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3 breakthrough technologies to gain control of your supply chain

July 5th, 2016 by Jim Hayden

Last week we talked about why companies that are outsourcing their logistics operations cannot rely on milestone-based systems. Using Internet of Thing (IoT) technology to know the real-time location and condition of all shipments and products is the first step to gaining in-transit visibility. The next step is to gain control of the supply chain so that your company can decrease operating costs and improve customer service. While IoT is essential, IoT technology alone will not turn the data into the insight you need to gain control. In-transit visibility requires combining IoT with big data, a single system of engagement, and predictive and prescriptive analytics through machine-learning. Below are three innovative technologies that will disrupt the competition.

Single System of Engagement

Eliminate logistics management blind spots

A single system of engagement provides a “single pane of glass” that sends real-time alerts, exception warnings, and event management to automatically let supply chain teams know when there is a logistics issue. Alerts and event management mitigate late deliveries and disruptions. The system should track all shipments and products, including those still being processed at a site, on an interactive global map. It displays every route in your supply chain, and companies can see the status of all active shipments at-a-glance and quickly identify those at risk of missing an expected arrival time. By tracking shipment locations in real-time, the system can accurately predict the arrival time of goods at plants, distribution centers, and retail stores.

IoT and Big Data

Know where your shipments are in real-time all the time

Only a supply chain analytics solution based on an IoT and big data approach can process the large amount of data required to provide real-time visibility. With milestone tracking there are huge gaps in between checkpoints where there is no information. IoT provides real-time data that can eliminate these gaps with useful information, allowing us to proactively respond to disruptions and delays. But how do we get this data? Real-time data is available from GPS, sensors, telematics, AIS, weather, traffic, mobile, and social media. It’s time to utilize them.

Real-time tracking is a stepping stone to bigger and better things. We’re not just interested in real-time visibility here; knowing the current status of a shipment is only part of the puzzle. The key is to know where the shipment is at one point in time and to be able to predict, based on current conditions, exactly when it will arrive at its destination. Knowing the estimated time of arrival forecasts (ETA) is crucial to businesses because inaccurate predictions causes costly delays and disruptions with consequences such as higher transportation costs, customer penalties, out-of-stocks, detention and demurrage fees.

Machine Learning

Predictive and prescriptive analytics continuously improve visibility

Companies can use IoT data to provide in-transit visibility but they shouldn’t stop there. The next step is to use patterns in the data to anticipate problems and respond to them. Supply chain leaders combine IoT and big data with machine learning algorithms to deliver predictive and prescriptive analytics. Companies can avoid supply chain disruptions by using predictive analytics — that is, looking into what will happen — and prescriptive analytics— that is, how can we make something happen. These insights provide end-to-end visibility across the global supply chain including accurate ETA and better understanding of carrier performance.

Innovative companies use predictive and prescriptive analytics derived from machine-learning to overcome cross-docking, inventory management, customer service, and on-time delivery challenges. For example, they understand which types of shipments to expedite, which carriers have capacity, which ports appear to be congested, what time is best for clearing customs, and what routes are best for road, ocean, and rail. With these capabilities companies can be proactive and take control of their internal and external supply chain networks.

Sources:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/loracecere/2014/02/20/manaing-the-supply-chain-if-only-i-could-see/#10ff1935d05b
http://www.scdigest.com/experts/Acsis_16-06-09.php
http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/determining-when-to-outsource-supply-chain-management-services/
http://www.supplychaindigital.com/supplychainmanagement/2329/Top-10-Reasons-to-Outsource
Disrupting the Competition with Breakthrough In-Transit Visibility and IoT Analytics (Savi eBook)

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