& Logistics FAQ
Get Answers to Frequently Asked Transportation and Logistics Questions
Explore the FAQ below for information about a wide range of transportation and logistics, from basic terminology to methods, processes, and global transportation management solutions and concepts.
What is chemical logistics?
Chemical logistics is the transportation and supply chain logistics of the chemical industry. Chemical logistics specialists are experts in the unique set of regulatory and security concerns that come with shipping chemical products globally. A full-service chemical logistics provider offers:
- Supply chain visibility for insight at every stage of the shipping process
- Transportation management system for robust reporting and intelligence
- Active participation in supply chain issues by multiple shipper departments
- Current intelligence of the transportation marketing and chemical market
- Strong carrier relationships through transparency and communication
- Hazmat certifications
What KPIs are critical for chemical manufacturers to consider when selecting a TMS?
The top Chemical Logistics KPIs are:
- Freight Costs
- Efficiency & Productivity
- Route Guide Compliance
By evaluating the direct causes behind each KPI, you can identify key areas for improvement and drive enterprise-wide chemical supply chain performance. See our guide to KPIs here.
What are the benefits of working with a dedicated chemical logistics expert?
- Detailed analysis of freight rates to determine savings
- Benchmarking industry-standard rates for renegotiation
- Seamless integration with existing resources
- Real-time visibility into all transportation modes
- Global insight and positioning for international transportation
- Compliance with safety and environmental regulations
- Streamlined intermodal transportation and rail fleet management
- TMS technology to automate transportation planning and execution
- Comprehensive monitoring and reporting for every load
What is freight management?
Freight management includes controlling expenses, recordkeeping, and providing comprehensive support for shippers and distribution centers. Whether handled in-house or outsourced to a professional 3PL/4PL provider, freight management is a critical part of staying afloat in an everchanging market. When it comes to successful freight management, the right decisions can have an enormously positive impact on costs, speed, and customer relationships.
What are the benefits of professional freight invoicing services?
Organized and verified invoices are vital to every transportation and logistics network, but performing these processes in-house almost always leads to complications, errors, and oversights that come with a lack of global logistics experience. Outsourcing your logistics program means you can avoid common issues like bill duplication, overpayment, pricing errors, and amounts due errors.
What is freight forwarding or freight brokerage?
Freight forwarding or brokerage means theirs is an intermediary between shippers, carriers, customs, port authorities, handling agencies, and other entities to coordinate the shipment of goods from one destination to another in a variety of modes, such as air, ocean, road, and rail.
What is intermodal transportation, and why is it important?
Intermodal transportation involves specialized intermodal bulk ISO shipping containers moving both over the road and through rail . Intermodal transportation comes with a variety of benefits that make it an ideal solution for global chemical logistics, including:
- Cost-effective product transportation
- No capacity constraints
- Safe and reliable
- Allows for single-contact order management
- Reduces overall carbon footprint compared to other solutions
What is an ISO container?
An ISO container is an intermodal container that is manufactured according to the specifications outlined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). They’re used in multiple modes of transportation, including ocean, rail, and truck. ISO containers withstand the extreme environments and structural stresses that may be placed on it through its travels and movements around the world. The ISO standardization ensures each container meets the size and durability requirements to be safely and uniformly stacked on transport vehicles. Types of ISO containers include:
- Open top
- Flat rack
What are international logistics services?
International logistics services deal with shipping cargo internationally through a variety of mediums without the cargo ever being directly affected when changing modes of transportation.
What makes international logistics so complex, compared to domestic logistics?
In international logistics, transportation specialists need to be aware of the regulations, requirements, and taxes in all relevant regions and modes. The distances involved in global logistics also mean that a multimodal approach is often critical to optimizing routes. Additionally, shippers need a good idea of their position relative to their competitors, which requires experience and a modern TMS.
What are the major challenges in global logistics today?
The biggest challenges in global logistics often stem from visibility to both shipments and data in real time. You need the right data at the right times to make the right decisions as far in advance as possible so that you have the flexibility to make changes as needs arise.
How can I lower my international freight costs?
The best way to lower your international freight costs is to work directly with a professional supply chain consultant like CLX who can provide comprehensive strategic design, tactical optimization, and operational support for your program.
Supply Chain Consulting
Why is supply chain consulting so vital to an effective transportation network?
Experienced consulting professionals leverage their knowledge and industry best practices to assist clients in strategic planning, optimizing networks and developing analytics platforms. These programs are designed to increase performance, reduce costs, and create more competitive and reliable supply chains through data-driven, forward-thinking optimizations. Additional benefits include:
- Optimization of trade-offs such as service, revenue, cost, and asset return
- Profitable improvements based on performance baselines and benchmarks
- Performance-driven segmentation of aggregate supply chains
- Reduced carbon footprint with sustainable operations
- Balanced service and efficiency within your supply chain structure
- Significant cost and time savings through flexibility and transparency
Third-Party Logistics & Fourth-Party Logistics (3PL & 4PL)
What are the differences between 2PL, 3PL, and 4PL services?
A second-party logistics provider, or 2PL or forwarder, is focused on transporting freight from one location to another. A third-party logistics provider, or 3PL, provides comprehensive logistics services like freight pay, execution, rate benchmarking, procurement, and fleet management solutions. A fourth-party logistics provider, or 4PL, strategically manages 3PL services on behalf of the customer to deliver a more holistic solution with even greater capacity for optimization. In Europe most carriers are referred to as 3PL’s which is different than in the US.
What are the benefits of outsourcing your logistics program vs. doing everything on your own?
By outsourcing your logistics program, you can achieve faster route optimization, more efficient service for your customers, and more value for your time and money. A well-rounded, full-service global logistics provider features modern tech integrations, 24/7 support, and a depth of experience to draw from. Read this Whitepaper for more information on the benefits of outsourcing your logistics program. Not a good explanation. Better would be:
- Leveraging of 3PL/4PL tools and technology
- Domain expertise especially by mode
- Buying power of consolidated freight
- Access to rate and service level market intelligence
- Logistics as a variable expense
- Global reach
- Access to subject matter expertise
- Network optimization
Transportation Management System (TMS)
What is a TMS, and what does it do?
A transportation management system, commonly referred to as a TMS, is a dedicated, streamlined tool for end-to-end supply chain planning, analysis, and optimization. A fully-featured, holistic solution enables logistics and supply chain specialists to:
- Optimize networks for load planning, contracts, and route guides
- Solve capacity management issues for all freight flows
- Resolve specialty equipment and product compatibility challenges
- Automate freight payment processing, booking, visibility, and alerts
- Execute carrier agreements and dashboard logistics carrier compliance and cost metrics
- Gain supply chain visibility across all regions and facilities
- Ensure compliance of stringent regional and global regulations
- Centralize information to improve workflows and lower administrative costs
- Continuously identify savings and improvements after go-live
What are the key benefits of a fully-featured TMS?
The ideal TMS facilitates:
- Significant cost reductions by consolidating loads and maximizing modes, routes, and assets
- Lower freight rates associated with carrier activity, compliance, and performance reports
- A competitive supply chain infrastructure with end-to-end logistics management services
- Streamlined operational efficiencies through TMS automation
- Access to fully integrated global platforms, transportation databases, and carrier networks
- Increased cost and actual shipment visibility
How many companies offer a global TMS?
There are very few global TMS systems available in a cloud or SaaS version. CLX sells, implements and supports the BluJay TMS system as their exclusive partner for the chemical industry. There are a few client server TMS options available but are very expensive to deploy and the duration of the implementation is much longer than Cloud based models.
How does a TMS interact and integrate with my warehouse management system (WMS)?
Full-service TMS takes transportation data from your WMS and sends back information such as acknowledgments, confirmations, and alerts. All the information necessary to plan, manage, and optimize your supply chains anywhere in the world is passed between networks seamlessly. Further integration with transportation tracking solutions such as Project44 provides up-to-the-minute visibility.
What kind of tracking solutions are available to improve my supply chain and logistics capabilities?
The best way to track freight is with a full-service telematics tracking program, such as Project44, which integrates directly into your TMS to provide real-time shipment tracking, alerts, and recordkeeping features found in many consumer-level applications. The software scales those capabilities to suit the needs of large organizations with modern global supply chains. Project44’s solutions include instant access to an expansive global network of drivers, assets, and fleets, enabling CLX to deliver greater visibility and faster supply chain optimization.