What is visibility in supply chain?
Troy Muyshondt, Co-Founder of Dockflow led the discussion on visibility. He discussed visibility in application rather than concept with case studies from Dockflow , a maritime logistics platform enabling end-to-end visibility on shipments, which includes tracking and alerts.
If you're sick of hearing buzzwords like “visibility” and “transparency” without anyone explaining what that really means, we are here to break it down simply and clearly for you. When we talk about end-to-end visibility in supply chain, we want to know where the gaps are in being able to see our cargo, the importance of visibility in supply chain, and what practical solutions we have to achieve better control on our freight handling.
In maritime shipments especially, there are large gaps in visibility
As your cargo-stuffed container sails on a ship around the world, you have no clue what's happening from port to port. You know what's happening in the port of origin, what should and eventually will happen in the port of destination, but you have no clue what's happening during transit. As an industry, this has always been the norm, but tech start ups are here to answer the question: does it really have to be this way?
Thinking about your current processes now- how do you obtain the details on where your shipment is or the expected delivery date? Likely by a lot of time-intensive manual typing into different carrier and terminal websites, which are notorious as well for not being 100% accurate and up-to-date.
Now that is just for the containers- thinking about the cargo within, when it is temperature controlled and/or perishable. Without the latest in technology, it's impossible to monitor the temperature from port to port and address any issues while in transit. As forwarders, we are masters at improvising solutions. Imagine what we could do if we just had the data immediately at our disposal? Bringing us to our next question:
Why is supply chain visibility important?
Surely an instance between indirect COVID induced port congestion and the Suez Canal blip has affected your shipments. And since you have no clue about what's happening in between ports, if you have a shipment being transported between 20 to 30 days, it's only natural that you would like to get an update.
The importance of that update lies in your ability to take action as soon as possible. This can save you clients, money and a bigger mess later on. The most important part, according to Muyshondt, is that it's very relevant for planning, especially if you work in a “just-in-time” way.
If you know accurately, when things are going to arrive, then you know how much stock you have, how low you can get your stock in the warehouse. And then you can work on a solution and communicate to your client before the shipment even arrives at the end destination.
Preemptive notifications are often overlooked
Taking another step forward into visibility- its not just about having the data available. Its about knowing when you have to look at it, taking the time intensive process of monitoring and checking out of your day so you can focus on more important tasks. With automated notifications, rather than actively seeking for issues you don't know exist, being notified of problems saves you time and ensures that you don't miss the opportunity to learn about an issue beforehand.
And if your role is that you're accountable for just-in-time progress, then you should have a lot of visibility on when things are going to arrive, because the biggest part of your stock will be on the ocean. So you need to be very aware of what's on its way and get notified immediately if there are any issues. Instantly knowing about port delays- or if a ship is congesting the Suez canal, what amount of your containers are affected- can be the difference in retaining a client or losing one to a competitor that can provide more timely communication and/or solutions.
Dockflow case studies as examples to illustrate
Muyshondt gives examples of supermarkets working in a just-in-time process, oil refineries needing accurate transport and arrival times, as well as warehouse management decisions and companies spending more money on free-time than they really should.
In all situations, visibility has been the key to making the right, informed decisions saving each company money. Visibility not only saves companies money, but can also improve processes that normally would have assumed costs due to lack of visibility throughout the entire supply chain.
To hear these examples in-depth, listen to the presentation recording below:
Visibility is a top priority of 7ConNetwork
Aside from our own innovative tools, we partner with logistics tech platforms to secure integrated services and exclusive offers for members of 7ConNetwork. As a tech-forward network, we believe that digital tools to unlock total supply chain visibility should be accessible to the small and mid-size freight forwarder. Join us today to take advantage of these curated solutions.
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