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Supply chain systems should provide seamless integration of what customers want in light of their business requirements. That involves specific levels of tailored, flexible service that can adapt as customer specifications evolve. The ultimate objective is efficiency: minimum downtime and as few obstacles to delivery as possible, complemented by maximum uptime as freight gets to where it needs to be. The key performance indicators (KPI) that measure this efficiency are familiar to and regularly measured by, all logistics providers: freight rates, cost of warehousing and insurance, customs clearance efficiency, fuel consumption, inventory carrying cost and more. But measuring overall supply chain performance increasingly takes a new generation of software tools that go beyond these specific metrics.
Forward-looking supply chain software, of course, encompasses the comprehensive electronic tracking technology that brings optimal efficiency to aggregating and optimizing loads and routes. Such sophistication is light years beyond the bar coding and other labeling capabilities that were cutting edge not much more than a decade ago. Today's software is not just a tool for shipment tracking - it is a comprehensive suite of tools for shipment management. It is designed to provide delivery on time and with proper quality thanks to online and real time updates on shipment location, quantity and composition. This improves all KPI outcomes, because it eliminates the guesswork and backtracking that are still part of hybrid systems combining electronic and manual administrative processes.
Today's best logistics software provides three distinct levels of KPI intelligence: evaluating and selecting the most cost-efficient transport modes, allowing customer initiation and real-time modification of shipments, and giving users "real world" search criteria to determine shipment status and milestone measurements. The latest logistics software iterations use "cloud computing" solutions through web-native architecture, allowing for quick and low-cost implementation, delivering fast time-to-value while maintaining the flexibility to expand the solution as business needs evolve. They optimize the entire end-to-end transportation process and enable carriers to exchange information, regardless of the format used, in order to
• Perform optimized consolidation of freight
• Combine shipments to lower transportation costs
• Select the most suitable carrier to handle shipments
• Communicate shipment information to for-hire carriers and trading partners
Maritime logistics offers a perfect case study for advanced software application. Voyage scheduling, time-cost calculations and more are all required for physical delivery. With software systems that allow for "vetting" interactions for the smooth flow of clearance data from one operational activity to the next, supply chain service providers and shippers receive assurance that their transactions will be fully transparent and operationally efficient, creating the requisite paper and virtual trail that tracks the expected and actual delivery of the material. Such tracking maintains full compatibility with GPS and other satellite technology with precision that facilitates and allows users to calculate, evaluate and actualize complete voyage spreadsheet with all data cross-referenced and accessible.
There are three obvious advantages of such a seamless system from order to delivery.
• First, it allows evaluating and selecting transportation purchases for operational effectiveness and cost efficiency. The goal is to optimize consolidation of freight while aggregating shipments, in order to lower their costs and carbon footprint. The best software solutions let companies select the most suitable carrier, and communicate shipment information to for-hire carriers and trading partners.
• Second, it allows customers and their suppliers, to initiate and authorize both the original transaction and any subsequent changes. The comprehensive data integration shows what has been shipped or is due for shipping, what is in transit, and how any given shipment is performing against the appropriate timetable. With links to their own information, logistics personnel can cross-check and validate progress and timing of shipments and measure this using real-time KPI's.
• Third, it allows use of "real world" search criteria to determine shipment status. That includes vendor or consignee identities, country of origin and destination, and most importantly a manufacturer's own purchase order and SKU codes. In addition to real time information it should provide historical data that can be used as a benchmarking tool for shipment performance.
Advanced Notification Advantages
In its ultimate form, a state of the art, integrated tracking and software system becomes a web-based service for the management of inbound shipment notifications, streamlining the audit and validation of shipment data before the inbound transportation processes starts. This is the cost-effective solution for improved freight optimization, increased inventory management, and reduction of misrouted or expedited shipments. Using customized online web portals, it overcomes the challenge of data being gathered manually and in diverse formats, with no visibility of the functional organizations involved.
Instead, by taking information and validating it before the inbound transportation process starts, advanced notification software offers a continuous authorization, visibility and reporting platform that eliminates redundant data entry, misrouted shipments, missed aggregation and consolidation opportunities, inefficient inventory management, and information gaps - all of which are pitfalls of manual systems or hybrid systems onto which electronic tracking has been grafted.
The end result is a transportation management system that coordinates every phase of the supply chain process, giving shippers assurance that their transactions will be fully transparent and operationally efficient. Logistics companies until now have largely emphasized general freight forwarding experience. By contrast, the true supply chain management specialist will increasingly use cloud computing software to offer in-depth logistics and purchasing knowledge customized to each industry, creating a value proposition directly focused on the industry's freight requirements.
This kind of electronic shipment coordination goes well beyond standard "track and trace" programs to manage and direct freight shipments internationally. It enables shippers always to know the status of the shipment, and can immediately identify any disruption that requires remedial action, creating a comprehensive solution for supply chain intelligence at every supply chain link. It can save enormous amounts of time resources, eliminate the high yet hidden costs of supply chain inefficiency, and bring optimal efficiency to aggregating and optimizing loads and routes. It is the 21st Century solution to the longtime need for supply chain reliability.
Source: Jaguar Freight Services
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