Carrier Management

What is Carrier Management?

Carrier management is a critical aspect of supply chain and transportation logistics, focusing on the efficient and effective handling of carriers—the companies that transport goods.

What is carrier management in transportation?

Carrier management involves the strategic selection, negotiation, and continuous evaluation of the companies that transport goods for businesses. It involves understanding and managing the relationships with these carriers to ensure goods are moved efficiently, cost-effectively, and reliably from origin to destination.

5 key elements of carrier management

These are the key components of carrier management:

1. Carrier selection

This is the process of identifying and choosing carriers that align with specific logistical requirements and standards. Key considerations may include:

  • the carrier's cost-effectiveness, 
  • carrier's reputation and reliability in delivering shipments on time, 
  • capacity to handle the volume of goods, and 
  • the geographical areas they cover. 

A well-chosen carrier will meet these needs, contributing to smooth and efficient logistics operations.

2. Contract negotiation

This refers to the establishment of mutually beneficial terms between the shipper and the carrier.  It involves negotiating rates, service levels, and penalties for non-compliance with the terms of the agreement. For instance, discussions might revolve around:

  • the cost per mile or per load, 
  • delivery timeframes, 
  • protocols for damaged goods, and 
  • additional services such as real-time tracking. 

Penalties for not adhering to the contract, such as late deliveries or incorrect reporting, may also be laid out during this stage.

3. Performance monitoring

This is a continual process of assessing carrier performance against the metrics agreed upon in the contract. Regular evaluations may focus on: 

  • on-time delivery percentages, 
  • rates of damaged goods, 
  • accuracy of billing, 
  • adherence to schedule, and 
  • any other relevant indicators of performance. 

Performance monitoring can reveal trends, identify areas of improvement, and provide a basis for feedback or contract renegotiation.

4. Relationship management

This involves proactively developing and maintaining positive relationships with carriers. Good relationships can lead to preferential treatment such as prioritized services, better rates, or extended payment terms. Relationship management may involve:

  • regular communication, 
  • problem-solving cooperation, 
  • timely payment, and 
  • recognition of the carrier's positive performance. 

Building these relationships can facilitate smoother negotiations and conflict resolutions.

5. Regulatory compliance

This involves ensuring that carriers abide by all relevant industry regulations, safety standards, and legal requirements. Non-compliance can lead to delays, penalties, reputational damage, or legal consequences. Compliance may be related to:

  • cargo handling and storage rules, 
  • transport safety norms, 
  • labor laws, 
  • environmental regulations, 
  • customs procedures for international shipping, etc. 

Monitoring regulatory compliance should be a constant process, given that regulations can change frequently.

Benefits of carrier management

Excellent carrier management has a lot of benefits, some of which are:

  • Efficient carrier management leads to negotiated rates and reduced transportation costs.
  • Selecting and working closely with high-performing carriers ensures that goods are delivered on time.
  • Building strong relationships with a network of carriers allows for more flexibility in shipping options and capacities.
  • Properly vetted and managed carriers are less likely to cause compliance issues or disrupt supply chain operations.
  • Monitoring and analyzing carrier performance over time provides valuable data for making informed decisions and improvements.

What is a Carrier in SCM?

In Supply Chain Management (SCM), a carrier refers to a company that provides transportation services for goods using modes like trucking, rail, air, or sea.

What Does a Carrier Manager Do?

A carrier manager oversees the selection, negotiation, and management of relationships with transportation carriers. They ensure that shipping needs are met efficiently, cost-effectively, and reliably.

What is Carrier Contracts Management in a TMS?

Carrier contracts management within a Transportation Management System (TMS) involves digitalizing and administering agreements between shippers and carriers. It enables the tracking of terms, rates, and performance metrics, streamlining operations and ensuring compliance.