $500,000 on OPEX with Automation

For more than 30 years, Rose Containerlines has built a thriving business. The company has expanded to operations in over 50 countries and didn't have tech in place to handle thousands of invoices every day. Their teams simply couldn't keep up with the influx of drayage invoices, resulting in errors and shortcuts that left out information or lumped line items together.

When Rose Containerline integrated Expedock, they were able to reduce their OPEX by more than 80% by optimizing their data entry, extraction and auditing process. They were also able to improve their cash flow cycle by 3-5 days and identify more than $16,000 in invoice discrepancies that would otherwise go unnoticed.

"Automation wasn't something I was previously aware of or very keen on and I was skeptical until I saw it in action," said Lance Beresnoy, Vice President of Rose Containerline. "We're on track to stop losses of more than half a million dollars as a result of Expedock's AI Service."

AI Prevented $100,000/Week in Demurrage Fees for JUSDA

JUSDA has more than two decades of experience in supply chain logistics and serves over 1,000 brands. With over 155 service locations worldwide and 8.2 million in warehouse space, the company regularly dealt with a huge number of invoices and an outdated process to handle them. A new process to speed up billing and cash flow helped JUSDA reduce demurrage fees that were the result of their sluggish manual invoice management process.

JUSDA was spending over $100,000 per week on demurrage, leaving containers sitting in the Port of Houston while drayage and driver payments were pending. By automating the invoice entry and auditing with Expedock, the company stopped hemorrhaging profit from unnecessary fees caused by antiquated bill processing.

Automation Improved Productivity by 30% for MHM Global

Not only is it important to reduce the strain on the workforce, but it's also crucial to empower teams to focus on top-level tasks. Automation can be used to support workers by reducing low-level tasks that are necessary but don't require any skill. MHM Global has run a logistics business for nearly a decade and works with an extensive global network to offer innovative logistics solutions.

Using Expedock, MHM Global saved money while improving the productivity of its frontline operations staff by 30%. Director Joey Lin says these objective savings didn't even include the increase in sales from improved productivity. The company was able to eliminate time-consuming invoice formatting and auditing tasks, allowing staff to focus on serving customers, answering questions and managing issues.

Expedock Can Save Your Team Hundreds of Hours Each Month

On average, freight forwarders and other logistics companies are seeing 20-80% cost savings by implementing Expedock software. Teams are saving hundreds of hours by incorporating freight automation software that eliminates hours of data entry time each day.

The Expedock software automatically converts invoices from a variety of formats into a usable resource with line-item coding based on tailored AI. The software then automatically compares accrued actuals against prior estimates. If discrepancies are found, one of your expert frontline reps is alerted to take a closer look. Speeding the process makes it possible to payout invoices faster and even helps prioritize invoices by the due date to avoid late fees.

It's crucial you cut unnecessary costs where you can. It's just as crucial that you treat your human resources with care to keep them around for as long as possible.

When you improve your frontline, you will even have a positive impact on the relationships you have with customers and vendors. Your staff will be more equipped to handle their questions with fewer busy work tasks, plus your billing process will be more accurate and reliable.

Are you wondering what Expedock AI could do for you? We'd love to schedule a quick chat. Request your free quote today.

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