There is one phrase that continues to echo throughout the supply chain. That buzz phrase is, of course, supply chain visibility. After countless supply chain shortages, struggles, and outages that affected consumers on almost every level through the pandemic and even afterward, no longer can that be a reality. The benefits of supply chain visibility strategies are too hard to pass up.
Supply chain visibility has morphed into an all-encompassing term for knowing where something is in transit at any given time. In reality, however, it can be so much more than that. Developing strong supply chain visibility tools opens up the ability to have a strong and more resilient supply chain that can handle another pandemic, but hopefully won’t have to.
One of the easiest ways to solve the problem is through Logistics Platform as a Service, which brings together logistics execution and supply chain technology orchestration into a full-service modern 4PL solution with the ability to mix and match partners and providers.
The Benefits of Supply Chain Visibility
The benefits of supply chain visibility are almost too many to list. Everything from increased customer satisfaction, streamlined data analysis, overall flexibility, and decreased interruptions. Supply chain visibility is more than a customer logging into a portal with the ability to see where a shipment is at any given time. Actually, some of the most impactful decisions can be made through data visibility tools.
Knowing what is coming down the pipeline is huge. Customer planning a big manufacturing run? No sweat. With enough lead time, logistics service providers can run a project bid, get some pricing, and have the loads covered and ready to roll before one product even comes off the manufacturing floor.
One of the top complaints for drivers, outside of parking, is wait times. Waiting more than two hours at a shipper and waiting another two plus hours at a receiver. Those waiting hours are often unpaid or underpaid. Through a good freight visibility programshippers and receivers know exactly what is coming in and should have a plan for how to handle it.
When all aspects of a shipment are in one system and readily available, that is a gold mine for an opportunity. Historical data can be used in predictive modeling and problem-solving. Recognizing a problem pattern in a customer’s data set allows for long-term solutions to come about that improve the customer's supply chain.
The Reality of Supply Chain Visibility
Visibility is not without challenges. While everyone would love to have the answer to all supply chain woes and be able to know where all shipments are at any given time, it’s something easier planned than actually achieved. From wading through countless software companies claiming to have the answer only to find out their product can’t be fully integrated into a legacy program all the way down to data privacy concerns from partners.
this is where having reliable partnerships is key. Knowing that partners are just as invested in creating a strong supply chain is key. Without these strong partnerships, nothing can get done. Trust is key to development. Knowing that data is secure and not being misused and that it's flowing correctly throughout all systems.
Building on that trust relationship is the need to establish data privacy and ownership. As more and more companies partner together to share data it’s crucial that there are definitions in place for data ownership and stewardship. The worst thing to happen would be if data shared with a partner was being distributed without consent as the partner contractually owns the data sent to them.
All the software developments in the world would be unsuccessful without some form of human creating accurate actionable plans. There are some amazing data analysis tools in the supply chain technology world. Still, there isn’t technology that can take those outputs and customize them to fit a customer's business…yet.
Where to Start?
Change doesn’t have to happen overnight. Most people already have the actual freight visibility tools underway as is the current the industry norm. There are countless ways to create an efficient and seamless supply chain and no one company's solutions will look identical. There are, however, some commonalities that exist between all solutions.
This one is rather simple. Basically, don’t make people log into 10 different systems to approve invoices, track freight, monitor spend, and review inventory. One login, one portal, all options. Make this a one-stop shop for customers so they don’t have to then get the data they want and manipulate it outside the system and send about 10 follow-up emails about various data points.
You can't know if you've hit a target if you don't even know what it is. Setting clear and achievable goals and expectations for all logistics partners involved. Without compliance from one, the whole supply chain falls apart.
Don’t Settle for Average
If there is an average of 95% on-time for a carrier drill down, find the markets that are above and below that average. Review what is working best and what the consistent roadblocks are and start there. It doesn’t have to be a massive system overhaul at one time. Small steps are the real change to a more resilient and successful supply chain.
The benefits of supply chain visibility are all-encompassing and it is a lot to take on alone. Especially when projects aren’t going as planned and that drawing board is looking worse for wear.
Need help with software integration? Drilling down to find the weak points? Or maybe you just need to start a complete overhaul? Contact us todayand let our team of experts guide you through the process.