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How technology is causing companies to rethink their supply chains

03.06.2020 | By Peter Frys | 4 min. read

The drive toward digital

Whether your business is just starting to explore digital shipping solutions or you’re already fully embracing the digital supply chain transformation, the fact remains that the freight industry is headed for a revolutionary change. From major global logistics powerhouses — like UPS and Amazon — to small mom and pop shipping operations, every type of logistics-dependent business will experience the effects of the industry as it moves toward greater reliance on technology for day-to-day operations.

But what exactly does this digital transformation entail, and how can you implement these solutions in your own operations? Let’s take a look at the changing supply chain landscape and how shippers of all kinds stand to benefit.

What is supply chain digitization?

Dubbed “Supply Chain 4.0,” the latest transformation in the shipping industry stems from the increasing utilization of — and reliance on — a variety of interconnected technologies for enhanced visibility, agility, and performance across a company’s supply chain. This often begins at the supply-chain management level, like using connected databases for warehouse management, and has progressively shifted to more traditionally brass-tacks processes, like using connected robotics throughout an organizational system to achieve uniform execution.

According to logistics consultant Rich Sherman, supply chain digitization “Collects all transaction data from all of the silos into an electronic state in a database. . . So now all the silos have common access to data sources outside their function.” This connected ecosystem invites collaboration at all levels of an organization’s internal and external structure, leading to a more cohesive strategy, improved analytics, faster execution, and happier customers and clients — all of which drive revenue growth. In the on-demand world, customers’ expectations are ever-growing; more people want fast service and full transparency, both with as little environmental and human impact as possible. Supply Chain 4.0 meets these expectations using, among other tactics, autonomous technologies, granular data tracking, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to transmit data and replace physical processes with a digital flow.

The benefits of Supply Chain 4.0

From inventory lists to transportation routes, a full integration of operations and technology allows shippers the opportunity to combine and share cross-functional data in a fraction of the time. Digitization eliminates the gap in communication times and gives companies a path to make decisions instantly and proactively, rather than reactively. That flexibility also offers shippers a way to communicate issues as soon as they arise — say, if a time-sensitive shipping delay occurs. Additionally, shippers are able to utilize real-time data trends to forecast performance and demand more accurately, leaving room for planning further in advance and long-term strategy. 

Being able to transform into a digitally agile company also helps shippers implement a lean supply management system. Streamlining an entire system into a fewer number of key processes can minimize or entirely eliminate excess procedures and costs, like paperwork and file storage. For some companies, especially smaller shipping businesses, the cost savings in paperwork alone could turn the tide toward a profitable year.

To be sure, this shift doesn’t come without growing pains. The trickle-down nature of a company’s operational supply chain structure requires a massive amount of cooperation and coordination among all players to achieve a seamless production model. If, for example, a supplier shifts to exclusively utilizing computerized inventories, but its receiving partners aren’t online with the same system, critical information can arrive late or go missing entirely, majorly impacting each company’s bottom line. That said, the bottom-line benefits for all partners to jump on board outweigh the initial costs (and frustrations) of ramping up in the long run.

Making the shift to digital shipping solutions

Shippers in particular are moving toward modernizing their supply chains and shipping methods. Companies that store and access a wealth of information in an agile and adaptable system are more resilient to industry fluctuations and better able to tailor their operations to the current market and the needs of their customers. As a result, a McKinsey study found that shippers who successfully make the shift toward a digitized supply chain experience annual revenue growth of 2.3%; additionally, the company predicts up to a 30% reduction in operational costs.

Here are just a few ways in which tech-savvy shipping companies can digitize their processes for faster, smarter shipping.

  • Pallet-level GPS tracking sensors provide real-time visibility into where a given shipment is at any time. In the event of delays, shippers can pivot immediately toward alternative solutions and can provide customers with updated (and accurate) information.
  • Instant data on fuel supply and consumption at a lane-specific level allows shippers to make long-term strategic decisions and transportation improvements.
  • Autonomous and eco-friendly vehicles reduce transportation costs and lower a company’s carbon footprint, in addition to offering real-time location updates for accurate delivery forecasts.
  • Shared inventory data leads to more accurate and efficient shipment scheduling, with trucks consistently transporting at capacity, reducing deadhead miles, and increasing profitability with every haul.

As the trucking industry’s evolution continues, Flock Freight® is uniquely situated to usher in this new era with shared truckload shipping, a freight mode that enables several shippers to share trailer space in one multi-stop full truckload. Utilizing cutting-edge pooling technology, Flock Freight’s shared truckload solution (FlockDirect™️) algorithmically groups your freight with other freight that’s moving in the same direction and optimizes the delivery route. Rather than relying on manual processes to connect shippers and carriers, we embrace digital solutions that allow us to tap into the full truckload network and move the loads hubless, resulting in faster service, lower risk of damage, and complete control over your pickup and delivery dates. Plus, pooling your freight with that of other shippers on one truck requires an average of 40% less fuel than standard LTL service, eliminating wasteful miles.

If you’re ready to join the digital supply chain transformation, it’s time to partner with a company that’s ahead of the curve. Get started today and experience the Flock Freight difference.

Flock Freight is uniquely positioned to help you modernize your supply chain.