Logistics Document Management: Automation for Better Transportation

Many logistics companies struggle to stay on top of mountains of paperwork, toil with slow outdated software, and stumble through complicated workflows. When supply chains span international borders, these problems are only intensified. 

Logistics relies on paper to keep precise records and track stored and shipped goods. Minute details need continuous updating to preserve accuracy and to prevent mistakes, which can be extremely costly. Logistics document management software can help you avoid paper’s potentially pricey pitfalls.

What is Logistics Document Management?

Logistics document management software enables transportation and logistics companies to manage documents within the supply chains they serve. All relevant information is readily available in one central digital system, eliminating the risk of missing or bad quality data due to lost or damaged paper documents. The logistics industry may still be highly dependent on paper documents, but companies that make the shift to digital will be the ones that remain relevant in the 21st century. 

International transport comes with its own set of challenges and constraints, such as severe weather conditions, traffic congestion, and damaged cargo. To prevent further complications, logistics companies must ensure all documents contain the correct information when shipping across borders. Pre- and post-transport management can help, but humans can make minor mistakes or misread, say, a 5 for a 6, which could derail an entire shipment and cause major delays and added costs. 

Types of Logistics Documents

Documents are at the heart of all logistics processes. Invoices, bills of lading, shipping slips, customs documents, and packing lists are just a few of the (typically) paper documents that are passed through many hands from supplier to receiver to end customer. Some documents get converted from paper to electronic format; however, they are the minority and include correspondences and statements.

Logistics documents contain very important information and can be difficult to process, slowing down the movement of goods and severely impacting your supply chain.

Paper is Unreliable in Logistics

Logistics is a paper-intensive industry. There’s a paper trail for every single process, including managing and tracking inventory in warehouses, shipping goods from overseas, or moving from distribution centers to stores. While this means everything is trackable, lost or damaged documents can cause serious difficulties. No matter the movement, there are sometimes hundreds of documents confirming a single activity. Papers that contain even the smallest of errors can be extremely difficult or impossible to track, resulting in delayed or cancelled shipments.

Pressure to Deliver on Time

In the transportation and logistics industry, there is immense pressure to ship and deliver goods on time. There are constant threats and new competitors from emerging markets that could derail entire operations. Shifting toll and tariff costs and fluctuating fuel prices are sources of major concern and need to be checked at all times. Even the slightest change could lead to major budgetary issues.

Companies that want to succeed in this industry need to have the most cost-effective, efficient, and flexible processes in place, and their decision-makers need access to information in real time. 

Warehouse Upkeep and Maintenance

There is immense pressure on warehouses to keep their stocks stable, organized, and easy to access in a well-maintained distribution or fulfillment center. If a warehouse isn’t storing enough of a particular product to satisfy increased demand for that product, the result will likely be unhappy customers and the potential loss of future business.

These struggles affect the logistics sector and can disrupt supply chains. These issues can be alleviated or even avoided in the future by the elimination of paper documents, as well as easier and faster access to document data. 

Work smarter with electronic documents rather than paper.

Coronavirus and the Future of Logistics

The unexpected and unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic has turned some stable supply chains on their heads. Factory shutdowns and border closures have created a major rift in global supply chains. These unforeseeable circumstances have forced major logistics and shipping companies to reevaluate or streamline their processes to increase efficiencies. Solutions have included shortening the supply chain to mitigate risk and the elimination of paper documents to speed up shipping operations.

Automated Logistics Document Management

Without having to search for one particular document in a sea of paper, you reduce errors, gain faster access to business-critical information, and establish operational efficiency that improves global operations.

Work in the Cloud as You Ship Across Oceans 

Moving to an automated, cloud-based solution means your shipping documents are available at the click of a button, and your employees can cross-check information in seconds to ensure the accurate shipment and receipt of goods. There is no time-zone delay or language barrier, and information remains secure and accessible to the people who need to work with it.

This type of solution exists today and can bring your company the following benefits:

  • Convenience
  • Reliability
  • Cost Reduction
  • Scalability and resilience 

Automated Document Data Capture

Software that extracts important data from documents can be integrated within a logistics document management system. There are many types of logistics documents, as well as fields common only to your industry. Accurately capturing, archiving, and searching for data in these documents, such as shipping point, loading group and delivery type, is vital to avoid inefficiencies.

An important factor to consider when your logistics company is looking for a data extraction solution is the software’s ability to integrate with your existing systems. Extracted data is useless if it’s inaccessible to other programs in your IT infrastructure. Best-in-class systems offer robust  APIs and can be integrated into any logistics electronic system for filing purposes.

Major Shipping Company Switched to Automation

Rossum’s own customer, Cosco Shipping Lines, one of the world’s largest shipping and logistics companies, switched to an automated data capture process to eliminate paper documents. According to Michal Cipa, IT Manager at Cosco Shipping lines:

“We have been forced to stop paper transactions; we even had to skip the testing phase for some of our new accounting databases and went straight to production. All our invoices are already going through Rossum; I can’t image our AP process functioning without it.”

Whatever your document needs are, Rossum is able to help. We have already been working with major shipping and logistics companies to automate their shipping document data extraction. If you plan on transitioning from paper to digital, you can set up a Rossum trial account in minutes. Process up to 300 documents per month, with no commitment, and start your automation journey. 

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