A loud bang during loading, a crunch: clearly a good has broken. This is an exceptional case in logistics, especially for well-organised forwarding companies. Nevertheless, it happens so often that it would be wise for the companies to efficiently regulate the handling of damages in a standard process. This would give all parties involved security, speed up the processes and objectify the settlement.
During rapid handling, a forklift truck knocks over a package. Or in the worst-case scenario, a truck even has an accident. Events that interrupt a typical order processing with the usual steps and are in every respect the exception in the services of freight forwarding companies. But even for these situations there are important tasks and a sensible sequence in which to complete them. Reason enough, then, to develop a standard process for loss events. It creates clear structures, objectifies responsibilities and accelerates settlement. Last but not least, it minimises consequential damage along the value chain through timely information. Mobile apps with predefined workflows are ideal for practical implementation.
Claims processing begins with recording
What happened in the first place? This question, aside from emotions and apportioning blame, is usually the start of systematic damage processing – for packages as well as for vehicles. This is because it is important to document the damage in order to be able to start with repairs or compensation. During an ongoing transport, it is also important to provide replacements as quickly as possible so that no subsequent processes are interrupted. The first task, therefore, is to immediately inform all those affected by damage about the consequences for them personally. To do this, the sender and recipient of the damaged goods must be identified via the order number. In the next step, the damage that has occurred must be assessed by the freight forwarder and the client and a further course of action must be determined: Can the goods still be used because only their packaging has been damaged? Or is the damage so extensive that they must be replaced? This requires meaningful photos that clearly show the extent of the damage. Using mobile apps, truck drivers and loading personnel can link the images directly to the respective transport order and transfer them to the transport management system (TMS). To ensure that the recordings are also sufficient for damage settlement, the logistics service provider can specify several recording perspectives in the app and illustrate them with sample photos. The system automatically documents the time of recording and the person who took the photo. It is also possible to add a description and confirm the information with a signature.
Create and send damage report
Fleet managers and service departments know the procedure: Damage reports have to be prepared. These help determine who is responsible and clarify liability issues so that settlement can begin, i.e. repairs or procurement of replacements. It helps if logistics service providers regularly document the condition of the transport goods when the risk is transferred:
- • when the driver picks them up (via a mobile app)
- • during unloading at the forwarding terminal (potentially via a video research system)
- • during loading for the main run
- • on delivery by the driver (with signature)
If there is damage, these photos serve as a comparison and make it possible to clarify the liability issue and thus accelerate payments by the insurers. For this purpose, the freight forwarder should have a standardised report template in which he can automatically insert both the damage documentation photos with descriptions and the reference photos from the transfer of risk. After being checked and approved by the respective person in charge, the reports can also be sent to the responsible insurer in an audit-proof manner. This process is somewhat more complex in the case of vehicle damage. Especially if other road users are involved in an accident, the contact details of all parties must be recorded in addition to photos, as well as the course of the damage with a clear sketch and, if necessary, a police report. It is therefore advisable for the logistics company to provide its drivers with a workflow for recording damage via their mobile apps. As a template for the required information, the European accident report is recommended as the recognised standard of the insurers. This way, the freight forwarder can ensure that the documentation is complete. In addition, the digital tour control makes it easier for them to identify the principals and consignees involved – for example, if an accident occurs after the tenth stop of a delivery tour with a total loss of the load. The automatic arrival monitor then supports proactive information.
Digital data recording speeds up claims processing
Those who are well insured can remain calm in the event of any damage. Because then, at worst, it is the administrative tasks that make damage or accidents time-consuming and expensive. For example, damage documentation without mobile apps and workflows. In a forwarding company that handles around 2,000 consignments a day, the associated tasks can add up to about half a person's day for the following work steps alone, even with a low damage rate of less than one per cent:
- • get camera • take photos
- • put camera back
- • download images
- • create report and copy in photos
- • inform stakeholders
- • send report manually
For years, mobile apps with automated workflows have offered efficient solutions that significantly accelerate claims processing. In this way, they minimise the financial impact of damage and secure process advantages.
Efficient claims processing takes place digitally with mobile apps
Claims are and remain the exceptions in the industry. Clear rules and a digital process for claims handling nevertheless help to standardise the procedure. Timely and complete information helps minimise the impact of claims. Comprehensive documentation also ensures that liability issues can be cleared, and compensation is appropriate.