(Graphics created by Emily Ricks)

In today’s world, it’s easy to lose sight of what makes supply chains function efficiently. With all the advances in technology and a continuous need to just do more with less, it’s imperative for shippers to start by assessing the quality of their basic data and analytics tools. And the freight routing guide is the best place to begin. However, some may still overlook critical areas of focus that should be included within the routing guide

According to PLS Logistics, “A routing guide is an essential tool for businesses seeking greater control over transportation decision-making. The routing guide makes vendors responsible for using preferred transportation carriers or shipment instructions and yields value. Compliance with routing guides can reduce costs like processing damaged products and saves time when the operations staff doesn’t have to figure out a shipment with missing documents.” Let’s take a closer look at the core components of any effective routing guide.

Prescribes routes based on shipment size and origin

The freight routing guide is a series of instructions that indicate the modes, service levels and other requirements for each inbound and outbound shipment. In other words, the document shows exactly what to do for each and every shipment from suppliers, which carriers to use, and whether a shipment can be rolled to another pickup date or other need. In turn, that reduces risk of tender rejection and reduces overhead costs. 

Labeling instructions

The next part of the freight routing guide sets the labeling requirements for shipments. Labeling is a critical aspect of any logistics operation. Labels dictate where the item is going, where it’s originating, who needs to accept responsibility upon delivery and details to show what’s in the package. Individual shippers may also have unique labeling requirements, such as white-glove service indicators like “fragile” or “two-person lift required.” The idea is to minimize safety risks, damage to the product and ensure its timely delivery to the proper destination.

BOL & POD requirements

Other factors in the freight routing guide are the bill of lading and proof of delivery requirements. These may also require electronic documentation, also known as eBOL and ePOD. Knowing how to approach each piece of documentation is essential to avoiding loss and potential penalties from shippers. 

Configurations that may be used

Pallet and slotting item configurations will also be specified within the freight routing guide. These configurations are designed to maximize use of space, avoid delays in dock staging and more. Such configurations also help the receiver, especially in a palletized form, with unloading and putaway processes. This particular section of the guide may further prescribe the way in which pallets can be stacked, loaded or otherwise moved. And it’s applicable across all forms of freight, including produce, electronics and more.

Packaging requirements

All shipments need proper packaging, and packaging requirements may vary significantly based on the type of item. The freight routing guide details standard and specific packaging requirements for all items. This may include providing broad instructions to ensure items arrive damage-free and on-time. Ultimately, the right packaging requirements help to prevent loss and eventual customer returns. 

ASN requirements

The freight routing guide further details Advance Shipping Notice (ASN) requirements that all trading partners must provide. ASNs are critical to ensure collaboration and avoid missed pickups or delays within the shipping process. 

Penalties for non-compliance

Perhaps the most obvious and talked about impacts of freight routing guide failures are penalties. The routing guide shows what will happen when failures occur. Such failures may include delays, wrong packaging, incorrect palletizing or even improper documentation requirements. Regardless, failures mean shippers lose out in the end implying a bad customer experience in the final outcome. As such, shippers implement policies and penalties to give carriers and LSPs a reason to ensure adherence and drive ongoing route optimization. However and even with that in mind, shippers still need to know when failures are likely to occur and how to pre-empt them. That amounts to recognizing the true issues within the market. 

A breakdown of data-tracking methods and analytics resources used to improve performance

 Since shippers need insight, the best freight routing guide will further define how a shipper will collect and apply data to create carrier scorecards and define successes versus failure. That may include tracking market volatility, tender rejections by carrier, compliance violations and more. Together, it all helps shippers define when to expand the network and when to cut ties with a poorly performing partner. 

Stay proactive with freight routing guide evolution by putting the power of SONAR SCI Lane Acuity to Work

The best way to stay strategic in today’s supply chain begins and ends with data. FreightWaves SONAR SCI Lane Acuity is the one-stop resource that can help identify at-risk markets and give shippers an advance notice of when a freight routing guide failure is likely or imminent. And that value derives from a significant repository of information compiled across years of both paid and tendered data, without bias, to maintain the most comprehensive and accurate index of market stability. Request a SONAR SCI Lane Acuity demo today to learn more about how your team can evolve the freight routing guide to find failures before they occur and prevent them by matching RFPs to market dynamics. 

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