Freight/shipping suppliers pivot, pursue pandemic-induced logistics improvements

July 26, 2021
How specifically have freight/shipping service suppliers helped their provider customers simplify their practices in noteworthy ways during the last year? Six share their examples.

“Collaboration with our customers – to deeply understand their unique pain points – typically results in clever ways of working together. For example, a large health system was trying to streamline the way its multiple lab locations managed COVID-19 test samples. The software and process in place were cumbersome and required multiple steps and clicks to print a shipping label. By implementing our Remote Label Printing solution, these labs now print labels in two clicks, and the central testing lab has the visibility into what type and how many shipments are coming back to the lab for testing each day. This visibility allows our customer to plan their daily workflow and adjust as necessary to increase their efficiency.

“One additional example has been our support of statewide vaccination distribution for the COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccine distribution for COVID-19 is particularly tricky. Vaccines require special handling and temperature control, and one wrong move or shipping delay could ruin the vaccines in transit completely. Expertise in logistics was required to set up a plan to deliver vaccines to nearly 400 unique locations across the state – and fast. Our technology coupled with our same-day delivery capabilities uniquely positioned us for this effort. This opportunity highlights visibility and collaboration, allowing OptiFreight Logistics to do what it does best, which is leverage our legacy of managing the transportation of sensitive products to ensure safe, successful delivery during highly critical times.”

Melissa Laber, Senior Vice President and General Manager, OptiFreight Logistics

“MedSpeed recently released our fourth-generation technology platform (aptly named Gen4) across our operations. One key benefit of custom-built tech is that we can use it to solve the ever-changing problems our customers are facing. In fact, many of the best innovations we have made over the last several years have started with a customer expressing a problem to our team and from the collaborative discussions that follow. One of the benefits of working with many of the largest health systems is that we can apply those learnings across our client base.

“One recent collaboration focused on integration. While MedSpeed has our own order entry system for on-demand order placement and tracking, for some customers, integration with their tech will save precious time for their team. One such customer wanted to be able to use their supply chain tool to track order delivery status. Through our platform, we were able to solve that problem and enable full visibility.

“The pandemic and subsequent reductions in preventive and elective care have impacted the bottom line for many health systems. Through a holistic collaboration between our team and each customer, we have put together a program that helps to reduce unnecessary on-demand costs. By requiring business unit and cost center information for each on-demand order placed, the team is able to do several things. First, we can report on the top users of on-demand and help to educate those facilities on the best ways to utilize the network. In some cases, needs have changed which means adding a scheduled stop is the best way to keep costs down. Additionally, cost center allocation can be implemented to ensure that each business unit is paying their share. This too helps to reduce unnecessary on-demand ordering. Finally, our technology itself influences behavior by encouraging scheduled and lower-cost on-demand usage. All of this works together to save significant costs for our customers.”

Jim Van Duyn, CIO, MedSpeed

“During the past year our customers experienced a significant increase in the number of patients they were treating remotely. This brought a corresponding increase in the volume of shipments they were sending directly to their patients’ homes, particularly in the area of specialty pharmacy. This occurred at the same time the traditional national small package carriers were experiencing a massive increase in volume resulting in delayed deliveries and dissatisfied patients. Getting the right prescription to the right patient at the right time is critical to their mission, so the shipping process and carrier dependability are crucial to their operations.

“Unfortunately, most hospitals simply don’t have the time to focus on their pharmacies’ shipping operations, and there haven’t been any out-of-the-box solutions they could rely on. We knew that we wanted to provide them with access to more carrier options as well as a more seamless workflow to monitor and track their shipments. VPL responded with a SaaS product solution, VPL TrajectRX, specifically designed to meet the unique requirements of hospital specialty pharmacies.

“VPL TrajectRX makes it simple for our customers to add regional carriers and local couriers to their shipping mix. In many instances, these less traditional small package delivery options can provide quicker, more reliable and lower cost deliveries than the national carriers. Once the customer has shipped a package they can monitor its status, ensure it gets to its destination on time, and then validate the appropriate person received it with proof of delivery. It also automates the collection and storage of the chain of custody record for future auditing purposes. Hospital pharmacies tend to prioritize safety and compliance first and then cost savings. VPL TrajectRX helps them seamlessly achieve each of these priorities while providing great service for their patients.”

Don Carroll, Vice President, Business Development, VPL

“Whenever possible, we increase load-tender lead times and share lane volume forecasts to enable carriers to make capacity commitments early.

“We order in [full truckload] TL quantities or convert [less than truckload] LTL freight to multi-step TL to divert freight around LTL networks that are constrained and cannot provide the same service and control of product as TL providers. We increase the number of available shipping and receiving slots in the dock schedule to provide flexibility to carriers in order to maximize daily shipping and receiving.

“We conduct ‘shipper of choice’ assessments to identify incremental improvements to advance shipping-receiving productivity, eliminate constraints, or improve driver comfort.  One example of a simple improvement was to perform check-ins and then direct arriving trucks from the gate to the warehouse shipping / receiving office, thereby eliminating parking congestion and delays.  

“We conducted a LEAN assessment of the truck traffic and identified opportunities to improve the location and size of signage directing the flow of on-site traffic.”    

Dave Belter, Vice President & General Manager,
Global Transportation Management, Ryder System Inc.

“Leading pharmacy chain Walgreen’s, a Logistyx client, recently introduced Same-Day Delivery in under two hours for more than 24,000 retail products. The new service allows customers across the nation to conveniently shop online or use the Walgreen’s app to buy retail items with no minimum order value. When checking out, customers can select Same-Day Delivery and receive items at their doors in under two hours through third-party delivery partners like Postmates, DoorDash and Instacart, a carrier selection powered by Logistyx.

“A top international pharmaceutical company took the lead on COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution as the pandemic swept the globe in 2020 and is now fulfilling vaccine shipment orders worldwide from several sites within the United States, Belgium and Germany. To meet the complex shipping requirements of the life-saving vaccine shipments, the pharmaceutical company turned to Logistyx to expand its shipping capabilities to incorporate shipping directly from manufacturing locations. Data produced by Logistyx is automatically fed to the carriers to aid in carrier-provided customs clearance and accelerate the international shipping process.

“Logistyx onboarded new carriers capable of meeting the vaccine’s cold chain requirements and expanded its use of UPS internationally to facilitate rapid global vaccine distribution. Each parcel is highly sensitive, contains several kilograms of dry ice and a GPS tracking device, and receives special handling by the carriers while being shipped via the fastest methods available. Logistyx creates the required labels for every parcel sent to ensure compliance with each carrier’s unique requirements. The specially designed shippers used to transport the vaccine are insulated and reusable and must be returned. Logistyx’s system pre-prints a return label for shipping to the designated refurbishing center in the Netherlands or South Carolina within 14 days of receipt at each vaccination site.”

Ken Fleming, President, Logistyx

“We started working with Jaguar Freight earlier this year to automate their document processes that were prone to human error and took a lot of time for employees to manually process. We implemented document automation bots that analyze all of their document data and sort them into correct folders in their systems. Additional bots were implemented to migrate commercial invoices and packing lists directly from email to their system. This resulted in the elimination of human errors from manual re-keying and a drastic reduction in document processing time.

“[Quoting Simon Kaye, President and CEO of Jaguar Freight]: ‘We recently partnered with RPA Labs, who does a tremendous job automating a lot of the heavy lifting within our organization. They helped us in two areas – one is taking a lot of raw data from client documentation, commercial invoices and packing lists, and populating that automatically in our system, where previously there was fair amount of data entry, which caused a lot of errors and delays.’

“The second area Kaye mentioned is the elimination of the ‘forgetfulness factor,’ which he explained is the part of process that requires employees to follow-up manually. This key step can sometimes be forgotten or misplaced. ‘I don’t want anyone to say they forgot to follow up on an email. We want to take the ‘remembering’ part of the job out of the process.’

“We have helped a number of other clients this year by automating repetitive document processes, customer interactions and time-consuming workflows.”

Matt Motsick, CEO, RPA Labs

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