Barely a day goes by without a breathless and buzzword-filled article about the disruptive power of new technology and automation.
Consulting firm, McKinsey, recently stated in an article that “automation is only part of the story” and that “companies will also need to invest in advanced analytics, machine-learning technologies, and process redesign, while also adapting their organizational structures.” Harvard Business Review reinforces how “data fuels process automation, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and robotics” which will transform supply chains as we know it.
Data’s increasing importance in a supply chain cannot be understated. Supply chain managers want full full visibility of their supply chain to ensure their operations are as efficient as possible—and even generate cost savings. All this is only possible with data and the analytics that a control tower can provide.
Supply chain analytics for valuable insight
Today, it is not only possible to easily process records of goods entering and leaving the warehouse; it is also possible to track where these goods are on the road, when incoming lots are expected to arrive, and how to get them delivered in the least possible time by automated and early planning of drivers’ routes for an efficient delivery process.
Supply chain analytics informs customers of all this, and allows them to make better business decisions. Analytics from a Supply Chain control tower allows for non-conformity management as it provides insights into the type of non-conformities, where they happen, the root cause and how often. Real-time information allows detecting of trends and enables the customer to trace non-conformities back immediately for further investigation of the root cause.
A control tower can also provide insights to premium freight analytics, such as
- Real-time order traffic
- Contrasts in number of orders with expedited shipments
- And where and why products are shipped via premium freight
These allow the customer to quantify the impact of expediting shipments, reveal the responsible party, and identify dynamically improving initiatives so as to reduce costs.
Supply chain optimisation
Besides providing analytics and insights, data also allows a business to optimise its freight costs and service levels to achieve efficient logistics operations.
Business can be unpredictable. One day, you might be in the red, the next, you might have a huge surge in orders that you are unable to cope with. Especially for small businesses who are just starting out, more orders could mean more profits, but also more uncertainty: you need to quickly appoint freight forwarders for each transport lane and shipment mode, and you would want an optimum freight rate and lead time combination.
For businesses with little experience coping with such a situation, it could spell disaster. Unless you have a system capable of processing all these at hand—and data—to automate the entire planning process.
When orders come in, the control tower evaluates the different logistics service providers and their offerings, and selects the best option for the shipment.
Additionally, a control tower can also provide Logistics Procurement as part of its service offering and uses IT-systems to automate the spot-bid tender process. This reduces coordination efforts between logistics service providers and the customer, thereby expediting the shipping planning process and ensuring compliance.
A control tower not only allows for less human involvement to be required on the side of the customer, it also optimises the supply chain and gives rise to more cost savings.
Greater transparency throughout
Data and analytics allow for end-to-end supply chain visibility from order creation to shipment execution across all service modes and regions. A control tower consolidates all this information and enables management of both suppliers and orders in a transparent manner.
The control tower can also predict which orders will arrive on time, which are at risk, and which will be delayed, using data from manufacturing sites, logistics service providers, outsourced external providers, and principals. If issues rise, the control tower is capable of following up with the responsible parties why a shipment was delayed, and what can be done to resolve the problem.
For integrated logistics, the key to the future lies in the skillful use of data, coordinated through a state-of-the-art Supply Chain Control Tower.
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