The demand for real-time transportation visibility—the ability to track and monitor the movement of goods and cargo throughout the supply chain—has snowballed over the last decade, and visibility solutions are becoming more sophisticated and better connected as the scope of what we have insight into is increasing and improving. Shippers and logistics providers reap the benefits of valuable data to improve their supply chain efficiency, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction.

For shippers considering the benefits of increased visibility, we are exploring the different types of transportation visibility, example use cases, and how the return on investment works when implementing a visibility solution. 

What Does Transportation Visibility Include?

 Transportation visibility is often used as a general term, but it typically includes the ability to track the location, status, and condition of shipments. This information can be accessed and monitored through different options of transportation visibility platforms, such as web portals, mobile applications, and API integrations with other systems. Real-time transportation visibility solutions also include analytics and reporting capabilities to show trends and help shippers make data-driven decisions to improve their supply chains.

Here are seven types of information often included under the umbrella of real-time transportation visibility.

  • Location — The current location of the shipment, including the location of the carrier and any intermediate stops.
  • Status — The current status of the shipment, such as whether it is in transit, at a facility, or has been delivered.
  • Condition — The condition of the shipment, such as its temperature or exposure to light for certain types of goods, but condition can also include any damage or other issues that have occurred during transit.
  • Estimated time of arrival (ETA) — The estimated time of arrival for the shipment at its destination.
  • Carrier information — Information about the carrier responsible for the shipment, including contact information and performance metrics.
  • Supply chain events — Information about any events like delays, customs clearance, inspection, etc.
  • Other information — Additional information about the shipment, such as the type of cargo, weight, and volume, may also be included with transportation visibility.

Use Cases for Real-Time Transportation Visibility Solutions

Improving transportation visibility benefits several areas of a shipper’s operations. Some of the biggest include the following six use cases.

Real-time tracking and exception management – Shippers can track the location of shipments in real-time, getting up-to-date information on the status and the estimated time of arrival of goods. With this data, shippers can better handle exceptions to address issues as they arise and improve communication with customers.

Carrier performance management – Shippers can monitor the performance of carriers in terms of delivery times, damages, and any other metrics that are important to their supply chain. This allows them to identify areas for improvement and make more informed decisions when selecting carriers.

Reduced detention charges – Real-time visibility and transparency can help shippers avoid detention charges by providing advance notice of delays and allowing them to take proactive measures to mitigate them.

Inventory management and replenishment planning – Shippers can monitor the status of inventory to optimize inventory levels, reduce stockouts, and improve supply chain efficiency, having the visibility they need to better plan and secure capacity for future transportation needs.

Predictive analytics and continuous improvement – Shippers can analyze transportation data and identify patterns and trends that can be used to predict future supply chain disruptions and proactively address them.

Compliance with regulations – Transportation visibility solutions can help shippers avoid costly fines and penalties by helping them navigate compliance with regulations and standards.

Benefits of Real-Time Transportation Visibility 

A 2022 survey by McKinsey & Company showed that supply chain leaders who focused on increasing their end-to-end visibility were twice as likely to report no challenges due to supply chain impacts in 2022.

As shippers apply visibility toward their planning and operations, they uncover a number of benefits, ranging from detailed data for management and planning purposes to reducing risk for their shipments. Many of the benefits fall into the following six categories. 

  • More control over the supply chain – Transportation visibility gives shippers more data and control of their supply chain operations, keeping them informed in real-time and allowing them to respond more appropriately with complete insight into the various factors involved in any situation.
  • Decreased risk – Shippers are equipped for early identification of potential issues and proactive problem-solving, which can ultimately reduce the likelihood of supply chain disruptions and mitigate the impacts of unexpected events.
  • Cost savings – Shippers can efficiently track and monitor shipments, an opportunity to reduce internal labor costs and minimize detention charges with more informed and effective coordination.
  • Improved customer service – Transportation visibility enables shippers to proactively manage delays and provide accurate delivery estimates to customers, resulting in a better overall experience.
  • Competitive advantage – Transportation visibility data can inform shippers and help them build a competitive advantage through data-driven decisions, optimization, reduced costs, or improved performance. 
  • Simplified management and operations – With more handled for the shipper, transportation visibility simplifies operations and management by streamlining tasks, reducing errors, providing new insights, and enabling them to focus on more strategic tasks.

Within transportation management specifically, visibility also provides numerous benefits by giving a view of the entire transportation network in real-time, allowing transportation managers the ability to make more informed decisions. Real-time transportation visibility enables better resource allocation, such as drivers, trucks, and warehouses, to optimize operations and reduce transportation costs by consolidating shipments, optimizing routes, reducing empty miles, and choosing cost-effective options. 

Investing in real-time transportation visibility allows shippers to stay competitive in an ever-evolving technology landscape. Transportation visibility solutions often provide features such as predictive analytics, machine learning, and automation which can help shippers increase their efficiency, agility, and resiliency by anticipating different situations before they occur. By keeping up with the latest technology, shippers are positioned to continue to gain new advantages.

ROI for Transportation Visibility Solutions

When considering a technology investment, companies must always approach it in a systematic and thorough manner—defining the goals and objectives for visibility, conducting a cost-benefit analysis, and analyzing the options before making a decision—and part of this analysis includes considering the potential ROI.

Unfortunately, ROI for a visibility solution is almost impossible to speak to generally. Each shipper has its own situation—a different starting point and different potential. For example, a shipper without a previous transportation visibility solution may have low detention times due to certain details of how their shipments operate that is unique to them. They might not have the same potential to decrease detention as another company, and their cost-benefit analysis would lean more into other benefits, like improved productivity and efficiency for employees internally. Many visibility providers will create a proof of value to help shippers understand the potential of their solution.

That said, there are still some ballpark figures that shippers can consider as a place to start for rough ROI estimations. Three common sources of cost-savings are:

  • Detention charges.
  • Labor costs to track shipments.
  • Labor costs to provide customer service due to a lack of visibility.

Visibility can reduce:

  • Detention charges by 15-25%.
  • Time spent tracking shipments by 40-70%
  • Time spent on customer inquiries related to visibility by 50-60%

For $500,000 in detention costs over a given time period, this can save $75,000-125,000.

For $150,000 in tracking-related labor costs, this can save $60,000-105,000.

For $150,000 in customer service-related labor costs, this can save $75,000-90,000. 

A shipper must analyze their current data to understand a transportation visibility solution’s potential ROI, costs, and benefits. Then they can reach a more informed decision knowing the financial return they can expect as well as the less tangible benefits. Once a visibility solution is in place, they can evaluate their data for actual results that transportation visibility provides them, even assessing at a future date, like one year later, whether they are using the capabilities to their full potential.

Increase Your Real-Time Transportation Visibility with Hwy Haul 

Transportation visibility data is a powerful tool for shippers can use to improve their supply chain management and operations, providing a wide range of use cases and benefits. Visibility data can help shippers optimize and reduce risk in their supply chain while equipping them to remain competitive in today’s market and meet the demands of their customers.

As a digital freight platform, Hwy Haul helps shippers improve transparency, communication, and tracking throughout the transportation process. With added shipment visibility into the condition of goods in transit, we’re helping to reduce waste during transportation. To learn more about Hwy Haul and the visibility we provide, reach out to us today.