Case Study / Heartland Logistics
Heartland Logistics Group fills an unmet need in the marketplace by providing bulk transportation and bulk shipping services to agricultural companies. But because EDI requirements varied dramatically from one client to the next, Heartland was spending far too much time creating integrations—and a long onboarding process delayed the company’s ability to earn revenue from new clients.
Heartland chose Orderful as its modern EDI platform. After evaluating a leading TMS platform that offered EDI capabilities, Heartland realized Orderful offered a much more cost-effective, modern and flexible way to streamline its EDI processes and future proof them against changes to any of their core systems as they continue to grow.
Heartland launched during the COVID pandemic in response to an unmet need in the marketplace. Whereas many agriculture transportation companies operate on the distribution side of the supply chain by hauling packaged freight, Heartland engages customers on the supply side, providing the bulk transportation and bulk shipping services they need. In a typical engagement with one of its 240 clients, Heartland might send trucks to meet a barge at a port on the Mississippi River, load up grain, and deliver it to a major beer manufacturer. But no two clients are exactly alike.
“Every company we work with has its own nuances,” explains John Kuhlmann, president, Heartland Logistics Group. “They have their own providers, geographical challenges, and environmental challenges. So from one company to the next, the EDI requirements can be drastically different, especially since we work with many of them in a 4PL environment. As we grew, we realized we needed a way to aggregate data from many different languages and digest it so that we can provide seamless service to all our customers.”
Adam Lang, Director of IT, Heartland Logistics
Heartland considered the fact that as a startup, it would most likely add and change business platforms multiple times in the future. After evaluating other potential solutions, the company decided Orderful offered the most flexible architecture for working with a variety of systems.
Heartland’s many Fortune 500 customers use EDI and expect the company to send loads electronically. With Orderful, Heartland consumes loads instantly and brings them into its TMS. The company then gets the loads picked, back-shipped, delivered, and moved to the destination. Each step generates EDI transactions that Orderful handles seamlessly.
We have to send updates every time a truck comes into a plant, checks out of a plant, or shows up at a delivery facility,” explains Lang. “We also send updates whenever an appointment gets changed. Those all require EDI transactions— and they all need to be in a specific format for each customer. That’s why we run them all through Orderful. Orderful helps us consolidate all these EDI requirements so we don’t have to build a custom connection for each customer.
Before Heartland implemented Orderful, the company took as long as six months to onboard a new partner. With Orderful, that time is down to as little as five days, which helps the company’s bottom line.
As Heartland continues to add new customers, Orderful takes their load tenders in different formats and translates them into JSON format. From there, Heartland can apply business logic to this data to create loads in its TMS. There’s no need for Heart-land’s IT staff to deal with X12 files or 204 documents.
John Kuhlmann, President, Heartland Logistics Group
As Heartland’s business continues to grow, the company appreciates being able to add trading partners cost-effectively. Rather than paying a hefty fee for each integration it adds, Heartland pays a yearly subscription with Orderful as well as a flat fee per trading partner.
“When we launched in 2020, the TMS we evaluated required a $60,000 licensing fee, and then we would have had to pay $5,000 to $10,000 for each EDI integration we wanted to build,” says Kuhlmann. “Orderful is far more affordable and predictable. We paid a flat subscription fee for our first set of trading partners, and a per trading partner fee as we have scaled up with our business. As a startup, it was a huge benefit to know we wouldn’t have to sink a huge investment into technology before the revenue started coming in.”
For Heartland, even the process of addressing EDI problems has gotten much easier using Orderful’s modern EDI platform. Whenever an issue arises, Heartland’s IT team receives a real-time notification that clearly explains the problem, which expedites the remediation process. Orderful also checks transactions against partners’ guidelines before sending them to minimize the number of rejected transactions.
“In the past, we had no visibility into why transactions failed,” recalls Kuhlmann. “A customer might send 10 shipments but they wouldn’t go through because one transaction got rejected, and then we’d have to get on the phone and figure things out. With Orderful, we know exactly which one failed and why so that we can get things set right immediately. Between the value we’re getting for the price and the outstanding service we’ve received, we’re confident we’ve made the right choice in cloud EDI partners.”
Orderful is the Modern EDI Platform that gives logistics providers, retailers, manufacturers, and technology companies full control to onboard, manage, and resolve all of their trading partner relationships and transactions in real-time. With its unique ability to digitize trading guidelines, Orderful customers build a single API integration against consolidated requirements for all partners. Orderful automatically transforms data to EDI without complex mapping and validates transactions against actual trading guidelines in real-time. Orderful proactively identifies errors before transactions are sent and provides business analysts with a point and click business rules engine to correct errors instantly to keep your supply chain operating smoothly. Orderful is EDI Done Right!
Heartland Logistics Group is a full-service third-party logistics company specializing in transportation of agriculture, feed ingredients, chemicals, food and beverage, pet food, manufacturing/industrial products, as well as plastics and paper products. Heartland offers a suite of inbound bulk (dry and liquid), as well as typical outbound solutions (truckload, temp controlled, flatbed and LTL). Founded in 2020, the company aims to provide an end-to-end supply chain solution to its clients.