Data analytics for logistics drives reefer efficiency via a real-time forecast

Jason VanoverFreight Market Blog

During times of disruption and recovery, as seen now in the transportation industry, keeping up with the changing pace is essential. Data analytics for logistics can make all the difference in the world when it comes to reefer truckload service delivery efficiency.  And a new suite of products, ranging from artificial intelligence through visualization tools to see lane acuity, are changing the game. According to Supply Chain Digital, “although new, AI-driven concepts are being introduced, they aren’t new to the logistics sector. However, the data [that powers them] hasn’t previously been utilized to its full capacity until recently.” 

Take the example of RCRPMF.USA in the image. On February 16, 2021, final reported rates for reefer contracts were at $2.02. However, comparing that with past years’ data, shows a notable decline from $2.05 last year and $2.19 the year prior. Yet, data from the 2017-2018 period shows rates lower than today’s average. Therefore, reefer rates have a two out of three chance to increase in the coming weeks. Part of that is obvious due to changing seasons, but it also means it’s time to start thinking about how current contract reefer rates are shaping rate negotiations. 

Unfortunately, the inability to visualize data for short-term mini-bids and long-term annual contracts that puts reefer logistics at a disadvantage. But, that does not have to be the case. And by using analytics, freight managers can promote increased insight into reefer efficiency, recognize when it’s time to rethink bidding strategies and determine which lanes and rates across contracts, as well as the spot market, are costing the business more money than necessary.

Common issues reefer logistics and shipping managers have to overcome

While change is always hard, it is necessary within the supply chain system. Being adaptable and versatile is what keeps shippers front and center and in a prime position to meet consumer needs and demands. When data analytics for logistics are ignored and applied, there are a number of issues that arise. And each of these can become major stumbling blocks for reefer truck and trailer management. For instance, consider these common problems that may fly under the radar with limited insight into reefer transportation efficiency:

  • Temperature Control Issues Produce, food, and medical supplies require special handling protocols.
  • Timeline and Distance Restrictions Refrigerated loads have limited windows for transportation timelines.
  • Disruption and Delays Small delays and hang-ups can cause entire loads to be put in jeopardy.
  • Human and Equipment Errors Mistakes and misjudgments can cause damage to reefer shipping loads. 
  • Mechanical Issues and Problems Equipment failure can put the entire load at risk for disruption. 
  • Higher Expenses and Costs The specialized handling as a general exception to workflows may contribute to higher costs, such as increased dwell time that may result in spoilage.

These are just a few examples of how poor application of data analytics for logistics can affect every aspect of the reefer supply chain. But how can technology help? The answer lies in staying informed and knowing what’s happening in the market, as well as how well insights predicted pan out over time through backtesting.

Embracing smart data and automation for improving shipping performance

Data analytics for logistics can go a long way in improving shipping performance and customer satisfaction. The fastest and easiest way to accomplish this is with smart data and automated process integration. According to Forbes, “Fleet managers can integrate data from vehicles, scanners, sensors, personnel, and live weather and traffic reports, to more effectively manage and deploy assets. And by using machine learning and advanced analytics, they can discover and act on insights to optimize delivery routes in real-time.” With access to real-time freight data and up-to-the-minute reports and communications, shipping performance can be greatly enhanced. The true value of data analytics for logistics can only be realized with smart data and modern tech at the forefront of supply chain operations. As such, that data begins to mount and add value, but it’s only when the data becomes more insightful and actionable processed via analytics, that it can do the most good. 

Benefits of reefer data analytics for logistics and the supply chain managers

Once automated platforms and diagnostic dashboards become an integrated part of asset-based trucking management, the benefits of data analytics for logistics and network operations are easy to see. Top benefits include:

  • Real-time Monitoring Power Keeping tabs on load status and location in real-time is invaluable to any logistics management team.
  • Faster Response to Issues Being able to react and respond to disruptions in an informed manner can make all the difference.
  • Safety and Security of Loads Ensuring loads are safe, orders are secure and privacy is guaranteed is critical for customer satisfaction.
  • Accurate Delivery Timelines Customers expect and demand reliable delivery, and data analytics for logistics makes that doable.
  • Better Lines of Communication Sharing data, updates and vital information is much easier within the supply chain network.

Drive efficiency and profits from improved reefer loads with FreightWaves insight

Data analytics for logistics can boost reefer delivery logistics and efficiency at every point of the supply chain. The true value of smart data acquisition and application is realized when all supply chain operations are improved, enhanced, streamlined and upgraded. Utilizing the power of automation and data analytics can change the entire outlook for the supply chain network and enhance reefer freight trucking revenue. And part of that means recognizing when contract rates are out of alignment with market ideals. Ultimately, paying above-market rates in a low-volatility environment suggests overspending. Paying too little in highly volatile markets adds to expenses too. Only by knowing what’s happening and where can freight management parties begin to rethink their short-term and long-term RFP processes. FreightWaves brings that information to light, and it’s the cornerstone of SONAR SCI Lane Acuity. Request a SONAR SCI Lane Acuity demo to get started.