AFS: Enriching Transportation Management with Modern Technologies

Kevin Snyder, CIO, AFSKevin Snyder, CIO Businesses are increasingly focused on optimizing their supply chain operations, pushing logistics organizations to make critical decisions for creating a highly productive Transportation Management System (TMS). The efficiency with which a company runs its procurement and shipping operations can greatly impact their business’ bottom line; as a result, various companies are assiduously searching for solutions to improve their transportation practices. “Reliable logistics partner are the missing piece of the puzzle in the TMS landscape, possessing the ability to fulfill organizations’ end-to-end demands, while giving complete visibility on landed cost of shipping,” highlights Kevin Snyder, CIO, AFS. Shreveport, LA-based AFS tailors its stellar TMS platforms and services around this need, allowing the company to fulfill the demands of its customers and build long lasting relationships with them. From shipment execution and tracking to invoice audit and payment to analytics and freight claims, AFS provides comprehensive logistics strategy services—allowing customers to save hundreds of millions of dollars in shipping costs each year.

According to the recent TMR (Transparency Market Research) market study, the old TMS installations are in dire need of replacement, which is a significant factor driving the demand for modern and scalable solutions. Apart from this, the increasing popularity of the SaaS-based TMS is also expected to stimulate the global transportation management systems market during the forecast period. To fulfill this need, AFS has set its trajectory towards leveraging analytics to enable its customers to attain operational excellence in their logistics back-office.

Changing Logistics at the Grassroots level

“Our data-driven solutions are the result of our industrial knowledge coupled with modern technologies,” says Snyder. When contemplating the bottlenecks, it is quite clear various aspects of the logistics industry lack true reliability in their offerings. Shortage of drivers and equipment, inability of carriers to provide effective services, and redundant costs in the supply chain are a few of the intricacies that need to be sidelined.

AFS invested millions in a complete set of laudable services ranging from transportation analytics, shipping cost management, freight and parcel audit to freight payment, carrier management, and truckload services. As the structured data has dictated how it can enable organizations to achieve unparalleled optimization, AFS focused heavily on leveraging data to offer predictive and prescriptive service. “We wanted to change logistics from its grass root,” exclaims Snyder. To achieve this mission, AFS has hired prominent Data Scientists who assess the shipping and surrounding transaction data (purchase order, inventory) to make informed decisions, increase the return on investment, and lower the overall cost—ensuring a logistics service that is ahead of its time.

The mission is to make end-users and carriers a consumer of data rather than producers of data

When selecting a shipping method, the end customer is most often unaware whether their package will be delivered at the right time. “In the event of bad weather or other unfavorable events delaying the on-time delivery of their package, customers expect to be notified,” explains Snyder. The same story goes the other way around too—carriers are unsure when their invoice for services will be paid, adding unnecessary financial risk. AFS has built its business at the intersection of such intricacies. AFS provides end user applications to know the status of their shipped product. “Rather than reaching out to the carrier ad hoc to request the delivery status, we provide visualized, data-oriented technology providing the accurate position of the product at any given instant of time,” says Snyder. For carriers, AFS introduced a carrier portal, providing transparency and accuracy around each invoice remittance. “We are making end users and carriers consumers of data rather than producers of data.” AFS confers actionable intelligence and fosters
data driven decisions on both sides, allowing everyone in the spectrum of shipping management to spend less time weeding and more time being productive.

Breaking New Frontiers

Information is ally and time is nemesis. “Spend too much time assembling information to create intelligence, and its value decays rapidly, to the point real issues are tossed to the backburner,” says Snyder. “Spend more time consuming it, and you take action that leads to better informed decisions and greater profitability.” AFS has made a name of its own by giving analytical insights to its customers, which facilitates decision making and cost reductions. AFS ensures the data it provides to end users or carriers is structured, normalized, and error free.

Taking data to craft their portfolio, AFS is now planning to do a complete deployment over the cloud in the next few years. “It will boost our competitive edge and strategy-making capabilities,” says Snyder. He continues, “Our cloud will be Microsoft Azure as it does a commendable job in securing the data and also gives better user experience and performance.” The objective of the company is to give a common, secure experience to all of its clients, irrespective of their location on the global scale.

Now Select More Wisely

The logistics landscape is pervaded with numerous shipping cost management providers that have failed to fulfill the needs of organizations. They negotiate with a carrier, bill you for services, and walk away. Customers need ROI and values that can drive their business. “Keeping this in mind, we have kept our negotiating rates at nominal price in comparison to our contemporaries,” claims Snyder. AFS confers a dedicated client support that includes giving full visibility into where the expenses are made and where they can save it.

In logistics, organizations strive to achieve speed and accuracy in their freight audit system. “Don’t overlook shipping invoice overages and lose thousands in excessive expense,” is what AFS has cautioned to its customers. In this vein, AFS has developed rules-based auditing technology to provide the most comprehensive, 45-point invoice review to ensure customers only pay what they are accounted for. This ongoing service provides shippers a peace-of-mind— auditing all modes of transportation including LTL, Parcel, Truckload, International, Air, Courier, Rail, and more. AFS has also fabricated a one-stop-shop platform called pulse TMS, a cloud based TMS tool for small and large-scale shippers. “TMS offers customers a single app for shipment rating, execution, tracking, and reporting for parcel, LTL, and truckload orders,” says Snyder. Built-in API and EDI connections with the carriers provide seamless, real-time submission and feedback on pickup requests and tracking updates.

AFS is at the forefront in building a stream of communication between shippers, carriers, and end users, establishing an effective logistics service at both ends. Expanding its horizons even further, AFS is now increasing its international presence. “We will make sure, while shipping products overseas, complex regulation, and compliance protocols set by different countries are met without any bottlenecks,” says Snyder. In the coming years, AFS will also explore the area of automatic invoicing, extending the innovation arm through acquisitions, and becoming more reliable and resilient in the logistics landscape.

The state of TMS in coming years looks prolific and rests on the shoulders of organizations such as AFS to take its potential to new heights. With its smart, resilient solutions, AFS is poised to make its products accessible to an even larger audience—allowing small and mid level shippers the advantage of enterprise level solutions.

- Arunkanth
    October 28, 2015