April 2014 | Sponsored | Thought Leaders

Keys to Developing Strong Supply Chain Partnerships

Tags: 3PL, Ocean, Partnership

Tom Sproat is Senior Vice President, Customer Service, Maersk Line, 973-514-5000

Q: How can value chain partners collaborate to enhance performance and efficiencies?

A: Collaboration among supply chain partners can improve supply chain performance, create new capabilities, and increase efficiencies. Meeting to review performance objectives helps build stronger partnerships based on definable measurements and greater transparency, and encourages more effective supply chain practices.

Part of this process is reviewing current models to determine if there are more efficient ways of operating. For example, consider the fundamental, costly challenge of equipment imbalance in the United States. This imbalance results in considerable time and resources. When the equipment needs of exporters can be matched with importer empties, a more efficient, sustainable result is possible. Match-back opportunities can be accomplished through improved communication and collaboration.

Achieving success as value chain partners depends on clear, accurate day-to-day communication. One area of container shipping that can have a big impact on the carrier-shipper partnership is the accuracy and timeliness of the core fundamentals, such as booking turn-times, arrival notices, and invoicing. Timely communication about these processes through transparent measurements and review provides a clear picture of what the carrier is delivering. It is an opportunity for the carrier to improve and simplify transactional processes for greater data accuracy, efficiency, and response. Shippers benefit from increased productivity, supply chain performance, and a stronger value chain partnership.

Q: What's the benefit of real-time carrier-shipper communication?

A: Global shipping is burdened by complexity and risk; especially as today's global supply chains become longer and more intricate. Factors impacting the flow of containerized cargo include weather, natural disasters, port delays, and sudden increases in demand. These events can threaten the continuity of business by knocking supply chains off their planned course.

To address this issue, carriers must deliver consistent, timely supply chain information to ensure shippers have the information they need to keep their customers and internal staff informed. This real-time communication enables businesses to proactively manage supply chain disruptions as they occur, rather than reacting after a disruption happens. This helps ensure the continuity of their business so they can successfully deliver on the promises they make to their customers.

Q: How can companies foster a mutually beneficial carrier-shipper business relationship?

A: While carriers struggle to control costs and optimize their networks, shippers call for greater reliability and responsiveness. By working together to establish constructive, transparent relationships, the two parties can create a winning partnership that benefits each of them. Our Customer Charter enables open dialogue around fundamental performance metrics. This allows each party to achieve its goals, and the partners can develop relevant supply chain solutions that add new value and efficiency.