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July 20, 2005

FedEx Freight To Launch Advanced-Notification Service



Courtesy of InformationWeek

It's not often that shipments from FedEx Freight arrive late. But the $3.2 billion-a-year subsidiary of FedEx Corp. wants to make sure that on the rare occasions that package deliveries deviate from the expected, its customers are kept in the loop.

FedEx Freight said Wednesday it's preparing to launch an advanced-notification service that pushes data on expected delivery hold-ups to business customers via a secure Web site. The service, FedEx Freight Advance Notice, was made possible by custom code that the subsidiary's IT department added to an existing application that matches shipment-status information with real-time, route-planning data, to more accurately determine how route changes will impact individual deliveries.

Until now, customers could only get the shipment-status information. FedEx also has updated all the handheld devices its drivers carry, as well as the computers stationed at its loading docks, to support the new service.

The idea of the service, FedEx Freight CIO David Zanca says, is to let business customers awaiting shipments of 1,000 pounds or more adapt their supply-chain processes to the expected delay and take steps to avoid associated costs. For instance, a company that has planned to have 200 dock workers ready to process a delivery of inventory can reallocate those people if it knows they'd waste a day waiting for the shipment to arrive.

FedEx Freight's customers typically use FedEx's distribution network to provide just-in-time deliveries that allow them to keep inventory at a minimum. "Since we're enabling everyone to optimize the supply chain, it's important to let them know when there's a problem," Zanca says. "The customer wants to know when a shipment's going to arrive, and if it's not going to arrive on time, they especially want to know that so they can notify their workforce and their customers."

The service, slated to debut in September, will be free to FedEx Freight customers who register for a "my account" view on the company's secure Web site. It will be available only for domestic freight shipments initially, but Zanca says FedEx is exploring options for extending the service to its FedEx Express and FedEx Ground units.

FedEx Freight moves about 67,000 shipments weighing 76 million pounds each day, Zanca says, and about 99% of those shipments arrive on time.

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