A group of more than 20 motor carriers, brokers/3PLs, shippers, and technology providers has formed the Digital LTL Council to develop a set of standards that will allow the automation and digitization of less-than-truckload shipments.
The goal is to support the automation of all shipping and billing workflows, from payment to settlement. Initially, the council is concentrating on developing digital standards that address the most urgent and widespread pain points. Ultimately, this will enable shippers, logistics providers, and carriers to build their systems to one standard and use it across the industry.
Over the past 12 months, select council members, including Uline, Quad Graphics, Averitt Express, and Pitt Ohio, have been running beta projects focused on developing more standardized electronic bill of lading solutions, or eBOL.
Early results indicate that once manufacturers or distributors digitize the LTL shipment lifecycle, “they’ll see an average of 2 to 4% cost savings per shipment,” said Christian Piller, vice president of value engineering at council member project44.
Carriers will be able to automate or even eliminate certain administrative, bill entry and customer service tasks, saving up to 1.3% of their current costs. This equates to industry savings of potentially $470 million.
“The benefits, of course, don’t stop there. In addition to eliminating manual data entry and risk of transcription errors, carrier systems receive shipment information sooner enabling advance operational planning and network optimization,” said Brian Thompson, chief commercial officer at council member SMC³. “Carriers estimate they could realize an additional 2% reduction in operational costs, making the industry-wide savings nearly $1.2 billion.”