December 2014 | Case Studies | I.T. Toolkit

Single Dashboard Streamlines Shipments

Tags: Logistics I.T.

When sales of EAM-Mosca’s strapping solutions started to soar, the company updated its shipping software to streamline operations and better serve demanding customers.

EAM-Mosca was getting buried in orders, until it strapped down a software solution to automate each step of the shipping process.

Finding the right software solution to help manage increased sales was a priority for custom strapping systems manufacturer and supplier EAM-Mosca. With help from Varsity Logistics, EAM-Mosca was able to streamline shipping by consolidating all transactions under a single software dashboard.

Located in Hazle Township, Pa., EAM-Mosca manufactures and supplies machines and plastic used to auto-wrap packages in straps to ensure they arrive to their destination safely. Established in 1982, EAM-Mosca has sold more than 20,000 strapping solutions throughout North, Central, and South America. The company's solutions are largely used in the wood, meat, poultry, seafood, and graphics arts industries, and are among the market leaders in the corrugated, commercial printing, and mailing industries.

A few years ago, EAM-Mosca found itself on a collision course: a steady uptick in orders was headed straight for its outdated shipping systems. Because the company's success was substantial, it had no intention of allowing inefficient logistics to tarnish its reputation.

With sales mounting, EAM-Mosca was struggling to process more than 500 shipments daily to more than 12,000 destinations around the world. So the company began looking for an improved shipping software solution.

Its previous system forced the shipping staff to use a different software portal for each carrier, which often gave them no choice but to repeatedly re-enter shipping details as they searched for the best rates for any given shipment. In addition, data decentralization prohibited the shipping staff from engaging in precise analysis to determine the best shipping rates for any given order. Dealing with numerous, disparate software interfaces also meant shipping staff needed to continually retrain as carriers updated the way their systems worked.

Bringing in new hires was an even bigger headache. Before staff members could truly become proficient, they had to be trained and brought up to speed on all the various carrier software portals the company used to manage transportation. "We were spending resources, time, and money managing multiple shipping systems," recalls Bruce Mowery, materials manager for EAM-Mosca.

For Mowery, the goal was clear: Find a single software interface that would service all of EAM-Mosca's needs—without sacrificing the flexibility and power of the existing, multiple interfaces that the company had been using.

Specifically, EAM-Mosca needed a single solution that could handle parcel and freight, as well as software that could run on its existing hardware, IBM's AS400 I Series 720. "The EAM-Mosca team weighed two main points of criteria: feature/function and platform," Mowery says. "But we also looked closely at usability, support, and, of course, price."

Initially, EAM-Mosca approached its primary hardware suppliers, and asked for a shipping solution. It also evaluated software solutions from several other logistics IT providers. The team ultimately settled on Varsity Logistics' parcel and freight shipping modules. The determining factor, according to Mowery, was that Varsity's products could be easily integrated into EAM-Mosca's legacy ERP platform, VAI Associates ERP 3.7.

Varsity Makes the Team

A long-time player in logistics software, San Bruno, Calif.-based Varsity Logistics' solution automates each step of the package shipping process as much as possible, and enables users to optimize shipment costs and ensure that labeling and manifesting are in order. Besides parcel and freight modules, Varsity also offers an analytics module that provides users decision support to make shipping more effective.

"From a functionality standpoint, Varsity Logistics' software addressed our requirements, ranked high in ease of use, was integrated tightly to the VAI ERP software, and was competitively priced," explains Mowery.

Once EAM-Mosca decided to go with Varsity, it was simply a matter of installing the software and making some minor modifications.

"Modifications were made to customize the commercial invoice to include our payable's invoice number, custom logo, and mapping of various print fields to reflect our invoice field data and descriptions," Mowery says. "The implementation was straightforward and the Varsity integration required little additional development. After some testing and training, the results were immediate and positive in many areas of the business."

Varsity customized EAM-Mosca's interface with the VAI ERP to ensure that appropriate electronic documents populated the ultimate consignee address, and that international documents were tailored to the freight forwarders EAM-Mosca deals with.

Varsity also modified the parcel freight module to allow freight shopping using the net freight value, while utilizing the list freight charge for orders and invoicing. "Varsity enabled our organization to better manage one of our highest cost centers—freight," says Mowery. "Our business volume has grown in excess of 15 percent in nearly three years. With this new system, we haven't needed additional staff to enter, process, and ship orders."

Another key benefit EAM-Mosca reaped with the new system was complete centralization of shipping logistics. The software also takes care of all international documents, bills of lading, parcel bill auditing, and other shipping paperwork.

Now more nimble in its ability to process each order, EAM-Mosca can also accommodate next-day delivery orders later in the day, and offer a higher level of service to its need-it-yesterday customers. Key to this new capability is Varsity's real-time data updating environment, which enables EAM-Mosca staff to see inventory in stock at any given moment.

"The real-time aspect of the software allowed us to streamline order entry, processing, and shipping operations," Mowery says. "We are able to maintain a same-day shipment rate in excess of 97 percent for our OEM parts business."

The software also enables EAM-Mosca to add carriers to the dashboard at any time. All that's required to add a new carrier to the system is Varsity's Carrier Compliance Kit (CCK), which contains all the rates and service types offered by the new carrier, as well as the corresponding electronic manifesting support.

The availability of those kits represents a major time savings for EAM-Mosca and other shippers that use Varsity's software. "It would take a shipper three to six months to assemble all the data and write the programming required to put together each compliance kit in-house," says Jim Reveal, senior field services engineer at Varsity Logistics.

Rate Update

Given that most carriers change rates once or twice every year, those CCKs would also need to be updated accordingly, Reveal adds. That's no worry for shippers who commit to Varsity's annual maintenance plan, which updates CCKs automatically. "UPS, for example, revises its prices twice each year," Reveal says. "We make sure customers get those software updates as soon as they're available."

Moreover, the Varsity system is designed to minimize the need for manual data input, ensuring fewer costly shipping errors. For example, while some systems require employees to key in shipping instructions and weights multiple times, they have to enter it only once in the Varsity system.

"Our entire order process is now seamless," Mowery notes. "We can rate-shop a customer's order at time of entry and select the carrier based on the customer's specifications. The order is picked, packed, and shipped without any duplication of effort. And the customer can receive shipment notifications—including tracking information—via email, minimizing customer service call rates."

Being able to manipulate all shipping options from a single dashboard also enables EAM-Mosca to offer additional, value-added shipping services to customers.

"Varsity's software allows us to provide shipping options with the major parcel and LTL carriers on behalf of our customers," Mowery says. "The software gives us timely, accurate freight costs for every order at time of entry."

The software also has eliminated the once onerous task of customer support staff having to call the warehouse for details on a shipment's status. Instead, EAM-Mosca's customer service team can now look at their computer screens, select an order they want to track, and instantly retrieve data on its history and current status.

Moreover, the software has met one of EAM-Mosca's major concerns—being able to get the true cost of any shipment, including all relevant accessorial charges. "The freight and accessorial charges provided through the Varsity software are accurate," Mowery says. "We audit our carriers' freight invoice charges by shipment against the freight charge Varsity calculated for that shipment."

Varsity's continuous, real-time software updates also ensure that new discounts shippers earn as they increase business with a specific carrier are factored into the software's cost-analysis tools. "Shippers usually receive a discount as they move more freight with a particular carrier," Reveal says. "The Varsity software updates those discounts in each shipper's system in real time."

Varsity's "bill as/ship" feature also enables EAM-Mosca to bill its customers at the rates various carriers advertise, while capturing its own negotiating cost for internal analysis of true shipping costs.

Essentially, EAM-Mosca can now instantly evaluate its carriers for any given shipment based on contracted rates, and immediately pick the best one for the job based on cost.

"Overall the ability to process orders, track shipments, and get product out quickly at the lowest possible cost are just a few benefits of the new system," Mowery says. "The software has allowed our organization to better manage one of our highest cost centers—freight—by providing average shipment metrics by specific lane that we can use to our advantage when negotiating contracts with carriers."

EAM-Mosca no longer struggles to process orders or streamline shipping; the Varsity software takes care of that. Even better, Mowery notes, the company achieved return on investment within 12 months.

Visit Our Sponsors