The freight sector, like every other, is trying to anticipate what it means to be facing a recession, what can be done to sidestep it, and what can be done to mitigate its impact on arrival? and plot a road to recovery.
Amid these ever-increasing constraints, traditional ways of operating are time-consuming, inefficient, and costly. Digitalisation of operations has a significant role to play in the sustainability of UK businesses.
FLS was born out of the EU Referendum result and launched the next day on the founding principle that the UK would have a high demand for additional freight transport and customs agents and a new breed of supply chain managers. The big benefit for the business was, as a start-up, we invested in EVERYTHING. We could take a brand-new view on the process required to be a successful supply chain manager and deploy the very latest digitalised solutions to tackle them from the off. Which we fine-tune every day.
With an estimated 30% of ‘commercial’ journeys being made empty, someone somewhere is paying for that, if not least the planet, carriers must recoup all their costs somewhere, so there was plenty of scope to improve this situation.
The Digitalisation of all our processes and the management of the data this creates has transformed the way we move and manage freight. Our data insights help shippers streamline their supply chain, optimise their deliveries, save time, save money, save carbon, and plan their future freight movements and costs. While carriers benefit from better operational efficiency, more full truck loads, and reduced empty journeys. By harnessing technology to optimise freight forwarding, FLS strives to be a very forward-looking company in a traditional industry.
Digitalising road freight logistics
In the transport industry, technology-driven companies are increasing efficiency whilst maximising profitability and flexibility for shippers and carriers, while also addressing transport’s role in climate change. And there is room for improvement in every aspect of the supply chain, from the first mile to the last.
But what value does digitalisation bring to commercial road freight? Why does digitalisation matter?
Traditional freight forwarders are logistics experts who coordinate freight transports as an intermediary between a shipper and a carrier. Most of the logistics industry is still traditionally operating with inefficient processes. People miscommunicate with one another, an important document goes missing, and trucks drive back to their starting point empty. That’s where digitalisation can step in.
Digital freight forwarders act as the connector between shippers and carriers and also act as an optimiser. Digitalising and automating road freight logistics processes saves money for shippers and increase earnings for carriers because inefficiencies are eliminated or reduced, and enormous commercial value can be extracted from the data managed.
A major distinction between traditional logistics and digitalised logistics is the creation and structuring of data. This allows digital freight forwarders, and the shippers and carriers who use them, to benefit from a wealth of data on past shipments, run an analysis of operations, and continuously improve on inefficient processes. If a carrier consistently runs late, we can easily identify this and address the problem with a quick look at the real-time GPS data. Algorithms identify the problem and flag it so human beings can check, anticipate, and act if the carrier is indeed running late. Routing algorithms can save fuel locations more effectively thereby avoiding empty miles driven. and inefficiencies by routing vehicles in a more efficient path and connecting them to their pickup and drop off.
The FLS system also focuses on real time proximity to collection points, we are not deploying carriers because their depot is near to your collection point, we are deploying carriers based on the proximity of an available vehicle regardless of its origin depot. If it’s a load to go to Germany and you’re in Doncaster, we may engage a truck that’s about to pass you on route home who has just delivered locally. It means the collection miles you are responsible for is 0 rather than the distance travelled from the vehicle’s depot location at time of booking to your collection point.
The FLS system also focuses on real-time proximity to collection points, we are not deploying carriers because their depot is near to your collection point, we are deploying carriers based on the proximity of an available vehicle regardless of its origin depot. If it’s a load to go to Germany and you’re in Doncaster, we may engage a truck that’s about to pass you on route home that has just delivered locally. It means the collection miles you are responsible for is 0 rather than the distance travelled from the vehicle’s depot location at the time of booking to your collection point.
Digitalisation also means we track our prices very carefully, fundamentally we make sure our prices track at least 5% below the market average (acknowledged via the TEG Freight price index*) Our Ai pricing tool also makes price recommendations based on what is being paid for hundreds of similar jobs on the same vehicle against similar delivery channels. Making sure our customers are getting tangible value for money against market rates.
Realtime visibility, access to capacity in the market, and innovation are what shippers need to help them plan ahead, save time, make cost savings, and most crucially keep their supply chain moving.
Technology in road freight isn’t limited to digital freight forwarders. Like FLS, players throughout the freight ecosystem could adapt their day-to-day business and longer-term planning to take advantage of the opportunity tech solutions provide. Software as a service (SaaS) companies, for example, provide solutions directly to shippers and carriers and are now making serious contributions to performance and profitability. Overall, digitalisation is an opportunity to use the most advanced technology to make traditional road freight logistics simpler, more efficient, and of higher quality for everyone involved.
Technology’s human touch
We focus on technology supported by people rather than people supported by technology. Although innovation is central to what we do, we understand how important it is to have a human touch behind our technology – to listen to our shippers and carriers, act on any feedback that they give us, and communicate potential changes that we make with them, so they’re always informed.
Market opportunities, government policies, the environment, and technology are driving fundamental shifts in the expectations for road freight transportation. The transport industry is changing, both globally and domestically. This shift was apparent even before the pandemic put newfound pressure on supply chains.
Construct the foundation of our future on the following principles:
To a certain extent, these three principles are already changing the road freight industry for good. Technology is driving unprecedented upgrades in transparency, analysis, and control over trucks, goods, and fuel usage, which in turn is reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The future is already here.
Low carbon solutions for road freight transport
The logistics industry is amid a fundamental change for the better – a change towards low carbon operations and carbon monitoring becoming the standard. Please see my other blog on this…
Many of the world’s largest companies have implemented best practices regarding carbon: Coca-Cola will reduce emissions by 25% by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2040, IKEA will be climate positive by 2030, AB InBev will reduce emissions by 25% by 2025, and Amazon will be carbon neutral by 2040.
With these types of goals in place from the world’s largest companies, there is a strong demand to push and implement clear, provable reductions in carbon responsibilities from all the players in their supply chains.
The biggest step changes will be with the sectors replacement of diesel vehicles with new fuels.
Driving with advanced fuels (battery, bio, hydrogen) can lower carbon emissions by up to 90% versus fossil diesel. But better fuel choices for carriers’ vehicles are still very expensive for the sector and availability is poor, so your customers will be looking for you to manage your freight transport in the most cost and carbon-beneficial way, wherever possible.
The transport companies of the not-so-distant future will all have three characteristics in common: they will be digital, low carbon, and focus on advanced fuels. We know that change is here and that the time to act is now. Implementing these best practices isn’t necessarily easy – but it is necessary for the transport companies of the future.
FLS is one of those companies – as a manufacturer getting your freight transport partner right can be the difference in leveraging new clients and losing old ones.
The transport sector and its shift to digitalisation has a strategic part to play in the UK’s Road to recovery from this ensuing recession, the UK must have cutting-edge, forward-thinking, technology-driven freight forwarders/agents who maximise and optimise the resource we have and fully exploit the UKs potential for recovery and growth.
*TEG index is referencing logistic company to logistic company pricing
Ieuan Rosser CEO
15,000 lines of PPE delivered in record time. Great to use this business in this difficult time.
...it does not matter what challenge you present them with, they step up with a can do attitude that is second to none.
FLS are a fantastic team of people, from the top management down. Every member of the team I have had the pleasure to work with has been extremely helpful and has provided a fast effective solution to the requirement I have given them PPE delivered in record time. Great to use this business in this difficult time.
FLS are a fantastic team of people, from the top management down. Every member of the team I have had the pleasure to work with has been extremely helpful and has provided a fast effective solution to the requirement I have given them