Visibility and control are prerequisites of a high-performing supply chain. But, in the Geodis 2017 Supply Chain Survey, they found that only 6% of organizations said they had end-to-end supply chain visibility.
As the shipment of goods becomes a key component in a firm’s ability to compete and succeed, new technology solutions have become the best tools to achieve effective shipment visibility. Cloud-based tools are widely available and provide shippers with adequate transparency and control. Such tools are crucial to ensure that shippers and manufacturers stay apprised of their shipments.
Benefits of Supply Chain Visibility
Visibility provides an aperture into the complexity of the supply chain as well as vigilance of the shipment.
Vigilance is a strategic advantage in customer service that involves awareness of shipment status, location, arrival times, departure times, and other important data. Vigilance allows early intervention where and when it is necessary. It also enables smart planning for each incremental step along a predictable supply chain pathway.
Shipment control empowers shippers to take swift action when necessary to avoid problems and mistakes along the supply chain. Control employs metrics such as schedule adherence and order-to-ship time, and aids in drawing inferences and predicting trends to improve and build better and stronger supply chain muscle. Shipment control helps drive informed decisions that prevent problems and mitigates risk.
The ability to drill into a shipment and see what’s going on in the supply chain provides both trackability and traceability. This capability is crucial in many industries, where a shipment’s whereabouts and pathway are critical to determine the actions needed to provide the best customer service, including delivery of the shipment intact and on time.
For example, the consumer product industry relies heavily on trackability and traceability. With visibility and control, shippers and 3PLs can catch issues and order exceptions sooner in the process, implementing swift corrective action. Having visibility is essential for brands working to hit Must Arrive by Dates (MABD) and retailer scorecard metrics like On Time in Full (OTIF).
A Growing Concern
Visibility and control are among the greatest concerns in contemporary supply chain management.
Transparency is not only useful in the management of the supply chain, but research is also showing that it is crucial. The consensus from many research reports indicates that the transparency provided by visibility and control is a recommended strategy.
Here are three research reports that substantiate this finding.
- The more visibility, the better. KPMG’s 2016 Global Outlook for Manufacturing report concluded that visibility is a problem in the supply chain. When the reporters surveyed manufacturers, they found that a mere 13 percent of respondents claimed “complete” visibility past their Tier 1 suppliers. About two-fifths reported “enhanced” visibility, giving them full transparency into their Tier 1 suppliers and into some Tier 2 suppliers. The report noted that “forty-three percent admitted they had either limited or no visibility at all into their supply chain.”
- The food and beverage industry particularly stands to benefit from greater visibility and control. Research shows that this industry should focus on visibility as a key strategic initiative. McHugh Software, together with Tompkins Associates and Symbol Technologies, produced a Food and Beverage Logistics Study that identified five key strategies that food and beverage industry leaders should implement. They stated: “In today’s digitally connected world, food and beverage companies must create a digital logistics platform for enterprise and supply chain-wide visibility. Achieving end-to-end visibility should be a key strategic initiative, driving benefits through increased efficiency, lower inventories, and improved fulfillment, while setting the stage for additional value through next-generation command and control.”
- Food safety researchers consider transparency a critical ingredient. Deloitte’s report, What’s on your plate? Overview of Deloitte research on food safety with a European perspective described transparency as “the critical ingredient to build and maintain trust.”The report states: “Consumers’ effect on changing demand and the dispersed nature of today’s supply chains creates increasing levels of risk for multinational businesses, making transparency both critical and complex. Without effective visibility in their supply chains, executives potentially have significant blind spots in their enterprise risk management structure, from which substantial legal, financial, and reputational exposures could emerge.”
Seek Vendors Who Provide Visibility and Control
Achieving visibility and control goes beyond a keen sense of awareness. Technology solutions that can monitor a vast network of shipments are necessary. Shippers in all industries must rely on strategic vendors who can provide technology tools that can be swiftly implemented, and who can help them achieve the visibility and control necessary to safely operate their supply chain in a globally competitive environment.
Consider, for example, the cloud-based software platform KanoPI, a simple, easy technology solution that delivers visibility and control to Zipline Logistics customers. The system can be up and running upon first shipment and provides a useful and informative window into freight management.
The Summit platform within KanoPI is easy to navigate by most anyone within a shipper’s organization. The platform does not have complex or cumbersome bells and whistles—just enough to provide you with what you need to know.
Platforms like KanoPI are becoming more popular nowadays, as shippers appreciate a platform that they don’t have to own, but that their vendor owns and maintains. The platform provides useful analytics that facilitate visibility and control, and in most cases, as is true with Zipline, is provided as a service by the 3PL.
So, what exactly can The Summit in KanoPI do?
At a glance, shippers can tell where a specific order is located. With a simple, secure log-in, any order number can be used to locate the shipment in real-time, whether the shipment is at a facility, en route, or delivered. The platform provides the following information:
- When your shipment left
- Where your shipment is, time-stamped and showing geographic location
- When your shipment was or will be delivered
- Easy reference to the shipment’s bill of lading
- Easy snapshot of accounts payable and accounts receivable related to the shipment
- Overlapping tickers that inform viewers of breaking news (such as weather) that may impact shipments
Transportation Visibility and Control, Now and in the Future
Platforms like KanoPI will become more popular and necessary as shippers and other manufacturers rely heavily on technology solutions from their vendors to offer visibility and control.
Shippers who use technology and data to drive visibility and control hold a competitive advantage over those who do not and will be well-positioned to compete globally in the years ahead.
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