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Even as the logistics industry continues to evolve and integrate innovative solutions into the global and local supply chains, there are still a few central challenges that tend to rear their ugly heads time after time. In this blog post we are going to take a look at a few of the most common logistics problems that the industry wrestles with, and how to circumvent their effects.
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Try as we might to ensure that things are always running smoothly in warehouses and distribution centers, errors can still occur. Whether it’s a misplaced product, picking, packing, or shipping mistakes, incomplete orders, or damages to items during storing, human errors can become costly when they are not regulated. A clear way to reduce these kinds of errors is to make use of effective and updated warehouse management systems.
Incorporation of newer technologies, such as mobile apps for picking, automated picking and packing systems, voice picking, and more, create a system of checks throughout the process that can reduce errors and streamline processes. Assuring that warehouse staff is well-trained and that policies clearly state where and how the product is to be handled reduces the risk of injury or error as well.
With factory shutdowns, port capacity issues, pandemic responses, labor strikes, piracy, protests, and any number of other disruptive events, the delivery of goods and products can be slowed or even left at a standstill. Such are the risks of a global supply chain, and so it’s vital to have diversified supply bases as well as alternate shipping routes as contingency plans for when troubles arise. Infrastructure issues can also cause slowdowns and delays, where ports struggle to process and service a large number of incoming shipments, and freight fleets are also affected by labor shortages and an increasing drop in available drivers.
Knowing these potential risks can cause delays, it’s imperative to plan accordingly. As the logistics world becomes more and more connected, it’s vital to stay abreast of technology solutions that will relieve some of these pressures. Micro-fulfillment centers, last-mile delivery focus, and cross-docking are some ways to save time when other parts of the supply chain are slowed.
Cutting transportation costs is almost always a key challenge in the logistics industry and one for which the solution is mostly out of the direct control of supply chain management. While fuel costs fluctuate according to the market and are often increasing, keeping transportation costs as low as possible requires creative solutions and thoughtful planning. Rising diesel fuel prices, fueling surcharges, escalating freight rates- these can seem insurmountable.
However, by consolidating shipments, and making the most use of any available space in transports, costs can be cut significantly. This requires open and effective communication with carriers. In some cases, reducing the number of carriers can make a difference as well. The simplest solution is to rely on a third-party logistics company to handle the transportation costs, as they have relationships with a variety of carriers and utilize a consolidation of shipments to reduce costs already.
With so many links in the logistics supply chain- from manufacturing to transport, production to distribution, and everything in between, snags are bound to happen. Finding and catching potential errors is critical, but can be difficult when there are so many places where communication can break down. This can be alleviated by the utilization of effective communication and visibility software systems, often integrated directly into warehouse management systems, and with available access to clients and partners. When everyone involved has access to the product as it moves through the various stages of production and distribution, including end-use customers expecting a delivery, issues are more easily resolved before they become real snafus.
The key takeaway in seeking solutions to common logistics problems is having access to the right technology. The logistics field is always evolving and incorporating new forms of automation, tech solutions such as RedwoodConnect 2.0, and software to ensure high visibility, constant communication, real-time responsiveness, and effective warehouse management. Making use of these forms of technological oversight is the way to overcome almost any logistics problem.