Emerging technologies for the management of Logistics and transportation Operations
What are delivery logistics?
Delivery logistics, on the most basic level, is the operational flow from receiving and sourcing products, to its delivery to the customer. It concerns everything in between these 2 stages, including the management of supply chain processes.
For efficient and reliable deliveries, it is important that each business responsible for an aspect of the delivery process is operating efficiently and reliably, with communication channels being clear and streamlined throughout the entire chain.
The emergence and increasing presence of reverse logistics has added complexity to the processes involved in delivery logistics, but the bottom line is that the following elements must be met for a quality distribution process:
Correct quantities in the correct conditions
Correct location, customer, and time
Meeting these key requirements is essential for the overall success and profitability of logistics operations.
Incorporating these ideas into the ever-evolving demands of the end customer - Why is it important for operations to reflect on their current operations, and seek new ways to improve efficiency?
The short answer is competitive advantage. In a growing Industry, with increasing competition, it is vital for operations to implement innovative strategies to offer quicker, more reliable, more consistent, and higher quality service to their customers.
What are the key areas that need to be addressed to ensure improving efficiency?
1. Number of deliveries
Increasing the number of deliveries is obvious - Increased sales equals quicker growth.
2. Order shipped complete on time
Promising order fulfilment and as per customer requirements and ETA’s encourages loyalty, improves reputation and builds trust, all driving customer-base expansion. This order fulfilment process involves the:
3. Accuracy of orders
4. Time per delivery
Reducing the time spent executing each delivery allows for this surplus time to be reinvested elsewhere.
5. Cost per delivery
This ties in with the above factor, but reducing the overall investment made to fulfil each order, understandably, widens profit margins. It is important to not disregard any cost, no matter how insignificant in an isolated process.
6. Business Visibility
Greater visibility equates to greater control, and greater understanding of the operation. With insights into the trends and growth of your business, along with a clear view of each operational process, inefficiencies become apparent and your management teams can formulate strategies for improvement.
What are the various ways logistics operations achieve these aims?
We are now going to take a look at just a few of the ways delivery logistics operations are implementing digital technologies and strategies to improve the productivity of their teams and the overall efficiency of their business.
Route Management, Planning & Optimisation
Traditionally, route planning and scheduling relied on pen & paper. This accompanied with some minor digital assistance still leaves teams with a lot of time needed to plan routes accurately, avoiding mis planning and error along the way.
Although these manual processes can be very effective, and error can definitely be avoided, there are much more efficient ways of route scheduling available nowadays. The reliance on paper brings a host of potential disruptions and errors along the way, along with the added task of organising, duplicating, and filing these plans.
On top of this, the time spent planning routes, no matter how accurate the planning may be, still requires hours or even days to complete. Route planning software can now process orders and provide teams with all the information for them to plan schedules accurately, incorporating ETA’s, multiple delivery points, and any other special customer requirements.
Furthermore, Route optimisation software can automate the process entirely, resulting in quicker routes, faster service times, a more productive and structured day for drivers, and freed up time for office teams who can focus on more important tasks.
The bottom line is that if you can plan routes quicker, further in advance, and more accurately, your business can:
Improve customer service with reliable, consistent order fulfilment
Ensure orders are accurate and quantities are correct every time, resulting in fewer disputes and returns
Savings on fuel costs, and reduced survive times for drivers
Less time spent planning by your office teams, which can be reinvested elsewhere
Delivery tracking & Real-time Reporting
Once a delivery has left a depot or warehouse, there are 3 drawbacks that a lack of visibility can have on the operation:
Office staff will have to telephone drivers to receive updates, and vice versa
Drivers who face delays will further disrupt their schedule by manually contacting the appropriate teams
Customers will have delayed updates on their deliveries, which can be both frustrating and inconvenient
Each of these issues comes down to the need to take time away from primary tasks to update and communicate with relevant information.
With GPS tracking systems that are now widely available, all of the appropriate people can quickly receive live, automatic updates on deliveries, whether that’s a customer, management, office or warehouse staff.
These automations prevent avoidable delays, and can even improve the response times to those disruptions that are unavoidable.
For instance, with an integrated delivery and driver tracking system, your teams can see exactly where drivers are, which orders have been completed, the order and customer details, usually on a single screen. Automated updates can be sent to customers, and drivers can focus on their schedules.
This visibility can be enhanced with a complete sales order to delivery system, which tracks and records updates in real-time from order placement to recording a signature from the customer at the point of delivery, invoicing and billing completion.
Inventory management & stock control
Along the similar line to driver and delivery tracking, is automated and optimised inventory management and stock control.
Optimised inventory management is important for a few key reasons:
Most efficient use of warehouse space
Reduced wastage, and avoidance of surplus stocks which lead to overcrowded inventories
Ensuring reorder levels are optimised, which subsequently improves order fulfilment
Regardless of inventory, depot, van, or warehouse, inventory management software allows operations to manage and track assets and stock levels in real-time.
This can result in more flexible management of resources, allowing for actions such as van-to-van transfers to ensure optimum sales capacity. With the elimination of paper recording and paper processes, logistics operations can keep a closer control of stock levels, and avoid the miscount or miscalculation of quantities and products.
All of these changes can be monitored through a single view, allowing your teams to stay on top of all changes with an automatically updated activity log.