How Digitization Will Change the Last Mile
Nicole Wanichko - March 25, 2021
In today's business culture, consumers are looking for immediate results. The second a customer places an order, they are looking outside their window waiting for the delivery. This has drastically changed the last mile for the supply chain industry, forcing operations into faster deliveries and more accurate monitoring to get a product to its final destination. SCMs are struggling with managing expedited shipping and tracking, so they are looking for new ways to keep up with the increasing pace of the last mile. As we grow more and more reliant on technology each year, it comes as no surprise that digitization is the solution. Implementing digitization into your supply chain will revolutionize the last mile, allowing transparency and accountability to better keep up with customer demands at no additional stress to your supply chain. Leaving you with a simplified last mile from start to finish.
Transportation Planning & Scheduling
The last mile of supply chain planning is defined as the movement of finished goods from a transportation hub to its final destination. Because this is the overarching goal, you must have a good handle on your transportation planning. While transportation may seem like the most straightforward aspect of the supply chain because "the hard part is over," it can be detrimental to your supply chain if not efficiently managed. End-to-end efficiency in your supply chain is of vital importance and the key to a seamless last mile. It's clear that with the right transportation optimization software, your dispatchers and planners can design and optimize the ideal transport scenario. This solution will allow dispatchers to plan and schedule all vehicle routing in the network, ensuring timely pick-up and drop-off of products. Achieved through analytics, state-of-the-art simulations, scenario management, data integration, and geo-services, you will have real-time forecasts. Accurate forecasting provides you with the information you need to avoid disruptions and make optimal transportation decisions, in-bound and out-bound. With more precise and timely decisions, you will reduce planning efforts by up to 60% and reduce transportation costs by up to 20%.
The automation of digitization eliminates the risk of human error and allows faster decisions through the use of parallel processing instead of sequential processing. This means that data is analyzed simultaneously through one system rather than requiring coordination from several team members. Not only does it improve communication internally, but it also eases the exchange of information between organizations. With a digitally transformed transportation system, you will be confident in your goods' timely movement from one destination to another.
Tracking and Monitoring
Beyond reliable transportation, you must be able to track and monitor your products as they move through the last mile of the supply chain. Multi-dimensional monitoring visualizes the supply situation, providing you transparency of bottlenecks, inventories, and complete coverage of the supply chain. In identifying bottlenecks, you can see exactly which orders will be affected so that you can filter them apart from on-schedule orders and reduce further delays. Additionally, these real-time updates will allow you to update customers as quickly as possible to maintain customer satisfaction.
Monitoring software such as this will identify specific problems, such as transportation delays, weather alerts, and lost cargo before they arise. These warnings are crucial in avoiding disruptions and keeping deliveries on-time. Even better, this monitoring system will monitor processes in a global environment, whether tracking products by land, air, or sea. It will monitor the supply of parts against planned sequence, inventories, and transportation route, ensuring that you have eyes on your products at all times. The program will simultaneously check your ability to deliver and the status of products, so your supply chain will be up-to-date, letting customers and team members know precisely what is available. With our multi-dimensional monitoring solutions, you will save tremendously in reducing safety stocks and additional transportation trips, allowing you to increase production.
We’ve touched on two major components of the last mile so far; transportation and monitoring. But, the primary purpose of the last mile is delivering goods to their final destination. Some companies may overlook the importance of their shipping responsibility, falsely perceiving it as being out of a business's control. Especially this past year, you may have noticed some shipping delays as a result of the pandemic. While this is an unprecedented side effect, it should not be news for supply chain managers to prepare for the unexpected. To prepare for global delays like this, or even delays of the usual kind, supply chains must have an effective system of managing their shipping process. An efficient supply chain should be able to predict delays and quickly resolve them, and the best way to do that is through implementing digitization. While it may seem that the solutions for transportation and monitoring overlap with shipping, it is crucial to cover all of your bases. For your supply chain to truly be efficient, you must make sure that every step is just as prepared as the others.
For shipping, in particular, machine learning and have completely revolutionized supply chains. Machine learning is a process where large data caches are analyzed to find connections between different sets of information. Shipping involves massive quantities of data, and it can be easy for important details to get lost, resulting in delayed or missing orders. Implementing machine learning into your shipping systems will use historical data such as past orders and compare it with real-time information. It also enables standardization of key data points to alleviate some of the complexity of supply chains and last mile delivery. This will then pinpoint the factors contributing to a successful supply chain and continue to implement them. Additionally, it will predict forecasts that allow you to prepare orders, storage, and transportation more accurately, easing the shipping process and bringing products to consumers faster. Added awareness of these factors will allow you to maximize capacity and transportation, saving you valuable time and money while exceeding customer expectations.
While the last mile is all about bringing goods to their final destination, you must keep in mind what that destination is: customers. The holistic goal of your supply chain should be maintaining and improving customer satisfaction, and encouraging repeat business. Through digitizing your supply chain, you are providing customers with on-time, fast, and reliable deliveries. By implementing transportation planning systems, multi-dimensional monitoring, and machine learning, you can ensure excellent supply chain performance, translating into timely and quality products, and a satisfied customer. With these digital tools, your customers will have real-time updates on their order status and know exactly what to expect when conducting a purchase with your organization. While digitization is crucial for your supply chain and will benefit you in countless ways, it is essential to remember that it's benefiting your customers too, especially in the last leg of their anticipated delivery.