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  • With the current pandemic exposing the fragility of the global supply chains, it has become more imperative than ever to adopt a system that enables real-time container tracking. Investing in automated monitoring equipment for tracking exactly where your containers are has become as important as shipping those same containers. At the Digital Container Summit that was held recently, Wolfgang Lehmacher, an evangelist in the field of logistics and supply chain said, “The companies that had more visibility, that had better tools, did much better in this situation. Because they knew where their suppliers were. They knew where their goods were. They knew when goods were turned away at the border and stored somewhere. Because they had that real-time information that told them that something was going wrong. Then they could work on the solutions.” Visibility is the key to avoid major disruptions in the supply chain. With technology at our fingertips, it has become possible to track precise locations of all your containers as and when updated. Container tracking is a necessity that cannot be ignored. The undeniable impact of the pandemic on container tracking The severity of the coronavirus on the shipping and logistics industry has resulted in a serious decline in international trade. With most of the logistics providers scaling down their operations drastically, the container shipping industry has been operating at a minimal pace. As per the statistics released by Alphaliner, 30% to 60% outbound shipping capacity that has been withdrawn in Asia-Europe marine routines has severely disrupted trade activities. With the government imposing strict measures on reducing workforces and shutting down warehouses, there has been severe congestion at the ports. Failure to pick up cargo or containers being misplaced due to warehouses being chock full are some issues that freight operators have had to deal with....
  • 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...
  • If you are active in the world of international trade, there is no avoiding the incoterms. The freight industry is governed by a voluntary yet authoritative set of rules known as the Incoterms. Anybody working in this industry will have come across this term at some point, but there is some ambiguity surrounding these rules.  While this term is used like a household name in the shipping industry, not many are aware of the comprehensiveness of Incoterms. Understanding the exact implications of incoterms on global supply chains is important for importers, exporters and any company undertaking international trade alike. Getting Incoterms wrong can prove to be a very costly mistake to make, especially with them being updated every 10 years. Incoterms 2020 explained The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) originally created and published Incoterms in 1936 to do away with differences in trading practices and legalities between traders around the world. The International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) are a set of standards that determine the responsibilities of buyers and sellers for the delivery of goods by all modes of transport. In simpler terms, the incoterms are the terms that both buyers and sellers agree upon when undertaking international or domestic trade. The areas that incoterms touch upon are: The roles of buyers and sellers and what they have to do The costs buyers and sellers are responsible for Incoterms are revised every 10 years by the ICC and it is advisable to adhere to the latest version for lesser misunderstandings i.e. incoterms 2020. They standardize many aspects of international trade and shipping. Why are Incoterms 2020 crucial to international trade? To avoid unnecessary complications during the shipment process, Incoterms serve as the holy grail for importers/exporters alike to refer to and maintain uniformity in operations. Incoterms 2020 are universally accepted and...
  • Freight audit and payment may not be the first things that come to your mind when you analyse your expenses. However, they play a major part in running up unnecessary costs for your business. More and more companies are heeding the implications of a very important question, “Why should you reconcile your freight invoices?”  Until and unless you are regularly checking your invoices for rate changes, missed/delayed payments and other undetected errors like shipment delays or penalties, these changes are missed and often cost your business tens of thousands of dollars. What is a freight invoice? As defined by Merriam-Webster, a freight invoice is rendered by a carrier to a consignee of freight and contains an identifying description of the freight, the name of the shipper, the point of origin of the shipment, its weight, and the number of charges.  Freight invoice management is the bane of any logistics manager, purely based on the fact that it can go either way. On some days, everything goes smoothly while on most other days, claims and invoices just do not match. Identifying the freight invoice errors and taking proactive steps to get to the bottom of it can save you a lot of money in the long run. GoComet’s innovative invoice matching solution is built-in with the ability to time-stamp actions and remarks on each freight invoice. Your auditing process is improved vastly whilst freeing your logistics team from time-consuming audit requests. It is also wired to reject duplicate invoices and double-checks for discrepancies in the final invoices through Intelligent Optical Character Recognition (iOCR) software. Common freight invoice errors that are costing you quite a lot  An estimated 5-6% of invoices are calculated incorrectly as depicted by the Global Trade Magazine, which is why it is always advisable to match the details...
  • 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...
  • Logistics plays a fundamental role in the efficiency of every company. While a strategic logistics plan takes care of the selling and buying of goods, a key component that could throw a potential spanner in the works is an unhealthy relationship with the various stakeholders of your supply chain network.  Relationships matter. With variables at every stage of the supply chain, carrier, consignor-consignee and freight forwarder relationships form the foundation of a strong and long-term commitment. Good relations are critical to building a resilient supply chain, which, in turn, is crucial to a company’s success and profitability. A bi-directional relationship will lead to reduced shipping costs, improved transit times and lesser misunderstandings. There are a few pointers to keep in mind that will help you build a brilliant relationship with all the stakeholders involved. How to cement relations with your freight forwarders? Envisage and plan for the unexpected Ups and downs in any business are to be expected and more so in the logistics industry. Planning in collaboration with your freight forwarding company for such an event that could damage your shipments or impact your business, is necessary. While they may not be responsible, you do require their help in mitigating the damage. Maintain a consistent shipping schedule Consistency in your shipments allows the freight forwarders to offer better quotes as well as handle your shipments better. Maintaining transparency and providing easy access to all your shipping information makes the job of the freight forwarder easier and more efficient. Avoid accepting shipments at the eleventh hour Last minute bookings are a sure-fire way to trouble. Freight forwarders have a hard-enough time arranging transport in advance, let alone at the very end. Delays in transit and higher shipment costs will be incurred unnecessarily. How can you better your relations with carriers?...
  • Unexpected disruptions in supply chains around the world have led the industry to be more cautious, especially in the post lockdown phase that we are currently entering. Newer technologies and better approaches to existing solutions are required to gain a competitive edge in the market. One of the major ingredients of competent decision-making is a bulletproof strategy, which is why it is expected of every business to look ahead and take note of the current digital and other advancements in the supply chain. Not only will this approach make your supply chain more resilient, but also keeps you well-equipped to tackle any unanticipated disruptions head-on. Here are some of the emerging trends in the supply chain industry: Supply chain digitization The amount of disruption in the global business space makes it necessary for the logistics industry to respond intelligently, provide greater visibility of operations and send out live notifications of processes. This calls for the digitization of the supply chain at the earliest and it is no longer optional. From paperless systems to automated billing and minimal human intervention, an advanced digital environment is the only way forward for modelling the modern supply chain networks. Transform your supply chains digitally to demolish silos, enhance responsiveness, create transparency and increase your market share as a supplier. Modernize supply chains through digitization and provide an answer to all your challenges in one go. Big data, IoT and AI integrated supply chain Gartner predicts that by 2023, at least 50% of the global companies will be using AI, advanced analytics and IoT in supply chain operations. Adopting IoT frameworks in your supply chain leads to better monitoring, real-time tracking of shipments/deliveries, automated inventory and most importantly, supply chain transparency. Owing to the rapid growth in IoT, digitization of the supply chain and easy...
  • With the market being as volatile as it is, unforeseen disruptions at every stage in the supply chain have become a common occurrence,  emphasising the need to build resilient and agile networks that facilitate quick response and minimise risks.  Due to the ongoing pandemic,  heavy restrictions on transport and labour have thrown a huge spanner in the works, with missing production parts, missed handoffs and delays in meeting deadlines. Such events only drive home the fact that supply chain resilience is crucial to the continuity and profitability of every business now more than ever. While there is room for improvement across multiple tiers of the supply chain, one major aspect to take care of is the visibility of shipments in real-time. Shipment tracking is interlinked with several tiers of the supply chain.  If you achieve end-to-end visibility of all your shipments, you will be able to gain control over a crucial aspect of your supply chain management.  Here’s how an inefficient shipment tracking system invites more trouble during a crisis situation: • Transportation delays One of the most common disruptions is the delay in the Estimated Time of Arrivals (ETAs) of the shipments. This could be due to a number of factors such as overbooking and rolling, customs, unusual traffic and the like. Answering the question of “Where is my cargo?” becomes almost impossible with no way to anticipate these circumstances.  The next best thing would be the dynamic visibility of the containers. If timely updates can be sent to the client of the exact location and ETA, the client will be able to make due arrangements for the arrival with no major issues. • Keeping the customer in the dark The problem lies in the shippers blindly relying on their carriers to provide freight visibility. The schedules prepared by...
  • 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...