In order to reduce lead times, improve service quality, and satisfy customers, companies must make their shipping processes transparent. Transitioning from simple tracking of shipments to integrated supply chain planning via collaboration and visibility platforms can be difficult. Many companies already have end-to-end visibility over their production processes. This transparency, however, tends to disappear as soon as outside partners are involved – and with them the ability to react quickly. Integrating all partners on one platform that shares information becomes more important as the supply and distribution network becomes more complex.
Claire Umney, General Manager of AEB Logistics, explains that some of our logistics clients have extensive global networks involving a wide range of parties. The advantage of a global platform is that it provides all partners in a supply chain with the same up-to-date information, regardless of their time zone.
Logistics providers are still using spreadsheets to gather and pass information to suppliers, customers, carriers, and forwarders – a cumbersome and error-prone process. It is helpful for logistics managers to have an updated picture of stocks and shipments to enable them to do their jobs more efficiently, as well as for all partners in the supply chain to function more efficiently.”
To ensure total transparency in the supply chain, all processes must be designed and implemented to be efficient, to include discrepancy tolerances and to notify relevant parties as early as possible when disruptions are imminent. Severe weather conditions, a flu epidemic, a major accident, a tsunami – anything that can bring production to a halt, Transport delays and order fulfillment schedule disruptions can have a
A proactive approach instead of a passive one
Software solutions for collaboration and visibility provide a uniform view of all inventory and goods movements and keep track of milestones. Integrated business intelligence tools provide statistics and analyses. Is there a freight forwarder who doesn’t deliver on time, a supplier who delivers good quality, and a port where customs procedures take longer? By calculating the new arrival time and making options transparent, such as how much stock is available in other warehouses, IT solutions can help to decide which alternative option to choose.
However, sophisticated IT solutions can go beyond simply tracking and tracing – they also include planning. By identifying and correcting weak points in the supply chain, the right supply chain management system helps businesses gradually improve supply chain performance. Upon placing an order, the client specifies when the goods must be available. As a result of these lead times, the system calculates the entire supply chain, determining when the supplier has to transfer the goods to the carrier, which vessel departure is required, and when the goods must clear customs. By recording all events, we can analyze the performance of the entire supply chain or of individual partners and steps.
In the right IT solution, early-warning mechanisms alert you to any potential disruptions – delays in customs clearance, damage to merchandise during loading, quality control lapses, etc. Managers are able to respond proactively as a result. By clicking a mouse, the logistics manager knows where specific goods are in stock, how quickly replenishments might arrive, and what the cost of changing modes of transportation might be.
A global supply chain manager will use this functionality to actively manage their global supply chains. After all, by carrying out proactive supply chain event management, managers don’t just save time and money, they also gain a competitive advantage.