November 2012 | Commentary | Carriers Corner

International Shipping: Moving at the Speed of Technology

Tags: Logistics I.T., Global Logistics

Pablo Ciano is Chief Information Officer, DHL Express,800-225-5345

New technologies for planning, managing, tracking, and securing shipments are continually evolving. With new digital options always just around the corner, organizations of all sizes must stay informed of the latest advances.

When it comes to international shipping, technology is especially important—not only because tremendous growth is expected, but also because the processes involved are more complex, and therefore demand more elaborate solutions.

For example, because the United States has established free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, removing high tariffs and regulatory barriers, U.S. businesses now have a powerful opportunity to buy and sell products with new partners.

Ready, Willing, and Able

Taking advantage of FTAs and other global trade opportunities requires organizations to move efficiently; understand country of origin requirements, classifications, and regulatory and security issues; and ensure they have logistics partners in place to guarantee end-to-end support. Technology is critical, and companies should evaluate the solutions they and their logistics partners employ.

As companies prepare to expand their global supply chain operations, focusing on the following four areas is key:

  1. Automation. Many carriers offer automation services designed to make international shipping fast and efficient. These online tools help organizations understand and plan for Customs requirements and costs. They may provide country-by-country cost comparisons, detailed cost estimates, shipment documentation forms, information about trade regulations, and applicable licensing requirements.

    General automation preparation tools are also useful, including city and ZIP code matching tools and address validation. Businesses looking to grow their international footprint should ensure their carriers stay ahead of the automation curve, prioritizing data quality and interface functionality.
  2. Security. Keeping shipments secure and safe, and prioritizing compliance with international airport and port security requirements, demands best-in-class technology and processes. Organizations need to understand how their carriers approach security processes, including the types of screening technology they use, how they monitor shipments in transit and in service centers, and how they train their staff to manage security processes and technology.
  3. Sustainability. Shippers should examine every aspect of the logistics process for eco-friendly options, including their carriers' paper-saving and recycling practices.
  4. Transportation. While the latest Web-based tools can launch international businesses on the path to success, companies will not get far without old-fashioned transportation know-how and infrastructure. When evaluating carriers, organizations must understand the scope of their international reach, including the specific areas where they ship, and the routes they can take in case a natural disaster or political crisis causes shipments to be diverted.

Ultimately, as technologies are improved and refined, international logistics will adapt and thrive. Making sure your business is adapting as fast as possible means that your organization and logistics partners must constantly move at the speed of technology.