Executives with two global manufacturing giants say FourKites’ visibility technology has helped prevent them from losing sight of their shipments.
The Kimberly-Clark (NYSE: KMB) and Bayer logistics managers shared their experiences during a panel discussion at FourKites’ Visibility 2020 conference Thursday.
Kimberly-Clark (KC) exported 19,212 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from the U.S. to 54 countries last year, according to Bryan Kennedy, the paper product giant’s international transportation specialist.
“We have a very large export volume and we knew one of the greatest struggles we had was end-to-end visibility,” Kennedy said. Kimberly-Clark often lost sight of shipments, he said, and relied heavily on forwarders or shipping lines to send notifications and alerts when there were delays and other problems.
Looking for ways to improve efficiency, KC signed on with FourKites, integrating its end-to-end visibility platform to provide insight into freight interruptions and allowing the logistics team to monitor the shipments in real time and track down sources of delays, Kennedy said.
Like many companies, KC works with FourKites to develop solutions designed to provide additional levels of shipment visibility. KC, for example, had a search for delayed shipments built into the FourKites platform, yielding new opportunities to “save” shipments that would have otherwise been delayed, explained Kennedy.
A case in point: During one of Kennedy’s daily searches, two late shipments popped up. An investigation showed that both were shipped on the same carrier that used the same drayman, who had apparently switched the two containers.
As soon as KC identified the problem, the logistics crew contacted the carrier and corrected the error, allowing the shipments to sail on time, according to Kennedy, saving tens of thousands of dollars in wait time.
KC is still not “all the way” where it wants to be on visibility, Kennedy said. But FourKites’ solutions definitely opened up a lot more room to be proactive, he said, “and we’re servicing our internal customers better.”
Opening up air cargo
Best known for making aspirin, Bayer has grown into a drugs and chemicals behemoth and now employs 100,000 people worldwide. The company merged with Monsanto last year, and crop science is now the biggest division within Bayer.
Crop science is also the division that is deploying FourKites freight tracking technology, said Jon Mosher, Bayer export operations lead.
“Over the past few years shipment tracking has become a growing requirement. It’s considered table stakes across all modes,” Mosher said, adding that Bayer started using the platform several years ago in trucking, then ocean and now is in the process of adding air.
Bayer exports raw materials to plants globally, according to Mosher, and at times runs into shortages that require rapid air shipping. Shipping by air is expensive, and using FourKites technology gives the importing plant “that extra data point,” he said, making the process more transparent and efficient.
Leveraging visibility into actionable insights is a critical next step, Mosher said.
“It’s good to have that information, but after that shipment has arrived, how do we use that data?” he asked. Whether it’s building carrier scorecards, planning production sites or improving inventory management, “that’s part of our journey.”