Enhancing operational efficiencies is imperative for logistics and freight forwarding teams in 2022, particularly in light of volatile freight markets and ongoing staffing shortages. Logistics automation technology provides solutions for improving efficiencies through supply chain data management and integration with existing TMS platforms.
This article discusses the benefits of logistics process automation within the Cargowise system, and explains how operations and accounting teams can increase efficiencies and minimize staffing costs through automation and artificial intelligence.
Freight forwarding is a business of collaboration and a forwarder generally coordinates with at least 3 to 5 vendors for a single international air or ocean shipment. Forwarders rely on a large network of drayage, airline, and steamship vendors to secure the most competitive pricing, often alternating vendors based on the best rate. Many vendors have not committed to the time-consuming and relatively expensive Cargowise integration, and are transferring data to freight forwarders manually via PDFs, scanned images, or spreadsheets.
Paper and digital documents are cumbersome for a freight forwarder’s operations and accounting teams, as they require manual data entry into Cargowise. On average, this manual entry and auditing process will take staff 2 to 4 hours a day – up to half of their working hours. This system is inefficient, tedious, and takes away from valuable time that operations teams need for customer service and high-level execution of freight commitments.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and logistics automation provide a solution to this manual process by transforming unstructured documents into structured, uploadable data. AI is able to do this by learning to “read” a document, mapping the coordinates for relevant fields, and extracting data from those fields. Extracted data is easily linked to the corresponding shipment on Cargowise, streamlining supply chain data management and eliminating the unnecessary manual process.
Document processing does not end with data entry, as Cargowise also requires a copy of digital documents to be uploaded as backup for recordkeeping and auditing purposes. Documents must be classified by category, attached the correct shipment, and uploaded to the system as an e-document. Unfortunately, since Cargowise operates primarily on remote servers, the upload process can take up to five minutes for a single document. Since an average shipment has anywhere between seven to twelve documents associated with it, document upload could take 30 minutes per shipment when done manually.
Logistics process automation and AI solutions make e-document classification and upload to Cargowise easy. In the same way AI learns unstructured document processing, it can identify and classify a document type, like commercial invoice, bill of lading, accounts payable invoices, packing lists, and more. Since the document data has already been extracted, AI knows which shipment to attach the document to, creating a seamless upload into Cargowise.
Freight forwarders receive multiple accounts payable invoices for a single shipment, due to the large number of parties and vendors involved. This creates a high volume of data entry for accounting teams, particularly if the invoices contain many exceptions and discrepancies. Accounting teams can spend hours attempting to identify exceptions and reconcile line-item discrepancies for a single invoice using manual processes, which can delay payments and threaten vendor relationships.
Fortunately, logistics process automation solutions can ease the burden of invoice reconciliation through AI exception recognition. With this technology, vendor invoices are automatically compared to expected accruals on Cargowise. If the invoice and accruals match or are below a set threshold, the invoice posts automatically to Cargowise. If they do not match, AI identifies the line-item exception and flags the discrepancy for review. This means accounting teams are only reviewing discrepant invoices, allowing them to more quickly and efficiently reconcile charges.
Advanced automation and AI systems can also identify, extract, and post data from statements of account into the Cargowise Payable Module. This feature eliminates the need for accounting teams to manually create transactions in the module and streamlines processes for managing multiple invoices.
Expedock is on a mission to build a powerful supply chain data management infrastructure that generates unprecedented efficiency for the modern freight forwarder. They deliver AI-powered logistics automation to turn unstructured documents into simple Cargowise workflows. Automating Cargowise data entry tasks gives operations and accounting teams time to focus on strategic projects, and provides significant savings in labor costs.
See how logistics process automation can benefit your business and your bottom line. Get in touch with the experts at Expedock for a consultation and demo today.