Schneider Electric, a company so large it has not one, but seven, global transportation control towers, has been slowly and steadily centralizing the management of its transportation operations. That’s no small feat, given the company operates in 100 countries and produces 300,000 products under a number of companies and divisions.
Since 2015, Jean-Baptiste Delafoy, vice president of global transport and customs, has been leading the charge in a multi-phase, multi-year plan to migrate Schneider Electric’s freight audit and payment operations for the ocean, air, and parcel shipping to a central, standardized freight audit and payment process with Cass Information Systems.
Standardized global reporting on shipments and spend
Negotiation of global contracts with their largest global carriers
Carrier accountability and improvements in billing
Audit savings as high as 5%, depending on mode, region and carrier
"My ultimate goal was to achieve global visibility into freight movements and costs, and I believed then and now that the best way to achieve this was to centralize intercontinental air, ocean and express freight payment with a single provider", says Delafoy. The visibility into standardized shipment data and freight spend would support countless business needs and initiatives, including ongoing supply chain optimization.
After much discussion between Cass and Schneider, a plan was put in place to implement the global freight payment program by region, starting with APAC, and then Europe, Australia/New Zealand, South America, the Middle East and Africa.
Cass provided a global account manager and regional teams to support the project. The journey would be a major change for many of the Schneider Electric teams, and also for its carriers. Its key global ocean and air carriers were included from the beginning and would spend much time determining how to work most efficiently under this new model. Because freight payment is still a relatively new concept in many parts of the world, cultural barriers had to be overcome, and a lot of education provided, particularly with the carriers.
Achieve global visibility into freight movements and costs
Implement the global freight payment program by region
Global account manager and regional teams to support the project
Education and overcoming cultural barriers
“In the midst of enormous global and intra-region complexity, it can be difficult to see the progress being made day by day. But when I think where we were a few years ago, and where we’ve come today, it’s clear that day-to-day commitment yields incredible outcomes,” says Kees de Jongh, who is globally responsible for the Schneider Electric account at Cass.
Cost savings through audits and duplicate protection have been significant. Schneider Electric also receives cost allocations and accrual reporting from Cass.
Everyone knows that Schneider is a very complex operation. We work with people from many countries on a daily and weekly basis. We’ve made it a point to be flexible. Globally, we offer as much consistency as possible while accommodating for regional differences and requirements.
Kees de Jongh
Cass Information Systems
The ability to fully understand all of its spend for ocean, air and parcel shipping is no doubt the greatest benefit of outsourcing freight payment with a single provider. Schneider Electric have global and regional views of all shipments, costs, carriers, payments, and everyone is working from similar, standardized data. Teams around the world can compare costs and shipping activity across regions, carriers, etc. using the same data source and structure.
Transportation staff around the world have permissions to CassPort®, the Cass online portal for business intelligence and carrier collaboration, based on business unit, region or country, and/or role. They can view anything from individual invoices to global spend numbers for their largest carriers. Robust reporting displays cost and shipment detail by mode, carrier, lane, charge type, product, origin, destination, and much, much more.
Once shippers have this visibility, unexpected opportunities arise. For example, Schneider Electric submitted its first-ever global carbon emissions report in 2018. The Cass centralized system played a pivotal role in the company’s ability to calculate carbon emissions from its transportation operations, a clear advantage in today’s modern economy.
But their biggest accomplishments are producing savings while simplifying operations. A key success has been the execution of master, global freight rate agreements with some of their largest global carriers. This has not only created savings, but greatly simplified rate management by replacing dozens of regional and local contracts per carrier, all with different rates for the same services. Rates are maintained in the Cass rating system and are now much easier to keep up-to-date.