Create new capacity in a tight market

Capacity in a tight market

Down below I talk about how to create capacity in a tight market, but first a little backstory. For thirty years I was a freight broker. I also trained at least a hundred more. This trick is in every broker’s book and could raise your freight rates. Here is a link (below) to the full LinkedIn article on it.

Summary of how to not use the spot market

Here is a summary but by far not the complete story. Essentially when you go to get a quote from multiple brokers, they are immediately posting that load to the load boards causing near outrageous load to truck ratios. 10 to 1 or 20 to 1 load ratios are not realistic and in fact are not true except for posting. The truckers see this and jump from broker to broker to see who will pay them the most. The net effect is freight rates go up.

Your intentions are good but your tactics need brushing up

While your intentions, to get the best rate are good in normal circumstances they actually hurt you when taking your freight to the spot market. Doing all your business with contracted carriers is probably also not realistic as they too see these tall rates in the  spot market and dedicate ever growing capacity to the spot maret while telling you no trucks available. They are not dummies.

All carriers are short of drivers due to electronic logs and an economy on the upswing. We do have tactics deployed through software, that can help you manage through this capacity shortage but they’re proprietary and you have to talk to me to get them. Remember I was a broker for 30 years, I know all the tricks.

 A link to the whole story

Here is a link to Confessions of a (Freight) Broker https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/confessions-broker-tim-taylor/

To get my advice on how to create new capacity in a tight market, write me at timothy.taylor@shippersedge.com or call me at 952-777-4421 also visit us on the web at www.shippersedgetms.com

Why having your vendors ship to you collect is a best practice

Why having your vendors ship to you collect is a best practice.

Many vendors ship prepaid or prepay and add and most markup freight charges. That in and of itself is a good reason to have your vendors ship to you collect on your account. There are more reasons one of the most important is visibility of your incoming shipments in transit. By having visibility, you can spot possible supply chain disruptions before they have a downstream bad affect.

Visibility is key

Using the capability of a transportation management system to track incoming shipments you can instantly see when and even if your materials shipped. By importing your purchase orders with a required in-house date, a TMS can be configured to issue a warning if a required shipment has not entered the system in time to meet your requirements and avoid a line shut down or disappointing customer with a back order.

Do you charge back your vendors for the additional freight charges on your order when they back order you? With a TMS you can track the additional freight charges when a vendor does not ship a full order. Back orders could be costing you more, in freight charges, than you think but who has time to track those costs using manual methods?

Trapped shipments

Are you a large distributor or manufacturer? Freight carriers often trap or hold shipments in a trailer to reduce deliveries. That could have significant savings for them and unstable delivery times for you. By using a TMS that tracks statuses like “arrived at terminal” and comparing to “out for delivery” date/time, you can work with your transportation providers to avoid having your freight held at the carrier’s yard and not delivering the same day it arrived.

ShippersEdge is a mid-tier transportation management system that can make you money, save you money and avoid delays on your incoming shipments. You can learn more at www.shippersedge.com/info or by writing to timothy.taylor@shippersedge.com 952-777-4421.

 

 

 

Visibility isn’t the Problem

Visibility isn’t the Problem

Visibility isn’t the problem, it’s having visibility of the problem, that’s the problem

Visibility of your supply chain is good, right? Having visibility isn’t the problem, it’s having visibility of the problem, that’s the problem. Let’s face it, you need answers to questions, questions like, has my supplier shipped or is the transportation provider on time. How about before it’s shipped, is the mode of transport selected adequate to get the shipment to your facility at the right time.

It could be about saving your production line.

When loading your TMS, you need data from your production facility and your sourcing department and then when your vendor ships, you choose the most economical mode for the circumstance. It’s not always about saving money, it could be about saving your production line.

ShippersEdge can be taught to present the question or even alarm you if your vendor is late in shipping. We know the transit times, we can present a solution. If your vendor hasn’t logged on to the vendor portal to ship the shipment or we don’t see it in your account at your transportation provider, we can tell you.

Advanced transportation management systems have this capability but most don’t present the problems and the possible solutions very well. There’s endless data presented but not in an organized or easily interpreted fashion. Mind boggling and mind numbing gridded presentation screens hidden by layers of menus that seek more to present the sophistication of the software than help you identify and solve problems. ShippersEdge took a different view, literally, based on simplicity of operation and presentation.

ShippersEdge is a mid-tier TMS with outstanding power and customizable functionality. We built it with an eye for simplicity of training and use. We use business rules we develop together and apply them to your supply chain management software.

ShippersEdge, we’ll keep you running.

Contact ShippersEdge at www.shippersedge.com/info or call us at 952-777-4421 or email me directly at timothy.taylor@shippersedge.com

Can a 3PL use ShippersEdge?

Can a 3PL use ShippersEdge?

Yes. ShippersEdge can allow your client a direct portal to rate and book shipments. ShippersEdge would be branded to your company’s logo. We can work with shipper specific pricing or blanket pricing. We also work with rate tables if needed and can accommodate specialty rating such as pallet rates, dimensional rating (dim rates) and lineal foot rates.

One of the best parts of ShippersEdge is its ease of use. People can be operational in minutes rather than days. Training replacement workers is a snap. Clients and you are both alerted if a shipment price goes up due to weight, class or accessorial charges.

Paperless invoicing to your clients and from your carriers is available. Invoices are automatically audited against expected estimated charges. Exceptions are placed in their own tab for easy visibility. Original rating criteria, including rate quote number are saved. Easily link to the carrier’s website to review documentation.

Transit issue are flagged to get ahead of problems with minimal impact to your clients and their customers. An audit trail is created on transit time exceptions for use if ordering expedited services. Your customers can choose to send email alerts to others when an order is shipped complete with a tracking link for easy live tracing on the carrier’s websites.

Full reporting modules available for both you and your clients. Most reporting is into an Excel spreadsheet. The user can specify selection criteria(s) and which fields to export. Templates of common reports can be saved. Custom and automated reports can be set up by ShippersEdge. A handy dashboard can be customized for your clients and your firm.

Your clients can also use ShippersEdge to book their truckload shipments. You choose whether they can also communicate with other truckload providers through the system. You will always have visibility into the system on any client.

Integrations are common for us and we can integrate into almost anything. Integration can be as simple as file uploads in batch or API integrations if the software to be integrated with is capable. We also support OBDC.

Contact ShippersEdge today at 952-777-4451 or visit us on the web at www.shippersedge.com/info

Mitigating the cost of motor carrier reweighs

Mitigating the cost of motor carrier reweighs

Similar to airlines, LTL carriers are constantly trying to improve their yields. One of the tools at their disposal is to reweigh shipments. Scales built right into the forklift itself has made the process of reweighing your shipment easy and lucrative. Some carriers will also charge you a fee if their scaled weight differs from what’s on the bill of lading.

Carriers don’t lower weights

The simple little truth is carriers don’t lower weights if the weight variance results in a scaled weight below what is on the bill of lading. So, it is a one-way street when it comes to shipment weight changes, always up; never down.

Intensity of the weight changes

Here’s where you can fight back. If you keep a record of weight changes due to scaling at the carrier’s dock, you can chart the number of weight revisions on your shipments. What to keep track of? Not only the number of reweighed shipments but the intensity of the weight changes. If carrier A) changed 10% of the shipments you tendered to them and changed the weight an average of 10%, that’s one number. What if carrier B) changed the weight only 8% of the time but the weight changes went up 15%.

Keeping track of weight changes

A transportation management system can keep track of weight changes and give you the analytical tools to see what carriers are creating the most increases in cost. If you don’t have one, you’d have to do that manually and what a laborious chore.

Fight back

Another way to fight back is to monitor weight changes while the shipment is in route and have the destination terminal weigh the shipment again if you believe there is an error. A transportation management system that is constantly interrogating the carrier’s server regularly and notifying you when a reweigh is entered into their system. Did you know that to remain accurate, forklift scales should be calibrated every twelve months?

ShippersEdge is an easy to use, value packed TMS that can pay big dividends through monitoring carrier reweighs and providing you the tools to make intelligent decisions. Contact ShippersEdge at 952-777-4421 or visit us on the web at www.shippersedge.com/info

How visibility in a TMS reduces costs

How visibility in a TMS reduces costs

Don’t know all the ways a TMS can help you? Read on.

Many people assume a TMS will save shipping costs but don’t know all the ways a TMS helps you manage your freight and where all this cost savings will come from. Most large shippers will tell you their TMS delivers approximately an 8% cost savings. How can that be? Most people ask. Hint it’s not all in the freight rates, to be sure, some of it is, but there are a number of opportunities unmasked when you have the power of data in your hands either for analytics or in real time for execution.

Keeping tabs on your carrier’s billing practices is a big monotonous job compounded by not always having the right tools. The fact is not all carrier’s rates are created equal. Accessorial charges differ, carrier to carrier, as do minimum charges, fuel surcharge, the number and intensity of reweight and inspections. Carriers are fighting a chronic driver shortage about to be compounded by mandatory ELDs come December 17, 2017. They are trying to enhance yields the way the airlines have done; yikes. If you’re trying to manage these variables past tense, you’ve already lost the war.

ROI-cost

Cost vs. Functionality

What can you do about it? The first thing is to identify and quantify the problem through harnessing your data in real time. A transportation management system that’s easy to use and is made for your size business is a tool that pays back in many ways. In addition to streamlining your processes which will give you time to work on a problem, a TMS provides objective data to analyze the problem.

In working with LTL shippers one of the big pain points is the number of reweighs. I also ask them about the intensity of reweighs, some cannot answer that question. One should assume that if one carrier is reweighing more often but another is causing larger increases in weight, that we’d know the economic impact of the two and manage it. When the carrier who is reweighing more often and with more intensity (greater weight changes) asks why you’re not using him as much, you can show him. Many people don’t or have only subjective knowledge based on assumptions. With a modern TMS the answer to both questions of frequency and intensity of reweighing could be had.

In addition to reweighing increasing the cost of a freight charge, it also creates a clerical component that didn’t have to occur. The root causes of the reweighs should or could also be examined. Maybe a part or a specific SKU has a greater incidence of reweighs. If so an investigation should be undertaken to validate the calculated weight against proclaimed weight certificates from the trucker. Did our pallet type or vendor change? Sometimes weights for given items were established years ago and never updated. Comparing rates on erroneous weights of shipments is never a good idea.

Delivering on time

Are your shipments delivering on time? Sometimes you choose a carrier or a carrier’s expedited service level and don’t get what you paid for. Our TMS can be programmed to keep track of the low-cost provider, compare that to the provider used and then to the expected service level and the actualized service level. If the service you paid for isn’t what is delivered, a variance is noted and if you selected an enhanced service level a claim for the differential can be made on the spot, automatically. Carriers on time efficiency can also be mapped over a period of time to be used in vendor discussions and selection.

Accessorial charges do vary

What about accessorial charges? Accessorial charges do vary carrier to carrier and they are negotiable. The same with fuel surcharge and absolute minimum charge by region. They vary and they’re negotiable and they add up. Having accurate data in hand at negotiating time is essential to having a goal and a measuring tool.

TMS Flowchart

Spot market quotes for LTL

Another point of on the spot negotiation is to get large shipment quotes not only from your regular LTL carriers but from spot market providers. Having a tool to first identify and then assist in getting a rate for your larger LTL shipments can have immediate cost saving benefits and sometime result in less damage by having the shipment loaded to ride. It may also result in fast transit times as the dwell time in breakbulk facilities is reduced.

1%-6% of LTL freight bills contain inaccuracies

A further point of remarkable savings is flagging exceptions such as freight charges that exceed the anticipated charge. Nobody likes to audit freight bills, even freight bill auditors complain about their work sometimes. If you only had to audit those invoices that do not match to an approved amount, life could be easier. It was recently reported that 1%-6% of LTL freight bills contain inaccuracies. It was not noted what the average dollar value of the discrepancy is.

Hand keying shipping information leads to errors

Inaccurate deliveries while rare, can create a problem with customer satisfaction and possible redelivery charges. Hand keying of orders with by your company or the freight company leads to typos and typos lead to mistakes. If you can positively pin it on the freight company fine but it took work and delayed the shipment, probably subjected it to further handling and made it damage prone. By using a TMS to electronically transmit the information to the carrier you eliminate a human touch. By integrating your TMS to your ERP or WMS you’ve eliminated two touches.

Timely notification of shipment exceptions is imperative

Timely notification of shipment exceptions is imperative to get ahead of problems. If a shipment has been reweighed, reclassified, had an unexpected accessorial charge applied the time to deal with, if you suspect the change is in error, is when the shipment is enroute, not after delivery when it is too late to have the carrier investigate. A TMS could be, as a for instance, programmed to automatically challenge reweighs above a certain tolerance.

Organize your RFPs

TMS is also a vehicle to organize your RFPs. Ah yes, the annual RFP and its concomitant analysis is now laid asunder by modern technology. A TMS can assess your RFP on the fly making it painless to source the low-cost provider in any lane. A TMS can also run a period’s historical shipping (providing it is in the system) against new bids and return a value of the cost saving or increase. It can also do this on a net basis by not only analyzing the provider previously used but possible the new low-cost provider. One should also flag spot market rates to be excluded from the analysis lest they be included at shelf rates in the study.

Consolidations are easy

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Certainly, not the last way a TMS can make you money but often not considered due to complexities and time constraints are consolidations. Consolidation opportunities can be identified by use of a simple optimizer and run against standard LTL charges and produce a yield for your consolidation. It can then produce a cost from your truckload providers and compare. When you consider consolidations don’t get reweighed, reclassified and are not subject to breakbulk risks of damage, the decrease in back office clerical disruption often makes a consolidation not just a cost saving adventure but a work of art.

Hand keying of paper invoices has a chance of error

There also is accounting, accounting’s job is to enter freight bills into a payment system, possibly get the recorded or appended to the order and do it all quickly and without mistakes. Any hand keying of paper invoices has a chance of error. Also, tying the invoice to the proper sales or purchase order is sometimes challenging at best. By integrating your TMS with your accounts payable you can assure accuracy and visibility throughout the transaction cycle.

Visibility does not end with management, visibility should be extending to the entire stakeholder chain. Suppliers, customers, sales and customer service can gain visibility properly restricted if required into the supply chain. By providing visibility, you gain back time wasted on interdepartmental information exchange and create self-serve satisfaction throughout the constituency. Many man hours are wasted running down information that can be accessible at the click of a button.

Identifying supplier routing errors

Identifying supplier routing errors takes time, or used to take time. Modern TMS technology can identify supplier routing errors and calculate the back charge automatically. Better yet routing links can be imbedded with purchase orders ensuring that your vendor uses the right carrier and creating a shipment notification to the purchasing department, receiving and production. Get ahead of the curve not behind the eight ball.

Implementation

Implementation of a TMS depends on the level of customization required for the build out. Training though in today’s easy to use user interfaces has decreased substantially. The operations screen of a TMS should not look like a spreadsheet on crack cocaine. Today’s mid-tier TMS products were built to be easy to use because they had to be. The developers knew that mid-tier TMS savings cannot be eaten up by laborious training and retraining.

How much

How much does TMS technology cost?  Fully integrated non-customized mid-tier TMS products can usually be provided under $2.00 a transaction for base level functionality and a modest to low five figure integration and setup cost. Enhanced functionality comes at a price but can sometimes increase ROI by multiples; think optimization and other enhanced features. Shippers have reported ROIs in the 30-day range and soft cost saving, meaning people’s time in the hundreds of man hours per person. Just gaining visibility alone is generally worth the cost of admission. The case for a TMS has never been clearer. The cost has dropped so as to be affordable by companies with only modest freight spends. The only question is why didn’t we do this sooner. Hint the technology is new.

At ShippersEdge we recommend a phased implementation. You can gradually retire an expensive legacy TMS or install one for the first time. Eventually all department can come onboard except engineers. I have nothing against engineers but I think they’d tell you how to build the thing. Just seeing if you were paying attention. Have fun.

Contact ShippersEdge

Contact ShippersEdge at 952-777-4421 or visit us on the web at www.shippersedge.com/info

Software for Shipping

Software for Shipping

If you are looking for software for shipping take a look at innovative shipping software from ShippersEdge. ShippersEdge has been on the market as a hosted logistics software since 2002. Always in development, ShippersEdge takes the drudgery out of procuring your low-cost provider and alerts you to pending problems in your shipping both inbound and outbound.

ShippersEdge is expandable to fully integrated transportation management system or can be deployed as a stand-alone solution that has advanced capabilities for managing your transportation spend and quality. It is a one stop solution for all things shipping.

What can ShippersEdge do that competing product will not do? Here is a partial list:

Ability to upload rate tables for carriers that do not do API rate exchange

Use it to receive freight bills electronically or upload invoices and documents

It can be configured to give your customers a tracking link in an email

It can also be configured to provide tracking for your website

It can be configured to provide shipping charges for e-commerce

It can provide a portal to your non-electronic carriers to update tracking

It has a built-in freight bill auditing function

It has consolidation and basic optimization built-in

There is all the basic capability that people expect in a developed TMS product such as rate retrieval from all your providers displaying estimated freight charges in one place. Tracking and tracing with exception management and electronic pickup requests. We also display freight charge change notification which give you a chance to fix a problem before it’s too late. We can provide tracking information to your customers if desired; either through and email with a hyperlink or provide that information for your website.

ShippersEdge is easy to deploy and we do the work for you. No long training and setup is required. Too often, self-setup goes awry and becomes a time burden. ShippersEdge is a managed system so you don’t need a super-user to be able to use it. Its user interface is very intuitive so training is a snap and people are productive from the start.

Our client report time savings and hard dollar savings from the start and many choose to integrate with their existing management software to save even more time. You don’t have to integrate; the choice is yours. Contact ShippersEdge at 952-777-4421 or visit us on the web at www.shippersedge.com/info for more information.

Stand-Alone TMS for Shippers

Stand-Alone TMS for Shippers

Our Professional Edition

ShippersEdge has a stand-alone TMS for shippers. It’s called our Professional Edition and it has remarkable capabilities not found in competing products. What can ShippersEdge do that competing product will not do? Here is a partial list:

  • Ability to upload rate tables for carriers that do not do API rate exchange
  • Use it to receive freight bills electronically or upload invoices and documents
  • It can be configured to give your customers a tracking link in an email
  • It can also be configured to provide tracking for your website
  • It can be configured to provide shipping charges for e-commerce
  • It can provide a portal to your non-electronic carriers to update tracking
  • It has a built-in auditing function
  • It has consolidation and basic optimization built-in

ShippersEdge is an independent provider

 

ShippersEdge also offers all of the expected functionality like LTL rate retrieval from all of your providers in one place. It also will communicate with your spot market providers and store their quotes. No more emails and spreadsheets. It provides tracking and notifications of delayed shipments. It will monitor, in real time freight charge changes if a carrier reweighs, reclassifies, redelivers or any other change affecting your costs. It flags these changes in an easy to find tab on the home page.

 

Compare TMS products

You owe it to yourself to compare TMS products and watch for how these other products come up short in certain areas. ShippersEdge has been providing a hosted Logistics Management solution since 2002. We were the first to do so. We keep improving our products every day.

 

Check out ShippersEdge

When the time comes that you need an integrated solution and customization, we’re here and it is not that expensive. Check out ShippersEdge at www.shippersedge.com/info or call us at 952-777-4421 ShippersEdge, affordable and capable.

 

Advantages of insourcing logistics management

The advantages of insourcing logistics management

It used to be that outsourcing was in vogue and always the first choice among the learned business school elite. The trend is reversing as logistics management software has evolved and become highly affordable by mid-sized businesses. By using advanced and capable software more and more companies are insourcing logistics management and saving the markup of third party logistics providers.

While it’s true 3PLs did have their place in the market; they did so by procuring expensive TMS software. Now a new software revolution has come along and placed highly capable logistics management solutions into shipper’s hands and eliminated the need to outsource their logistics.

A typical actual 3Pl markup is 13%. How can you tell this? Read the income statements of publicly held 3PLs like CH Robinson, Echo Global, XPO and Hub Group just to name a few. In some cases, especially those who haven’t tightly monitored their outsourced logistics, that markup can exceed 20%. Even shippers with a modest freight spend can understand that with very little cap-ex and monthly subscription fees, they can save real money and probably enhance their customer’s experiences.

SaaS TMS Software has been growing rapidly and prices have dropped significantly. Specialized functionality is also available at a modest price. You can also job out things like RFQs and carrier qualification to create a stable of available contract carriers for truckload shipping. LTL carrier bids can be easily managed and displayed with competitive rates on the same screen in a modern TMS.

It is not that 3PLs can’t add value, the better question is, how can they make these high margins and retain your business? There is plenty of talent in the labor force to effectively manage your logistics. Many current employees of 3PLs would gladly leave the boiler rooms of their current employment for a steadier career at your company.

ShippersEdge has been providing SaaS logistics management software for over 15 years. Talk to us about how to insource logistics management. Call 952-777-4421 or visit us on the web at www.shippersedge.com/info for more information.

Why Transportation Management Software is so Important

Essential to cut workload and drive down spend

Why transportation management software is so important. In today’s rapid fire work environment, a TMS, often referred to as a Transportation Management System or Transportation Management Software, is essential to cut workload and drive down the transportation spend. A good TMS will give visibility on the freight rates and transit times of all of your providers allowing you to select the provider based on either cost or transit time. This is just the beginning.

Outbound shipping and making the system make you money

Managing outbound shipping is what most TMS applications were built for. It is a given they will to some extent or another handle them. Some starter TMS software will not accept rate table uploads. Some don’t handle consolidations and some weren’t built for truckload. Specialty rates are often not able to be applied by low end systems. A TMS should also alert you if your shipment violates lineal foot or other carrier specified restrictions and penalties. It should also alert and solicit custom rate quotes when shipments meet a particular criteria. That’s making you money.

Manage incoming shipments

In most applications, your TMS will also be tasked to manage incoming shipments. This may mean preparing and transmitting a bill of lading to your suppliers or simply being able to scan carrier EDI feeds for your purchase orders. ShippersEdge can also inform you of inbound shipments which were not imported from your purchase order system.

Provide stakeholders tracking and other information

As TMS software modernized and gained full connectivity to the transportation providers the best systems will now, notify the provider of a needed pickup, confirm their acceptance or more importantly notify of an exception (unable to pick up) and track the shipment through to destination. While tracking, the system should be able to provide stakeholders tracking links similar to what you get when you order online.

Record keeping and logging

Record keeping and logging. Accountability and source error recognition are important for training and error prevention. Having empirical data available assists in quantifying and monetizing error prevention and recovery. A TMS will also provide carrier scorecards for late deliveries, reweight and other anomalies because it should be logging those events.

A word about interfacing with accounting

A word about interfacing with accounting here; some finance departments want to import approved freight invoices into a company’s accounting system, some want payable vouchers and some want paperless. Any of these should be available in an advanced TMS. There is other reporting as well. Appending a freight cost to a sales order is one and another is a freight accrual report. Auditing is yet another important function and advanced TMS software can often time replace third party contracted services for freight bill audit and payment.

Notice if an anticipated charge changes

Exceptional systems also now provide notice if an anticipated charge from the transportation provider changes and provide an audit path to rectify the discrepancy. If you’re finding out about reweighs when the freight bills arrive, you have no way of having them checked while still in possession of the carrier and thus no chance to rectify an obvious mistake.

Connectivity to your in-house software systems

Enterprise Class Systems now offer complete connectivity to your in-house software systems eliminating time consuming and error-prone hand keying of anything that is already in a data format when captured. Integration can be complete or partial depending on client needs. Enterprise logistics software also has reporting capability not often contained in in-house software.

Specialty applications

Specialty applications such as jobsite equipment monitoring or stowage handling unit location and retrieval can be built and monitored far easier in a custom TMS application than trying to modify an ERP or having yet another standalone software solution. If you need it, we’ll build it.

A mid-range TMS with a meaningful ROI

ShippersEdge is a mid-range TMS with an outstanding return on investment. Most TMS installations generate about a 7% reduction in freight costs due to increase use of preferred carriers, visibility on the lowest cost providers and better data for procurement. Couple that with soft cost saving due to efficiencies gained in operations, you’ve achieved a meaningful ROI without breaking the bank.

Without a TMS, you’re losing money and productivity

If your company is doing without a TMS, you’re losing productivity and probably leaving money on the table. If you can see it, it is darn near impossible to manage except in the most rudimentary way. Mid-range TMS Software was even around 10 years ago. It is now not only around, its developed, mature and capable. Monthly subscriptions are very low and setup costs can be extremely cost effective.

ShippersEdge was at the forefront

ShippersEdge was at the forefront of this TMS revolution back in 2002 when it introduced the first web-based (now referred to as hosted or cloud based) TMS in the country. Big companies had Transportation Management Systems with 7 figure price tags and 6 figure annual maintenance spend. We thought there was a better way.

More information at www.shippersedge.com/info or call 952-777-4421