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Master of Agribusiness

Time Savings from Paperless Processes in a Container Freight Company

Becky Bradwell, Lenexa, Kan., defended her thesis, “Time Savings from Paperless Processes in a Container Freight Company,” Friday, November 13, 2009. Bradwell is a Logistics & Customs Specialist with Gear for Sports in Lenexa, Kan. She graduated from KansasStateUniversity in December with a Master’s in Agribusiness (MAB).

Fuel price increases and exchange rate fluctuations have affected the container export industry making it more difficult to cover expenses without raising bulk freight rates. To remain competitive under the changing circumstances, shippers need to focus on costs they can control. One possibility to reduce costs is to change to a “paperless” operation. In addition to reducing the amount of paper and paper-related products used, increasing “electronic” transactions may increase employee efficiency requiring less manpower and creating savings for a container freight company.

“In addition to cutting costs, we were also interested in the idea of being a green company. Most offices use about 350 lbs. of paper per employee per year. My results found major savings from reduced paper and document storage costs could be realized,” Bradwell said.

To determine if the document management software would make employees more efficient, she compared transaction completion times using document management software with the time required to complete the same processes manually. Each employee timed how long it took to complete each step in the three-step process of booking, instructions, and bill of lading, both manually and electronically. The results showed that there was no significant difference between the two—some steps were faster and others were slower when using the document management software as compared to the traditional paper method.

While her findings did support the need for considering the move to a “paperless” operation, using the electronic process did not improve overall efficiency.

Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Bradwell’s thesis advisor, said, “We expected that the electronic process would lower transaction times and create more efficiency, but Becky’s research suggests that it is important to focus on more than direct cost efficiency in these analyses.  Companies must look at savings from using less paper and printing products as well as storage and retrieval savings.”

K-State’s Master of Agribusiness is an award-winning, distance-education degree program that focuses on food and agribusiness management. Students and alumni work in every sector of the food and agribusiness sector and are located in more than 35 states within the United States and in 25 countries.

“I truly appreciate the opportunity I had to pursue my Master of Agribusiness degree at KansasStateUniversity.  I feel I gained the knowledge and the insight that will help me advance throughout my career.  I hope my research contributes to helping organizations considering paperless strategies in their efforts,” Bradwell said.

The full thesis publication can be found online on K-State’s Research Exchange at http://hdl.handle.net/2097/2169.