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The Importance of First-Mile Data Integrity

Mar 10, 2022 9:00:00 AM

In the grand scheme of logistics, the first mile is often overlooked in favor of the last mile, where more customer-facing processes are involved. However, errors in the first mile can have a domino effect on the rest of the supply chain, leading to significant slowdowns and the need for costly corrections. 

The first mile needs to be just as efficient as the rest of the journey to create a streamlined end-to-end transport and delivery process. Here, we’ll discuss the specific impacts of first-mile data delays and errors and explain how leveraging the right technology can help you prevent them.

Why does first-mile data matter?

First-mile data integrity is crucial for ensuring success further down the freight transport chain — and without it, you won’t have the end-to-end visibility you need for valuable business insights. 

The first mile is the origin of some of your most essential data, which gets pulled from bills of lading (BOLs). BOL data is imperative for getting items to their final destination on time (and getting paid on time), so errors and delays in this part of the process can have a large impact on your bottom line.

Traditional methods for capturing BOL data — especially cobbled-together paper processes — leave a lot to be desired and lead to several issues, including:

  • Delays in data receipt/input – Asking drivers to capture an image of the BOL for historical record and key the relevant data is a time-consuming process, and the necessary data may not be transmitted for several hours.
  • Human error – Typos, missing pages, blank fields, poor quality BOL images, and other errors are common and require revisions, leading to costly delays.
  • Missing paperwork – Relying solely on physical documents (without supplemental digital copies) increases the risk and cost associated with missing paperwork. 

In particular, relying on paper processes for BOL data capture makes near-time first-mile tracking impossible. This doesn’t just disappoint customers — it also means you can’t use insights to optimize logistics planning in a timely manner.

How can you improve your first-mile data integrity?

The key to first-mile delivery optimization is data integrity, and the key to data integrity is technology.

Your tech stack can make the difference between a successful delivery and costly errors, so the first mile is not the place to settle for piecemeal solutions or outdated applications. Jumping through various portals and apps can be tiring and frustrating for your drivers and back-office team, and siloed data is an obstacle to informed decision-making.

If you’re looking for solutions to help you maintain data integrity and end-to-end visibility, you’ll need to consider speed, efficiency, and functionality. Here are three key functions to look for:

  • Smart OCR image capture – With smart BOL capture, truck drivers can capture accurate BOL data from the road so you can get the data into your system as quickly as possible, reducing human error and back-office workload. Using AI technology, some systems can automatically crop and enhance BOL images and prompt drivers to take another image if quality standards are not met.
  • Real-time tracking – To meet sky-high demand for increased visibility, updating tracking information at each terminal is no longer enough. GPS tagging allows you access to the data you need to keep customers informed and provides an opportunity to expand your margins with more efficient routing and forecasting. 
  • Automated reporting – Near-time reporting on shipments, drivers, and assets can empower better-informed decision-making and alert you immediately if something needs attention.

Keep in mind that these are just a few processes that can impact the first mile. As you explore potential solutions, be sure to think about any other requirements that will help your organization streamline its operations at every stage of the transport and delivery process.

Achieve end-to-end visibility with DDC Sync

In an industry where every second counts, getting hours ahead is an incredible advantage — and DDC FPO’s newest enterprise application, DDC Sync, provides an average of a six-hour head start on visibility per load via intelligent BOL capture.

Designed to connect data, people, and processes, DDC Sync empowers drivers to quickly and easily capture BOL data without the need to manually key data and without compromising accuracy. The mobile app automatically enhances and crops BOL images for faster processing, GPS tagging enables streamlined terminal management and near-time tracking, and customizable automated alerts provide the data that matters most to your team. 

Other DDC Sync features include:

  • Streamlined documented driver-terminal communication
  • Driver incident logs with support for geo-targeted documents, photos, and videos
  • Secure, permissions-based terminal administrative access
  • White-label capabilities
  • Collaborative driver news feed
  • Gamification to enhance user adoption and increase retention

DDC Sync is the perfect complement to DDC FPO’s Freight Billing solutions — and the perfect way to ensure data integrity and visibility from the first mile to the last, so you can meet customer expectations and protect your bottom line.

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