What leading organizations have done around logistics is nothing short of extraordinary. Same-day deliveries, pictures of your item at your front door, advanced tracking capabilities, and new ways to find efficiencies in transporting pretty much anything. However, behind this awesome logistics message are a lot of gears and IT components working very hard to make this all possible.
The age of the Internet has made logistics way more complicated simply because of the sheer number of new people leveraging so many delivery mechanisms. And here’s the reality, as a logistics organization, you simply cannot be complacent when it comes to adopting new solutions to make you more efficient. The race is on to define the industry’s future. And with an estimated US$4.6 trillion of revenues at stake, companies can’t afford to sit back and watch; they need to adapt to changing markets proactively.
A PwC report recently pointed out that customer expectations are increasing greatly. Both individuals and businesses expect to get goods faster, more flexibly, and – in the case of consumers – at low or no delivery cost. Manufacturing is becoming more and more customized, which is good for customers but hard work for the logistics industry.
Add it all up and the sector is under acute and growing pressure to deliver a better service at an ever-lower cost. It can only hope to do this by making maximum and intelligent use of technology, from data analytics, to automation.
Therein lies the keyword for us to focus around: data. In a clear-cut effort to improve efficiency and transparency, logistics service providers (LSPs) need to integrate data analytics and social supply chains to provide much better traceability and predictability (not to mention lower costs). This includes newer concepts like smart warehousing solutions, which will become essential to support improved inventory controls and delivery methods.
Let’s pause here and actually look at a few solutions that make this happen. First of all, you don’t need to be the size of UPS to leverage some really powerful logistics and data analytics tools. Second, there are a lot of great partners out there to help smaller or even mid-sized LSPs become better at the digital logistics challenge. Finally, even if you’re a large provider, I’m sure there are some great areas where you can improve efficiency and continue to improve your competitive stance in the market. That said, one solution I’ve really enjoyed following revolves around Oracle.
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Let’s start with smarter warehouses.
Oracle Warehouse Management Cloud (WMS) is a cloud-based inventory and warehouse management system that allows you to leverage innovative product features, mobile solutions, and an easy-to-use interface. Basically, it’s the power of Oracle allowing you to deliver on speed while leveraging savings of the cloud. Making your warehouse smarter is a great way to improve overall operations. Consider this:
- With a smart warehouse, you can reduce inventory costs with real-time inventory visibility, increased warehouse accuracy and lower safety stock levels. Plus, you can automate this process as well! This helps bring so much value back into your business.
- Make your people work smarter, not harder. Smarter warehouse systems improve labor productivity with system directed activities. Here’s the other major point – you can remove all of those manual processes that slow everything down. Manual data entry can be a major slowing point for your logistics business. If you want to really approach the benefits of a digital logistics system, you’ll need to do away with manual functions as much as possible.
- Finally, you create some really powerful competitive opportunities by being able to support multichannel demand and execution processes. This means your customers (whether traditional consumer or B2B), can buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere, and return anywhere. Leveraging data points to understand how your logistics and warehousing systems are working allow you to intelligent create the ‘anywhere’ logistics platform.
Remember, you’re not just creating greater amounts of efficiency by leveraging data, you’re also creating an intelligent warehouse solution. And, smarter warehouses will work harder for your business because they’re, simply, easier to manage. Intelligent warehouses provide some powerful capabilities including:
- Intelligent dashboards enabling real-time operational analysis, reporting, and alert management
- Greater inventory visibility, analyzing warehouse throughput, monitoring warehouse operations
- Leveraging reporting, alerting and scheduling capabilities
It’s in these situations that you’re really leveraging data to improve insights into your warehouse and creating powerful performance metrics.
If this is overwhelming, don’t worry. Take a deep breath and know that there are lots of good people who can help navigate the concepts of a smart, digital, logistics platform. However, as I mentioned earlier, you simply cannot sit back and wait to see what happens in this industry. To stay ahead, you’ll need to start asking good questions about your business today. From there, understand where smart systems can impact your logistics framework and where you introduce greater levels of intelligence.
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