All supply chains have their own trouble points. Though they vary by company size and industry, the troubles usually start from inefficiencies and unpredictability, and are usually the product of either lack of attention or lack of process, both of which affect your supply chain optimization.

Left unattended, these problems with logistics  management can create irreparable damage within a supply chain. Companies should make it a priority to identify and immediately attend to these issues. The following 3-step process is an effective way of handling what’s troubling your supply chain:

Diagnose the trouble

Like with any sickness, the first step towards healing is diagnosing the problem. The trouble points should be identified, both large or small issues, and you should determine how they are affecting the company’s supply chain’s overall performance. A good way to go about this is to have a supply chain engineer break down your supply chain layer by layer. Most supply chains consist of the following departments:

Manufacturing
Suppliers
Transporters
Warehouses
Distributors
Service Providers
Retailers
Customers

Identify Solutions

After diagnosing the problems, the next step would be to identify solutions. The direction the shipping industry is headed means that the solution often comes in the form of shipping technology. So here are some of the ways you can find fix the problems hurting your logistics management strategy:

Transportation network or supply chain study – identifying the problems in your distribution and transportation networks might be taxing and even costly, but it will allow you to reassess your entire supply chain and realign it for the better. Getting the help of third-party logistics providers (3PLs) or supply chain solution consultants with expertise in engineering, the right shipping software or transportation management system (TMS), and a deeper understanding of the shipping industry would help you properly optimize your supply chain management techniques to make sure your products get to your customers at the right time and with the right cost.

Lean action workouts – this is a great way to identify opportunities for improvement as well as deeply rooted issues within a warehouse. Lean action workouts mainly take on operational, safety and quality aspects within a distribution center. When done properly, they can have continuous bottom line impact and can bring about improvements in the workplace culture.

Make use of technology – using an up-to-date Warehouse Management System (WMS), enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, or transportation management system shipping software can improve your logistics management and help you save money shipping. The transportation industry is headed towards a very technology driven future, and shipping technology can provide a lot of supply chain solutions. Transportation management systems can help your company troubleshoot problematic areas through planning and forecasting by allowing you to have a better look at the shipping process and therefore ensure that the shipment is smooth, freight transportation costs are accurate, and ltl freight carriers are used in the most efficient way.

Here are important questions in making sure your TMS is up-to-date:

Does my TMS allow me to plan, forecast, and anticipate shipping costs and provide quality and useful shipping analytics data?

Does my shipment data and analytics give me real business intelligence that can be applied to improve logistics management?

Do I have shipment visibility that helps me make decisions both upstream and downstream in my supply chain?

Implement for Success

Now that you’ve done your diagnosis and identified the solutions, it’s time for the implementation stage, in every part of the supply chain.

There are three levels of metrics that should be looked at to achieve overall supply chain management success:

Operational metrics – this measures how well a carrier handles day-to-day distribution facility or transportation scenarios. It can include shipping cost or accessorial accuracy, or carrier efficiency.

Tactical metrics – this measures a provider’s performance on a KPI for the client. It can include stuff like order cycle time, or speed to shelf measurements.

Strategic metrics – measures the quality of relationship between a 3PL or transportation management system provider and a client. It can answer a question like, is the client able to meet or even exceed financial goals as a result of the relationship?

The future of the shipping industry is in shipping technology. Various shipping software like WMS, ERP, or TMS solutions can provide logistics and supply chain management strategy improvements. Increasing supply chain efficiency to save money shipping, improve carrier selection, better manage inventory and distribution, and help to understand if business partnerships are working to help logistics management or hurt it.

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