Technology and its Impact on the Supply Chain
The logistics and supply chain world is constantly transformed by innovation and new technology. This transformation causes customers to have higher expectations and greater needs. Logistics providers are doing anything they can to stand out from their competition, and technological capabilities are certainly a differentiator in the industry. Clients need a true partner who can deliver the high-touch, custom-tailored transportation model while utilizing technology to transfer information and data quickly. Logistics providers today must be able to maintain total visibility through superior technology and user-friendly integrations, allowing their customers to be a step ahead in their industry.
Industry professionals are well aware of the financial pitfalls related to excess or lack of inventory. Gaps in production-line visibility may make it difficult to strike while the iron is hot. Responsibility for lost sales is a hardship few can bear. In today’s global economy, companies source goods from all around the world, and understanding where every widget or finished good is can be overwhelming. Having a logistics provider that provides more end-to-end visibility is the key to complete supply-chain understanding. Accurate, timely information flow allows managers to plan future inventory and spend. Using superior WMS, TMS, integration strategies, and web portals, logistics providers can provide in-depth details on things like part numbers, serial numbers, piece counts, and stored inventory. These give customers the opportunity to increase or decrease stored inventory levels and reduce cycle times and overall costs. Carrier GPS tracking systems for truckloads, real time tracking capabilities and asset tagging and scanning help increase visibility to all facets of your supply chain. Predictive analytics allow clients to better forecast, see disruptive patterns in their supply chain, and manage overall inventory levels. It is critical to have a transportation partner that can play a role in supporting these types of visibility to streamline and support their dynamic supply chains.
Effective integration between logistics providers and their clients’ software platforms creates efficiencies and improves response times. It is crucial for these providers to have a platform that integrates with their entire network to obtain real-time data on their shipments. Service issues can be addressed immediately and escalated to the appropriate solution team. Issues will occur, so quick response times are critical. One additional hour of notice can make or break a provider’s options to save service. Providers can integrate their TMS/WMS with client systems to form a single management system that renders customizable reporting and solutions. This allows quick response to clients’ needs as well as increased customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. A successful provider will use EDI (electronic data interchange) to share information with their clients and other relevant parties. From purchase orders to tracking to invoicing, EDI eliminates unnecessary data entry time and miskeyed data, and allows the provider to offer real-time updates to their clients.
Building Client Stickiness
How can technology improve client loyalty? Better visibility provides more transparency, and buyers need quick access to best manage their PO’s. What about the end user of a new finished good? Who doesn’t want to know that their new high value product delivered in perfect condition to the consignee? Simple access to photos of the actual goods delivered helps provide that high integrity. Client satisfaction signoffs can also add tremendous value, and the ability to upload these signoffs into a carrier’s TMS makes them simple to access.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is a growing phenomenon that allows devices to communicate or transfer data between each other in real-time with the existing internet infrastructure. The Internet of Things is useful in the logistics industry for many services but most importantly, tracking and tracing. In recent years, tracking consisted of time-consuming searches on carrier websites, email chains and dozens of phone calls. These methods are outdated and do not provide a model of true “real-time visibility” clients are expecting for their supply-chain planning. The Internet of Things sets new standards in the industry and will continue to evolve. It allows freight forwarders to utilize their vendor network to implement more efficient tracking procedures like using tablets or other devices for faster turnover of PODs, photos of the delivered freight, and real-time milestone updates. It also allows customers to continuously have an eye on freight, and its application in the future of logistics will continue to increase speed of information delivery, decrease waste of time and labor, and reduce overall costs for freight forwarders and their clients. Most shipments do not need human intervention as they are on schedule, moving in transit per their desired service level, and the transit status can be updated in real-time. With the Internet of Things, clients can trust that any service issues will be caught and their service provider will handle the situation accordingly, ultimately providing superior service to exceed customer expectations.
As various technologies evolve and expand, the applications of these technologies will continue to play a vital role in supply chain management.