Improving the Supply Chain with tech


The world of supply chain logistics has been living in the past. Other industries have been enhancing and streamlining their operations on functional and profitable levels with the use of technology.

Software has been introduced into operations to create a digital representation of the department and its functionality, but it’s hardly advanced nor is it cutting edge. However, as more organisations realise how their processes in Supply Chain and Logistics are behind the curve, they are starting to focus their energy and resources into new and innovative technologies and solutions. They are recognising the importance of investing into technology that can give them a competitive edge.

One particular area that has seen significant investment and attention is in the field of Geographical

Information Systems (GIS). The volume of data at our fingertips from modern day reporting and operations has grown tremendously. The aim of GIS is to allow this vast amount of data to be visualised in an intuitive way so that it can be interpreted intelligently.

Making sense
It is essential that there are tools that allow us to make sense of this data. GIS allows for this visual data to be shown at speed. It represents what is really going on in operations in real time rather than delayed spreadsheet reporting that doesn’t deliver either on immediacy or accuracy. GIS ties varies data sources together into one usable view.

As this data is being shown in real time, it allows for decision makers to make informed and agile decisions on the spot. They can solve problems, escalate issues, initiate changes, avoid risk and make proactive decisions designed to deliver better results.

The challenge
There is a huge opportunity for companies targeting a GIS approach to optimise their processes at every point along the supply chain. It has become increasingly evident that, as key personnel become more and more competent in their understanding of GIS, they can accurately coordinate their company’s processes around this technology. They are also able to target areas that are necessary for enhancement or growth.

Many companies are excited about the idea of implementing this technology to enhance operations but struggle with defining how they want to use it, what their goals are, and what they ultimately hope to learn from the technology.

Often there is quick buy-in from top management and executives but significant resistance from the people on the ground, the people who will actually be using the systems. Warehouse staff and delivery vehicle drivers are the ones who make GIS systems work. Without them conforming to requirements and adopting the systems completely, data accuracy will be skewed which will impact the effectiveness of the implementation. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to successful GIS data and deliverables.

The reality is that GIS needs relationships. Executives needs to gain buy-in from the employees and the solutions provider has to build relationships across the board to ensure that everyone understands the technology and the value it provides.

Customisation delivers results
It is also important that implementation skills must be customisable to fit certain business rules. This ensures the best fit and the best possible results. To further ensure that any implementation fits the business, ensure that your service provider can provide unique solutions that help you gain an accurate representation of data in both real time and retrospectively.

Another large, industry-wide problem in the delivery process is the location accuracy of customers and delivery points. Tools such as Google Maps have allowed for us to minimise this problem to a certain degree, but manually looking up addresses is a long and cumbersome process that employees don’t have time for. It is also a job done by the Fleet Controller and Dispatch Manager at the very last second before sending the delivery vehicle out.

This job needs to be done further up the Supply Chain so that the information provided to the person dispatching the vehicles is complete and accurate. This is where having a reliable team dedicated to data management and control can play a pivotal role, ensuring that the data given is accurate so the deliveries are executed effectively.

It is essential that the system is completely dynamic to allow for the change and manipulation of geofences already created so that locations can be plotted accurately. You can then take the feedback from the delivery vehicle drivers and the dispatch mangers to generate informative reports on where mistakes have been made and what needs to be adjusted to show what is accurate.

This on-the-spot resolution of problem locations helps drivers to do their jobs more effectively, immediately, and they look better when being judged on their deliveries. The dispatch managers or de-briefers also don’t need to question driver actions.

The last mile
Final or last mile deliveries have increasingly become the target of logistics companies as customers are more demanding. They want to receive their ordered goods swiftly, within specific time limits and with accuracy of location. Modern customers want to alleviate the old challenges associated with shopping by managing everything with just a few clicks of a button.

Customers have also become impatient when it comes to the time spent waiting from the moment of order to actually receiving the products at their door. The demand for this level of service is daunting for the logistics industry. However, it is something that can be achieved and is a real growth pillar for companies that are focusing on final mile deliveries.


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