Knowing at a glance: Hardly any task in logistics benefits as clearly from digital processes as the exchange of loading equipment. If the current status of the loading agent account is stored in a central database and all exchange operations are transferred and documented directly. Because then there are no unanswered questions or different truths.
Loading equipment exchange is a great achievement in logistics, there is no doubt about that. This is because the exchange systems save freight forwarders and their customers many cross and empty transports and avoid CO2 emissions through unnecessary journeys. The fact that there are still constant disagreements between shippers, freight forwarders and carriers around the pallet exchange has to do with the need to be treated fairly in exchange. How this can be achieved at the exchange of mesh boxes, Euro pallets and co. is a question that has still not been definitively resolved. Possible answers include pool systems that increase the number of exchange partners.
The real background for obstacles in the exchange of resources, however, is that it is difficult to document exchanges and the claims of the parties involved. The usual way via exchange documents is complex and error prone. How quickly did a driver forget to fill in and sign the pallet bill, or lose it on the way? And how time-consuming is it to use the paper receipts to manage loading accounts that must be included in the billing of transport services? Digital processes with central data sources and mobile apps can be used to remedy this situation.
What is the exchange of loading equipment all about?
Many goods have to be prepared with loading equipment for transport by a forwarding agent. On the one hand, because it speeds up loading. On the other hand, because often this is the only way to secure the load for transport in accordance with the regulations. It follows that every loading company must have a sufficient amount of loading equipment for its transported goods. In addition to purchasing, the exchange is therefore a second important source for loading equipment: after unloading the goods, they should be returned to the Shipper.
In fact, it is neither possible nor economical that the freight forwarders will wait for the freight to be unloaded from the loading equipment. This is why the exchange has developed: Free loading equipment left over from previous deliveries can be returned to the shipper directly at the time of delivery - arranged via the carrier. However, recipients almost never have exactly the same amount of pallets and grid boxes available for return. To make up the difference, the pallet bill is kept, which is included in the loading equipment accounting and forms the basis for settlements.
How can processes be improved in the exchange of loading equipment?
Digital information can be transmitted in real time. For the loading equipment exchange, this means a big plus in reliability. This is because pallet bills on thin paper for carbon copies are easily damaged or lost. It is more reliable if the exchange process is documented via mobile apps and integrated into a workflow for delivery. Then the driver automatically receives a request to record the number of loading equipment exchanged. In addition, if exchange pallets and mesh boxes are in a significantly different condition, this can be easily documented with photos. In this way, the parties involved avoid systematic downgrading. Furthermore, they keep their respective inventories up to date at all times in a central database. In conjunction with the documentation, this is transparent and does not allow any discrepancies. Digital processes in the load exchange thus enable the following advantages:
- Real-time inventory management
- Documentation of type, quantity and quality of the exchanged materials for each order
- Workflow with clear instructions for the driver
- Data acquisition on site
- Confirmation of both exchange participants by their signature
- Loading equipment management with little effort
- Pallet transports only in exceptional cases
The tasks involved in the exchange of loading equipment are therefore ideally suited for the use of mobile apps. By working paperless, these avoid the greatest risks of error and thus improve the process quality enormously.
Loading equipment exchange does not have to be difficult
Open systems for exchanging loading equipment are resource-saving and have proven their worth. However, the model of documenting one's own requirements via pallet bills has failed. Unambiguousness, security and availability of the documentation, on the other hand, can be easily achieved using digital solutions. The most important element here is data capture directly on site via mobile apps. If these prerequisites are met, loading equipment accounting can be implemented in a similarly resource-efficient manner as the exchange itself.