August 2003 | How-To | Ten Tips

Creating Effective Routing Guides

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A s companies seek to streamline their supply chains and logistics processes, their transportation routing guides have never been more important. Getting vendor and carrier compliance depends how the routing guide is put together. It must be easy to read, simple to use, and flexible. Shawn Masters, group logistics manager for Ryder Systems, offers these tips for creating an effective routing guide.

1. Determine an agreed-upon format. Make sure that all applicable and pertinent information is present and understandable and clearly defines the "rules" suppliers are to follow when shipping.

2. Clearly list the primary and alternate carrier for each transportation mode. If your company uses multiple weight breaks, list the primary and alternate carrier for each break.

3. Spell out all special instructions or comments. These may include special handling requirements, rules, and hours of operation. If applicable, they may also include all safety and security requirements.

4. List all expected ship days and pickup window times. Instruct the supplier on your shipment expectations.

5. Be detailed. Clearly specify any information relating to shipment documentation. This may include bill of lading, EDI, or Advance Shipment Notice instructions and requirements. Also outline in detail any special labeling requirements.

6. Provide instructions on how to ship multiple orders. Multiple bill of lading shipments may increase costs, for example. There may be ways to offset these costs by reducing the number of minimum shipments into single larger shipments that will result in more cost-efficient rates.

7. Put a process in place to ensure suppliers have received their specific routing guides and understand it. A signature response can be required of the supplier. This also provides a security measure—you don't want your routing guide floating around and into a competitor's hands.

8. Create a chargeback policy for non-compliance. Make sure that policy is clearly stated and everyone involved understands how it works.

9. Have a process in place to ensure that shipments have been received in good condition, per routing guide instructions. Document any exceptions, complete any chargebacks, and/or file any claims through internal processes.

10. Make sure your routing guide is flexible. Revisit your guide every four months and make updates as carriers and pricing requirements change. Also consider online routing guides, which can make it easier to manage changes and do not involve high printing costs.

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