EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — C.H. Robinson officials say they have implemented an electronic bill of lading (eBOL) that allows 10 of the top less-than-truckload industry (LTL) to advance in digitalizing the industry.
“While there are fewer carriers in the LTL universe and the top 25 handle over 90% of the market, the complexity of moving LTL freight means that digitization in this part of the logistics industry has been more challenging than truckload,” said Greg West, vice president for LTL at C.H. Robinson. “With truckload freight, there’s generally one origin and one destination and a customer has exclusive use of the trailer. With LTL, you can have up to 30 customers’ freight on a trailer, with 30 destinations and 30 sets of paperwork. That makes it so valuable to have a common eBOL everyone can use.”
In the past year alone, 17,240 of C.H. Robinson’s customers were able to benefit from the eBOL, according to a news release.
For some time, LTL bills of lading were typically handled by a carrier who would generate the tracking numbers for every customer’s freight and print them out on stickers.
The driver would take the tracking number label stickers to a shipper’s loading dock and add them to a paper bill of lading and to each pallet. Once at a new pickup, they will then do the process all over at the next pickup. When the driver heads to their terminal at the end of the day, the tracking numbers from all the bills of lading would be manually entered into the carrier’s computer system and sent to the logistics provider overnight or the next day.
“If LTL freight has to travel from Chicago to Los Angeles, it might travel on 10 different paths depending on which of 10 carriers it’s booked on,” said West. “Each carrier has a unique network and a unique terminal footprint. One carrier might take the freight through Kansas City. Another might take it through Denver. Sometimes LTL freight is put on rail for part of its journey. Sometimes westbound freight will even travel east before it heads west.”
Once a truck is in transit, the shippers will be able to track their freight.
Now that a tracking number can be generated within seconds, a complete bill of lading is ready for the shipper when the driver arrives. All that the driver must do is just scan it.
“This allows manual work to be eliminated, lowering administrative costs as well as cutting down on errors and increasing efficiency at every shipper’s dock,” the news release states. “Having their tracking number in advance, shippers can gain real-time visibility on their freight by receiving updates via C.H. Robinson’s Navisphere platform.”
C.H. Robinson says it has reached a 92% accuracy rate when it comes to predicting if an LTL will be delivered on time, thanks to a sophisticated data-science model fed by information on 5 million LTL shipments per year.
“C.H. Robinson’s adoption of the electronic bill of lading (eBOL) stands as a landmark achievement in the digitization of the industry,” said Paul Dugent, executive director of NMFTA’s Digital LTL Council. “Their pioneering collaboration with leading LTL carriers and embrace of the Council’s standards showcase a firm commitment to modernizing logistics for enhanced efficiency and real-time visibility. This visionary approach will undoubtedly serve as a catalyst for broader industry adoption, ultimately benefiting both shippers and carriers alike.”
Born and raised in Little Rock, AR, Erica N. Guy decided to stay in her hometown to begin her professional career in journalism. Since obtaining her bachelor’s degree from UAPB, Erica has professionally written for several publications about several topics ranging from lifestyle, tech, culture, and entertainment, just to name a few. Continuing her love for her hometown, she joined our team in June 2023, where she is currently a staff writer. Her career goals include continuing storytelling through her writing by being the best professional writer she can be. In her spare time, Erica enjoys trying new foods, cozying up with a good book, spending time with family and friends, and establishing herself as a future businesswoman.