Whether you’re a freight forwarder seeking out a new ERP system that helps to manage the flow of goods from origin to destination or a manufacturer looking to add visibility and bolster efficiency within your own transportation management processes, selecting the right logistics or transportation management software can be a difficult task. In some ways, the process of selecting the right technology is a lot like finding a 3PL (third party logistics provider) with whom to partner. In both instances, you need to consider price, customer service, existing relationships, and scalability—but you also need to take stock of your organization’s values and provide a clear roadmap for the future of you're your operations. Even if you choose the most reputable partner in the business, the partnership likely won’t be a success if their goals aren’t well-aligned with your own.
The rise of Industry 4.0 has saddled supply chain managers with a lot of lofty expectations. With the idea of the so-called global factory, we’re given visions of a future supply chain in which manufacturing processes are so decentralized that the boundaries of any individual production facility become meaningless. By the same token, as we look towards the future of connected digital logistics, we tend to envision a world in which demand-capacity planning is so sophisticated and transport logistics are so agile that the need for physical warehouses of products will dwindle away and ultimately vanish.
Topics: Logistics 4.0
Once you send a finished product out into the world, it sometimes feels like you’re no longer in control of it—whether or not it reaches its final destination is a matter of preparation and luck. Even if you’re a shipper or freight forwarder, the routes that any piece of freight might take through the global supply chain sometimes seem too chaotic to optimize. There’s good reason to feel this way, but in the era of Logistics 4.0 there’s also reason to hope. Digital shipping and forwarding workflows are adding new degrees of sophistication to route planning processes, and giving logistics planners new opportunities to reduce costs and optimize their shipping flows.
Topics: Logistics 4.0
A few years ago, three days was considered a reasonably quick shipping turnaround. Today, for many consumers three days is considered glacial, two days is considered standard, and only shipping times shorter than one day really count as fast. These changing expectations have put numerous businesses, from manufacturers to logistics providers, in a position to either optimize their transport processes for greater efficiency or cede transportation management as a competitive advantage. The latter is obviously not something that any business really wants, but the former can be a tall order.
Let’s talk about Sherlock Holmes for a second. When you think of this famous English detective, a few things probably come to mind: his iconic deerstalker cap, maybe his pipe or his violin, and his magnifying glass—that critical tool for finding clues that Scotland Yard might have missed. Though Holmes was a fictional construct, sprung from the mind of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the method he employed in his stories and novels actually had a real-world impact on how detective work and criminal investigations were conducted in the 20th century.
When Henry Ford introduced the assembly line into auto manufacturing, he changed the nature of the industry forever. What people sometimes don’t consider is that that revolution sparked a subsequent revolution in distribution and logistics. As cars became less expensive and more widely used, they quickly became the preferred method for transporting goods between producers and consumers. In turn, the introduction of automobiles into the distribution of materials changed the nature of auto manufacturing once again. How? By offering new avenues through which to source raw materials, resulting in new efficiencies in the manufacturing process.
Topics: Logistics 4.0
Let’s say you’re trying to become a healthier person. Seems simple enough, right? You just need to choose healthier foods and exercise a few times a week—it’s just a matter of making a new weekly schedule that includes time set aside for exercise and for cooking a few health-conscience meals. Right? Well, maybe not. When you set down to actually create this new schedule, you realize that you’re not sure how much exercise you’re getting currently or how many calories you’re burning during that exercise. As a result, you determine that you need to get a Fitbit to track to your current exercise levels. By the same token, you find that you need a food scale to help you measure out portions for your new recipes, and you need to do a lot of advanced research on the actual calorie counts and other nutritional information for various foods.
Logistics 4.0: buzzword, or critical concept for the future of supply chain management? We might be a little bit biased over at flexis, but we’re pretty sure it’s the latter. As the global supply chain becomes every more complex and ever more digital, businesses are going to need a new framework for making decisions, developing shipping plans, and creating cohesion between their various IT choices. We think that Logistics 4.0 is going to provide that new framework, and we think that after you’ve had a chance to peruse some of these interesting facts, you’ll heartily agree.
So far, the story of Logistics 4.0 is largely one of untapped potential. As a critical counterpoint to Industry 4.0, Logistics 4.0 represents the promise of a highly responsive supply chain that can self-monitor and self-adapt, but so far this promise has only been met in a few select areas. Though smart pallets, smart containers, and smart ports are quickly becoming a reality in global shipping routes, most businesses aren’t in a position to take advantage of those things in a value additive way. That said, slow change is better than no change, and the face of logistics really is evolving. As we more firmly enter the Industry 4.0 era in manufacturing, shipping and freight forwarding paradigms will have to keep up by offering the same levels of integration and digitization as their industrial counterparts.
Let’s look at some statistics in order to dig deeper into the present-day realities of the shipping and freight forwarding industries.
In discussions around supply chain logistics in the past few years, some people have been describing the systematic increase in customer delivery expectations as the “Amazon Effect.” And it's certainly true that Amazon’s push towards faster and faster delivery turnarounds has had a huge impact not just on how (and how quickly) customers expect their items to be shipped, but on the way supply chains are administered around the globe. Where traditional shipping workflows might have required a few touches to get a given shipment from the manufacturer to the final destination Increased delivery speeds have increased the average number of touches, i.e. the number of legs in each journey.
Topics: Logistics 4.0