Information and shipping technology are easily accessible to current supply chains than they ever were in the past. Shipping technology like the Internet of Things and automated data capture and analysis have made supply chains increasingly dependent on them. Shippers can also improve operations by using the shipping technology for better visibility than they’ve ever had before. So, it’s important that shippers know how to properly deploy this shipping technology to ensure valuable and actionable shipping data and analysis for making better shipping decisions.
Shipping technology isn’t at all effective unless it’s deployed throughout the entire operation. All of your data should connect to your transportation management system (TMS) from warehouse to customer service. Whether it’s through automated scanners and robotics, radio frequency identification, or Bluetooth devices, there are many ways you can collect data on your shipments and goods.
The increasing deployment and use of shipping technology throughout the industry may scare smaller sized shippers. It can seem next to impossible to stay competitive to these shippers because of the high costs of investment. Third-party logistics providers (3PLs) are also having a big influence on the industry, however, and logistics management services from a 3PL can ease some of these smaller shippers fears. Third-party logistics providers are both offering and creating shipping technology and shipping software. They can provide shippers with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) shipping technology to act as your ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, and they can provide transportation management systems in an SaaS model.
Security of your data on these shipping software may be of concern to a lot of shippers planning on deploying, but most TMS have already addressed this issue. A good transportation management system vendor has already taken steps to secure the data stored in the software in the cloud. With advancements in shipping technology and cloud-based servers, the security risks are essentially the same as in-house servers.
Good data is all about increasing supply chain visibility. This requires proper shipping data aggregation, cross-checking, and analysis. It’s important that shippers are able to distinguish between good and bad data. Bad data, on the other hand, is the result of improper data capture and application. Ultimately, the best way to ensure good data is to use proven shipping technology or TMS shipping software to gather it.
Important things to monitor include: miles driven per vehicle and fuel costs, shipment weight, trucks in use, traffic, and idle time. Deriving a good analysis of these data points by hand would be far too time consuming and you’d have a greater risk of inaccuracy. The Internet of Things can cross-reference all this shipping data without inconveniencing the company. Having this analysis of the data done so easily with this shipping software allows for the implementation of best practices into your supply chain.
With the evolution of robotics, these smart shipping technologies can bridge the gap of missing workers or skills. For example, shipping software like transportation management systems can be used to decrease delays and wait times for fleet drivers. This allows more products to be moved within a shorter period of time. Also, automated warehouse systems can make up for labor shortages.
Evolving business practices, politics, and rise of new markets are focusing more on supply chain visibility. Information provided by technology can be utilized to create new key performance indicators and identify issues or trend within the supply chain. While some may argue that these advancements are replacing actual manpower, it should also be considered that these advancements are improving human capacity.
It may seem overwhelming to think about logistics management changes like implementing a shipping technology, such as a transportation management system, or other shipping software, but it’s also important to realize that the cost of not using technology can be higher the investment cost and spell trouble for your company. Rather than avoiding this shipping software and logistics management advancement, you can begin to adopt them and see the advantages translate into better operations, supply chain best practices, and increased savings. Overall, your company should embrace technological advancements if you wish to stay competitive.