SWIVEL Software, a Centralized Systems Platform for International Transportation Management
Hong Kong Science Park, Hong Kong Site Visit
August 9, 2018
Mandy Mak – Founder
Matt Motsick – Investor
SWIVEL Software Overview
SWIVEL Software was founded in 1998 by Mandy Mak as Paradigm Software, a transportation management system (TMS) for third-party logistics providers (3PLs)/freight forwarders. Mandy’s background included work at supply chain systems solutions providers iPass, Kewill, and BluJay. Along the way, she became very interested in starting a company which could provide freight forwarders with one solution to manage the full international transportation management life cycle including order management, customs functions, rating, routing, container freight station/warehouse management, transportation execution, visibility, and financial settlement across multiple geographies. Mandy founded Paradigm with an emphasis on international transportation management. After receiving an external investment in 2015, Paradigm brought on Matt Motsick as a shareholder and rebranded as SWIVEL Software. Prior to investing in SWIVEL, Matt was CEO at Catapult International, an international transportation management pricing and rating software company. SWIVEL currently has operations in Asia, Europe, and recently expanded into North America. SWIVEL’s capabilities put the software in the company of peers like CargoWise and BluJay Solutions.
SWIVEL has over 1,000 users in China and has seen significant growth over the past year. Its customers include: A-Sonic Logistics Solutions, Air Sea Worldwide, DHL, DT Group, ecx Global Logistics, Ferrari, Hankyu Hanshin, K Line Logistics, Kuehne + Nagel, SITC, Vpower Finance Security, and Worldnet Logistics.
Focus on One Integrated System for International Transportation Management
According to SWIVEL’s Founder Mandy Mak, “There are too many freight forwarders operating disparate systems across offices within different countries.” Use of multiple systems within a freight forwarder makes customer, operational, and financial reporting a major undertaking. SWIVEL has built an integrated cloud-based systems solutions set, which can be used in multiple countries to overcome the current failings of a multisystem environment.
SWIVEL Software Solutions Overview
SWIVEL ERP (3PL/Freight Forwarder Operating System)
SWIVEL ERP is a core transportation management system used by freight forwarders to manage operations on a global basis. The system allows users to book and execute air and ocean shipments between offices globally. From a local branch level, integration with local customs clearance and adherence to local tax filing requirements are part of SWIVEL ERP’s functionality. It can handle multiple ledgers, currencies, and local tax requirements for operations in Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, the EU, U.S., South Africa, and other countries.
SWIVEL has built special functionality to handle less-than-container load (LCL) to full-container load (FCL) ocean container consolidations. The challenge of every forwarder is to maximize the profitability of each consolidation where shipments may be coming from various offices to a consolidation hub center. This is common practice, particularly in major ports such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, and Shanghai. The system allows offices to send out the shipment data to the hub center electronically in advance of receipt, so that planning can be optimized.
Through the SWIVEL ERP’s shipper portal, customers can check online flight and sailing schedules, and enter a booking online. A draft house bill can also be viewed online to minimize potential human errors. Each shipment can also be tracked door-to-door, allowing complete visibility throughout the entire move. SWIVEL pulls in shipment tracking information from three different sources. SWIVEL ERP’s key transportation management functionality is bulleted below:
- Buyer Consolidation (LCL to FCL)
- Carrier Booking
Hub Consolidation Center:
- Regional Hub Consolidation
- Customs Clearance
- Arrival and Delivery
Additionally, within the SWIVEL ERP, customer relationships are set up at the corporate versus branch office level and parent-child customer relationships are supported within the system. This provides for a more coordinated approach to customer relationship management.
IFB/SWIVEL Customer Case Study. IFB is a German freight forwarder focusing on Asia and European trade and is one of SWIVEL’s top 10 customers. Approximately 80% of IFB’s business is ocean freight forwarding. When it began working with SWIVEL, its 30-office global network was utilizing 30 different localized systems. Because of this disparate IT network, it was difficult to track shipments and manage financial data between individual operations. Corporate-wide reporting was very difficult.
After deploying the SWIVEL ERP, each branch office was on one operating platform. SWIVEL’s Master Control Data process provides each branch with its custom reporting needs, while managing international freight forwarding operations on one platform. IFB can now easily generate management reports and aggregate financial information. In addition, it has since deployed SWIVEL 360’s control tower collaboration platform (highlighted later in this report) increasing online shipment visibility for its customers.
Air Sea Worldwide/SWIVEL Customer Case Study. Air Sea Worldwide is a Hong Kong freight forwarder focusing on China and Latin America trade lanes with 44 offices spread out between China and Latin America. Prior to working with SWIVEL, it had issues in enforcing standard operating procedures (SOPs) between operations. In addition, its data entry costs were too high due to manually entering updates at every point in a shipment’s life cycle.
After deploying the SWIVEL ERP, each office is operating from one transportation management platform and SOPs are easier to manage. In addition, export and import shipment information only has to be entered once versus multiple times for each shipment.
SWIVEL POM (Purchase Order Management)
SWIVEL POM supports 3PLs and shippers with end-to-end purchase order (PO) management functionality. Once a customer/buyer purchases a product and sends the PO to the vendor, SWIVEL POM has built-in milestones for PO management and provides product tracking and visibility through to final delivery. The main milestones include: PO uploaded, vendor completes order, order shipped, enroute transit status, and shipment received. SWIVEL POM tracks the following milestones:
SWIVEL POM PO Management Milestones
SWIVEL POM aligns all parties on the same platform for coordinated PO management. Below are some of its functionality highlights.
Flexible, Neutral Platform
Importers may work with several logistics providers having their own systems. This forces each buyer into using multiple systems to get answers. With SWIVEL POM, all parties can be on one “neutral” systems platform controlled by the importer. This approach allows for consolidated reporting and universal exception notifications.
Electronic Booking and Document Management
Once all the shipping documents are ready, the buyer can book the shipment online. A packing list, commercial invoice, and other documents can be uploaded and shared with the customer and freight forwarder at the same time. SWIVEL’s “copy booking” function saves time for frequent shipments. SWIVEL POM can also serve as an electronic document management system (EDMS) making all requisite documents available online, which helps expedite customs clearance and special permit needs.
China Developed System
SWIVEL is headquartered in Hong Kong, so its systems are well versed in both Mandarin and Cantonese. In addition, SWIVEL POM institutes “plug & play” features for manufacturers. If an operation cannot except POs via EDI, they can be upload via MS-Excel using SWIVEL POM. Each PO file can also be defined or customized without any programming changes. Built-in automated advance ship notices (ASNs) and permission to ship notices also help vendors in using the system.
Product Visibility – Detailed Product Tracking
All parties to the order can get the latest shipment status using a PO number, house bill number, container number, or via a keyword search. The system will show the status from booking to delivery for multiple modes: ocean FCL/LCL, air freight, or domestic transportation. SWIVEL POM has the capability to track products at the item, each, and component level.
POM can automatically send email alerts to trading partners when shipments get delayed, product is short shipped, or if a PO doesn’t make a ship-by date.
SWIVEL WMS (Warehouse Management and E-Commerce)
SWIVEL WMS is an integrated warehouse management system for managing inventory across multiple locations, processing sales and purchase orders, performing order fulfilment, managing cross docking operations, and supporting cross border operations.
The WMS supports picking by:
- First in, first out (FIFO) methods
- Expiration date
- Batch number
- Pallet location
It has the functionality to view multiple warehouse and container freight station inventory levels in real time on a global basis.
The WMS supports EDI transaction sets and can connect with other systems via EDI, API, or via Excel or XML uploads.
Below are some of its functionality highlights.
Stock Allocation and System Directed Putaway
The SWIVEL WMS generates stock by location allocation reports. Operations can perform system directed putaways, or using other criteria as needed, replenish stock locations. When interfaced with radio frequency (RF) devices, the SWIVEL WMS provides inventory management allowing warehouse workers to scan each location code in real time, or key in the location code after a location is replenished.
Customer Driven Release Instruction
Customers can place a release instruction against real-time inventory within the system. Advance release instructions for an expected booking can also be processed to facilitate shipment planning and distribution planning.
Expedited Cross Docking
SWIVEL WMS supports mission-critical expedited shipments in a cross docking environment by allowing for stock in and stock out processing via uploaded MS-Excel files.
The WMS supports both bar coded items and not scannable items. If bar code is not available, the system has functions to support bar code label printing and assignment.
User defined fields support multiple languages.
Bill Of Material or Product Grouping
The product grouping function allows the user to handle promotional items where inventory can be seen both at detail item level and also at the product ID level.
SWIVEL WMS has a straightforward adhoc report generator allowing users to develop and generate reports without extensive training. Numerous report templates and easily customizable reports make it easy to satisfy customer reporting requirements.
SWIVEL 360 (Control Tower Collaboration Portal)
The SWIVEL 360 control tower collaboration portal was developed to provide visibility and transparency between all trading partners. With SWIVEL 360, all parties can get real-time alerts and search the status of a shipment based upon SKU or item code, purchase order, bill of lading, container, or customer. By providing a customer portal offering online order and shipment tracking, instant messaging, and online booking, SWIVEL improves overall communications saving time and reducing the need for shooting emails back and forth.
Parties included on the 360 collaboration platform can include:
- Sourcing Departments
- 3PLs/Freight Forwarders
SWIVEL 360 provides an operational metric dashboard providing a high-level view of branch performance, year-over-year analytics, and other customizable reports. The customer portal facilitates simple tasks such as searching airline and sailing schedules, communication with factories overseas, booking freight to logistics providers and carriers, and performing other tasks. Its core functionality includes:
- Online Customer Booking Portal
- Neutral – Multiple 3PLs can be Invited into the System
- Shipment and Order Track and Trace
- Manage by Exception – Through Milestone Alerts
- Vendor Scorecard Capabilities – Fill Rate, Lead Time, Ship Window
- Easy Factory Adoption
- Centralized Document Repository
The screenshot below is of 360’s customizable dashboard. It can be customized to show different views for each party within its trading relationships. The dashboard can help drive exception handling workflows to facilitate next steps in problem resolution.
SWIVEL 360 Dashboard
SWIVEL 360 has workflow and document management functionality allowing for key shipment documents to be uploaded and shipping instructions and invoices can be created online. It allows users to build their own dashboards, custom workflows, and business rules. Messages can be viewed via the portal and pushed to email, WeChat, or text messaging accounts. This is shown in the screenshot below.
SWIVEL 360 Workflow and Document Management
Ocean and air freight shipments and orders can be tracked online via the portal.
SWIVEL 360 Shipment and Order Track and Trace
SWIVEL is a rapidly growing solution for 3PLs/Freight Forwarders looking for an integrated systems platform which can connect operations located in different countries. Its growth and functionality has positioned SWIVEL to compete well with market-leading freight forwarding operating systems.
The executive team, comprised of long-time veterans of the 3PL/Freight Forwarding systems space, understand the importance of an integrated system, which continues to develop in response to customer needs.
As SWIVEL continues to grow, we anticipate that, given its level of customer retention, SWIVEL will be a must-include solution for 3PLs/Freight Forwarders looking for a centralized international transportation management solution with well thought out functionality.