Loadsmart Resource Center

How New Logistics Relationships Can Address Gaps in the Automotive Supply Chain

An essential piece of every auto supply chain is product sequencing. But getting the logistics right for this type of just-in-time operations requires navigating a complex matrix of suppliers, OEMS, dealers, and 4PLs.

For the auto industry, round trip ‘milk runs’ are a common routing strategy to keep production lines running and are only possible with high levels of communication and on-time performance.

Traditionally, it’s been asset-based carrier networks that automakers rely on. Brokers are not typically considered in network bids, likely due to some preconceived ideas about ability to provide the dedicated milk run capacity. 

Why It’s a Mistake

Any automotive shipper with that mindset is missing out. The right brokers can add resiliency and cover regional gaps that asset-based providers have. At Loadsmart, we’ve been able to service auto manufacturers with an average of 98% OTP/OTD and near perfect communication scorecard (97%) on over 1500 touch points per week. 

With a large footprint of available carriers, custom tracking solutions, and dedicated operation teams, we’ve seen a 200% YOY growth in dedicated volume from auto manufacturers. 

Here’s how a digital broker can augment and enhance auto shippers’ transportation networks. 

Improved Communication and Tracking

Whether it’s for a 4PL, DC, or supplier, being able to provide near real-time PU/DEL information throughout the cycle of a load is extra important. With each change in delivery schedule, there needs to be the right cadence of in-transit call checks.

A tech-enabled broker managing the shipments can help to improve the number of touch points received by all parties. We specialize in creating EDI integrations that connect with the major ELD trackers and can push custom tracking updates through to TMS’ and 3rd party systems that connect with LMS’ and managed transportation systems. The GPS pings can be sent as frequently as every 20 minutes and updates can be customized to a customer’s preferred tracking matrix, giving all partners in the supply chain load visibility. 

Value-Added Operational Support 

Where tech can’t provide coverage, Loadsmart has a dedicated service team to manage relationships. That can mean communicating rack updates (which aren’t always captured by ELDs), covering after hours and graveyard shifts, or having strategic discussions with 4PLs. 

For one of our global auto manufacturers, we have ongoing calls with their 4PL regarding operational inefficiencies and ways our team can help make the network more efficient. This quarter, we have been able to optimize 4 lanes to avoid ongoing detention issues and avoid out of stock products. 

The relationship also extends beyond the 4PL, we work with the suppliers directly at pick up for faster and direct communication regarding load changes or updates. The proactive actions and deep integration within the partner supply chain helps us pull loads ahead to avoid shut downs, immediately inform carriers of changes to delivery – all while ensuring the systems are updated.

Increased Capacity and Flexibility

Flexibility can be diminished when only working with asset-based providers. Brokers can step in to provide an additional layer of coverage for network and service gaps from more rigid asset base providers.

As a broker, we offer a larger, more regional footprint of available carriers and have continued to expand our carrier base throughout the country for auto specific lanes and needs. The excess capacity is used to provide a waterfall of dedicated carrier options that can be used to avoid issues on route for a customer. 

In addition to regional capacity, we’ve been able to provide a mix of services including drop, round trip, and one-way milk run capacity.  With this flexible model we can participate in full network RFPs, CAN crossborder bids, and offer more flexible 45 day mini bids to fill network gaps.

Consistency leads to predictability and reliability

Milk runs are not something most companies think of as a strength for digital brokers. But with better technology, strong regional capacity, and growing national carrier relationships, Loadsmart provides unique coverage to strengthen networks with dedicated, round-trip, and multi-stop capacity for automotive manufacturers. 

If you’re an auto manufacturer, interested in learning more about our coverage or understanding our heat-maps, please reach out to me at nicole.kereszti@loadsmart.com

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