Logistics Service - Building on Supply Chain Visibilityby Amit Maheshwari on 2012-08-27
During the course of my interactions with a logistics company, the topic veered towards the growing requirements of the clients.
The logistics company wanted to streamline its operations so as to meet expected standards and at the same time comply with the shipper's visibility requirements. With their current information technology systems the companies were unable to meet these requirements and hence were looking for software that would not only automate their process but also enable them to provide greater visibility to the shippers.
Today shippers look not just for timely service but also demand up-to-date information on their goods. This has put the onus upon the logistics company to build a robust supply chain visibility system, keeping the shippers updated at all times on the status of their shipments. Logistics companies failing to do so stand to lose out on their business as shippers may switch to other service providers who can fulfil their requirements. Even those shippers who have not put up such demands today are likely to soon start insisting on it in the near future.
What shippers look for depends to a large extent on their size. Smaller shippers want timely and accurate visibility to shipment statuses, and they want those statuses to be automated, not based on manually entered data. Large shippers have more comprehensive requirements. They clearly want understand what logistics companies are doing and want them to communicate through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). They wish to know when a shipment is booked, when it actually ships, when it arrives at a port, when it clears customs, who tendered the shipment to the last-mile carrier, and they want proof of delivery. Shippers want visibility of each and every milestone their cargo passes through.
Visibility enables improved understanding into the logistical processes including inventory, asset management, and goods flows. At the end of the day, this knowledge of where goods are within the supply chain is invaluable, and it allows shippers to apply additional toolsets to leverage this advantage and reduce costs.
As logistics has influence on all the aspects of the supply chain, greater visibility in logistics, in turn, provides greater understanding of the entire supply chain. By knowing what is happening at any given point in time shippers can have better insight into other aspects of the supply chain. Logistics in fact emerges as a key cost control area for the supply chain. From the supplier to the end user, greater visibility can also provide a clearer view of their entire supply chain. Having a comprehensive overview of the complete supply chain allows for a much more efficient synchronization of the logistics process thus ultimately benefitting logistics companies.
Having robust logistics management software is the key to providing better visibility to shippers. An integrated enterprise solution will enable the logistics company to not only streamline and automate its operations but also fulfill the shipper’s visibility requirements. With an integrated enterprise system the logistics company also gains the ability to provide good business intelligence (BI) analysis to their clients. It gives them the ability to drill down into historical data and quickly pull data out of their system responding to shipper’s information analysis requests. By building on supply chain visibility logistics service providers can yield greater dividends in terms of better client satisfaction and retention.