The coordinated movement of freight, to its next destination and to its final delivery address, typically involves rapid transit and processing through one or more distribution centres or depots.
Here, the ‘breaking down’ of freight loads – e.g. from linehaul truckloads to delivery vans headed in various directions – involves fitting freight items into the available space on the next carrier leg.
Therefore, knowing the cubic dimensions and volumetric weight of each item informs forward load planning as well as space optimisation and storage management.
Furthermore, accurate-to-the-centimetre freight dimensional cubing data ensures that the appropriate payment is received for shipping an item based on its true volumetric weight. Inaccurate measurements and billing errors that are out by, say, 10 to 20 per cent can lead to profit losses of 5-10 per cent, plus under-utilisation of warehouse and transport space by around 20 per cent.
In fact, routine auditing of freight dimensions to correct inaccurate data can extract substantial revenue that would otherwise be lost. In this article we explain how a pocket-sized mobile freight cubing solution, that captures freight dimensions and automatically calculates dim weights, could significantly enhance your depot’s efficiencies and earnings.
1. Better Auditing
Larger distribution operations invest in high-priced fixed freight dimensioning systems, that move items on a conveyer through an overhead scanner, to capture accurate dimensions and calculate the dimensional weight.
Given these machines are secured in one position, freight must be moved (via forklifts, trolleys or manually) to the scanner for processing. This means that not all freight gets ‘cubed’ due to the extra handling and time required.
In contrast, a portable easy-to-use freight dimensioning system enables the operator to move around; to rapidly calculate the correct dim weight and scan the barcode of an individual freight item, right where it was placed.
Checking incoming shipments to your distribution centre using a straightforward cubing freight system, such as Leopard Cube, will help you identify discrepancies.
If you rely on dimensional weights determined by your customers, and don’t have an audit process in place, then you could be losing money shipping items that occupy more space than you’ve charged for. Generally, dim weight errors warrant a back charge to the shipping customer to collect the correct full payment.
Likewise, a freight dimensioning audit safeguards your shipping costs for the remaining legs of the freight journey, which may be via third-party logistics (3PL) partners.
2. Stop Back-Charging
Depending on your distribution operations, various 3PL providers may transport freight into, and out of, your depot at any given time.
You may also work with importers, purchasers and retailers, who arrange the transport of their products without viewing the actual item or understanding how it’s packaged; trusting indirect data from manufacturers and others.
Therefore, accurate dimensional weight data for shipments adds valuable intelligence to the entire supply chain. It enables the right amount of space on consecutive carriers to be pre-arranged and purchased.
In an ideal world, supply chains would improve if correct dim weights were calculated at the start of the delivery journey, and if the data was 100% reliable. As a result,
If there’s no data exchange between transport businesses on the item’s journey, the parcel or pallet may get cubed several times. Each business wants to get paid for shipping the correct freight size. There’s an incentive to fix measurements that are lower than they should be, to recoup outstanding dim weight charges.
back-charging or volumetric weight disputes between haulage companies, warehouse operations and delivery contractors would effectively disappear.
Cubing during transit also provides value to detect real-time discrepancies and changes to shipments.
3. Fast-Track Efficiencies
Superseding manual paper-based recording, using a digital solution to cube your freight will eliminate incorrect input measurements due to human error. Plus, a freight dimensioning system will instantly automate dim weight calculations, thus saving huge amounts of time and easing frustrations.
An accurate volumetric measurement offers valuable digital data, to connected business systems in real time, for greater visibility and operational intelligence.
The portability of a hand-held cubing freight system enables the operator to move quickly and easily around the depot floor and in between freight items. This level of convenient data capture removes the hassle of using forklifts to manoeuvre freight to fixed dimensioning systems, which also improves workplace safety.
4. Track & Trace Data Point
Capturing the freight dimensional cubing data of an item in transit, can also provide a valid and accurate siting event; to contribute real-time tracking information for a specific shipment.
This date and time stamp at an explicit location, adds another data point along the trip for companies offering sophisticated ‘track & trace’ services for customers. Or, it provides at least one tracking ‘proof of location’ for simpler distribution operations.
Up to four photographs can be taken to accompany the freight dimensional cubing data, if using the cubing freight system, Leopard Cube. These images are useful for keeping track of odd-shaped ‘ugly’ freight items, or monitoring the integrity and condition of pallets or containers during a lengthy transit, to troubleshoot potential problems.
5. Update Storage Master Data
In contrast to depots that move freight out fast, storage warehouse operations rely on ‘reference’ data from their customers to define the dimensions of products to store and determine shelving/racking space, and also to understand the space required within an onward delivery vehicle.
If a customer has been selling a product for a while, they may become lax in staying up to date with the product manufacturer’s shipping conditions. For instance, an overseas supplier may change the outer packaging size, or change the number of units per pallet, and the retailer is unaware of this. Or, the retailer may have no information on the shipping dimensions at all.
Therefore, warehouse operators with freight dimensional cubing technology can accurately measure incoming shipments, to ensure the correct rate is charged to the retailer for storage. At the same time, this will update their master file data on storage dimensions for the specific product.
6. Activate Idle Resources
With a lightweight easy-to-use dimensional cubing system, such as Leopard Cube, integrated into your distribution centre or warehouse operations, there’s opportunity to take advantage of idle resources to capture more revenue.
First, costly hardware devices such as company-owned mobile computers may not be used continuously for their intended tasks, or may have been superseded by newer devices, leaving them unused but available for re-purposing within the depot. Such devices can easily be loaded with cubing software, and combined with a low-cost tape measure, to enable more freight dimensioning tasks to be performed.
Second, human resources such as employees on light work duties as a result of injury or other health issues, or casual staff hired for busy times, can be quickly trained and using the cubing freight system effectively; to contribute to business activities in a safe and practical way.
Need a quick-to-install easy-to-use cubing solution in your DC?
At Leopard Systems we’ve developed a scalable freight dimensional cubing solution, called Leopard Cube that unites a low-cost measuring tape tool with a mobile dimension data management system.
Leopard Cube will enable your depot team to quickly calculate correct freight volumes for better billing and stronger customer relations.
Plus, Leopard Cube streamlines distribution centre workflows, improves warehouse space and storage yields, and lowers revenue leakage from assorted T&L operations.
In addition, Leopard Cube provides a dimensioning system for your drivers to audit delivery pick-ups and record customer approval on the spot.
Simply download the Leopard Cube app to your company’s smart devices. Then start using this SaaS cloud-managed solution with no further capital investment or asset management burden for your company.
Offered as an opex subscription, Leopard Cube is a robust freight dimensioning solution that can scale up or down with your business and seasonal requirements.
Find out how Leopard Cube could be up, running and adding profit to your bottom line from Day One.