Air, rail, and sea freight handlers spend millions of dollars each year and can be responsible for managing hundreds of documents for every consignment which they handle. The documents can range from shipping notes, waybills, and Bills of Lading to insurance certificates, commercial invoices, and packing lists. The ability to effectively manage these documents can greatly affect a freight company’s success.
The importance of each and every one of these documents cannot be overstated. Documentation must be easily retrievable for receiving agents such as customs and other parties. However, in this article we will be speaking about the importance of properly and effectively managing packing lists and how document management software (DMS) such as eFileCabinet can help increase productivity, minimize delays, eliminate lost shipments, minimize fines, and increase cost savings in the freight industry.
What is a Packing List?
A packing list, also known as an unpacking note, packaging slip, delivery list or bill of parcel, is a very important document in the freight industry. It provides the international freight forwarder and the customer with vital information about a shipment.
Packing lists can sometimes be fairly detailed and can contain the following information:
- The type of package(s), i.e. carton, crate, box, etc.
- The net weight of each package in pounds, tons, kilograms, etc.
- The package dimensions in inches or cubic feet
- Package markings
- Buyer and seller references
The packing list is often used as supporting documentation in the event of a dispute between the carrier and the exporter to determine the actual weights or measurements of cargo. It is also used by a country’s customs division to determine the appropriate duties and taxes, liability, and compliance with federal and local laws. In addition, packing lists are one of the essential documents used to file claims with carrier or insurance companies in the event of lost or damaged cargo.
As we can see, the proper management of packing lists is of the utmost importance, but it is often seen as a nuisance and an afterthought. It’s not given much attention due to the fact that filling one out can be time-consuming, especially when considering that freight companies can manage thousands of packages from around the world.
The lack of attention when creating packing lists can result in number of issues in the freight/cargo industry. Any mistakes in the packing list can cause delay in clearance at the port of destination. Customs authorities have the authority to delay or reject clearance of a shipment(s) if packing lists are not provided or are erroneous. Other problems associated with flawed packing lists include lost shipments, fines, and storage charges.
Why Is Document Management Important for Managing Packing Lists?
Many freight documents including packing lists are still largely exchanged in the form of paper-based documentation. The manual filling out of packing list forms is normally an onerous exercise involving collecting the right data and putting it in the required format required by the recipient.
Importers are tasked with generating and transmitting these documents for freight forwarders, customers and appropriate government authorities. Once these documents are delivered they may sometimes need to be revised and eventually stored away for audit and reference purposes.
However, this traditional paper-based approach presents several challenges that include:
- Managing revisions, transmissions, and storage of documents
- Identifying and retrieving the appropriate documents necessary to satisfy government agencies regulating the transaction
- Tracking documentation
- Quickly and efficiently producing the documents required by freight forwarders and customs brokers
Furthermore, as freight companies manage more and more paper-based packing lists, physical filing space becomes an issue. Filing cabinets often consume valuable office space which can eventually lead to office clutter and reduced employee efficiency.
Some DMS can also create templates that provide a flexible document design function for easier and more efficient creation of packing lists in the freight industry.
Using eFileCabinet to Increase Efficiency and Productivity
eFileCabinet’s DMS solution provides several intrinsic functions and capabilities that can benefit any freight company looking for a way to increase their efficiency and productivity.
One of eFileCabinet’s most powerful features is its workflow capabilities. With an automated workflow defined in eFileCabinet, packing lists can be automatically routed to freight forwarders, banks, customs authorities, and finally to the consignee (or the designated agent of the consignee) for clearance of the shipment through local customs. Specific rules can be set up with eFileCabinet to determine when packing lists are to be automatically forwarded.
eFileCabinet’s DMS solution fosters a paperless environment. Freight companies can save space by eliminating burdensome filing cabinets. Being paperless means less clutter, less employee overhead, and less time spent retrieving and organizing paper files.
Existing packing lists can be easily added to eFileCabinet using the powerful Zonal OCR function for rapid indexing and profiling. Additionally, packing lists can be added to eFileCabinet in a number of other ways, including dragging and dropping or directly printing to eFileCabinet.
Finally, all files can be stored on the Cloud using eFileCabinet Online for easy retrieval and sharing of packing lists with relevant parties. Users can rest easy knowing that all files stored in eFileCabinet Online are secured using the latest security technologies, including heavy 256-bit encryption, SSL certificates, and other barriers to prevent intrusion.
These are just a few of the ways in which eFileCabinet can benefit freight companies in managing their packing lists. If you would like discover how eFileCabinet can increase your efficiency and productivity, please fill out the form provided for a 15-minute demo.