How Digitalization is Transforming Transportation Management

By Nick Torpey, Director, International LLP, DHL Supply Chain

Nick Torpey, Director, International LLP, DHL Supply Chain

Digitalization is creating new opportunities to enhance transportation efficiency, visibility, and resiliency. Not surprisingly, many shippers are looking to their 3PL partners to lead the way on turning these opportunities into reality.

Taking the Pain out of Payment Auditing

Freight payment and auditing is just the tip of the iceberg. These essential tasks can be tedious and time-consuming. The more complex your shipments, the more of a hassle payment and audit becomes.

Here, digitalization has opened the door to automation. Using software-based robots, forward-thinking 3PLs have automated auditing processes to eliminate manual errors and enable even complex audits to be performed in minutes rather than days.

This also creates the opportunity to apply business intelligence tools to freight pay data. Using freight accessorial charges and carrier rates stored in the Transportation Management System (TMS), shippers can work with their 3PL to gain insights into trends and identify inefficiencies.

Gaining Visibility into Shipments – and Trends

Automating audits certainly simplifies transport management, but today’s shippers want more than fast, efficient audits. They want real-time visibility into product movement while enabling the ability to optimize routes and improve planning.

This is possible through a new generation of digital supply chain platforms, such as DHL’s MySupplyChain, that take information from multiple logistics systems and bring them together to provide a single view of freight from the origin (supplier or manufacturing location) to the warehouse, through the various warehouse processes and ultimately the final destination.

"Managing transportation today is all about efficiency, visibility, and resiliency"

MySupplyChain consolidates data from warehouse management and transportation systems into an easy-to-use platform that enables Google-like search capability of all shipments. It brings true track-and-trace capabilities at the individual shipment or part level to the shipper or the shipper’s customer through a browser or mobile app.

By typing in a single part number, users can see every shipment moving with that part number. Because it integrates data from both the TMS and WMS, it provides full accountability and a detailed event description from the warehouse through final delivery, regardless of the number of carriers or modes. A couple of key capabilities of these systems make them especially powerful:

• The ability to easily construct dashboards to monitor KPIs and quickly identify exceptions and manage alerts;

• Easy searchability by any shipper ID such as product number, sales order number, or bill of lading number, regardless of the size of shipment; and

• The ability to customize the dashboard to enable self-service of shipment tracking by customers.

With these new platforms, shippers now have the visibility they need to quickly and efficiently resolve service issues while providing a holistic view that enables simpler and more efficient transportation management.

Managing Unanticipated Events

From an increase in the quantity and severity of natural disasters to a highly dynamic trade environment, today’s global supply chains can be easily disrupted by unexpected events that, unless responded to quickly, can cripple production or create customer dissatisfaction.

That’s why global cloud-based monitoring, visualization, and analytics platforms, such as Resilience360, have become critical. Resilience360 allows customers to visualize and monitor their global network while receiving an advance timely analysis of potential disruptive events and near-real-time alerts of events in progress.

With Resilience360, shippers and their 3PL partners can quantify the impact of disruptive incidents and trigger pre-determined contingency plans when events occur.

Whether it’s responding to natural disasters, preparing for political instability or responding to strikes or new tariffs, the cloud-based Resilience360 platform combines strategic and tactical information to allow shippers to transition from a reactive mode, in which it can take days or weeks to implement necessary changes, to a more proactive mode, which enables response within hours of an incident.

Managing transportation today is all about efficiency, visibility, and resiliency. Through continuous innovation, a 3PL that embraces digitalization by delivering automation, a holistic view of supply chain data and global event monitoring, can deliver all three, bringing simplicity to the complex challenge of global transportation management.

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