For a brokerage, the key to increasing profitability is to move more loads—without adding extra staff. Saddle Creek Transportation Services in Lakeland, Florida, has succeeded in doing that. And one thing that has helped the company increase efficiency has been the integration of DAT products into its transportation management software (TMS).
Over the past five years, Saddle Creek has simplified load posting and truck searches, increased visibility into carrier rates in new markets, and streamlined carrier onboarding, all while adding minimal new staff.
“We haven’t had to add the headcount you would expect with the growth that we’ve had,” said John Hahn, transportation director. “That has a lot to do with the systems and the integration we’ve put in place. So we know there are real benefits.”
Saddle Creek achieved these results by integrating its MercuryGate TMS with DAT products, including the DAT Load Board, DAT RateView™, and DAT CarrierWatch®. DAT products can also be integrated into other popular TMS including Keypoint Transportation Software, McLeod Software, TMW Systems, and even software that brokerages develop in house.
About Saddle Creek
Saddle Creek Transportation Services is a non-asset-based 3PL. It was in founded in 2006 as a division of Saddle Creek Corporation. The privately held parent company was founded in 1966 and now employs 2,000 associates who manage 16 million square feet of warehousing space, contract packaging, and a fleet of 450 trucks.
The Saddle Creek 3PL launched with just two employees in 2006 but now boasts 35. The corporate organization serves as the back office for functions such as accounting, human resources, and information technology.
DAT Adds Capabilities to TMS
Although the 3PL initially relied on the same hardware and software systems as the asset-based transportation division, by 2008 the group needed a dedicated TMS to meet customer demands and prepare for future growth. After a full RFP process, Saddle Creek chose MercuryGate. Using it provides efficiencies in daily operations, more dynamic reporting, and full visibility to the customer base for tracking shipments and proof of delivery, according to Hahn.
As Saddle Creek grew, however, the firm was offered more opportunities in unfamiliar markets. That required accurate contract and spot market rate information. “DAT RateView gave us visibility into rate structure without having to do full-scale RFPs to our entire carrier base and go through that administrative process,” said Hahn.
After reaping the benefits of using DAT RateView™, the Saddle Creek team started looking at other ways to integrate DAT into MercuryGate.
Additional DAT Tools Amplify Efficiencies
The next step in integration was adding the DAT Load Board. Although Saddle Creek posts less than half of its available loads, the staff finds that posting directly from MercuryGate streamlines the process.
“We know it saves a tremendous amount of time to simply check a box and hit a button rather than log into a load board and type information already in our TMS,” Hahn explained.
Given the success of integrating DAT RateView and DAT Load Boards, Saddle Creek decided to integrate DAT CarrierWatch® as well. “We spend a lot of time ensuring that the carriers we do business with are reputable and safe,” said Hahn. “CarrierWatch lets us take a good look at carrier history in a single source.”
Saddle Creek feeds DAT information into MercuryGate and sets rules for minimum requirements through the MercuryGate Carrier Management (Carma) product. CarrierWatch tells the brokers automatically whether a carrier meets qualifications, eliminating a lot of paperwork and time. The company now monitors between 1,300 and 1,500 carriers.
The integration of the complete suite of DAT Services with MercuryGate has enabled Saddle Creek to achieve its goals for improving processes and growing the business while keeping new staff to a minimum.
A logistics coordinator at Saddle Creek Transportation Services