SONAR provides visibility for logistics company’s Colombian nearshoring (with video)

Ships of all shapes and sizes rely heavily on navigational tools to sail the open seas; most wouldn’t dare leave port without them. The same is true for logistics companies navigating freight markets. Visibility changes everything.

As capacity and market demand change daily, logistics professionals need access to freight rate forecasts, as well as exclusive insights. FreightWaves’ SONAR is the only leading freight forecasting platform that tracks every movement across the entire freight economy.

SONAR enables transportation companies, brokerages and financial providers eager to embrace newfound logistic strategies the ability to pounce on those opportunities.

One such company in search of operational changes was SONAR subscriber ARL Logistics, a Pittsburgh-based full-service logistics company that, like so many other freight brokerages, established nearshoring operations in Colombia.

Nearshoring is a means of outsourcing certain business functions to a third-party vendor relatively close to a business’s home country. Many U.S. freight brokerages have opened South American satellite branches in part due to the groundwork laid by nearshore services providers. These outsource specialists make sure the transition goes smoothly and train new offices according to the American companies’ standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Nearshore services provider Lean Staffing Solutions helped ARL nearshore to South America as the logistics company searched for ways to diversify and structure itself for future growth. Its Barranquilla offices handle ARL Transport’s billing and safety departments, employing 35 college-educated Colombians, eight of whom work on the logistics side of the company.

Entry-level logistics positions often viewed as undesirable to Americans or jobs that experience high turnover are seen as great employment opportunities by those searching for stable jobs in Colombia.

ARL Logistics Executive Vice President Jordan Reber is satisfied with the growth in the Colombian branch and credits its employees’ strong work ethic, bilingualism and willingness to learn as valuable traits that keep the operation going strong.

Because of their workers’ eagerness to learn, the introduction of SONAR at ARL’s Colombian branch proved to be a great addition to the company. Reber credited FreightWaves’ Freight Forecasting Platform for providing its employees the ability to easily analyze the U.S. freight markets.

“We were really only training two of our employees to master it, but as we were showing them how to use SONAR, others were asking when they would get to learn the platform,” Reber said.  “We’ve since learned that a couple of guys down there are tinkering with SONAR every day. They’re learning more about it and finding new things to show to not only our customers but our employees as well.”

Reber added that before using SONAR, the company primarily received freight market information via traditional load boards and transportation management systems that analyzed data passively and was often slow to provide insights.

“All that stuff was looking in the past. A lot of times it was last month, let alone last week,” Reber said. “SONAR has given us the ability to receive daily updates which have changed the way we look at the data and react to it and then educate our employees and customers.”

ARL’s addition of SONAR contributes to Reber’s suggestion that U.S. logistics companies looking to set up shop in Colombia successfully need to provide their new team members with the same resources and training as their American counterparts.

“You’ve got to be ready to invest in those first six months and send people to Colombia to focus on the training,” Reber said. “If you spend more time than you normally would in the first six months, it’s going to give you that launching pad for you to build off of and scale it out.”

He continued, “Treat it as if you’re opening a new office in an American city. You wouldn’t try to train them remotely, but instead you’d rather go to that city and train them yourselves.”