Southeastern Freight Lines, the leading provider of regional less-than-truckload (LTL) transportation services, has long recognized that third-party logistics companies (3PLs) are performing valuable services for customers and has developed technology solutions to position the company as an ideal partner with 3PLs to provide services to shippers and consignees.
The importance of mutually beneficial partnerships with 3PLs has continued to grow for Southeastern and the entire industry, and systems that incorporate 3PL tracking numbers, match pickup information to each shipment and report the status of shipments in real time are helping advance relationships with 3PLs.
‘While other carriers are still adapting to the new reality of 3PL partnerships, we have ‘made a commitment to be the best provider and partner to 3PLs in our industry with the same driving commitment to excellence that we provide for all of our customers,’ said Braxton Vick, Southeastern’s senior vice president of corporate planning and development.
Supporting unique tracking numbers is one example of technology advancements incorporated into Southeastern’s communications infrastructure to support the business relationships with 3PLs. Third-party logistics providers assign unique tracking numbers to each shipment, which is required on all documentation, such as status reports and invoices. Southeastern has built the capability to match the 3PL tracking numbers to Southeastern’s tracking information and invoices through its electronic data interchange (EDI) system, automatically reporting the unique tracking numbers on all shipments tracked for all customers through the web-based reporting and bill of lading systems.
Southeastern links the 3PL tracking numbers to pickup information, enabling Southeastern to report shipment status based on the tracking numbers. Southeastern also reports when and why a shipment is not picked up, such as if the freight was not available for the scheduled pickup. Automating this service through the EDI system has many benefits, including the ability to notify the shipper of the status immediately via e-mail, text messages or telephone and aggregate all shipping information for 3PLs to view electronically.
Odyssey Logistics & Technology, an innovative provider of logistics services based in Danbury CT, agreed to test a new web-based pickup status system developed by Southeastern. The new system improves the automation of ‘back-office’ pickup status reporting common in the 3PL industry. Pickups are entered into Southeastern’s website by Odyssey which transmits the request to a routing system at Southeastern. The system then delivers the request directly to the pickup driver on a given route. The driver updates the pickup with the actual shipment information once the pickup is made. More importantly, the driver also updates the system when a shipment is not made due to one of 14 different reasons such as: shipper closed, shipment not ready, or shipper not aware of shipment, etc. ‘While providing shipment status information is common in the LTL industry, providing a reason why a shipment is not picked up is a new and innovative application for the 3PL industry,’ says Bob Messemer, Director Logistics Procurement with Odyssey.
Automating the pickup status process saves 3PLs a tremendous amount of time and reduces their cost of doing business with Southeastern Freight Lines. Vick said the commitment to develop and deploy technology to benefit 3PLs will also benefit other customers, and more development is underway for future improvements. ‘Demand from 3PLs led us to develop these systems, and now consignees are demanding the same level of reporting to make their business more efficient,’ he said. ‘This is an evolution in the industry that we will continue to embrace for the benefit of 3PLs and all of our customers.”