The Promise of Supply Chain Visibility Technology
Freight transparency technologies, now a core requirement for transportation and logistics companies, are a key to success.
Supply chain visibility, according to Suriya Anjumohan, a transportation & logistics industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan, has become the most sought-after service by shippers and is a priority capability for logistics service providers.
“With economies slowly reopening, shippers and logistics service providers are prioritizing transparency to attain operational efficiency and control costs,” Anjumohan wrote. “Freight visibility with data-powered tools helps shippers and logistics companies drive proactive management practices. Today, in the 24/7 digital world, it’s not just about having greater visibility for shippers; it has evolved to the need for real-time freight visibility to keep operations moving and on schedule.”
Supply Chain Visibility Coming Into Focus
Moving beyond simple track-and-trace solutions, Anjumohan noted that freight visibility is a mandatory business requirement for shippers and logistics and transportation service providers. And as soon as a shipment is scheduled with a carrier, stakeholders such as shippers, freight forwarders and end-customers prefer to have a single dashboard view for shipments.
Today, the focus is no longer on just shipment status but rather on access to more information about the condition of cargo in transit and real-time location, Anjumohan added. The reason? Actionable insights into off-schedule shipments help shippers make more informed decisions across the supply chain for improved operational planning, procurement operations and performance benchmarking, enhanced customer experience, and risk-mitigation strategies.
A higher level of strategic collaboration for integrated supply chain visibility among stakeholders such as logistics services providers, shippers, and freight brokers has been transformed from siloed applications into electronic data interchange and application program interface-powered solutions. Real-time supply chain visibility for freight management has become a reality for shippers and logistics service providers by leveraging technologies such as big data analytics and cloud computing platforms.
Visibility Examples Abound
Focusing on these developments, Supply & Demand Chain Executive has published several articles on the subject. In one report, for example, Teradata Corporation, a provider of database and analytics-related software and services, advised seeing real-time data as an asset.
“Companies that recognize the power of data and analytics and use them to optimize planning and operational processes to proactively manage unforeseen supply and demand volatility can maximize service to their customers and will lead the competition in the future,” it said.
In Supply Chain Vital Signs: What They Are and Why They Matter, The Boeing Company said supply chain companies need to focus on data and advanced analytics, as well as processes.
“Data fuels the intelligent supply chain,” it stated. “Advanced analytics allow organizations to anticipate future scenarios and make better recommendations in supply chain planning, sourcing and transportation. Advanced analytics will help organizations become more proactive and actionable in managing their supply chains, both in taking advantage of future opportunities and avoiding potential future disruptions.”
The basic units of a supply chain are its processes, Boeing also related. “Siloed, difficult-to-use business systems complicate processes and hamper operations,” it wrote. “A well-defined process guarantees reliability.”
What Sets Businesses Apart
Freight visibility technologies can also be a competitive advantage for carriers by differentiating services and capabilities from the competition. A visibility platform that is integrated with enterprise and transportation management systems provides added value that can help win new business. Perhaps more importantly, it can also set the stage for a customer relationship based on transparency and open communication.
When freight visibility technology is in use, employee satisfaction can improve as well. In its absence, sales, account management, dispatch and customer service personnel are chained to computers and phones. But with visibility tools, the information they need is pushed proactively throughout transportation and logistics operations, and can be delivered automatically to shippers and other stakeholders.
Providing a 20/20 Vision
Improving shipment visibility is also valuable for brokers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs). For example, they can enable technologies that use integrated information to secure loads that fill gaps in their networks, resulting in additional revenue-generating freight and lower costs for shippers.
Better visibility into freight location also streamlines business processes for brokers and 3PLs. In particular, leveraging data from integrated transportation management systems and visibility solutions advances analytics capabilities for trend analysis, performance metrics reporting and proactive planning that helps reduce costs and keep customer service levels high.
As the demand for supply chain transparency increases from customers, transportation and logistics service providers can take advantage of advanced supply chain visibility solutions that have become easily accessible for even small and medium-sized companies with IT budget constraints.
Harness the Power of Supply Chain Visibility Technology
Regardless of where you operate in the transportation supply chain - be it a carrier, shipper or intermediary - having supply chain visibility technology in place can help streamline your operations and help you better serve your customers.
Connect with Trimble today to learn more about how we work with transportation organizations just like yours utilize technology that enables enhanced visibility and empowers you to make smarter decisions.