How transportation management can help solve challenges in managing the supply chain
In recent years, managing the supply chain has become one of the most complex and urgent issues for businesses. Thanks to an increasingly varied collection of short, medium, and long-term challenges, ensuring efficiency in the supply chain is a tricky business and one that requires dexterity, agility, and mastery of a growing number of techniques and digital tools.
Transportation management is one of the most critical aspects of ensuring a functioning supply chain. The advanced suite of digital tools driven by AI and machine learning means that this process is faster, more intuitive, and more effective than ever.
Businesses across industries are embracing innovation and digital transformation to address issues at every stage of the logistical process, from packing and picking to delivery and returns. TIMOCOM’s intuitive Road Freight Marketplace and interfaces have been designed specifically to tackle issues that producers and traders face and improve efficiency.
What is the supply chain?
In order to get to grips with its management, it is vital to understand the sequencing of the supply chain itself.
At the most basic level, a supply chain is a series of steps that make up a logistics process. In the past, supply chains worked as a sequence of events, from supplier to manufacturer to distributor to customer. The supply chain required several actions, one after another, which resulted in raw materials being converted into products, and delivered to customers.
In these linear chains, every stage relies on the one that comes before it, and every function and entity involved is interdependent. Suppliers must provide materials, manufacturers must make the products, and distributors must deliver them. Similarly, problems are passed down the chain and can have an exponential impact.
Modern supply chains are more complicated, more intricate, and technological and, as a result, are far more versatile and streamlined. This has led to a massive improvement in customer service and an ability to match expectations. Still, it does also mean that supply chain management is more important than ever before.
What are the main challenges customers are currently facing?
Over the last few years, global supply chains have faced unprecedented challenges and have noticeably felt the pressure. Increased demand, raised expectations, and changing living standards (not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic) has meant that global container shipping rates have increased fourfold since 2019, challenging the industry’s ability to cope.
The pandemic has had a catastrophic impact at every stage of the supply chain. It put enormous stress on and even broke the links between suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors, while simultaneously causing extraordinary changes in the purchasing behavior and expectations of consumers. Ecommerce grew enormously during lockdowns due to health concerns around in-person shopping, and this trend is forecast to continue, with a market increase of over $2 trillion expected by 2026. So industries worldwide have had to face a more complicated environment and increased demand, with less (or at least more problematic) resources.
Costs have risen across the supply chain for a number of reasons, not all of them pandemic-related. Fuel costs are rising due to geopolitics and environmental requirements, and labor costs have risen sharply in the last few years as well. As the complexity of the supply chain has increased, costs related to storage, transfer, and management of products have risen, with an interlinked rise in operational expense.
Changing market dynamics
Ecommerce has been a growing market for decades, but the last few years have seen a remarkable boom. Consumers are rapidly changing both their practices and their expectations. Whereas a few years ago, you might have been delighted to receive goods ordered online within 3-5 days, there is a growing demand for far more immediate fulfillment, a far more extensive selection and greater availability of goods. As everyone has become far more connected, the world has gotten smaller, and the supply chain has had to bear the brunt.
What are the most effective solutions?
To cut costs, efficiency and effectiveness in the supply chain are critical. Optimization at every process stage is essential to reduce inventory and provide sterling customer service. To achieve this goal, teams require immediate and dynamic visibility of order status and flexibility and control over quotes, exchanges, warehousing, tendering, routing, and work requests.
Technological innovation, in particular automation and AI, offers unique opportunities for data management, improved teamwork and collaboration, tracking, and optimization of physical space in storing, packing, and shipping. Warehouse management solutions and transport management solutions offer dedicated and bespoke access to these tools and can provide answers to many of the challenges facing the supply chain today.
What is transportation management, and why is it a solution?
Products move along the supply chain physically, of course. But in the digital era, they also have a digital existence, as they are tracked throughout the process, at every touchpoint from supplier to consumer.
A transportation management system lets an organization automate working processes that don’t need human input, collect (and leverage) vast amounts of information, and constantly work to make the supply chain more efficient.
What is warehouse management, and why is it a solution?
In a similar fashion, warehouse management solutions give businesses far greater control over the processes within the warehouse, allowing faster and more effective picking and packing, more efficient storage decisions, and synchronizing processes in the warehouse with the rest of the supply chain.
In turn, a warehouse management solution gives you greater visibility of goods in real-time, allowing for more transparent processes, faster delivery, and more successful order fulfillment.
How can interfaces improve efficiency?
TIMOCOM’s interfaces have been intentionally designed with process improvement in mind. Three interfaces are used for managing business processes within logistics and transport management; freight exchange, transport orders, and tracking.
Our core interface, that connects the TMS to the TIMOCOM loadboard, allows organizations to use their transport management system - those offering freight and vehicle space and those looking for it. The freight exchange interface is proven to improve efficiency by connecting our services directly to organisations’ internal processes.
Data is seamlessly parsed between internal software and TIMOCOM’s interface, so not only can customers use their preferred software solution, but data only needs to be entered once. This doesn’t simply reduce the time it takes to transfer offers. It also dramatically reduces the possibility of costs being incurred from human error.
The transport order and tracking interfaces also offer process improvements; these can be used to automate legally binding processes and improve transparency and time management.
Managing transportation and warehousing using automation and smart technology enables organizations to reduce costs at almost every stage while improving workflows and processes and increasing customer satisfaction. These outcomes can go a long way to overcoming some of the most pressing supply chain issues facing the logistics industry in the wake of the pandemic and beyond.