Conductors of logistics processes: supply chain managers orchestrate planning
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Efficient supply chain management requires experienced logistics managers who take charge of planning, executing and controlling transportation processes.
The panic buying around the onset of the Corona Crisis in the spring of 2020 made for memorable images of empty shelves. It is a situation that many consumers have never experienced on this scale or have not experienced for a very long time. To be able to call such a situation an exceptional case in our latitudes is especially due to the work of the supply chain manager. Of course, many tasks have to be performed until a raw material arrives in production, the goods are in the store, or the removal of residual materials is accomplished, but it is precisely the supply chain manager who brings these threads together.
In most companies, it is his responsibility to ensure the logistical flow of goods. This may involve procurement, among other things. In- & outbound transports for production, including waste disposal, or the distribution of goods to wholesalers and retailers are included in these responsibilities in most cases.
Particularly in larger companies, this includes transport management for more than one mode of transport, and there is usually a very large number of routes to be served, with a wide variety of requirements. Here, the supply chain manager and, if available, his team as well as the contracted transport companies have to maintain an overview. He can certainly do without annoyed calls about where the truck is that was ordered to pick up consumer goods or why perishable goods remain too long at transshipment terminals between two modalities. They must be avoided by ensuring that all sub-processes are interlinked.
Managing vast challenges
In addition to the pressure of delivery reliability, which can be measured by information on punctuality and completeness as well as the damage rate of shipments, two other important aspects also play a fundamental role in the work of a supply chain manager. The desire for leaner processes, cost compliance and reduction are somewhat interdependent.
But if you want to change something, you first need an overview of what has been going on up to now and where things are crunching in the system. In doing so, a two-part problem can arise: Companies and their logistics managers discover that supply chain visibility simply does not exist to any significant degree. In some circumstances, a large amount of data already exists, but the valuable information is not separated from the less important information, or the appropriate interfaces to other supply chain participants are not in place. The transfer of the information into or out of existing logistics software as well as its easy-to-handle display on (mobile) end devices represent a resulting IT-related problem. Especially because the customer is familiar with the latter from his smartphone and tablet apps in the private sphere and wants to use it in his everyday working life too.
The solution: Digitized processes
Here, the digital revolution offers an opportunity to leverage previously wasted potential. It will facilitate the work of supply chain managers and thus help to achieve better results in important key performance indicators (KPI) such as cost management, shipment monitoring as well as adherence to the delivery deadline.
Synfioo, a young company from Germany that has dedicated itself to the topic of supply chain visibility, is working intensively on some aspects of optimized supply chain management. Among other things, the start-up provides its customers with real-time transport tracking information for all modalities. Historical traffic data can be utilized to bypass bottlenecks in route planning and information on completed or initial results for continuously ongoing transportation projects employed to optimize future route organization. Not to be forgotten are precise live predictions for the estimated arrival time of a delivery at the production site, at the next transshipment point or at the final consignee, adapting to the traffic volume. Equipped with this digital knowledge advantage, the supply chain manager can address the aforementioned points of a more efficiently designed supply chain management and thus also of cost savings on a data-based basis. In this way, not only do the shelves always remain full, but the logistics behind them are perceived as a lean process.
Photo credit: pxfuel.com