Faster Awards with Automated Spot Bids for Pharma Air Freight

David Siedt

April 6, 2022

Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on air freight rates, putting an additional strain on resources within pharmaceutical procurement departments. Almost every airline has stopped honoring contract rates and is relying on the spot market due to severe capacity constraints. The capacity shortage is because more than half of all belly cargo options have become unavailable as commercial flight routes are eliminated. The elimination of flight connections beyond major hubs is also increasing the need to source truck lanes to replace the lost flight connections.  

Reactive spot market bids are necessary for procurement departments, but manually conducting these is inefficient and is more of a rate collection exercise rather than competitive bidding. Manually managing spot market bids also extends the award process which can delay the delivery of important pharmaceutical products. Today, major pharmaceutical companies are turning to Keelvar’s Sourcing Bots to automate the spot market bidding process so their sourcing team can focus on more strategic initiatives.

Figure 1. Air Freight Sourcing Bot – Rates

Sourcing professionals using Keelvar’s Air Freight Sourcing Bot can avail of comprehensive digital rate cards with intuitive search capabilities. As shown in Figure 1, the Sourcing Bot identifies an available rate for the chosen route but also offers smart recommendations for additional requestable rates.

Keelvar’s Sourcing Bots work 24 hours a day monitoring spot market bid triggers and executing all, or almost all, of the lane bidding process, from launching the bid to awarding the lanes. The automation of spot market bids results in faster awards, increased savings, and gives much-needed time back to your procurement department.

Here are some examples of tasks that can be automated by Keelvar’s Sourcing Bots:

• Looking up the requested lane on a rate card

• Seeking the nearest alternative lanes if the exact match isn’t present

• Generating the correct lane scope by looking up the liner country list

• Generating a request summary for category managers

• Messaging category managers

• Determining invited carriers

• Messaging invited carriers with invites or reminders

• If all eligible carriers have bids, messaging the category managers

• Autopilot round opening and closing

• Evaluating scenarios, including non-cost objectives, to generate award recommendations

• Generating an award summary for category managers

• On award, updating the rate card

• Messaging the awarded and losing carriers

• Messaging the original requester

Keelvar’s Sourcing Bots provide a significant return-on-investment, in addition to huge efficiency gains.  The increased savings are derived from the ability of the Bot to invite the right carriers and provide traffic-light feedback on supplier bids which often drives an additional 3% price compression. The Bots can also factor and analyze non-price factors in the award recommendations. Bots compress the entire lane sourcing process and can even trigger lane sourcing based on external data such as compliance or market indices. Sourcing Automation is here today and Keelvar is at the forefront of this technology.

Want to see our Sourcing Bots in action? Email us at for a no-sales pressure demonstration.

Learn more about Intelligent Sourcing Automation.

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Photo by Ross Parmly

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