Full Speed Ahead: Enhanced Expedited Services

April 23, 2007
When it comes to moving freight with expedited and express carriers, ancillary shipping services that go beyond pickup, movement and delivery are increasingly

When it comes to moving freight with expedited and express carriers, ancillary shipping services that go beyond pickup, movement and delivery are increasingly attractive.

Brigette Smith, transportation logistics analyst for Trimble Navigation Ltd. Inc. (www.trimble.com) in Dayton, Ohio, says that "it is critical to be in a relationship with a carrier that can offer everything under one umbrella." Headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., Trimble has more than 2,000 employees in 20 countries worldwide. The company develops and markets global positioning system (GPS) technology. Trimble augments GPS with other positioning technologies as well as wireless communications and software.

"We export and import and redistribute. We manufacture domestically and do sourcing around the globe as well," says Smith. "Some 60% of our product is manufactured here, in Dayton. We are the main distribution center, too."

From Dayton Trimble manages inbound, outbound and truck shipments domestically and globally. At present it is implementing a DC bypass program that Smith feels will eliminate a number of headaches. As she explains, Trimble has some 85,000 different parts that it manages. "Some 70% of our products are systems, including GPS and construction lasers used for mapping," she notes. "The rest are service parts."

Trimble uses a wide range of services beyond the simple movement of a shipment. "We pick providers depending on the niche and service, product flow and weight and urgency of the customer's need, customs clearance, delivery, classification and so forth," claims Smith. One of the reasons Trimble chose and uses DHL (www.dhl.com) is that it can move small packages to 150 lbs., and heavyweight shipments too. "It's wonderful to have the flexibility," she says, " and to know you just have to call one number for the service."

The software that carriers use is of great importance to Smith. Trimble has integrated DHL's EasyShip software into its Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning suite. Ship instructions are all entered electronically, along with account information and terms of sale. Orders must match the rate and tariff structure that the company has negotiated with DHL. Some of the other functions that EasyShip enables are automatic issue of waybills and customs documents, destination coding and shipment manifesting. The program also provides real-time tracking all shipments.

"If requested," Smith says, "we extend shipment visibility to our end customers. It's a real team effort. The customer is number one. When they are smiling, I am smiling."

DHL now handles customs clearance for Trimble. While the company has its own import compliance department, new harmonization codes have been sent to their carrier. Trimble forwards Excel spreadsheets with the new codes for any import activity. Having the correct harmonization codes locked into the DHL system eliminates the need for extra phone calls.

In general when examining carriers Smith values several factors as extremely important. "They need a global network." she claims, "Direct handling for customs clearance, whether import or export, excellent communications and a favorable rate structure. Our needs at Tremble are based on business growth. As long as everything is moving forward and we are updated with all the news and information that DHL is providing, we are happy."

Enhanced Shipment Tracking
Easing the burden of preparation, management and tracking package and heavy freight shipments both domestically and internationally, UPS (www.ups.com) has added upgrades to three of its technology solutions. Now available in 14 languages, the carrier's WorldShip 9.0 permits shippers to select from three delivery options presently being offered in major global commercial centers while preparing documentation. WorldShip will prepare shipping labels for package, freight and international shipments. When linked to UPS Internet Shipping, it's possible to create a bill of lading for freight shipments as well as specifying who pays freight charges, and internationally who pays duties and taxes.

Used in conjunction with WorldShip, Quantum View provides shipment visibility into air, ocean and ground freight movement and access to images of the bill of lading and delivery receipt of UPS freight shipments. The UPS Billing Solutions portfolio now includes an electronic freight invoice among its offerings.

The carrier has just added UPS Delivery Intercept that permits shippers to capture and reroute shipments before they're delivered. As delivery needs change, a shipper can click on the IZ tracking number and request a reroute. UPS Delivery Intercept works for domestic shipments moving to or from anywhere in the United States or Puerto Rico. Except for packages using UPS SonicAir, UPS Delivery Intercept is available for all small package deliveries, even when they're already on a UPS delivery vehicle. Cost for the service is $10 per intercept. The fee isn't charged until the intercept is completed.

For its part, last year FedEx (www.fedex.com) introduced Expedited Freight Services that allow shippers to evaluate all surface and air options available from FedEx Express, FedEx Freight and FedEx Custom Critical in order to choose the best one for a particular shipment.

"Our customers' business needs change daily and in some instance hourly," observes Douglas Duncan, president and CEO of FedEx Freight. "Customers are seeking reliable transportation solutions that offer flexibility as well as specialized options to meet their specific transportation needs. With FedEx Expedited Freight Services customers can access the right network at the right time."

Expedited Freight Services permits shippers to select the service that meets pickup and delivery parameters, time constraints and nature of the product being shipped. The carrier can also recover a shipment in transit and shift it from one FedEx solution to another in order to meet changes in shipper requirements.

Most recently, FedEx Custom Critical has introduced a new time-definite service that offers more delivery options for expedited freight shipments. Surface Expedite Network combines operations of Custom Critical with FedEx Freight to speed the movement of shipments through its network. With the new service shippers can choose the hour for final delivery. Shipments receive priority treatment throughout the FedEx Freight system.

With U.S. express and expedited business closely linked to the performance of the overall economy, and growth in that area not being as vigorous as corporate managers at the expedited carriers might wish, they are all focusing on their international business—which is booming—and increasing the range of services they provide in other countries.

One company that has re-formed itself and is now turning to compete for express business in countries other than its own is Netherlands-headquartered TNT (www.tnt.com). In its first full year after divesting divisions that didn't fit into its new business plan, the carrier has seen strong growth in its European domestic business. In order to increase its market share, however, it will have to match competitor services in other countries.

To that end, as noted by Marie Christine Lombard, group managing director of the carrier's express division, "TNT strengthens its presence region by region. After China, India and Asia, Brazil is a logical step." She is referring to TNT's acquisition in January of Expresso Mercúrio SA (www.mercurio.com), a leader in the Brazilian express market. In purchasing Mercúrio TNT got a network that reaches 3,300 cities across Brazil, with expanded coverage into Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. TNT looks to move quickly in the Brazilian market, and claims to be the first express services company to offer both domestic and international deliveries there.

With competition heating up, particularly during times of economic slow-down, as express carriers move to augment and add services and coverage, the shipping community stands to benefit.

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