APIs are Just one Piece of the Puzzle


Automation in the supply chain is augmented by technology. From the integration of cloud-based SaaS solutions to using artificial intelligence to power modern transportation and freight management systems, logistics businesses strive to improve the efficiency of their operations with tools that automate many common tasks. One of the leading tools used in recent years are Application Programming Interfaces or APIs. 

An API is a messaging format that permits data to transmit from one system to a similar system – in real-time, permitting quicker decision making and delivery of improved business insights. It’s a productivity improvement tool that helps to expedite the communication between multiple devices. Many logistics companies opt to include APIs in their SaaS platforms and believe that this step alone will help them optimize their supply chain functions. 

Unfortunately, this type of thinking can result in negative results. In fact, the inclusion of APIs is just a single piece of the supply chain optimization puzzle.

In today’s blog post, we’ll explore what APIs are, how they are used within the supply chain, and introduce a few other technological tools that are used alongside them to streamline supply chain communication and processes.


What is an API?

Application Programming Interfaces are designed to enhance the productivity of the Software as a Solution (SaaS) system. The use of code that structured, simplified, and clear – making it interact seamlessly with other networks and applications. 

These are not new technological solutions. In fact, APIs have been around for a few decades.

Originally, they found a home as social media platforms began to pop up and provided these start-ups with a secure and scalable platform in which to develop and expand. They are popular in cloud-based solutions – and within logistics, help to replace outdated Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) solutions. 

The main pain-point with EDIs is that many shippers and those in logistics spend a lot of time on simple administration duties. APIs on the other hand help developers automate many of these tasks and duties. 

Some of the popular solution available through APIs include:

  • Connecting shippers with 3PLs or carriers. This allows them to monitor pickups and deliveries in real-time, receive tracking information, up to date rating information and proof of delivery. 
  • Connect with multiple carriers to review best rates, availability, and shipping lanes. This real-time monitoring permits shippers to find the best rate and service for their customer needs.
  • Simple mobile integration. Application data and reports can be forwarded or ported to a mobile device with seamless integration. 
  • Automated billing between multiple stakeholders. Connect with shippers, carriers, 3PLs, fulfillment centers and more – for timely payment and financial transactions. 


Additional Technology to Help Supply Chain Optimization

While APIs are a big asset for logistics-based companies, there are additional technology solutions and tools that permit businesses to improve supply chain optimization. Here are a few to consider. 


Inventory Management Software

Maintaining an accurate count of saleable goods, supplies, raw materials, and other commodities is crucial for any business that sells or manufactures goods. Modern technology infused into today’s Inventory Management Software solutions allows businesses to maintain accurate inventory control standards. Plus, when connected to tracking solutions such as RFID tags, bar codes and more, a supply chain business can locate inventory quicker and faster – for improved fulfillment. 


Maintenance Management Systems

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are other tools that help expedite the movement of freight and enhance supply chain optimization. Having the capacity to monitor high-value assets, schedule and implement maintenance tasks, and provide cost-analysis allows supply chain businesses to stay ahead of maintenance solutions. This results in reduced downtime and ensuring your fleet of equipment operates at peak efficiency. 


Analytic Tools

While APIs are common to help connect multiple platforms, using platforms that help to establish and review metrics is crucial for true supply chain optimization. Analytic tools packaged in today’s API equipped platforms like Transportation Management Systems and Freight Management Solutions, help those that manufacture and sell goods discover areas of weakness, strength while improving these operations. 

The integration of APIs is crucial for any business involved in supply chain operations. However, it shouldn’t be assumed that it’s the end-all-to-be-all solution that will automatically improve every phase of operation. 

Supply chain optimization is a delicate and complex process. For those looking to improve their technology solutions with logistics software or technology solutions, consulting with a proven 3PL like Redwood Logistics is a smart and proactive choice. 

If you’d like to learn how APIs and other technology can improve your logistics network, contact Redwood Logistics today.