How to Increase Efficiency in Your Back Office: 5 Tips for Logistics Service Providers

Logistics service providers continue to face rising pressure from customers, vendors and third-party logistics providers. To keep up with demand and ensure that orders are fulfilled on time and at the right cost, LSPs are focusing more attention on their back office operations. To improve efficiency at your back office, you have to strike the right balance between people, technology, processes and data. This means introducing technologies that automate manual processes so employees can focus on more important tasks. It also means implementing processes that cut down on inefficiencies and redundancies. With these steps in mind, let’s take a closer look at how you can increase efficiency in your back office:

Organize and streamline your supply chain

A well-oiled supply chain will make your entire business run more smoothly—and more efficiently. Start by assessing your current supply chain process and identifying areas for improvement. What does your typical shipment entail? At what point does it enter the back office? What happens next? Recognizing your company’s lowest hanging fruit gives you a starting point to decide what’s most important to optimize. 

Utilize automation tools

Manual processes are inherently inefficient. So, wherever you can, try to implement automation. This will help you to cut down on your employees’ workload and ensure that shipments are being completed quickly and accurately. Automated tools, such as robotic process automation, can help to increase efficiency throughout the shipping process. A few of these RPA tools include email automation, document automation, and workflow automation. Email automation is able to open emails, analyze the content, and respond to a customer inquiry in seconds. Document automation can extract data from documents, migrate it to your TMS or ERP system, and complete shipments without human intervention. Workflow automation can trigger advanced workflows like notifying customers or internal teams.  

Provide employees with the right tools

Empowered employees are better employees. They feel a sense of ownership over their work and are more likely to do things the right way. They’re also less likely to make costly errors. Automate as many processes as you can, but leave room for employees to make decisions or manage exceptions. For example, people will always need to be involved when automation is implemented. There will always be exceptions in the logistics industry that software just can’t handle, like hazardous or high-value moves. Automation allows employees to focus on these valuable projects rather than mindless data entry.  

Leverage data to drive efficiency

As you implement new technologies, you’ll also be able to collect more data. This data can then be used to drive efficiency forward and make your business more streamlined, allowing you to forecast demand with more accuracy. Live updates throughout every step of the shipment process means you can go beyond simply analyzing past trends. Using the data, you don’t have to wait months to find out if a disruption or change to your supply chain is causing disarray. You’ll be able to make informed decisions that make an immediate impact. 

Drive consolidation in your back office

We’ve noticed one common theme when talking with logistics service providers – a patchwork of systems and processes that create chaos for the logistics industry. Back office teams are spending hours every day logging into multiple third party systems or portals just to access the information to complete a task. Utilizing robotic process automation to connect these systems and consolidate the data into one platform allows employees to be more efficient, complete shipments faster, and provide better customer service. 

Bottom line

With the right combination of people, processes, and technology, you can increase efficiency at your back office and ensure that orders are fulfilled on time. By organizing and streamlining your supply chain, implementing automation tools, providing employees with the right tools, leveraging data to drive efficiency, and driving consolidation in your back office, you can ensure that your business runs as smoothly as possible. Contact RPA Labs today to get started automating your back office operations. 

The ROI of Automating Customer Inquiries

RPA Labs offers three core products – RPA Flow for document automation, RPA Engage for response automation, and RPA Pursuit for track & trace, container visibility, and ocean, air, and rail API connections. When presenting each of these products to logistics service providers, most companies immediately skip straight to the document automation as their top priority, and we understand the appeal. 

Documents are the bane of every logistics service provider’s existence. The tens of thousands of shipments completed every year generate upwards of millions of documents being processed by full-time employees or back office teams. This is commonly seen as any LSP’s lowest hanging fruit – but what if we told you there’s one that hangs even lower?

Why customer inquiries are actually logistics service provider’s lowest hanging fruit

How many customer inquiries do you receive every day? Do you have full time employees or a back office team dedicated to the sole purpose of answering those inquiries? For our customers, the most common types of inquiries are spot quotes and shipment status updates. 

Most ask the simple questions, “Can I get a quote from A to B?” or “Where is my shipment?” 

When a logistics service provider receives hundreds or thousands of these requests every week, there’s nothing simple about it. Reading the email, pulling up sometimes multiple systems, locating the correct data, and re-keying it all back to the customer is quite the cumbersome process that can send employees into groundhog day

When looking at what business process should be automated first, skip the documents for now and consider starting with response automation. Here’s why:

Automating customer inquiries is easy with RPA Engage

RPA Engage is pre-built and easy to connect to your email, website ChatBot, Slack, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, internal TMS/ERP comms, or any other platform where you connect with customers. When an email or chat message comes in, software bots analyze the content, trigger the corresponding workflow, and migrate data from your system to send a response back to the customer in seconds – all without human intervention. 

If an inquiry can’t be answered by the bot, we’re able to triage the message through slack, whatsapp, or any other internal communication platform so a customer service representative can fill in blanks. The bots can then relay that answer back to the customer. 

We’re already integrated with some of the most commonly used TMS & ERP systems in logistics, so RPA Engage can be implemented in thirty days or less.

Why response time matters

There’s a lot of competition in international logistics – more and more digital freight forwarders are popping up every day who are equipped with technology that creates an atmosphere for great customer experience. The longer it takes to catch up with these digital forwarders, the further the other guys are falling behind. 

Customers don’t want to wait for answers, and will often go with the company that responds first. We did a secret shopper survey of nearly 100 freight forwarders and found that the average response time was 50 hours, and that’s if they responded at all – only 30% of forwarders responded back. When you don’t respond to customers in a timely manner, you’re losing business. 

The ROI of automating responses

With RPA Engage, our goal is to answer 70% of your spot quotes or tracking inquiries.

We’re not replacing people, we’re freeing them up to improve your customer’s experience or handle the exceptions like hazardous or high value moves. 

We created an ROI calculator (scroll to the bottom of the page) so you can get a better idea of how much manually answering emails is costing your company. 

RPA Engage is revolutionizing how companies manage customer service in logistics and day-to-day operations – improving profit margins across the board as shippers and forwarders can process shipments and handle customer queries faster.

The State of Freight Forwarder Response Time

31%. That’s the average response rate for a freight forwarder to respond to a quote request as uncovered in this unique approach by automation workflow company, RPA Labs. But don’t take our word for it. In this study, RPA Labs takes a look at quote request response rates by establishing a “faux” HVAC company, Griffith HVAC, to request container price quotes from the top 50 Freight Forwarding companies as listed by Armstrong & Associates

The transportation industry’s future hinges on the ability of shippers and service providers, such as freight forwarders, to maximize the efficiency of communications and offer desirable amenities to customers today. Changes in the consumer market require a stronger focus on automated communication systems. On-demand communications, real-time updates, and personalized services are becoming a necessity to stay competitive. While we’ve heard this sentiment time and time again, have freight forwarders really changed the way they respond to customers? 

RPA Labs took a closer look at the response time of eighty-six freight forwarders, half of them from the top fifty forwarders and the other half ranging from small to mid-size forwarders, by submitting quote requests online and recording how long it took them to respond – if they responded at all. 

Our Approach:

RPA Labs posed as Griffin HVAC, a large importer/exporter of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, and submitted quote requests to freight forwarders using their preferred method of communication. The most common method was a live form on individual company websites, although some did request email, phone, and other forms of communication. The following are the shipping details that were submitted when requesting a quote: 

Origin: 425 S. Palos Verdes St. San Pedro, CA 90731

Destination: Antwerp – Havenhuis Entrepotkaai 1, Antwerp B-2000, Belgium
Weight: 40,000

Container Size: 40 ft FCL

Lead time: 14 Days

The study was kept open for seventy days to allow sufficient time to receive responses back from the forwarders. 

Findings:

We’ll start by breaking down our findings into two categories: top fifty freight forwarders and small to mid-size freight forwarders. 

Small & Mid-Size FFs

Of the forty-one small to mid-sized freight forwarders we requested quotes from, twenty-nine did not respond (70%), twelve did respond (30%), and response times we did receive took as long as 397 days and as little as 1.5 hours. Thirty-five forwarders had a form on their website, but five of them were too difficult to use or were not working. 

Top 50 FFs

Of the forty-five top fifty freight forwarders we requested quotes from, thirty did not respond (66%), fifteen did respond (33%), and response times we did receive took as long as 222 hours and as little as four minutes. The average response time of those who responded was sixty hours. Forty forwarders had a form on their website, but twelve of them were too difficult to use or were not working. 

Overall & Analysis

Opening a line of communication with a majority of surveyed freight forwarders was extremely difficult or not possible. Overall, sixty-nine percent of forwarders that were solicited did not respond to our request for a quote. Of the twenty-seven responses we did receive, only five contained an actual quote. All other twenty-two responses connected us with customer service members manually requesting more information over email. One forwarder also attempted to call us for further information. 

What this tells us about the forms that are available on freight forwarder websites is that they are not dynamic and require customer service support to manually gather and verify the information from shippers. 

Of the quotes we did receive, there was no further correspondence needed with customer service teams. We were not reached out to for more details and were sent the quote within hours. Because of this we can assume automated systems were put in place to return our inquiry as fast and efficiently as possible. As for the other twenty-two responses, while they may have given us an actual quote in the end, customer service were required to reach out on a case-by-case basis to gather more information to manually generate the quote – a process that could take multiple emails over the span of hours or even days to complete. 

We understand and empathize with the challenges of manual freight spot quotes, as they include many areas of waste. For example, hours of wasted time emailing several carriers and awaiting their replies, compiling carrier quotes, and choosing one takes a ton of time. After all of the wasted manpower, they might leave behind incomplete information, leading to possible freight shipping delays. Overall, it is not practical, and it is not a sustainable, long-term solution for freight forwarders. 

Solution

Many challenges are inherent with traditional quoting. Instances such as overquoting and delayed quote times can be detrimental to shippers. However, software bots can instantly identify a quote request, even in email, review data sources, and upload the quote for a quick solution.

RPA Labs’ email and chat automation solution, RPA Engage, is built with a proprietary combination of RPA, AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning), NLP (natural language processing), and a built-in language library of logistics terminology that is able to answer any logistics inquiry in seconds. This simple solution integrates seamlessly with email, chatbots, web forms, and any TMS/ERP system and can be implemented in just weeks. 

A leading benefit of automating freight spot quotes is the ability to respond to quote requests instantly. There is no waiting period, and the best possible rate is selected. Companies upload the information for the carriers; then, the spot quotes are assessed by analytics as software bots complete the rest. At the same moment, a carrier is selected and notified via email or their TMS, if applicable. 

By automating quoting, shippers resolve their issues with the carriers faster and build better customer experiences. In addition to faster resolutions for manual quote requests, automating freight chatbots can generate quotes for ground, ocean, and air on-demand, making it easier to determine which mode is correct for each shipment. This is designed to be the only touchpoint shippers need to get back on track. Freight forwarders no longer need to sit for hours waiting on back and forth emails. Freight management parties need to understand the challenges in traditional freight spot quotes and why RPA-driven quoting processes are the next advancement in freight management.

Without some logistics automation, this complicated multistep manual process of generating spot quotes is rife with risk for failure due to human intervention. Freight chatbots and email automation help prevent issues like delayed responses from freight forwarders. With customers only truly accepting quotes around 20% of the time, software bots that can work around the clock and find capacity partners, including forwarders or brokers with available transportation, can maximize efficiency.Spot quoting can be more accessible if logistics service providers and shippers implement chatbots. By automating quotes, it is possible to improve throughput by transforming transportation and logistics and getting more shipments to their final destination in record time. “The good news for companies looking to automate quickly is that the cost of entry into automation is much lower than in previous years. Developments in technology and lower costs for equipment are allowing small and midsize companies to explore automation,” states Automate.org. There’s literally never been a better time to invest in the future of your supply chain with chatbots and email response bots. Request a demo with RPA Labs to get started.

RPA, OCR, ML & AI in Logistics: Creating More Value Through Workflow Automation

Ensuring effective workflow automation and logistical planning can seem like ongoing challenges and never-ending tasks for supply chain managers. Status updates, tracking reports, delivery alerts, error reports, and customer complaints always seem to be coming down the pipe. Thankfully there is a way to streamline many of these standard workflows. Embracing the power of artificial intelligence in logistics can help management teams increase value and profits throughout the network. 

As highlighted by Inbound Logistics, “by automating supply chain workflow, private fleet operators, carriers, and third-party logistics providers can more easily gather and utilize information and communicate with their suppliers and customers more effectively. It also helps them gain a leg up on the competition.” Here are some things supply chain managers need to know about AI in logistics.

What is Automated Workflow Management, and Why Does it Matter?

Automation is everywhere these days as it has permeated nearly every aspect of our lives — often without us even realizing it. And as technology continues to advance, automation is becoming even more pervasive in industries of all sorts, especially within the transportation and shipping industry. 

The ultimate goal of supply chain automation is to simplify many routine tasks so that individuals:

  • Have less work to do.
  • Make fewer errors and mistakes.
  • Can focus on other critical tasks or activities.

Advances such as Automated Robotic Processes (RPA), Optical Character Recognition Software (OCR), Machine Learning (ML), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) all can help improve performance by automating much of the standard workflow processes. 

Understanding How Artificial Intelligence in Logistics Can Speed Up Growth

Improving day-to-day functions and processes can improve growth and boost profits in many surprising ways. By implementing machine learning and AI in logistics, supply chain management can enjoy many benefits, including:

  • Better use of resources that are currently available to avoid waste and excess.
  • Spend less on freight shipping by streamlining deliveries and avoiding delays.
  • Lower fees and surcharges to customers through effect delivery competitions.
  • Speed up shipping processes overall and negotiate disruptions more effectively.
  • Improve network efficiency end-to-end with improved visibility and transparency. 
  • Optimize the entire supply chain to offer a more comprehensive array of service options.
  • Coordinate and collaborate easily with 3PLs, vendors, and team members.
  • Fulfill orders and deliveries in a timely and reliable manner every single time.
  • Maintain high customer satisfaction and good customer recall and loyalty.

Embracing new automation and innovations, including the implementation of artificial intelligence in logistics, can make it easier to maintain a competitive advantage and remain profitable, even in times of significant market volatility. 

Overcome Obstacles and Roadblocks With Automated Processes

Automating routine processes and applying artificial intelligence in logistics to the daily supply chain workflow can increase value as more workflow flexibility is achieved. With innovative AI in logistics, all involved shipping, transportation, and logistics parties can overcome obstacles and roadblocks more effectively and efficiently. 

They can easily utilize accurate information based on real-time data and tracking to make decisions while also communicating in real-time and using data analytics to address any issues or concerns that may arise. Workflow management software systems backed by intelligent processes and AI automation can help create more value through workflow improvements in the supply chain network.

Network With Industry Leaders to Improve Services With Artificial Intelligence in Logistics

Accepting and valuing the power of artificial intelligence in logistics can help all team members, shippers, carriers, drivers, brokers, and 3PLs operate more effectively and efficiently. This, in turn, can help increase value and profits throughout the network and boost customer experiences across the board. AI in logistics is forever changing the way supply chains work and operate for the better. Embracing these automation advancements is quick and easy with the right partnership. See how artificial intelligence in logistics with logistics chatbots, email bots, digital documentation, and data tacking can improve workflows with automation. Contact RPA Labs today to get started and schedule a free demo of your own.

What Is CX Automation: The Value of Combined Tech

As the world continues to face the health repercussions of the pandemic, the supply chain is also dealing with its own changes in the labor force. In December 2021, McKinsey and Company reported on United States data saying, “Job openings have risen above pre-Covid-19 levels as the economy bounces back. However, the labor force is about 4.7 million smaller than it was pre-pandemic.”

With the end of the supply chain talent shortage nowhere in sight, companies are looking for solutions to do more with less. How does a company continue to add value despite limited staffing? Automation has become the friend of many through its ability to run and generate analytics for company efficiency. In these analytical reports, more companies are seeing the benefits of automating customer experiences. 

What Is Customer Experience Automation?

Before addressing automated customer experience (CX), one must have a firm grasp of CX. Although Although its definition isn’t in any mainstream dictionary, CX refers to all interactions that impact a customer’s perception of a business. By introducing automation into this experience, customers are not limited to simply human contact but have the opportunity to receive automated emails and communicate with chatbots for immediate, simple answers. These RPAs become an extra resource for customers and a conclusive way to track manual and automated interactions. 

Combined, Integrated Automation Streamlines Shipment Execution

When shippers and freight forwarders move ahead with machine learning, AI, automation, and chatbots to create hyper-efficiency, the result is an elevated automated customer experience. Automation integration of  allows the opportunity for international customers to interact with freight chatbots for spot quotes outside of stateside business hours. For decision-makers who still work from home, the option to get quotes online instead of via phone can be an incredible asset with continued staff quarantines. 

By automating customer experience components, shippers and forwarders can provide the flexibility required in today’s day and age. This elevated CX also provides shippers with all of the details they need to move forward with shipment execution on their end.

Additional Benefits of Integrated Automation in Your Workflows 

Automation is an incredible tool in the fast-paced industry of freight. Here are just some of the additional ways this tool can benefit your CX workflow: 

  • Faster Invoicing – With an entirely automated workflow, RPAs can pull data required for each invoice and automatically send them off at the determined time. This minimizes customer confusion and maximizes the opportunity for open payment communication 
  • Instant Responsiveness via Email Bots – By removing tedious tasks from those responsible for customer service, employees are better equipped and available to handle the scenarios that require a human touch.
  • Engage Customers Around the Clock – With track and trace technology, forwarders can automate customer alerts and provide helpful customer service chatbots that improve service and shipment visibility at any time of day.
  • Avoid Document Sharing Issues – By moving to integrated cloud-based automation software, businesses and customers can remove the hindrances preventing their documents from reaching each other. 
  • Aggregate data to understand performance through analytics – By automating customer experiences, business owners can remove data entry from their manual load while maximizing their opportunities to optimize CX.

Start Automating Customer Experiences With RPA Labs 

Although labor analysts have been wrong before, there still stands a looming workforce shortage in today’s supply chains. By fully integrating RPA into freight forwarding and shipping, business owners can do more with less, all without sacrificing customer experience. In fact, automated customer experience provides business owners with more logistical data than ever to continue improving their customer’s perceptions. If you are still wondering, “what is CX automation’s future in my business?” talk to an expert at RPA Labs by scheduling a demo today.

Transshipment Problems Solved: What Is Document Automation for Transshipments

To better understand the ups and downs of transshipment and what it entails, it is important to appreciate the role automation and digitization have in this essential shipping and transportation method. As highlighted by Supply Chain 24/7, “automation is now a familiar technical concept for enterprises, with many automating manual, repeatable tasks to achieve efficiency. The intelligent aspect is introduced by robotics, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies that can carry out human actions and act independently by making decisions, or interpreting data without direct human interference.” 

In overcoming some of the most common transshipment problems faced today, answering the question, “what is document automation?” can help bring clarity and direction for transshipment management teams.

What Are Transshipments in Shipping?

Transshipment is a transportation method commonly used today. It involves the shipment of goods or containers to an intermediate destination, where they will be unloaded and then re-loaded for delivery to another destination. Among the most popular reasons for transshipment is when a load has to be shifted from one mode of transport to another—for instance, moving cargo from rail and loading it onto trucks. Another reason is to shift the workflow and how products and loads are packaged and loaded—for instance, shipments being consolidated or broken into smaller loads. Despite its popularity as far as freight and transportation go, there are several transshipment problems that must be addressed.

Common Problems Associated With Transshipment Methods

Typical transshipment problems in the modern supply chain network can include the following:

  • Too much time to unload cargo – prolonged dwell time and issues at the loading and unloading docks will cause additional delays and costs.
  • Logistics issues at port and airports – coordinating drop-offs and pick-ups can be time-consuming and prone to errors.
  • Loss or damage of good during handling – the more times goods are moved and handled, the more opportunity there is for damage to occur.
  • Delays from inspections and customs – shipments across borders often get held for inspection clearance, and transshipment is prone to holdups.
  • Increased fees and expenses – the more work and labor involved in moving cargo, the more costly it will be for shippers and customers.
  • Missed loading/unloading schedules – delays in communications and delivery ETA updates can lead to missed schedules and further delays.
  • Risk of rolled cargo increases – the more times cargo changes modes and platforms, the more the risk or cargo being rolled increases.

How Document Automation and RPA Helps Reduce and at Times Eliminate Issues

To overcome these common transshipment problems, one must be able to answer the question “what is document automation?” as well as what role software providers play, and how it all can reduce or eliminate these issues.

  • Time taken to unload cargo – automating documentation and paperwork can save time when multiple containers and pallets need to be unloaded quickly.
  • Logistics issues at port and airports – digital papers are easier to send and receive and can also be corrected more quickly than chasing down paper copies.
  • Loss or damage of goods during handling – damages can occur because dock and airport staff do not know what is in the containers due to insufficientdocumentation.
  • Delays from Inspections and customs – delays and holdups can happen during inspections that could have been avoided with the correct paperwork in hand.
  • Increased fees and expenses – running around to get print copies, track down signatures, and file hard copies can lead to more work and higher fees.
  • Missed loading/unloading schedules – having paperwork available digitally and updating it on demand can save time during shipping crunches. 
  • Risk of rolled cargo increases – shippers and drivers can keep to a schedule and avoid rolled cargo by ensuring all forms are filled out well ahead of time.

It is easier to overcome these common issues with transshipment loads by utilizing innovative tools that accommodate document automation and digital filing processes.

Leverage the Power of RPA Solutions Today by Partnering With RPA Labs

Freight document management has become a vital aspect of national and global transshipments. While it is true that there is a range of transshipment problems shippers have to contend with, there are several ways improved automation and innovative measures can address and alleviate them. When dealing with transshipment issues and concerns, knowing what is document automation and what it can do for the process can make a world of difference.  Contact RPA Labs today for a free demo and learn more about improving transshipments with document automation.

Document Automation Best Practices for Freight Forwarders

Managing modern shipping processes, especially shipping documentation, can be a challenge for freight forwarders in the best of times. Thankfully AI document automation can improve those vital functions across all areas of the supply chain network. According to a report from Business Insider, businesses utilizing fully-automated digital solutions for document processing and document automation can experience a more than 80% decrease in processing costs and 73% faster processing times. These improvements to document management workflow and costs are possible thanks to the continued shift toward integrating better documentation automation tools into routine supply chain operations. By following recommended best practices, freight forwarders can enjoy much simpler and more efficient document workflows.

How Document Automation Works for Freight Forwarders

Document automation works by pulling data, information, updates, and reports from various sources and automatically populating document templates and forms with that information. These templates can cover any general supply chain documents needed for freight forwarding and customized forms and papers specific to individual companies and customers. Automation is most useful when applied to records and document tracking that involves frequently accessed forms and documents. Following these best practice recommendations for automating document workflows can help forwarders get the most out of any documentation automation tools that they bring onboard.

1. Leverage an Integrated AI, RPA, and ML Platform.

A fully integrated automated platform can make it easier for team members, drivers, customers, and managers to communicate in real-time.

2. Aggregate Data From Emails, Chatbots, and the Full Tech Stack.

Compiling data-driven sources can significantly increase the value of that data and can improve documentation and utilization throughout the network. 

3. Validate All Data Entered Into Documents.

All data brought into the system and used to manage document management workflow must be checked and validated to ensure accuracy. 

4. Digitally Generate and Share Documents in Real-Time.

Sharing, organizing, recording, and saving documents in real-time speeds up multiple processes and streamlines critical processes from start to finish.

5. Create a Defined Process for Handling Automation Exceptions.

Automated systems and documentation automation tools can make it easier to address exceptions and disruptions caused by paperwork or filing issues.

6. Use Analytics to Track Accuracy of Document Automation and Protocols.

Automated systems allow for on-demand checks and investigations to ensure the overall accuracy of forms, invoices, documents, regulation papers, and more.

7. Recognize That Manual Document Creation Wastes Major Resources.

Complete onboarding is required as the investment into automating document workflows can reduce waste and improve resource access and utilization.

8. Retain All Documentations Mandated as Importer or Exporter of Record.

It is easier to file, record, and access important documentation with a fully integrated digitally automated document management workflow setup.

9. Consider Using Document Automation to Process Freight Claims Too.

Every piece of paper in the company’s paper trail can benefit from automation, including freight claims and general shipping industry reports.

10. Ensure Everyone Follows Proper Training and Onboarding Procedures.

The final thing necessary for maximum efficiency is proper training of team members on the documentation automation tools that they will have available.

With the rise of more disruptions and obstaclesand the ongoing rise in competition and market pressure, those in the freight forwarding industry are finding it all the more difficult to meet the profit margins necessary to survive in the current freight forwarding industry. However, investing automating document workflows and document management workflows can make this task less daunting.

Maximize Efficiency and Maintain Optimized Document Management Workflow With Help From RPA Labs’ Automated Services

Freight forwarders are the backbone of the modern shipping network and play a critical role in supply chain logistics and management. To make logistics more manageable, especially regarding document management workflow, freight forwarders need to embrace the latest technology and innovation. Onboarding digital platforms that allow easier document automation, workflow automation, and internal processing can save time, money, and resources daily. With these best practices and tips in mind, it is easier for freight forwarders to manage document workflows and keep the supply chain moving. Contact RPA Labs today to schedule a free demo and see how documentation automation tools can improve your daily processes and what benefits you and your team can enjoy.

Gain The Benefits of Logistics Automation in 5 Steps

The digital age is changing how businesses do business. The rise of technology has also rapidly increased the amount of company data, where it’s stored, and its uses. Forbes reported, “somewhere between 60-73% of enterprise data sits idle on servers somewhere in the cloud, a squandered resource never tapped for the benefit of the business.” Robotic process automation in logistics uses these resources to enable freight forwarders to face the top challenges of their industry. This article will provide five steps to gaining the benefits of logistics automation.

1. Integrate Your Supply Chain Tech Stack

Today there are numerous options for technologies that specialize in different areas of business. When incorporating logistics automation, it’s important to ensure that all systems integrate appropriately. There is little to no return on investment (ROI) if an automation system is not compatible with the current managing systems. Integrating a supply chain tech stack may require removing one system and placing additional functions on another. This includes any robotics process automation (RPA) freight forwarders use to quote, book, and repeat.

2. Eliminate the Hassle of Manual Email Management

Tedious tasks are practically built for robotic process automation in logistics. Freight forwarders can maximize an RPA by creating predefined criteria that the system institutes upon meeting the requirements. Some examples of emails that can be automated include onboarding a new client, spreading feedback requests, or sending reminders for billing. Additionally, this can be helpful when linked with freight track and trace. By automating these logistical communications in a forwarding business, owners and employees are free to focus on business-building tasks.

3. Digitize All Documents

The age of paper-pushing is over in more ways than one. As more shippers and carriers move to a digitalized system, forwarders can do the same. Managing critical documents with automation consolidates file cabinets into an on-demand library accessible through a few simple keystrokes. Freight forwarders using automation for more data-driven processing cover a lot more ground by digitizing documents from the start. More data is accessible in this method as opposed to scanning into an optical character recognition program.

4. Share Updates in Real-Time

Consumers have gotten used to real-time tracking that can provide alerts when their personal shipments are just a few stops away. To get the benefits of logistics automation, robotic process automation incorporates that type of customer service into the supply chain. Freight forwarders who automate ocean container tracking use RPA to integrate track and trace into automated email management. Although buying RPA for the supply chain may sound frivolous to the experienced in the field, the ability to share updates in real time is becoming invaluable due to consumer expectations in business-to-consumer environments. 

5. Leverage Chatbots to Interact With Shippers in Real-Time

When considering RPA, chatbots are one of the most obvious incorporations. Most individuals have had the opportunity to work with one on a personal level, if not corporate. Freight forwarders can leverage this automated technology by adding prebuilt and trained chatbots to customer-facing systems. By utilizing off-the-shelf chatbots, there will be fewer problems with incorrect responses due to the AI misunderstanding terminology or common challenges. A chatbot provides customer service around-the-clock, letting forwarders focus on other priorities. 

Boost Efficiency & Gain The Benefits of Logistics Automation

As the digital age continues to reign, there are countless more benefits of logistics automation whenc companies implement more robotic process automation in logistics in freight forwarding businesses. It’s essential for forwarders to partner with credible, experienced RPA providers to integrate their systems and remove the hassle of tedious tasks. To find out how your company can institute the five logistics automating steps suggested above, schedule a demo with RPA Labs today.

Why OCR-Only Supply Chain Automation Fails

Today, industrial automation is rapidly making the “Jetsons” cartoon a reality. Supply Chain Dive reported, “Annual installations of industrial robots will jump from 450,000 a year in 2015 to 600,000 in 2022.” Thankfully, automation advances have arrived at the perfect time. 

Labor shortages and the proliferation of e-commerce are driving the increased demand for efficiency in today’s unsteady supply chain. As companies begin incorporating baseline RPA technologies, such as OCR, many are getting stuck by the limitations of some without seeing the advantages of using automation for more data-driven processing

What Is OCR-Only Automation?

Optical character recognition (OCR) is automation software designed to convert digital document images into editable text. In practice, this process involves scanning a document, such as a paper bill of lading, into a computer. OCR then turns the image into auto-populated editable text available for email or data entry.

OCR’s core goal is to automate the tedious task of copying paper data into a computer system, thus reducing the amount of physical storage space a business needs. Although this may sound appealing to those responsible for that data entry, OCR in the supply chain is extremely limited in scope. Although OCR can read and convert text, it cannot act on that data.

OCR-Only Automation Requires the Next-Best-Action, Acting on the Information

Because OCR-only automation is limited to simply digitizing documents, freight management companies still must decide what to do with the conversion. Although the next steps can be done by humans, incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) is the best way to optimize a document managing system for shipping.

Integrating AI and OCR significantly increase visibility and system communication. AI can take digitized documents, update the TMS, share them in the forwarder’s platform, and even send a text message. Because OCR cannot respond to emails, AI would also enable supply chain automation to interact within its system abilities with the data, employees, and clients as needed.

OCR Is Also Very Expensive on Its Own

The ROI of robotics process automation is an importantant consideration when implementing a new tool. Despite being a baseline automation tool, OCR is a significant upfront investment. To properly utilize the tool, there are hardware, training, and other component costs to satisfy. 

Additionally, it’s crucial to consider the soft and hard ROI of automation that requires training. In the end, the costs of launching OCR-only automation could be the same or higher than the costs to implement a comprehensive RPA solution with advanced OCR, AI, and more. Automation is only helpful if it is beneficial and cost-effective within its intended purpose.

Machine Learning Integration With Supply Chain Automation Tools Amplifies the Process

Incorporating machine learning (ML) can take OCR in the supply chain to an even higher level.  With OCR pulling data from documents and AI acting on it, ML takes it a step further with the ability to craft custom replies amidst changing conditions. 

In an RPA that integrates these three automation components, data drives automated decisions despite limited trucking capacity or sudden airfreight delays. This is especially helpful for freight management companies who utilize chatbot technology on their website. Full RPA integration provides a better customer experience, leaving fewer follow-up calls on topics available on the website or customer-facing portals. 

Realize Complete Supply Chain Automation With RPA Labs

Utilizing baseline RPA technology such as OCR may have some benefits. However, it still results in a process that must be supervised and attended to closely. Full workflow automation will let RPA do the virtual heavy lifting, whether companies are ready to go all-in or begin with RPA document management. To learn how supply chain automation can revolutionize and optimize your business logistics productivity, schedule a demo with RPA Labs today.

Why Effective RPA Relies on a Full Workflow of Automation

Twenty-first-century freight management parties have more opportunities than ever to maximize efficiency. The incorporation of technology into daily living has provided massive opportunities for workflow automation. Companies automate workflow by streamlining routine tasks into an efficient, connected system. Yet, just as the Jetsons predicted, that’s not all that can happen in the twenty-first century. Today, companies can use all sorts of technological tools to create more data-driven processing that puts time back in the pockets of freight moving America. 

What Is Optical Character Recognition, Robotics Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning?

  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a technology that extracts text from image-based documents and changes it into editable text. For example, it’s possible to pull dates, prices and other data from scanned invoices to be easily copied and pasted into a system with an OCR. This tech is limited strictly by the guides and rules that must be user-written to add meaning and context to this data.
  • Robotics Process Automation (RPA) takes the technology a step further to allow for computer-based, rule-driven automation. The differences between RPA vs. OCR involve RPA’s ability to work through varying tasks integrated between multiple systems. Therefore RPA in the shipping industry expands past a document managing system into 24/7 monitoring of shipments, payment integration, and even collecting carrier data from the carrier’s own websites. With the right RPA, companies can remove routine, tedious tasks from human employees to give them more time margin for important judgment involving duties.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technology composed of created machines that simulate human thinking, capability, or intelligence. AI can power other forms of technology, giving the latter system the human-like ability to understand the context and make judgments. For example, quality AI-powered chatbots can help problem solve and interact with customers in real-time. 
  • Machine Learning (ML) is a subset of AI where machines can automatically learn from data without strict programming requirements. This technology utilizes algorithms and other statistics to search for unique and actionable data patterns. ML is another tech form companies primarily use to power automations of workflow that can accomplish things such as monitoring overall business productivity.

Why Comprehensive Automation Is Essential to Successful Use of Any One Technology

Although the four technologies described above are different in intended purpose and nature, businesses rely heavily on all of them for their ability to process information in real-time. In many circumstances, one technology can’t be separated from another to act accordingly. An OCR may contain some ML to better filter through context. A thorough RPA may incorporate a high-functioning AI that can engage, provide accuracy in workflow,  and pursue solutions when logistics reveal a problem. RPA vs. OCR can be differentiated out clearly at their core functions, but their functions can overlap when additional technology is added as the backbone.

Regardless, modern logistics operations require more automation. Logistics at its core is simply the management of sharing information. Without comprehensive automation, all technologies listed above are even more limited than their coding. With automation across the board, the logistics process of managing shared information can observe actionable data. This actionable data can range from flagging repeated avoidable fees to improving order shipment and inventory accuracy to even reducing global booking confusion.  

Put the Power of Complete Automated Processes to Work With RPA Labs 

McKinsey and Company reported ROI data on businesses who use RPA “that varies between 30 and as much as 200 percent in the first year.” However, the value of a capable RPA is even beyond monetary gain. RPA value also manifests in the hours of repetitive workload that companies can remove from their employees’ day to free them up for human reason-driven tasks. To see the power of workflow automation in action, schedule a demo with RPA Labs today.