In the transportation industry, there are many ways in which good financial plans might go take a turn for the worse. Especially in relation to international shipping, there are many regulations that, if not followed, can lead to disorganization at best and legal action at worst. Where shipping suffered a few years back, the Drewry shipping forecast for 2018 was optimistic, citing statistics from their recent study that shows multipurpose shipping and other forms of shipping trending toward an increase in revenue.
This is good news for the shipping industry, but questions remain. The biggest one – what causes shipping industries to suffer? The answer lies not only in the economy but also in the quality of efforts put into critical business processes. Bills of lading and air bills are necessary steps to sky and sea shipping; however, they are not always focused on as intently as they need to be. Conferences being held by the Transportation Revenue Management Group are quickly pointing out that for shipping industries to increase their revenue, quality must be upheld throughout all steps of the shipping process.
The TRMG Conference and its Impact
The TRMG conference is a cooperative of NACM Gulf States. The NACMGS is a nonprofit organization that works with businesses to prevent fraud and uphold legal rights when shipping. The organization’s goal is simple: it aims to facilitate “the legal exchange of trade payment histories and provides a safe, monitored environment for transportation credit and financial professionals to share knowledge between peers and industry experts”. Reaching further toward this goal every year, the TRMG conference collaborates with businesses by hosting topics relevant to shipping businesses and their vendors.
This year, the TRMG conference focused on one element of the shipping process – that of bills of lading (BOL) and air bills. The Economic Times references BOLS, or highly detailed inventory of freight shipments, as “one of the most important documents in the shipping process”. Similarly, the air bill, or air waybill, is used by all mainstream flight shipment vendors as a form of legal protection. Both bill types document the exact route of the shipment, the initial shipment, losses accrued, and inventory upon arrival.
Bill of Lading and Air Bill Errors
One of the arguments that TRMG makes is that errors made in shipping and documentation of bills of lading are costing shipping companies small fortunes. These errors are common enough that case studies are provided every year from vendors like DATAMARK that highlight ways in which small improvement changes might make big positive impacts. Logistics Company’s Erez Schanin recently highlighted some of the ways errors hurt companies and impact cost. One of the most avoidable but most common ways is not checking the bill of lading prior to departure. Doing this ensures that your freight gets to where it needs to be without any costly shipment address mistakes.
However, this only shows the tip of the iceberg. Bills of lading impact the overall budget, reputation, and standing of a company in the following ways:
- Legally: per state laws and the interstate commerce act, individuals and their companies can be criminally prosecuted signing a bill of lading or air bill without ensuring that all included information is correct.
- Monetarily: Legal fines aside, companies face an onslaught of fees and compensations for inaccurate bills. From having to pay for reshipment of goods to not being able to file a claim for loss of goods without correct documentation, quality bill processing is essential to the success of the company.
- Physically: Bills of lading protect the goods on board. Incidents of theft, weather damage, and transportation damage are normal, and companies are only able to write off these losses with proper documentation.
TRMG and the vendors who attend the conference, including DATAMARK, understand that processing bills of sales can be a complicated undertaking, especially for companies who are not equipped to accurately process bills of lading in a timely manner. One thing that many billing vendors recommend is outsourcing and automation. Vendors like DATAMARK have over 99% accuracy when it comes to the automated processing of documents like bills of lading, negating human error and room for fraud. Additionally, seasoned vendors have the experience and expertise to make bill processing part of the seamless execution of a company.
While bills of sales are often overlooked, outsourcing to a vendor and taking note of the suggestions made by the TRMG conference is one step in the right direction toward keeping shipping costs down and the shipping industry afloat.