November 16 2023 | 7 Min Read

Situation Files #8: Leveraging good freight data and smart people to fix a problem shipment

Posted By
Wendy Mackenzie
Situation Files #8: Leveraging good freight data and smart people to fix a problem shipment

How we found a lost shipment via freight data and fixed it in record time

Shipping. It’s all about the specifics. An object of specific dimensions and specific weight must get to a specific place at a specific moment in time. Make just one tiny miscalculation in this enormous blackboard of logistics calculus and the shipment at the epicenter of all that careful organization goes tumbling off into the unknown … like organizational space junk.

  • Deadlines lapse.
  • Customers complain.
  • Profits evaporate.
  • Grumpiness happens.

This situation file is about one lost shipment. It’s about how we identified what went wrong. It’s also about how we fixed it, and how we worked with our client to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.

A bit of context before we dive in: Our client for this SF was a communications cable manufacturer. The shipment? Three big ol’ pallets filled with 800 pounds of cabling for an office construction site. The fix? We walked the path from problem ID to final resolution in under 24 hours.

The upshot

  • One lost shipment found back at its point of origin.
  • One shipping mistake identified and resolved.
  • One no-longer-missing shipment sent smoothly off to its destination in under one working day, keeping our client’s reputation intact and our client’s end customer BNTW (blissfully none the wiser – feel free to steal that).

The sitch

This customer was new on IL2000’s books — I mean brand-spankin’ new. They still had that pine-fresh new client smell. So, as you read this one, bear in mind that they’d been with us a bit less than eight weeks, and we were still working together to iron out some of their internal processes.

Our first inkling something was wrong came from the carrier.

A big shipment had gone out from the client’s warehouse just as planned. Then, at some point, the shipment foundered. A crucial transfer was missed, and suddenly 800 pounds of copper-cabled goodness was being shunted on a cumbersome boomerang trajectory back to its origin point. It wasn’t quite clear at that stage why it had happened, but early indications suggested that something appeared to be amiss with the shipment’s PRO number.

So the sitch in brief: An enormous mass of expensive cables was bouncing around in futility from one processing point to another and looked set to remain locked in that limbo for the foreseeable future.

Not good for the end customer. Highly not good for our client.

What was going wrong?

  • Insufficient time: There’s a vicious cycle that kicks in with any demanding supply chain. The busier it gets, the greater the chance for error, the busier it gets, the greater the chance of error. Round and round it goes. It takes freight data, intelligent systems and expertise to bust out of that cycle.
  • Inexperience: This client wasn’t an expert in filling out shipping details. That was one big reason they came to us in the first place, and as you’ll see in the next section – The Solve – we were about to demonstrate that they’d made the right decision.

The solve

Let’s be real here. Problems like these happen all the time. It’s just a part of supply chain management. It’s how effectively these problems are identified and handled that separates a resilient supply chain from a reactive one.

We had already set in stone a few meaningful early wins. A key win (one that’d end up saving this shipment) was that they were using our proprietary TMS.

We had good visibility about their shipment. An IL2000 logistics planner was able to go into the shipment data, extract the bill of lading, and triangulate that against a reference number. Using those data points, we could track the shipment back to its origin point safely.

Phew. So the product was no longer lost.

Now to get the shipment moving again.

After a two and a half hour phone call with the carrier, we identified what went wrong. Our client had inadvertently left an old PRO number on the order as well as adding a new one. It was a small and easy-to-make mistake, but it was enough to render the shipment DITW (dead in the water – OK, that was the last superfluous acronym, we promise).

We issued a new PRO number, and the shipment was on its way again. All of this troubleshooting happened in under one working day. In fact, the whole shipment issue had been identified, damage controlled, and rectified with less than one day’s additional transit and processing.

The shipment arrived at the end customer’s warehouse with no issues, no reputation damage, and no missed deadlines.
In the days to come, we offered training and guidance to prevent the problem from happening again.  

What went right?

  • Eyes on the ground: Good systems gave us eyes on the ground. IL2000 receives a report every day by 10 am to confirm that delivery schedules are all on track. This report equipped us to identify potentially late deliveries. On top of that, our TMS captured an important array of data about each and every shipment. That meant we were able to quickly see what wasn’t working correctly and formulate a plan.
  • Responsiveness: Flowing on from that awareness came responsiveness. We saw a problem, picked up the phone, and dived straight into a conversation with our client about the problem. Someone who knew all about their operation was keeping an eye on their supply chain and generating solutions. IL2000’s proactive oversight put our client on a faster road to a good outcome.
  • Attention to detail: In this example, the IL2000 operator who identified this problem and tracked down a solution was a logistics planner with over two decades of experience in interrogating data sets and tracking down solutions. All our freight management specialists share the crucial attribute of a laser-focused eye for detail. Armed with that skillset, we could efficiently sift through the variables and formulate a smart way forward.

The take home

Logistics is all about specifics. Every single shipment that trundles through your supply chain depends on a thousand little things being done right. Inevitably, things go wrong from time to time. The thing that separates a good supply chain from a bad one isn’t perfection. Constant perfection is impossible.

It’s resilience.

The take-home here is that IL2000 equips your freight operation with that resilience. We help make sure you are robust enough that if something does go wrong, we can quickly fix it so that your logistics world can keep on spinning.

Need help fixing SNAFUs on the turn of a dime?

Talk to IL2000.


Topics: Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management, Business Intelligence

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