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  • September 9, 2020

    What is a Bill Of Lading?

    Exporting and importing goods can be quite overwhelming given the number of intricacies, documentation, formalities and above all, money that is involved in the process.  A document that plays a vital role in making sure that your freight is delivered on time, in the right condition and acts as a document of title to the goods, is the Bill Of Lading often abbreviated as B/L or BOL.   As a stakeholder involved in shipping freight, here’s everything you need to know about the Bill Of Lading: What is a bill of lading? There are several definitions of a bill of lading and several variations as well. In the simplest of terms, it is a document that acts as a legally binding ‘evidence’ of the contract between the shipper and carrier to transport goods from point A to B as per the sales contract agreed upon by the shipper and consignee.  A bill of lading also acts as a receipt or proof that the cargo that set out from the shipper’s manufacturing unit or warehouse was received in sound condition by the carrier. Moreover, the holder of the bill is in the position to claim the cargo or further transfer it to a party.  The document provides the carrier with all the shipping details and information of the cargo itself, which indeed plays an important role in making sure that the freight is delivered on time, to the right location and handled with due care.  Who is responsible for issuing the bill of lading?  Generally, the shipper issues a bill of lading for every shipment that leaves his storage/manufacturing facility. In the absence of a bill that is not signed by the concerned parties, there is no way to confirm the specifications of the freight.  Given its importance, carriers do not agree...
  • The ongoing pandemic has yet again highlighted the value that digital automation technology can provide to global supply chains. At a time when managing your logistics has become a turbulent experience, investing in a Logistics Resource Management platform that best suits your company, can help streamline your operations and boost business.  However, in a market flooded with options to choose from, how do you identify the LRM platform best-suited for your organisation?  The system you choose must enable you to be in control of your freight, create transparency in your end-to-end supply chain management and above all, save you money.  Here are five reasons why you should choose GoComet over other LRM platforms: 1.  Automation across workflow GoComet automates all the tasks that you currently do manually, such as tracking shipments, negotiating rates and follow-ups. The system even provides the option to auto-match and auto-approve freight invoices and notify your team, leading to quicker and foolproof payments.  As against traditional systems that underperform while dealing with spot shipments, GoComet’s state of the art systems are competent for securing both contract as well as spot rates.   2. All-in-one platform solving multiple problems  Apart from automating RFQ management, tracking and invoice reconciliation, GoComet has more to offer making it a one-stop solution to multiple pain points in your supply chain, allowing you to enjoy a range of cost and time savings.  GoComet’s smart schedules portal allows you to check the sailing schedules of multiple carriers on a single dashboard. This ensures a stress-free experience in finding a carrier that suits your production and delivery schedule.  You can benefit from GoComet’s live worldwide port congestion data as well. To find information on any port of your choice, you simply have to enter its name in the search field and the portal will instantly...
  • Driving cost savings in today’s fast-moving supply chain industry has become quite a challenge in light of unforeseen events, fluctuating rates and ever-changing supply-demand dynamics. For you to better manage costs, determine the best possible trade lanes for each shipment and drive savings, freight rate benchmarking has become a necessity.  Irrespective of whether you are a big or a small shipper, benchmarking rates is one practice that can not only save you money but can also help you gain valuable insights, understand competitive threats and identify new business opportunities. What is freight rate benchmarking? How does it work?  In simple terms, freight rate/cost benchmarking is comparing the price you are paying for your shipment with what your competitors are paying for a similar shipment. The key is to have access to precise and reliable market rates which can then help you identify the best opportunities and aid your decision making.  The process reviews your freight rate history along with the carriers used, with the present-day market rates for the concerned trade lanes, helping you understand the direction in which the freight market is moving, foresee the peaks and troughs and evaluate your position.   Benefits of freight rate benchmarking: Better negotiate freight rates  The freight market is highly volatile. Rates tend to vary to a great extent even within the same shipping lane and lack of transparency often invites hidden, unnecessary charges which silently bite into your profit. However, when you have access to benchmarked rates, you are in a better position to negotiate rates or fix a target rate for your freight forwarder or carrier. This helps you make sure that you aren’t being fooled into overpaying for your shipment. Thorough analysis and valuable insights  Once you start benchmarking your freight rates with the help of a system, over time...
  • Amid countless technologies that continue to present promising opportunities to the supply chain industry, blockchain has emerged as a critical innovation, with the potential to revolutionise digital supply chain management.  With supply chains growing more complicated by the day, using blockchain technology can help organisations record relevant information more efficiently, making way for improved transparency, better traceability and reduced costs. What is blockchain?  In simple terms, blockchains mean digital information (the blocks) stored in a public database (the chains). A particular party does not own the data stored in a blockchain but instead is collectively shared by everyone who is a part of the whole network of blockchain. The core of this technology being immutability, i.e. while multiple stakeholders can access the recorded data, no record can be erased, thus ensuring transparency.  Key areas where using blockchain can help you drive supply chain efficiencies:  Transparent transactions at all times  Blockchain technology helps speed up transactions and brings greater transparency as there is no other intermediary such as a bank involved in the process. Moreover, the ledger gets updated automatically, making the process faster and easier.  To ensure that the payment is visible only to the authorised participants, payment conditions can be set accordingly beforehand. As each transaction is immediately apparent to the authorised party, there is no scope to tamper any information added to the blockchain.  Improved traceability Blockchain can help supply chain professionals effectively record price, location, date, quality, quantity, source and other relevant information. With all this information stored in the blockchain, the traceability of materials in a supply chain can be improved and increased by several folds. An outcome of this can be reduced losses from the counterfeit and black market, enhanced visibility over the functioning of your supply chain and more.  Trustworthy channel, safer payments With...
  • As the ongoing pandemic continues to raise concerns about the agility of global supply chains, organisations across industries are looking for ways to identify and leverage new opportunities and weather the storm.  In a webinar hosted by GoComet last week, vice-president procurement of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Rajasekhara Reddy emphasised how technology and a strong team are the key pillars of a resilient supply chain. Here’s a synopsis of the insights shared by Mr Reddy  Switching from air to ocean freight  “We thought that the virus was somewhere far away and suddenly it came to our doorstep. It disrupted supply chains around the world. We being a pharmaceutical company didn’t have the choice to take a break for a few months and then come back,” Mr Reddy said.  He added that 80% of the capacity vanished overnight. Having a huge dependence on airfreight, one of the biggest challenge Glenmark faced was switching from airfreight to ocean overnight.  “Ports were being shut due to coronavirus cases and the Government didn’t know how to react. The first reaction was to shut down the ports for 14 days. Long-distance carriers were not working, all the cargo capacity was diverted to China as everyone was buying personal protective equipment from there,” Mr Reddy said.  To minimise the impact of the disruption, the pharma company identified a few airlines and made an offer stating that Glenmark will pay for the fuel, parking charges, crew, etc. and in return gets 60% capacity. The airline could sell the remaining capacity in the market.  Improving predictability helped Glenmark build the confidence that they could send freight by sea.  “Destruction paves way for a new growth.” Leveraging data more important than ever before “Previously I was happy with 35 day transit time from the plant to the warehouse. But with the...
  • Big data has heralded a new era where today’s leading organisations are basing their decisions, not on guesswork, but concrete information. Data-driven supply chain management and automated analytics have become imperative to staying relevant amid our fast-moving times.  From the point your goods are manufactured to the point they are delivered to your consignee, your supply chain generates massive amounts of data. The real challenge is to build the capacity to gather this valuable business intelligence and process this data to help you leverage insights gained.  Advanced algorithms now allow us to simplify this process and convert our data into actionable insights. The key is to leverage these tools and combine them with a thorough understanding of your business requirements.  Here are some examples of how data-driven supply chain management via the adoption of digital solutions that can help you optimise your business and reduce your freight spend.  Choosing the right shipping lane and carrier  By deploying a digital solution with real-time visibility on the movement of your goods, data is recorded throughout its journey. From the time the shipment leaves the port of loading until it reaches the port of destination, systems can capture its movement along every step of the journey.  Through an analysis of this data, you can know exactly which carriers have been offering you the best service with minimum delays and which routes help you save costs. With these insights, you can help to minimise future delays and overspend. Easy assessment of vendor performance  Advanced data processing now makes it easier to assess vendor performance. For example, your system can collect multiple data points in the negotiation process such as the rates offered by different vendors and the number of negotiations that happen for each shipment, or whether contracted service level agreements are being met...
  • As global trade and supply chains continue to be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations across industries are looking for ways to build resilience and agility into their systems. A good starting point for improving efficiency and optimising supply chain operations is by the adoption of digital automation technology. Today, the power of advanced technology such as artificial intelligence or machine learning has indelibly altered the supply chain landscape and their adoption is only set to increase. Here are some of the key ways automative technology can help you improve your supply chain management:  Best deals at the best price In a typical scenario, your team manually negotiates freight rates with a limited pool of vendors via calls and emails. However, today there is a smarter and cost-efficient way to do this. Through automation, you can benefit from compounded negotiation, a system where your vendors compete with each other on a digital platform to offer you the best deals. A Logistics Resource Management (LRM) platform allows you to create and share RFQs with your vendors and on submitting their quotations shows them their rank in the bidding process. The system nudges your vendors to keep squeezing their rates in order to secure the first rank and win your business, which in turn allows you to benefit from their best deals each and every time.  Improved visibility with live shipment tracking    An integral part of efficient supply chain management is knowing exactly where your shipment is despite uncertainties. The traditional approach of manually visiting countless websites of shipping companies to track shipments is not only time consuming but exhausting. However, adopting an automated solution for tracking transforms this process completely. By giving live, automatic updates on the movement of your shipments on a unified dashboard, technology helps you massively reduce the...
  • The global pandemic has highlighted the value that Logistics Resource Management (LRM) platforms provide to export-import oriented companies. For organisations considering LRMs for the first time or an upgrade of their current solutions, should they invest in building a customised, in-house platform or buy a ready-to-go, off-the-shelf software? Here are some of the factors to consider to help you make the decision that’s right for you.  An ideal way to start is by outlining the key requirements of your company and the corresponding features you will need to meet those requirements. Consider making a list of features that you may or may not need or would be good to have.  With your requirements defined, next consider your implementation timeline, budget and other resources available to you.  To build, or not to build, that is the question… Ok, your IT team have confirmed that they could build a system, but should you? Your organisation may lean towards building an in-house system and may have all the resources it takes to build one but is it worth your time and money? Unless localised solutions are at the core of your business, building your solution might just translate to a waste of invaluable resources.  On the other hand, a pre-built solution that can be customised to meet your needs can help you instantly leverage your resources while staying within your budget.  What’s more scalable? Quickly scaling up your customised solution to meet each need that arises with time may not be always viable. Quite often, companies are very specific about their needs and customise their solution accordingly. Unfortunately, this can become a barrier that limits the flexibility of the system especially when additional functionality is required, such as during the times of crisis.  Even when it comes to investing in a pre-built solution,...
  • Ongoing global disruption has pushed the supply chain industry into a phase of unparalleled transformation. Everything from the present pandemic, rapidly changing supply-demand dynamics, and technological advancements have accelerated radical change.  Supply chain resilience has become increasingly valued as organizations look to prepare themselves to face the unexpected. Today, we are looking at building supply chains that don’t merely survive disruptions but have the capacity to flourish amid the chaos.  As your organisation navigates through 2020 and prepares for the future, here are some trends that will continue to dominate supply chain management in the years ahead: No slowing down for technology   Companies today are leveraging technology more than ever and will continue to do so in the future. The recent spike in demand for integrated supply chain solutions that automate operations, increase efficiency and profitability, has shone a spotlight on the need for businesses to turn to technology to help them ride through a crisis.   While fortifying your supply chain resilience, be mindful of the fact that the digital-first mindset is here to stay. The future is cloud-based, automated solutions, whose innovations in machine learning, internet of things and artificial intelligence are rapidly reforming supply chain management. By adopting these technologies you will not only be able to capture weaknesses in your system but also reveal hidden opportunities in your business model. The big data buzz We are living in the big data era where supply chain management is data-driven and automated analytics demand the attention of supply chain professionals. To stay relevant in the market, ensure that you gather business intelligence by processing the data that your supply chains generate regularly and leveraging the insights gained.  Unlike before, the availability of advanced algorithms has not only simplified the complexity of data science but has made converting data into...
  • With tightening capacity and ever-soaring rates in the face of COVID-19, managing logistics and shipping goods has become a turbulent experience. Investing in the right TMS can streamline your operations and boost business.  However, with so many options to choose from, how do you identify the TMS best-suited for your organisation and your budget?  What does a TMS do? A good TMS should simplify your shipping process by helping you plan, coordinate and track your shipments. It should also be designed to process data and generate insights that can assist you when making decisions. An efficient TMS should automate your freight management, improve your communication with vendors, save time and help you reduce costs.  Check out Sailing Schedule – a smart tool to make smart decisions while planning the movement of your freight. Key factors to consider when buying a TMS The true cost of the system Be aware of companies offering you a low-cost solution as chances are further hidden charges lay in wait. Choose a system that caters to your business needs without having to rush to vendor’s support services or costly code changes every other day.  A low-cost system may appear attractive at the time of purchase, but over time, you may find your money going towards maintaining the system- instead of your bottom line.  Easy integration with existing systems A TMS is only as good as its functionality. Make sure that the TMS you choose is designed for easy integration with your existing systems and quick onboarding. A mistake here can affect you for the life of the system you select.  Scalability Ensure your chosen TMS is able to handle the depth of your existing requirements both in your jurisdiction and throughout your organisation.  Server-based systems are best avoided as these quickly become outdated. It is...