Running a supply chain management or logistics company in today’s highly competitive business environment is a daunting task fraught with technological challenges. To remain relevant, logistics businesses need to ensure that their processes are as streamlined as possible. This will allow them to operate with minimal downtime and at maximum efficiency.
By incorporating the latest trends in supply chain and logistics technology, you can ensure that your business stays ahead of your competition. Today, we examine some of the top challenges faced by logistics companies and discover how an outsourced IT solution can help overcome these issues.
Key challenges faced by the logistics industry
Considering the competitive nature of digitized supply chain logistics, businesses are increasingly faced with the following challenges.
Beyond logistics technology, an IT system whose each and every system operates at full capacity is required for maximum efficiency. From management and finance to warehousing and shipment, any small issue can drastically reduce the overall effectiveness of your business.
Technological changes often outpace other business processes, with updates to security, software, and hardware occurring on a weekly or sometimes daily basis. Keeping abreast of the latest updates can be tedious and time-consuming, but it’s critical to the smooth running of a business. From fleet management to shipment consolidation, IT now plays a critical role every step of the way.
Customer service is the backbone of any business, and this is even more apparent when it comes to logistics. Clients now expect faster deliveries at a lower cost with 24/7 online tracking services rather than reliance on phone and email. Matching client expectations when it comes to costs and delivery times can be a challenging task.
Several technologies have emerged in the past decade that provide real-time tracking at low cost, with rapid access and increased visibility. Enhanced-GPS, RFID tags, and blockchain technology are just some of the groundbreaking developments that leading logistics companies are using to transform their customer service.
With climate change becoming an ever-more pressing topic, businesses are facing a growing demand to meet environmental sustainability goals. The logistics industry is one that falls heavily under the spotlight in this regard, with a particular focus on the use of renewable resources.
Research indicates that sustainability goals can be better achieved through the use of automation and digitization within the supply chain ecosystem. The key area where this is most critical is in the reduction of errors that lead to delayed, rerouted, or undelivered shipments. Smart technologies, when used in conjunction with data-driven innovations like the Internet of Things (IoT), have proven highly successful in helping organizations to achieve their sustainability goals.
How can IT alleviate these challenges?
There is a wealth of new technologies that are being adopted by the logistics industry to help alleviate the above challenges. Some are innovative and disruptive but present regulatory challenges, while others offer a quick, simple fix to an age-old problem.
While all this technology can go a long way to improve the supply chain process, it needs to be properly implemented to achieve optimal results. However, the majority of logistics companies do not make full use of the tools already available to them, often due to a lack of skills and experience within their IT department. If fully utilized, modern logistics technology can help your business to reduce costs, save time, and minimize errors in the following areas:
Many businesses have what they believe to be a well-functioning network infrastructure. It’s likely been in place for years and it gets the basics done — phones ring, emails go through, and orders are processed. However, in the majority of cases, a third-party network audit will find the existing infrastructure to be subpar at best.
In some cases, the efficiency of a company’s network infrastructure can be drastically improved with only a minor overhaul. In other instances, an extensive network upgrade can prove highly beneficial to all areas of business. As your network infrastructure is the foundation upon which all your logistics technology operates, it’s crucial to ensure that it is optimized.
Improving your cybersecurity defenses is the next logical step following the optimization of your network infrastructure. In fact, cybersecurity could be considered the most critical area, but it is reliant on a good network in the first instance.
There is no room for error when it comes to cybersecurity. Everyday, businesses around the world suffer attacks from hackers and cybercriminals, often in the form of data breaches or ransomware. In 2020, the average cost of a ransomware attack in the US was $2.09 million, and while the number of attacks are trending downward, the cost per attack is trending upwards.
Logistics firms make particularly attractive targets due to the urgent nature of their business and the amount of sensitive data they hold. Aside from the financial cost and business interruption, a security breach can be devastating to the reputation of a company — one that many struggle to recover from.
As anybody who works in international logistics knows, regulatory compliance can be a minefield. When dealing with customer details, you face a whole new world of intellectual property (IP) and data protection regulations. With modern data privacy laws and regulations evolving rapidly, keeping track of changes is vital to ensure your business remains compliant.
Some of these regulations have global implications, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, while others are enforced on a local level, such as the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Fortunately, there are various IT solutions that can help to simplify and automate the process, taking the stress of regulatory compliance out of your hands.
Automation has become one of the most important developments in the 21st century, with the potential to revolutionize supply chain and logistics technology. The use of robotics to automate manual warehousing tasks like labeling and packaging not only saves money but also reduces instances of human error and injury.
This doesn’t just stop at warehouse automation — driverless vehicles and automated trucking promise to solve the labor shortages that are currently affecting the logistics industry. While still in its infancy, automation in the form of self-driving vehicles could eventually help to reduce costs related to last-mile delivery, which accounts for a significant percentage of shipping costs.
The effective use of data analytics and KPIs is paramount to ensuring that operations run in a cost-effective and timely fashion. The emergence of “Big Data,” combined with advances in artificial intelligence (AI), is proving to be highly beneficial to the logistics and supply chain industry. Now, you can access real-time reporting and monitoring tools that track warehouse operations, transportation routes, and financial data all in one place.
To fully utilize these benefits, you need access to business intelligence (BI) dashboards. These incredibly powerful software tools put a wealth of information at your fingertips, allowing you to quickly spot bottlenecks and inefficiencies that are threatening your bottom line. However, the software is just the start; getting all the tracking systems in place to ensure accurate reporting is no easy task. An experienced IT team with in-depth knowledge of logistics technology can make the difference between success and failure in this area.
The above technologies can work together to deliver effective logistics and supply chain solutions, with complete transparency and visibility from points A to B. With a comprehensive suite of tools for monitoring, tracking, and alerts, your clients will know that their shipment is in safe hands at all times.
In addition to client-side visibility, modern logistics technology includes a wide range of customizable reporting and notification features to ensure optimal service. It’s imperative that companies make use of these tools to stay relevant and avoid service delivery failures that result in a negative customer experience.
What makes Umbrella a good partner for logistics companies?
Advances in cloud computing have made it possible for smaller businesses to gain access to previously unaffordable technology. Now, anybody with an internet connection and the help of a highly skilled team of IT experts can compete with the biggest players in the logistics industry without breaking the bank.
At Umbrella, you’ll find qualified IT professionals with the skills and know-how to develop a fully comprehensive strategy for your logistics business. From automated reporting and real-time dashboards to mobile app integration and cloud storage, we have everything you need to ensure your clients keep smiling.
An Umbrella partnership gives you access to the latest innovations in supply chain and logistics technology, along with a dedicated team of support agents to install and manage it.
The results you can expect from an Umbrella partnership include:
- Increased productivity: With our cutting-edge logistics technology at your disposal, you’ll quickly notice a marked increase in productivity.
- Improved performance: Umbrella pays close attention to your IT systems at all times, ensuring top-class performance around the clock.
- Zero downtime: With Umbrella’s proactive approach to system maintenance, you can say goodbye to costly downtime.
- Predictable expenses: Our set monthly fee means you’ll never get any nasty surprises from the finance department.
- Specialized talent: With Umbrella, you get instant access to industry-leading talent and resources without any additional cost.
You can choose between a fully managed or co-managed solution, giving your business the flexibility to choose your level of involvement. With a fully managed solution, you can rest assured that the stability and security of your business are in the safest possible hands. If you prefer to take advantage of Umbrella’s expertise while maintaining your existing IT team, a co-managed solution gives you the option to combine forces.
Whichever option you choose, Umbrella will be present throughout your journey, helping you to build a long-lasting IT strategy that will secure the future of your business. Our unique approach emphasizes the success of your business using a combination of proactive and reactive solutions to provide 24/7 coverage and peace of mind.
Speak to an Umbrella associate today to find out how our supply chain and logistics technology can help your business become a leader in its field.