Transport and logistics is a business where success is in one hundred percent dependent on strict adherence to all KPI indicators and customer requirements. However, if there is a need for external fleet vehicle, the question always arises: how to choose a reliable carrier and deliver the cargo safely and on time? The question becomes particularly important when we look at the so-called "black list" of carriers: loading cancelation, theft and damage to the goods, unethical behavior of drivers. The list of complaints on carriers can be developed indefinitely. However, the question is always the same: how not to happen upon cheaters and guarantee a high quality transport service to the customer.
We talked with experts from the international transport and logistics group AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG about the carriers selection process.
How to become a potential AsstrA partner?
Vladimir Efremov, Deputy COO for SRM from АsstrA Management:
There are two possibilities for acquiring new suppliers. Firstly, when the carrier offers us cooperation by filling out the appropriate form on our website or by contacting one of the AsstrA offices. We also make many contacts at trade fairs such as TransRussia or BreakBulk Europe. The second option is a situation when there is a lack of fleet vehicle on some routes, or on new directions, and our forwarders are looking for new opportunities themselves. In this case, the sales department processes information about suppliers on the basis of requirements and independently or in cooperation with operational units prepares lists, contacting carriers directly and offering cooperation.
What are the minimum requirements for suppliers at the first stage?
Each transport and logistics company offering products and services at adequate prices and at the appropriate level can become an AsstrA supplier. We choose the best offers in terms of price and quality. At least the availability of adequate fleet vehicle or an adequate level of service is required. Then we check the compliance, verify the data and then the potential carrier becomes the real AsstrA supplier.
Michał Młynarski, Acting Head of SRM Division
In practice, everything depends on the specific transport and requirements of a given customer. First of all, we should determine if we can work with forwarding company or should we only provide our own vehicles. We have to remember also about the maximum age and condition of the fleet vehicle, the availability of permits from the carrier and so on. Our basic standards include: vehicles that meet the environmental standards Euro-5 and Euro-6 as well as the current carrier's liability insurance agreements. Even two of the listed requirements allow to select at the initial stage a quite large number of potential carriers.
What controls does the carrier undergo at the initial stage?
The carrier's verification process begins in our SRM Division (Suppliers Relationship Management). AsstrA specialists check the carrier's registration documents, licenses and liability insurance. At this stage, the actual ability of the carrier to carry out the transport is checked. We verify whether there are additional insurance options for transporting specific groups of goods on particular routes. Then we check the credibility of the carrier: we verify its contact details, compare phone numbers and e-mail addresses assigned to contact persons with data appearing in databases, in documentation, on transport exchanges and in public sources of information. We also ask for recommendations and verify their validity.
All this helps us to carry out all possible checks to make sure that a real carrier contacted us, not a cheat.
Are there restrictions for new carriers regarding the number of orders or routes?
We do not engage new transport and logistics companies in transport at the request of our key clients, as well as in the transport of high liquid and expensive goods. We commission new companies for simple standard transport orders. At the beginning of the cooperation, we must make sure of the quality and reliability of such suppliers, and only then we can initiate a cooperation. There are some restrictions on the use of newly engaged companies, aimed at improving the company's security and sustainability. We strive to ensure that the involvement of one supplier does not exceed 30% of the share for clients and 15% for trade-lane.
How is the safety guaranteed to the customer from a legal point of view?
The carrier's liability for such activities as loading cancelation, damage to the vehicle, etc. is determined in the cooperation agreements with the carrier and in general AsstrA working conditions with suppliers. After the transport, we carry out mandatory quality control of the transport and evaluate the possibilities of further cooperation with the given supplier, taking into account a high percentage of delays in transport.
What time is needed to consider a supplier credible? One year, two or three years?
We have introduced a rating system in our company. Evaluation of the carrier is based on a several parameters, such as: number of orders, turnover referring to cooperation with a given supplier, size of the transport fleet, percentage of inconsistencies (delays), etc. The higher the rating, the more reliable the supplier is for us.
Are there black list of carriers in the AsstrA group?
Yes, we have our blacklist of carriers. Companies go to it as usual for two reasons: the carrier did not meet its direct obligations under the contract (lateness, loading cancelation, lack of information about the vehicle, etc.), or turned out to be a crook: discrepancies were detected while checking documents and contact information (e.g. false insurance or fake car registration document). We also receive information about unreliable carriers directly from customers and from associations to which we belong.
We regularly send information about detected scams to transport exchanges and associations. In the event when the documents of the actual transport company have been forged, we contact the real carrier and warn him about this situation.
General advice when choosing a transport company?
Always check suppliers, and more specifically their presence on the transport exchanges and in the registration databases. Contact details may not vary depending on the source. You should check the licenses and documents in the registers and availability of car numbers in insurance. It is very important to make sure when the company was founded and whether its owner has changed. Fraudsters often use existing transport and logistics companies simply by buying them. The recommendations of our permanent partners or professional associations of carriers are also important.
Believe facts and documents, not words.