At present, supply chains are defined by their complexity and by having the customer in focus. In this complex, demand-centric network, achieving the full visibility of the supply chain is what distinguishes leading companies from the rest. But what is the key to achieving it? That is the question, since the continued expansion of logistics operations, both regionally and globally, has created so much trouble for logistics managers as the pressure of these new operations begins to affect processes and daily workflows. Those responsible for supply chain processes are managing large amounts of information and goods and must handle complex systems to ensure that their operations centers have low production costs, as well as constantly opening new storage centers closer to their customers.
The key concept is visibility as the ability to trace, monitor and obtain relevant data through all my logistics processes. Delivering the ability to develop and make decisions that can lead to operational efficiencies, increase customer responsiveness and improve timely response to unexpected problems.
Being able to know where your goods are at all times is a powerful way to create actionable data that can help you to improve your customer support service and remove unnecessary processes that hinder the logistics between the dealer, the supplier, and the consumer. Logistics companies generally do not have the structure to develop in-house technologies to deliver the needed traceability and control of information to achieve an adequate visibility. However, there are external tools today that can lead companies to identify, analyze and communicate the most valuable information that small and large organizations need to gain visibility across the entire supply chain.
As the complexity of the distribution of the supply chain begins to grow, so does the need for technological solutions to provide transparency and visibility to the company’s logistics processes. Therefore, managers are constantly dealing with the task of taking control of their operations, and, at the same time, to be able to deliver information and data to their clients on the current status and location of their shipments. The problem is that most companies have not implemented the necessary tools to gain such visibility to optimize and improve their distribution channels, as well as the communication between business partners and the end consumer.
So, solving these problems mean an almost absolute control over all processes in the supply chain, and, of course, improving or even correcting errors in the internal flow of products, and perhaps more importantly, being able to respond in real time to the constant variations of the demand.
Visibility can be achieved, even if the supply chain is increasingly complex, with hundreds of distributors, a tremendous geographic reach, and many more factors, handling an ever-increasing number of item codes and orders of varying sizes. There are three conditions. The first one is mining relevant data in the most effective way. It is about capturing and sharing the relevant data of the key steps of the operation. Nor is it necessary to change all processes or infrastructure, but to analyze and optimize what is currently used. In order to do so, you need to get rid of the complexities of the supply chain and ensure operational continuity based on the systems and processes that are already used.
Second, sharing key information with all stakeholders, since supply chain members (internal and external) should be able to view and share essential information, including those smaller and geographically remote suppliers using traditional processes. Hence, a shared data platform is required for communicating directly with the different computer systems used by the providers. Try to get an easy-to-use and integrated plug-ins to collect data at different stages of the supply chain.
In third place, reacting immediately to unforeseen events is paramount. The sooner you react, the easier it will be to limit or avoid the negative impact on the operation, either by looking for an alternative source of supply, or by using the emergency stock, or by relocating the products in the shipping phase. The costs of corrective measures will also be drastically reduced, obviously.
Now, in order to provide transparency and visibility to your logistics process, keep in mind three basic principles. On the one hand, as logistics departments continue to grow and outsource their processes, it is critical that they have the right tools to provide them with the right channels of communication between all parties. On the other hand, to gain visibility into the work process and improve logistics management, companies must build relationships of trust with their external suppliers and their customers. As we mentioned above, information and data must be shared throughout the entire production process, planning, distribution and customer service department. Finally, logistics managers must deploy systems throughout their organization and external services to provide the tools needed to obtain supply chain-level performance data in a structured manner.
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