According to Supply Chain Insights, supply chain visibility comes in as one of the top “elements of business pain in supply chain.” Why is visibility within the supply chain such a big challenge?
First, there are many players involved, from suppliers to producers, manufacturers, shippers, carriers and end customers. Next, add more complexities to the mix: globalization, customer expectations, volatile demand and mounting regulations. These factors create a messy and complicated environment for supply chain professionals trying to see what is happening up and down their entire network of stakeholders.
What is needed is end-to-end supply chain visibility.
To facilitate visibility, all stakeholders need to use a common platform that allows them to plan their moves, receive alerts to changes as they occur, see every status update made, and make real time adjustments to keep the supply chain moving smoothly and the customer happy. By sharing a single common system, suppliers can plan inventory levels more effectively to offer better customer service. Carriers can move shipments in and out more efficiently, making their operations more cost effective and the customer can improve the management of their inbound operations and warehouse.
What is this common platform?
It is a cloud-based collaborative portal, like that offered by Kuebix TMS, that can be accessed by all stakeholders from any device and from any location. This single platform serves as a dynamic record of truth for all the changes that occur across the supply chain, keeping the delivery of goods moving efficiently.
First, a purchase order is made. Suppliers look at the portal and plan production and inventory schedules to meet customer demand. Suppliers will notify their customers through the collaboration portal which deliveries they can make on time and which need to be back-ordered due to low stock.
When suppliers commit to a promise date, customers can look at the portal to plan their business based on delivery dates. If the customer has chosen to pick up the order using their own carrier, the supplier can print shipping labels for those orders directly from the portal. Because every stakeholder is referencing the same information via a collaborative portal, they have immediate access to everything they need to make informed decisions and plan their supply chain.
Carriers can provide updates on the status of their deliveries through the collaboration portal as well. If carriers are using electronic logging devices (ELDs), customers and suppliers can visibly track the real-time status of their delivery. Dock scheduling solutions like Kuebix’s allow carriers to see open time slots and locations at the dock, empowering carriers to reserve an appropriate time for delivery so they are not left idling in the yard.
Part of the backbone of visibility and collaboration is a set of rules and procedures that suppliers and carriers need to follow. These procedures on yard, safety, consolidations, etc. promote proper supplier and carrier behavior and ensure the most efficient operation. Any violations which occur are shown in the portal, so all parties know the status of issues and can work together to address them. This provides a heightened level of visibility and accountability for all stakeholders.
Kuebix TMS provides supply chain professionals the visibility they need to maximize efficiencies, minimize costs and improve customer service. Working together via a collaboration portal is a win-win-win for suppliers, carriers and shippers.
Other inbound logistics management best practices to improve visibility can be found in The Art of the Inbound.