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2020 Supply Chain Trends to Watch For

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2019 has shown that technology adaption in the supply chain is moving at a rapid pace. What is now available is an array of technology solutions that can directly address the concerns of shippers. The key concerns for shippers still remain cost reduction, enhancement of the customer experience, and controlling market variables that impact carrier pricing. With the adoption of technology, there has been a wider acceptance of cloud-based technologies enabling technology platforms to be disconnected. Whether a shipper is using a cloud-based WMS, TMS or another system, data integration can occur at multiple points within the order lifecycle creating workflow automation. As an example, the TMS may receive a sales order from the ERP while receiving shipment characteristics from the WMS. TMS may export carrier routing information back to the WMS for staging or loading while also sending ship confirmation to the ERP to trigger advance ship notice or invoicing to the customer.

2020 Supply ChainTrends

2020 is shaping up to be a year that sees companies that adopt technology pull ahead in the field.

Digital Freight Brokerage

Just as Amazon has transformed customer expectations, digital freight brokerages are attempting to do the same using technology to match available capacity. Digital freight brokers such as Uber Freight, Convoy, Loadsmart and others have invested heavily in technology that can match
available capacity to available loads. The acceptance and use of digital freight brokers will continue. However, the competition from traditional brokerage companies will heat up dramatically in 2020. Large freight brokerages are leveraging their operational expertise with their engineered technology to stay ahead of the digital freight brokers. Technology is transformative and when coupled with competitive strategies the consumer wins. Competitive strategies like those deployed by Rockfarm’s freight brokerage solutions will begin to transform customer expectation and work to lower the logistics service expense for shippers. Those differentiators include 100% acceptance and visibility to direct carrier cost all bundled up in a business intelligence platform that can be leveraged for forecasting. 2020 will be round 1 in the battle for greater market penetration for digital freight brokers and a real test of supremacy over the larger truckload brokerage companies.

Recognition of the “True Cost to Serve”

Data – and not just data, but big Data -seems to have taken supply chains by storm as supply chain managers clamor to report out ROI on new initiatives. Measuring cost and performance has become a necessity as companies look for ways to reduce freight expenses. Whether a shipper partner with a logistics service provider or manages their own business intelligence (BI) platform, visibility to cost is now more accessible than ever. As a result, identifying the true cost to serve the customer is visible and available to be acted upon. The gap between sales contracts and actual expenses can now be aligned, giving companies a direct line of sight to cost. Freight expenses related to raw materials or components can be aggregated with replenishment orders and outbound shipment expenses to give an actual freight expense for all stages in the journey. In creating this visibility, customer discussion can be collaborative in tone as efforts to reduce your freight expense can pay dividends for your customer as well.

Containment of the “User” Experience in the Shipping Process

E-commerce has demonstrated that it can automate the user experience. This experience traditionally includes routing, rating and tendering processes. Automation in the TMS can now seamlessly eliminate user engagement in the TMS through the workflow. The routing process would typically engage a shipping coordinator who makes a decision to route on a preselected set of carriers. Today, however, the shipping process can be completely automated with business rules that execute the routing decision with no user experience required. In addition, data trigger points
flowing to the ERP, OMS or WMS would also support back-end workflow creating further automation within the shipping process. Strategic deployment of business-based rules can take effect and be managed in real-time as requirements change within the customer profile or as carrier capacity thresholds are met. The end result is improved compliance and cost savings driven by a corporate strategy.

Machine Learning

The available technology is now leapfrogging ahead to enlarge the pool of participants available with our supply chain processes. A great example of this is within the carrier invoicing process. A TMS provider may set up a carrier portal in an attempt to drive invoicing compliance within the TMS and eliminate paper invoices. Today, that is not necessary. Machine Language and OCR software, paired together through partners such as Hub Tran, orchestrates the conversion of a paper invoice into an electronic invoice which can be imported into the TMS to trigger the freight audit & payment process to the carrier. In the Rockfarm world, expanding our services to include a stand-alone freight audit & payment service is now a
reality since paper invoices are no longer a resource burden with the automation afforded through machine learning software. Setting a goal to eliminate the touch points found in “anything paper” opens the door to driving complexity into your supply chain without expanding your existing resources.

Mexico Trade Lanes

With phase 1 of the China-U.S. trade agreement taking a step forward, there is still a great deal of work to be completed before anyone can say we have an actual China trade agreement. As a result, Mexico becomes an avenue to source additional products and components. Whether it is the production or processing of parts and goods from Mexico, one thing is certain, the USMCA agreement passed in the U.S. House of Representatives sets in motion one of the largest international trade deals ever ratified. The movement of components south to Mexico for assembly, and production and finished goods moving north to the U.S. will continue to grow.

Contact Rock Farm Supply Chain Solutions for more information!


Brad Stewart, President

By Brad Stewart

Co-Founder, CCO

Brad’s journey into logistics began as a Marine Officer and transitioned from the LTL docks to the non-asset side within the logistics service provider arena.  As a co-founder of Rockfarm, Brad drives our business development efforts and delivery of our promise. An Arizona native, Brad enjoys spending time outdoors in his home state with his wife and family.

“Our approach to the market allowed us an opportunity to push forward in 2008 and enable our mission, “lower the cost to serve” to stand as a cornerstone to our company today.”


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