Empowering 4PLs to tackle future challenges head-on

Jun 19, 2020
Innovation

As Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said, the only constant in this world is change. In the world of supply chain management, change can be daunting. Transportation networks are larger and more complex than ever, spanning the globe while navigating a range of ever-fluctuating regulations and challenging economic climates.

Some of the key challenges in the current marketplace for shippers include:

  • Limited visibility of status of trucks or shipments
  • High number of stakeholders and long and slow communication chains
  • Capacity shortages, both for transportation services and slot availability at cross docks
  • Personnel shortages, for managing transportation networks
  • Increasing demands for supply chain operations to be more transparent, globally, and to know exact positions and status of shipments
  • Customers demanding more B2C-style shipment tracking and notification features within their B2B operations

4PLs specialize in handling the continuous planning, optimization and operation of their customer’s supply chain networks. Their deep focus on supply chain efficiency puts them in an advantageous position to evolve industry best-practices and experiment in leveraging new technologies. This in turn often aids in building resilience and agility while also reducing costs and risks to better cope with uncertainty.

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Real-time end-to-end transportation visibility has had a major impact on how supply chain managers think about transportation networks, shifting management away from ‘reactive’ and towards ‘predictive’ practices where networks are managed proactively. With an improved quality of data and insight, it’s possible to see more of what’s happening within the network. This holistic view of a supply chain enables operational optimizations to be made on the fly. The resulting transparency increases network stability, shortens the reaction time needed to take action and makes cross-functional cost efficiencies possible.

There are four key strategic areas of improvement for shippers and 3PLs/4PLs alike that increased supply chain visibility unlocks:

1. Logistics efficiency

When real-time tracking is combined with the advanced computational power of machine learning, it’s possible to attain highly accurate and reliable ETAs. This in turn makes it possible to increase the efficiency of operations in warehouses, improving resource utilization with dynamic dock bookings. It also makes it possible to reduce material handling costs for preparing loads and decreases safety stock levels needed with better carrier performance and a more controlled supply chain.

2. Supply chain team productivity

Real-time visibility increases both the productivity reactivity of customer service and shipping teams by automating previously redundant tasks, in turn freeing up personnel to focus on tasks that add value to the business. Shippeo’s platform streamlines communication between carriers, customers & shipping departments. With access to real-time tracking, customer service teams can proactively manage exceptions. The availability of objective data also helps with reducing dispute management costs.

3. Transport cost optimization

With real-time insight made readily available to all supply chain collaborators, optimizations can be made throughout the chain, for example at loading sites to reduce planned dwell times, reducing transport costs. All costs related to exceptions, express costs, waiting times, rebooking of time slots of loading/unload at storage facilities, can be avoided. This information can be used to better plan the personnel in goods receiving areas or storage facilities. It also allows for better management of carriers, helping to increase their efficiency, aiding in further cost reduction.

4. Enhanced customer satisfaction

Finally, visibility platforms give service teams the ability to respond to exceptions quickly, anticipate delays and other issues to mitigate negative impacts on end-customers. Information on deliveries can also be made available directly to end-customers, eliminating the middleman and helping to manage expectations. Both of these capabilities result in increased customer satisfaction, through a reduction of negative NPS scores, and potentially increase sales and customer retention as a result of a differentiated service level and customer experience.

Figure 1: The benefits of Shippeo’s real-time transportation visibility platform for 4PL provider 4flow and their customers

Real-time transportation visibility platforms like Shippeo’s play a central role in enabling the industry to evolve a new era of next-generation supply chains and supply chain management. To find out more about Shippeo’s unique benefits for 3PL/4PLs, watch our latest webinar or get in touch with one of our experts.

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