SMC3’s Robust Technological Solutions Simplify and Automate the Complex LTL Shipment Process
Atlanta, Georgia USA Site Visit
March 30, 2022
By: Evan Armstrong & Cheri Grabowski
Andrew Slusher, President & CEO
Brian Thompson, Chief Commercial Officer
David Knight, Chief Information Officer
SMC3 was founded as a motor carrier trade association in 1935. It has since expanded into a solutions provider with three key areas of focus: intelligent data, technology, and educational solutions, benefitting stakeholders across the less-than-truckload (LTL) ecosystem, including shippers, 3PLs, and motor carriers. Its software solutions span the shipment lifecycle across Freight Transportation Sourcing, LTL Shipment Planning, Real Time Quoting, Shipment Execution and Visibility and Freight Bill Audit. According to SMC3, it currently works with 47 of the top 50 third-party logistics providers, develops rates for over 200 carriers, and is currently approaching 3 billion in pricing and transit transactions per month.
Overview of SMC3
SMC3’s Freight Transportation Sourcing Solutions:
SMC3 offers three freight transportation sourcing solutions: CzarLite, Bid$ense, and FastClass, that automate and simplify LTL motor carrier pricing, bidding, and freight classification processes.
CzarLite Simplifies LTL Price Negotiations
SMC3’s CzarLite LTL base rate provides a neutral carrier-independent rating standard that allows LTL shippers and 3PLs to quickly and accurately evaluate shipping rates from multiple carriers to help make informed carrier selection decisions—removing the unnecessary complexity that would otherwise accompany this process. The rates are derived from SMC3’s proprietary rate study analysis of 116.8 million freight bills from 33 carriers. Base rate pricing is updated using geographical locations; the system automatically determines if shipments are short haul, long haul, regional, or national and updates rates accordingly. Modern market freight-flow patterns and high-cost areas are routinely assessed by SMC3 data scientists and factor into the underlying rates.
SMC3’s CzarLite Online LTL rating system includes features such as discounting, minimum charges, fuel surcharges, as well as a multi-purpose rate adjustment factor to handle other rate increases or decreases. Discounting includes options for simple or specific weight-break discounts, or discounts tied to specific transportation lanes. These features allow users to easily rate the specific pricing programs they have negotiated with each carrier.
CzarLite can be used to rate shipments moving between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Class, weight, and minimum charge structures are equalized for increased accuracy. Within Mexico, rating is based on class and modeled utilizing Mexico-to-Mexico postal codes, with delivery in Mexican pesos, providing reliable intra-Mexico pricing.
SMC3's CzarLite LTL Rating System
Bid$ense Automates LTL and Truckload Bidding
SMC3’s cloud-based Bid$ense solution automates, facilitates, and manages LTL and truckload procurement processes for 3PLs and shippers. Within the straightforward Bid$ense portal, shippers and 3PLs have access to any U.S. DOT registered LTL or truckload carrier. It can create strategic RFPs to manage transportation negotiations and increase provider options. Bid$ense has been designed to reduce errors and improve carrier bid turnaround times.
SMC3's Bid$ense Portal
Bid$ense’s vast database of information allows shippers to analyze and evaluate carriers on different parameters including pricing, claim ratios, on-time performance, and transit times. Furthermore, before an RFP is sent to a carrier, each user’s submission goes through a data-cleansing process. SMC3’s advanced cleansing technology quickly analyzes shipments for correct freight class and weight, origin and destination pairs, as well as other data points, and flags any potential errors.
This data cleansing process ensures each carrier receives the exact same information as part of the RFP process. Carriers benefit from more accurate RFPs which display the opportunity as a whole and provide accurate lane data. Carriers can bid as a whole or on select lanes they find most favorable. According to SMC3, users typically receive uniform RFP bid responses from an average of 30 carriers. The integration of CzarLite class rates with Bid$ense provides a common rate structure across all participants, generating an actionable carrier rate comparison. Shippers and 3PLs can also utilize individual carrier class rates within the system.
After carrier bids are received, users can manipulate the data to create, rank, and save what-if scenarios using dashboards before making the final, optimal procurement decision. Bids can easily be sorted by factors such as state, zip code, or how a carrier responded to a specific requirement. Rates can be analyzed down to the line-item discounts, freight all kinds (FAK) charges, net minimums and other details. Bids can easily be extended or rebid as part of additional rounds.
Once a carrier has been awarded business, SMC3 saves each carrier response in a CSV file format which can easily be shared within internal or external TMS, WMS, ERP systems, and freight payment and procurement departments.
SMC3’s Bid$ense technology automates the RFP distribution and carrier bid collection process, analyzes carrier responses, and allows organizations to strategically manage the number of carriers they utilize while reducing the overall transportation spend. Per SMC3, Bid$ense users save an average of 15% in freight spend each year.
SMC3 Bid$ense Over-theRoad Transportation bid Goals
FastClass for LTL Freight Classifications
The National Motor Freight Traffic Association’s (NMFTA) commodity classifications impact the pricing of all LTL freight shipments. The classification is a living document which can change posing a challenge for LTL shippers needing timely and accurate shipment class ratings. SMC3’s FastClass is continually updated under agreement with the NMFTA, providing fast, accurate class ratings for commodities. It is a robust search engine with export functionality. It also includes a density calculator. Users can obtain instant access to pertinent NMFTA data, package freight according to industry standards, and avoid unexpected rerates due to freight misclassification. It can also be used to analyze new packaging and distribution scenarios.
SMC3’s LTL Shipment Planning Solutions:
RateWare XL for Rate Optimization and Pricing
SMC3’s RateWare XL enables customers to manage FedEx and UPS parcel pricing and LTL rating, including class and density, with a comprehensive rating and pricing solution. Within the system, shippers and 3PLs can handle carrier-specific pricing, including calculating discounts, minimum charges, deficit rating, and FAK exception ratings. The additional checks and balances protect against API rating errors. In addition to that, RateWare XL is based on actual rate calculations versus estimates, reducing quality errors in pricing results.
RateWare XL includes access to CzarLite and data from more than 4,000 carrier tariffs, in addition to mileage, and carrier service data. Shippers have access to the most up-to-date carrier data because carriers use SMC3’s service-oriented architecture (SOA) to update service information. SMC3’s pricing data science provides accurate results regardless of if the rating is needed for transportation procurement, planning, management, or settlement. Both regular and batch rates are returned quickly. Per SMC3, users can rate data at speeds of up to 60,000 shipments per minute.
Bid$ense users can utilize RateWare XL to view historical carrier results, such as which carrier is most often awarded business in a lane and the corresponding cost savings. It can be used to narrow down the optimal carriers for an RFP.
Bid$ense Coupled with RateWare XL to View Carrier Results
CarrierConnect XL for Transit-Time Planning
SMC3’s CarrierConnect XL solution provides LTL transit times and carrier details. Data is compiled with both RESTful and SOAP APIs. Transit times and carrier service details are continually updated for over 300 leading national and regional North American carriers. Niche carriers can also be added to the system.
Users can leverage CarrierConnect XL to identify carrier operating capabilities, such as points of service, transit times, terminal hours of operation, and embargoed points and lanes to make informed routing decisions. Individual shipments can be managed on a day-to-day basis in both calendar-day and transit-day format, to ensure carrier routing compliance. Within the intelligent system, users can compare full-service offerings of LTL carriers, identify gaps in operational capabilities, analyze historical data, optimize transportation and inventory management, and improve overall decision making. 3PLs and shippers can leverage an automated process instead of manually searching carrier publications, directories, and websites for information.
Both RateWare XL and CarrierConnect XL integrate with ease into TMS modeling and other enterprise-wide business and supply chain applications.
SMC3’s Real Time Quoting, Shipment Execution and Visibility Solutions:
SMC3 LTL APIs
LTL carriers share data and shipment information via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and EDI (electronic data interchange). SMC3 offers solutions for both methods of communication.
SMC³’s API solutions allow freight transportation stakeholders to digitize the LTL shipment lifecycle from quote to delivery. This can be handled via seamless integration to an existing transportation management system or through the SMC³ cloud-based LTL GO application. According to SMC³, nearly 200 of the largest LTL carriers are integrated with SMC3’s LTL APIs. Smaller carriers can also be added at any time based on specific user needs.
LTL GO is a web app that is powered by SMC3 LTL APIs. This application enables shippers and 3PLs to manage their API credentials and eliminate manual processes such as researching multiple carrier websites for quotes, documents and status updates.
LTL GO Carrier Management
Shippers and 3PLs can filter details such as size, class, and accessorials within LTL GO and quickly receive several LTL quotes meeting those specific requirements.
Utilizing LTL GO to Obtain LTL Quotes
LTL GO delivers direct-to-carrier LTL APIs that increase automation and visibility, from spot to contract pricing, and volume quoting, to carrier dispatch, PRO number assignment, status tracking, and automatic document generation.
SMC3 LTL API Benefits
By integrating SMC3’s LTL API solutions with product offerings such as CzarLite, RateWare XL, and CarrierConnect XL, users obtain a holistic view of LTL pricing, transit times, and carrier services.
SMC3’s Freight Bill Auditing Solution
BatchMark XL allows 3PLs and shippers to analyze LTL freight shipping costs and compare and predict cost changes from operational changes to shipping locations. Per SMC3, BatchMark XL can rerate up to 100,000 records in seconds. The user-friendly design includes a template for easy data formatting. It includes columns for discounts, minimum charge floor, and other key attributes. Through BatchMark XL, 3PLs and shippers can evaluate changes to shipping locations and determine various impacts to budget.
BatchMark XL also uncovers costly freight bill auditing discrepancies from invoicing mistakes and accessorial and detention charges. It compares itemized accessorial charges down to the correct application of base rates, discounts, FAK exception ratings, and minimum charges for multiple freight bills within one system.
Carriers can also utilize BatchMark XL to analyze discount levels, minimum charges, weight/class combinations, and surcharges. Within the system, carriers can conduct class rate comparisons, determine competitive discounts, and quickly rerate thousands of shipments at a time.
Users also obtain access to the library of more than 4,000 carrier tariffs, and other pricing information through SMC3’s CzarLite solution.
Technology Alliance Partnerships
SMC3’s 100+ Alliance Partnerships include enterprise resource planning and supply chain management systems providers, transportation management systems and warehouse management systems providers, and supply chain design and planning firms. Its growing partnerships list includes BluJay Solutions, Blue Yonder, Descartes, FourKites, Oracle USA, and TMW Systems.
LTL Industry Education
SMC3 empowers LTL industry participants with knowledge via online educational programs, conferences, and user group meetings.
LTL Online Education and Certification
SMC3 launched its online LTL dedicated educational program in January 2020. To date, it has had nearly 700 students complete the course. Students are predominantly from 3PLs, but shippers and carriers are also utilizing the program. Coursework includes five classes with eight hours of sessions apiece. Courses include “Fundamentals of LTL”, “LTL Operations from Dock to Stock”, “LTL Pricing & Costing”, “U.S. Transportation Law & Regulations”, and “LTL Business Analytics”. Students may choose to complete a few courses, or all five to acquire an optional SMC3 LTL certification.
SMC3’s Online Education Use Cases
Supply Chain Conferences
SMC3 has two annual conferences each year. JumpStart is a three-day event each January with an emphasis on targeted educational LTL sessions and seminars. Connections is a three-day event held each June which features general sessions, breakouts, and LTL industry related presentations.
Customer Case Studies
U.S. Based 3PL Leverages Bid$ense for Simplified LTL Bidding, Carrier Development, and Volumes of Scale
A U.S. based 3PL that is focused on managed transportation was already utilizing SMC3’s CzarLite for LTL rating, when it determined a need to simplify its LTL RFP bidding process. Bid$ense offered the opportunity to leverage standardized templates for entering shipment data, in a format specifically designed for LTL bids. With Bid$ense, the 3PL was able to manage the entire RFP process, from benchmarking to bid analysis, implementation, as well as carrier management.
Bid$ense includes both national and regional carriers. By sending the RFP out to a multitude of carriers in Bid$ense, the 3PL was able to find new carriers, some of which were not traditionally considered LTL, to provide the best solution for its customers’ specific transportation needs.
Bid$ense allows the 3PL to create RFPs using detailed customer business requirements. Carriers clearly see the specific requirements for each customer they are bidding on. When the 3PL aggregated the combined spend from multiple shippers into a single RFP, it was able to further increase overall volume savings for its customers.
Global Healthcare Company Realizes Transportation Savings by Use of SMC3’s Bid$ense and BatchMark XL Solutions
In 2020, a global healthcare company prepared for an LTL transportation RFP spanning the U.S. and Canada. Including domestic Canada and cross-border markets increased the complexity of the RFP requirements. In addition, the bid supported multiple business units with varying transportation needs. SMC3 cleansed, analyzed, and consolidated the varying requirements to ensure standardization. Data gaps were found and addressed upfront so that the RFP bidding process in Bid$ense could be as accurate and efficient as possible.
Utilizing Bid$ense and BatchMark XL, the bid and rating analysis tools, the healthcare transportation team created a baseline to compare multiple bids and evaluate more than 30 custom “what if” scenarios. SMC3’s solutions empowered the global healthcare company to efficiently find the best LTL transportation solution and achieve significant transportation spend savings.
SMC3’s technological solutions are designed to aid customers in making optimal decisions for their unique business conditions. SMC3’s suite of solutions simplifies and automates LTL and truckload transportation procurement, LTL rating, service performance, shipment execution and visibility, and freight bill audit processes to accurately manage day-to-day transportation needs and support longer term strategic initiatives. It has built an expansive toolkit which can serve 3PLs, shippers, and carriers in better managing operations.
Sources: A&A Primary Research, https://www.smc3.com