June 9, 2020

Data: The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain

Bill Harmer

Topic:   Industry Focus

How to gain greater visibility and responsiveness during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond

Agility is crucial in a crisis. Within days of the lockdown impacting its ride-hailing business, Uber Eats diversified to offer on-demand deliveries of medicines, essential groceries, pet food, and mail – treading on the territory of warehouse and logistics giant Amazon. Chinese transportation giant Didi launched grocery delivery services in 21 cities in response to the COVID-19 crisis, while Meituan pivoted its food delivery app to get Huawei phones into customers’ hands within 30 minutes.

New challengers in the transport and logistics sector are primarily technology companies, which use data to see where demand is falling and rising so that they can innovate and thrive in rapidly changing circumstances.

Data-driven transport and logistics companies can immediately respond to market fluctuations, severe weather, or supplier disruption. Using clear visibility from integrated data sources, they can quickly adapt routes, shipping methods, and supplier partnerships to get in-demand goods to customers and carve out market share.

The transport and logistics industry is now dual fuel – diesel and data. Truck telematics continuously feed information to parts and maintenance suppliers to enable preventive maintenance. Organizations monitor driver performance and fuel efficiency, and share warehouse data with suppliers and stores – improving efficiency throughout the supply chain.

As an example, Lipari Foods distributes food to wholesalers across 12 states in mid-west U.S. To optimize operations while it built a new $40 million warehouse, Lipari needed clear visibility of its inventory and supply- chain operations. Siloed sales data needed to be unified so that the organization could provide employees with real-time analytics. Lipari leveraged Information Builders WebFOCUS business intelligence (BI) platform, Accelerator for Supply-Chain Management, InfoAssist, iWay Data Integrator, and Visual Warehouse to integrate disparate data sources and transform its wealth of data into business value.

An interactive sales portal now provides Lipari VPs and sales reps with deep sales intelligence, on their mobiles, giving them an instant view of precisely what is happening with inventory to help the company meet and exceed SLAs.

Similarly, LeanLogistics strengthened its customer relationships by embedding reports, dashboards, and ad hoc reporting tools directly into an existing cloud application. Tens of thousands of users now have access to carrier performance metrics, ranging from volume of loads to average and total weights, costs per mile, and add-ons such as fuel surcharges and handling fees.

Meanwhile, International Car Operators automated its data-gathering and reporting processes, so that newly manufactured vehicles can be tracked from factory to dealer. The time required to process each car has been reduced by 4 minutes, equating to tens of thousands of employee hours saved each year.

Industry 4.0 makes the supply chain far more responsive. Massive data sets from millions of Industrial IoT sensors (IIoT) connecting over 5G – combined with external data and automated business processes and enabled by machine learning and analytics – are saving time that would have been spent manually adjusting shipping routes and capacity plans. IIoT allows manufacturers to scale production up, or down, in response to real-time demand.

5G’s ability to handle massive data volumes at speed makes it an ideal technology for warehouse management, where traditional barcodes complemented by RFID running on Bluetooth low energy (BLE) currently allow the movement of goods to be tracked throughout the supply chain, proving provenance and demonstrating where bottlenecks can be addressed.

To discuss the challenges and opportunities of harnessing Industry 4.0 to stay nimble during COVID-19 and beyond, join Information Builders and Nick Ismail, content editor at Information Age, as he hosts a panel discussion with transport and logistics experts from DHL , CTAIRA – the specialist aviation consultancy.