It's not enough just to know where your freight in transit is. You've got to be aware of multiple aspects of the shipment, says Sam Phillips, senior solutions manager with Here Technologies.
Many companies today are struggling with the ability to see where shipments are at any given time. “It’s a very difficult thing to do,” says Phillips. But it’s also not enough. In addition to determining the location of product in the supply chain, managers must know of its current condition.
In the case of perishable goods, the failure of a refrigeration unit requires rapid response. The shipper needs to decide what to do with the possibly ruined shipment. Should it proceed to the scheduled destination? Should it be diverted to another location for repurposing or recycling? The complexity and variety of modes involved in a typical move make it extremely difficult to take action based on the answers to those questions.
Few companies can do that today. “It’s aspirational at this point,” says Phillips, “but we’re not far from it.” Companies are on the verge of adopting a “control tower” mentality that, when combined with emerging technology and key algorithms, will give them the ability to adjust shipment arrangements on the fly, in a manner that wasn’t possible before. Using data generated by modern-day platforms, supply-chain managers will be able to “orchestrate” shipments and routing decisions in something close to real time.
The awareness of the need for such capability has sharpened over the last year, due to the effects of the pandemic. “COVID just woke us up,” says Phillips. “It goes to demonstrate just how fragile the models are.”
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