As a logistics service provider, you are most likely already aware that you need to go digital in order to sustain your company in the disruptive logistics environment. However, identifying the best solution for digital supply chain management is easier said than done. A quick web search on ‘transportation logistics management system’. ‘digital logistics’ or ‘track and trace’ produces a maze of cloud-based systems. So, how do you cut through the clutter and decide on which logistics management system is the right one for your business?
As a baseline, your logistics solution must enable you to communicate seamlessly. Otherwise, the other potential benefits will be limited. Efficient integration to customers and partners is therefore a key functionality.
Supply chain visibility is a prerequisite for digital logistics. Hence, your chosen solution needs to provide visibility throughout the complete chain (or network). This functionality requires the ability to communicate with transport resources (trucks, etc.), which are equipped with devices providing instructions to drivers and capturing of status information (eg. Proof of Delivery). Such capabilities should be available in your own resources as well as for resources of sporadic subcontractors.
In a logistics environment where transport remains the only economic sector in Europe whose greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, any complete cloud suite for logistics management should enable the best possible utilisation of transportation resources. In this regard, “smart” cross-docking is a key capability that allows you to become far more flexible with your supply chain.
Traditional cross-docking solutions are limited to run the operation essentially at pallet level. By controlling flows at box/parcel level and respective operations on the shop floor, intelligent cross-docking enabled by a cloud logistics solution maximises load factors – which in turn lowers cost and reduces emissions. To ensure the best possible utilisation of resources, the solution should also support long hauls and last mile – also reducing cost and emissions.
Finally, your cloud solution needs to be compliant with GS1 standards, to make the most of transport and logistics in retail, health care, food services, technical industries, etc. When the entire system is built upon GS1 standards, it can be used by any LSP, as a complement (not a replacement) to transport or warehouse management systems already in place.
When you have found a cloud logistics solution that offers all of the above-mentioned capabilities, you still need to thoroughly review your potential vendor – to make sure that they have all the credentials to be a longstanding partner for your operation. What companies use their solution? Are they able to provide you with real-world business cases and/or pilot projects where their solution delivered concrete results in the form of cost savings and waste elimination?
Using cloud solutions presents an affordable way to join the digital logistics community. In today’s supply chain management, change is a constant. So you need to plan for it. Industry disruptors, from strongly funded startups to giants like Amazon and Uber, are entering the T&L scene, hatching completely new business models that directly impact the long-term sustainability of your company.
Tackling this brave new world of logistics takes nimble cloud-based technologies that facilitate effective planning and execution throughout the value chain.