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The market for transportation routing, scheduling and planning is undergoing a dramatic convergence of multiple types of decision-making, says Dan McFall, director of business solutions with Ortec. Companies are looking to combine those tasks into one role, and "flatten the supply chain in terms of who makes that decision." One tool for achieving that goal is on-board technology for total shipment visibility.
New technology is allowing for the melding of planning and execution, allowing companies to make more informed decisions about their shipments. Even ground-level dispatch systems are being included in the effort, says McFall. "What we are seeing more and more is the role of the planner and dispatcher becoming one." The key, he adds, is access to information in real time. "Nobody wants to work off yesterday's data."
Mobile and wireless technologies have gone a long way toward achieving the goal of better visibility for planning and execution. In the process, companies save money on systems because they can replace hardware with software. "Information can be pushed to systems so easily," he says. "You can plan against today's execution for tomorrow."
Selling the concept in a "siloed" organization is another matter. McFall says the various functions that make up a supply chain need to be convinced that the convergence of tasks is beneficial to everyone. "If you can maintain the execution of a plan, you're going to have higher savings, and be more valuable to customers with the ability to be flexible and adaptable," he says.
In the end, companies will have no choice but to move in the direction of a more streamlined process. "People have higher expectations of organizations to be adaptive," says McFall.
"Customers anticipate that you are going to be able to instantly make decisions." At the same time, he adds, companies can dramatically reduce the cost of serving those customers.
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