In trucking, freight logistics refers to the resources and processes involved in finding efficient routes for fleet vehicles, locating cost-effective fuel sources, finding capable vehicles and drivers, and determining the best ways to store and transport goods from their point of origin to their destination. Put simply, freight logistics encompasses the hands-on process of handling a shipment and getting it from one place to another. Freight logistics companies plan, implement, and manage the movement and storage of goods and information within the supply chain using technology and people.
For example, trucking freight logistics refers to the movement of goods from their source to their destination using ground delivery trucks. (Air freight logistics refers to transporting goods in the air while maritime freight logistics refers to transporting goods over the ocean, usually through cargo ships.)
The difference between freight logistics and freight management
Freight logistics and freight management overlap in some areas. It’s not uncommon to see terms like “freight management logistics” and assume they are the same thing.
Although they are similar, there are a few notable differences between freight logistics and freight management. It’s almost impossible to have one without the other, as freight logistics companies need both to be successful in their operations.
Consider how an office works. The “logistics” of the office refers to people, technologies, processes, and workflows that make business operations possible. Different departments must work together to produce results, usually by delivering goods or services to customers (the “freight”). This involves communication, handing off materials, and customer service.
But without management, it’s difficult to keep the logistics of the office on track. Freight management refers to the process of overseeing the transportation of freight, just as office management refers to the process of overseeing, planning, and directing the operations within an office.
Here’s a more detailed explanation to tell the two apart:
Freight logistics encompasses all the resources used to coordinate between shippers and carriers, ensuring goods are effectively stored and transported, and that they arrive at their desired location. That said, logistics is a broad category. It can involve everything from procurement to the disposal of goods or equipment.
Some of the key activities involved in freight logistics include:
- Purchasing and arranging the inbound movement of materials, parts, and inventory
- Sourcing technology, machinery, and personnel to carry out logistics operations
- Storage and movement of goods and products (freight)
- Distribution and delivery of freight to the customer
Freight logistics is also changing, thanks to advancements in technology and the interconnectedness of the global economy. New solutions are emerging all the time to help logistics professionals with their tasks.
Connected devices, digital load boards, fleet management software, ELDs, analytics tools, and even back-office solutions are all used in freight logistics.
The best way to understand the activities involved in freight management is to consider what a freight management company does. Freight management companies are involved in overseeing and tracking the transportation of freight. Taking on the role of overseer, freight management organizations make key decisions in how freight will be transported, via which routes, and with which drivers.
Most trucking freight management companies handle the following responsibilities:
- Match the shipper’s loads with reputable owner-operators and carriers.
- Engage, schedule, and dispatch carriers.
- Act as a middleman between shippers and carriers.
- Identify the best and most cost-effective routes.
- Create and handle the paperwork the shipper needs.
- Source the best rates for shippers.
- Track freight from point of origin to destination.
Some freight management organizations rely on partnerships and networks to match loads with reputable drivers. But many freight management professionals turn to load boards to match loads with drivers and find cost-effective routes.
The 8 must-have skills of a successful logistics manager
Freight logistics professionals come from a variety of backgrounds. For example, those with degrees in mathematics, statistics, and analysis can find roles in logistics, but people with backgrounds in business and sales can as well. It all depends on the logistics role that interests you and matches your skillset.
That said, there are a few skills that every successful logistics manager needs. Here are eight to know:
Freight management environments are chaotic, fast-paced, and can change at a moment’s notice. Driving conditions are susceptible to weather and other factors, and truck-to-load ratio can fluctuate with the market.
To be a successful logistics manager, you need to have optimal problem-solving skills. That means being able to see a problem from all angles while coming up with creative solutions to fix it. Problem-solving also depends on strong communication skills, analytical skills, and decisiveness.
2. Project management
To be a successful supply chain manager takes strong organizational skills that go beyond planning your day-to-day activities. Supply chains are long and complicated, and they involve many different touchpoints. A single project may involve several people, organizations, and pieces of equipment.
Even the best-laid plans may need to change. Logistics managers need to be able to adapt to changing conditions on the ground as well as shifting market conditions and government regulations. The supply chain is constantly becoming more complex, so solutions that worked for years may need to be reimagined.
Successful logistics management depends on the successful analysis of data. Thanks to connected devices, GPS technologies, and onboard diagnostics solutions, logistics managers have access to more data than ever.
Time descriptions, location-based data, inventory volumes, demand data, and more are all pertinent to logistics management. Understanding how all these data work together, spotting trends, and applying insights in real-time is key to cutting costs and staying efficient.
5. Industry knowledge
While you don’t need decades of experience to be a successful logistics manager, you do need a clear understanding of the industry. It helps to stay apprised of the latest developments in supply chain economics, logistics technologies, and market trends.
6. Leadership and team management
Logistics management is a leadership position. To be successful, you need strong leadership, team management, and delegation skills.
Logistics managers may find themselves coordinating with suppliers, brokers, drivers, customers, and more every day. They need to be able to delegate tasks to their team to better serve their customers, stay efficient, keep costs down, and make more money.
7. Attention to detail
The job of the supply manager is to coordinate with multiple parties, to plan logistics projects, and to execute that plan. It’s important to be detail-oriented; missing even a small detail can throw a project off course.
Supply chains have numerous components and touchpoints. It’s essential to understand how each of those components works together to be successful. Many logistics managers develop their own system for checking details and keep comprehensive notes about every aspect of their job.
8. Interpersonal or “soft” skills
Although analytical skills are important, the role of the logistics manager is ultimately a people-oriented position. Logistics managers deal with individuals from all walks of life and in various positions, including drivers, company leaders, brokers, and their employees. It’s important to have strong interpersonal skills, as relationships are key to running a smooth logistics operation.
Use load boards to improve freight logistics management
Load boards are essential for logistics professionals of every stripe. But not all load boards are reliable.
The Truckstop.com Load Board was designed for today’s freight world. Carriers can use it to access a high volume of loads, partner with vetted, trustworthy brokers, and book loads quickly. Brokers use Truckstop.com to find thousands of trusted carriers to cover their loads efficiently. Shipping pros love Truckstop.com because it simplifies the way they do business and gives them access to cost-saving tools they can’t get anywhere else.
Truckstop.com connects brokers and shippers to carriers, allowing them to move and track their freight more easily. If you’re a logistics professional, schedule a Truckstop.com demo today to see how it can change your operations for the better.