Supply chain optimization is the name of the game in 2023. Even as freight rates are stable, inflationary pressures still remain in warehousing and labor. US storage prices are now up 1.4% month-over-month and 11% year-over-year, while LTL carrier rates are projected to increase this year. Pair this with a volatile market, concerns about long-term trucking capacity, and an increasingly competitive environment, and it’s time for all shippers to consider conducting a transportation assessment to ensure their operations are performing up to par.
Transportation assessments offer evidence-based recommendations from third-party experts, ensuring an unbiased evaluation of a shipper’s capabilities. Many shippers have already completed these exercises in the wake of transitional periods this year, be it navigating new leadership, an acquisition, or unexpected growth.
But shippers of all sizes and circumstances can benefit. From benchmarking capabilities and identifying process gaps, to designing effective cost-saving initiatives, an assessment can surface actionable problems and opportunities at every stage of the transportation process—in effect, delivering a personalized playbook for shippers to drive short-term and long-term stability.
A comprehensive assessment involves developing a baseline, identifying and developing optimization opportunities, and delivering a final assessment report.
Uber Freight’s Consulting team uses a proprietary transportation modeling toolkit to analyze the state of a shipper’s transportation metrics, process documentation and costs involved in operation. They also evaluate data, process flows, site staff interviews, and other observations to document and quantify expected costs and performance metrics. After developing a baseline, data modeling tools are used to generate analytics and best practice benchmarks, which help identify opportunities for improvement. The Consulting team can then deliver the shipper a final evaluation that documents the findings, lays out improvement initiatives in transportation performance, and provides a roadmap to implement those changes. It’s important to note that transportation assessments can also be part of larger supply chain or logistics assessments, and conducted alongside facility or inventory assessments as well. Once completed, the Consulting team supports shippers with their new transformational initiatives and program deployments to ensure the assessment delivers continuous value.
At a high level, shippers can use an assessment to gauge their current state of operations to identify potential areas of improvement, with a special focus on three key areas: people, process, and technology. Using this three-pronged strategy, a transportation assessment can provide a detailed snapshot of what an organization’s baseline capabilities look like.
Often, an assessment unearths unexpected opportunities. One large consumer goods retailer initially approached the Consulting team to identify savings programs on more than $400 million in annual transportation spend. However, an evaluation of its entire logistics process helped pinpoint not only cost-savings opportunities, but also specific issues that were causing declining service levels across the retailer’s network.
As a result, experts were able to come up with tailored strategies for the retailer to optimize full truckloads, implement LTL pooling and load consolidation, expand its dedicated fleet, and apply lane priority to increase use of intermodal transportation. The retailer ultimately received a step-by-step strategy that not only promised annual savings of as much as 13%, but also materialized quick solutions to the issues that were deteriorating service.
A transportation assessment also analyzes how an organization’s workforce measures up to industry standards by consolidating basic information such as employee skills, training, and organizational structure. This is incredibly important as high turnover rates among supply chain managers and warehouse teams remain a prevalent concern in 2023.
Through a methodical approach of understanding and documenting how teams work, an assessment uncovers unproductive practices that have become permanent and blind spots that new team members are not aware of. Performing assessments helps organizations ensure their frontline resources aren’t spread too thin and that carrier management isn’t overwhelmed by the chaos of day-to-day operations.
One multinational retailer, for example, wanted to conduct an assessment with the goal of finding new ways to improve the people-side of its operations. The company had recently implemented a new team structure that didn’t perform quite as well as the leadership team had hoped it would.
The company partnered with Uber Freight’s Consulting team to take a deeper, objective look at what was happening on the ground. In-person interviews with site leadership precipitated a standardized framework for operational management to ensure that team members with varying levels of experience could communicate reliably and coordinate their tasks.
Assessments also look beyond on-site management issues to evaluate operational systems in their entirety, from administration and compliance to sourcing and procurement.
With an eye on the bigger picture, the Consulting team helps shippers determine make-or-break factors in shipment process flows, identify opportunities for automation, increase visibility into order management, and optimize planning and execution.
Technology is also an essential part of a transportation assessment. A technology review highlights where teams may not be fully leveraging technology investments such as transportation management systems (TMS) that provide process efficiency, data insights, and business intelligence.
There are many ways that a shipper can use technology to maximize savings, which include automating shipment optimization and routing, integrating a freight payment portal and adopting real-time shipment tracking. An assessment targets areas that would benefit from these tools, helping shippers achieve more with less labor.
From navigating supply chain bottlenecks and delayed freight to staying on top of uncertain demand and labor issues, transportation assessments are more important than ever to ensure successful operational performance without breaking the bank. By delivering a one-of-a-kind roadmap for success, assessments empower shippers to apply targeted improvement strategies based on real data—with the support of some of the most trusted logistics experts in the world.
To learn more about transportation assessments and get started, connect with an Uber Freight expert.