The Power of Supply Chain Visibility
Most companies today are struggling to achieve visibility and control over their supply chains to effectively manage their cost of goods and consistently meet customer expectations. However, there is a way to leverage technology to provide a platform where suppliers, carriers, and their customers are not only sharing information but also dynamically planning and executing their logistics operations collaboratively.
The key to supply chain visibility is a common system that all stakeholders can use to plan their moves, be alerted to changes as they occur, and make real-time adjustments to keep the supply chain moving smoothly.
How Should It All Work?
The backbone of visibility and active cooperation is a cloud-based collaboration portal that can be shared by the customer, the supplier, and carrier partners. This portal can be accessed on all computers and mobile devices wherever the stakeholders may be. This single platform will be used as a dynamic record of truth for the changes that need to occur across the supply chain to keep the delivery of goods moving efficiently.
Here are three supply chain benefits of cloud collaboration portals:
It all begins with the purchase order for goods. In the collaboration portal, suppliers can view the full backlog of orders they need to fill. This will provide the supplier the information they need to plan production and inventory schedules to meet customer demand. Here the supplier can commit to promise dates so that the customer can plan their business based on delivery dates and product availability. As changes occur, the supplier can keep their customer updated so they can plan accordingly.
Carrier Visibility and Collaboration
Once the order has been booked, the carrier needs to participate in the collaboration portal and begin to provide status updates on their delivery. Many carriers have the ability to provide electronic notifications through various protocols including EDI or web services driven from GPS or ELD based applications on the smart phones of their drivers or in their trucks. Electronic tracking provides visibility to the customer and supplier on the true status of their orders. The next step in collaboration is using the customer’s online dock scheduling system to reserve a time and door for the delivery.
This approach ensures that trucks are not waiting for hours for a door to become free, resulting in better carrier performance and costs over time.
Customers Gain Control of Warehouse Operations
With suppliers and carriers providing immediate electronic notification of promise dates, delivery statuses, and arrival statuses, the customer can regain control of a previously chaotic operation. Even when changes are occurring rapidly, the customer will know their shipments are in transit and can rest assured that their distribution centers and warehouses will run smoothly. Carriers will show up at the right location on time or a notification will be sent so corrective action can be taken. This allows the warehouse operations team to manage their staff effectively to have the right number of workers available to handle deliveries as they arrive, rather than having groups of people sitting idly because they were not aware of a delivery delay. All of these results in superior inventory management and having the warehouse operations team meet the expectations of their customers.