The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic made the vulnerabilities of supply chains painfully obvious and highlighted the need for more effective systems for tracking ocean freight shipments. Check calls are a common strategy employed by shippers and forwarders across industries, but they are not necessarily the most efficient or effective choice. A real-time track and trace system provides more accurate data that can smooth out wrinkles in the supply chain.
Understanding the disadvantages of check calls is one of the first steps to understanding the need for new strategies fully. With track and trace technology like VIZION, you can improve your tracking, plan ahead, control costs, and grow your business more effectively.
What Are Check Calls & Why Do Forwarders Conduct Them?
Check calls have long been an important tool for forwarders to monitor a shipment's progress. During a check call, a forwarder directly calls the carrier and requests an update on the shipment status. During the call, the forwarder receives important updates, including whether the shipment is loaded, the current location, and the expected arrival time of the freight. Although the number of calls differs, there is generally a minimum of one check call a day per shipment, with more fragile or valuable loads necessitating a higher number of calls.
Forwarders have several goals when making check calls:
- Awareness of a shipment's location at any given time
- Increased efficiency of the shipment
- Knowledge of the shipment's condition
- Transparency with customers
In combination, these factors comprise the overarching purpose of a check call, which is to give the forwarder the necessary information to respond to problems more quickly and productively.
Types of Check Calls
Check calls occur throughout the shipment process. It's common practice to make one or more calls at each of the following stages:
- At the time of booking
- Before pickup
- When the shipment is loaded
- While the shipment is in transit
- On the day of delivery
- Once the shipment has been offloaded
Forwarders may also need to conduct a check call in response to emergencies or unforeseen circumstances. In short, a single shipment may require multiple calls a day.
Why Check Calls Are Not Enough
While check calls can provide valuable information to the forwarder, they are ultimately an inefficient and potentially inaccurate form of tracking. The sheer number of calls adds a burden to the workload of both the driver and the forwarder. As a forwarder's shipping volume increases, check calls can become an unfortunate distraction. Rather than focusing on sales or customer service, forwarders must hire additional staff to complete freight check calls.
Check calls are also problematic because their effectiveness relies on precise real-time data. Even in a finely-tuned system, there is the possibility of errors in reporting. A minor miscommunication could cause delays in the shipment and stress for the customer.
How Track & Trace Eliminates Check Calls or Makes Them More Productive
Using a track and trace system with automation and alerts can minimize or eliminate the need for check calls. Track and trace is a real-time container tracking solution that allows you to monitor where items are at all times. This data can improve the forwarder's processes and be sent to the customer.
Using a track and trace system also allows you to operate proactively rather than reactively. Forwarders can manage disruptions like weather events more successfully if they receive constant data about the shipment status. This, in turn, can help ensure that goods arrive undamaged and reduce frustration levels for customers.
In situations where calls are still necessary, using track and track technology can make them far more useful. With a track and trace system, check calls can be limited to exceptions or unusual situations rather than broadly applied to every shipment stage. Forwarders can also obtain precise data from the dashboard. Going into a call with data in hand allows for better decision-making and makes the conversation faster and more productive.
Reduce the Need for Check Calls with Track & Trace Systems
If check calls have consumed too much of your time and energy, there has never been a better time to implement a track and trace system like VIZION API. Book a demo to see how this technology can eliminate excessive calls, freeing up time that could be better spent on other aspects of your business.