When shipping a few packages per day, a manual-entry workstation given to you for free by a carrier (FedEx, UPS, etc.) or even a multicarrier solution designed for an office can get the job done. However, systems like these aren’t conducive to productivity.
Standalone shipping workstations have a shipping screen and allow the person processing packages to make changes directly on the shipping screen. And yes, that means any changes, such as picking high-cost air services and changing addresses without authorization, often create more problems than they solve.
If you are taking advantage of multiple carriers to get the best shipping rates (based on dimensions and weight), then processing packages through a standalone shipping workstation in high-volume shipping operations (hundreds or thousands of packages per day) will actually slow down parcel processing.
While a multicarrier workstation may help streamline the process, you still stand to lose valuable time scanning or manually entering data into a shipping screen. Instead, you can opt for a Black Box way: the “no-shipping screen” shipping method for streamlining your shipping process.
Here are a few things you should know.
Black Box Automation Has Several Applications
Black Box shipping automation involves direct communication between applications without the need for a standard shipping screen.
These applications are configured with your business rules, published/custom rates, label and document requirements (by client, product, carrier or just about any other rules or practices you may have) to improve operational efficiency by automating many previously manual tasks or moving shipping rules that are mainly contained in someone’s head to a computer process can improve operations dramatically. Shipping workstations where shippers scan and ship the boxes are no longer used.
Get Started: Calculate the ROI of Your Current Shipping Solution
In a Black Box environment, your “shipping screen” is your WMS or ERP, with the actual shipping system simply feeding the necessary shipping information directly to your ERP or WMS in the background, whenever a ship call is made. The packer still packs the box and then applies the shipping label, but just about everything else is handled application to application, far faster than any human could.
The black box process also offers additional call processes that you can take advantage of:
Rate: To provide a rate to your website or to customer service without shipping any box or order.
Route: To get a carrier or service, based on a destination and estimated weight and shipping need not be done from a station at all.
Black Box interfaces can apply to several different areas of a warehouse, based on need, including pre-label and release, pre-manifesting, in-motion processes scan/print and apply; and many others. With its integrative capabilities, Black Box automation greatly improves efficiency, reduces labor costs, carrier costs and reduces errors dramatically.
You Can Save on Costs
Costs can be a killer in any business operation, and your shipping management is no exception. If you have multiple employees packing boxes, putting a license plate on those boxes and then forwarding them to another shipping area only to be labeled again, then you're repeating a step that may not be necessary when you apply Black Box automation to your process.
By connecting your host system (WMS, ERP, etc.) directly with your shipping solution, you eliminate the need to handle the same order multiple times to both pack and ship it. All labels and documents can be produced at the pack station, at which point the order is ready to be handed over to the carrier. You'll also save costs on additional shipping operators by making the packer the shipper. If you have 10 to 12 packing stations and three to four shipping stations, you don’t have to add much to the packing station to handle the shipping.
Moreover, you eliminate two to four shippers that you may be using in your current operations, which can mean tens of thousands in annual compensation.
There Are Many Advantages
The good news is that you have an opportunity to take advantage of Black Box automation. Here are a three key benefits to consider:
- The system can determine that an order is for a specific customer, and can then execute specific logic for them, for example, print logoed shipping labels on drop shipped packages.
- It can automatically calculate delivery dates, pick the correct carrier and service to meet that date, calculate custom rates, follow customer-specific rules or routing guides… and it never calls in sick!
- You'll experience increased productivity, because you’re executing these processes with fewer people.
If you aren’t aware of Black Box shipping, then your current shipping system may be costing you a great deal of money. Black Box shipping offers the advantage of increased productivity and efficiency because it streamlines your shipping operation by taking redundant tasks and automating them.