According to Gartner, “By 2023, 50% of global product-centric enterprises will have invested in real-time transportation visibility platforms.” This much is for certain, transportation visibility is going to be a key value driver for global supply chains – be it shippers, carriers, 3PL and even the end customer. What’s accelerated this need are the multiple supply chain shocks that we have witnessed over the last couple of years – Covid, Suez Canal blockage, record high freight rates in Asia and severe backlogs in major ports and airports across the globe. Given these circumstances getting end-to-end shipment visibility with timely ETA updates becomes mandatory. However, the question remains, is just shipment visibility ever going to be sufficient?
Customers in industrial manufacturing, auto and auto ancillaries and chemicals generally tend to have a complex supply chain setup. Complex - because the raw material sourcing is generally truly global, arriving in multimodal shipments through road, rail, air and ocean, and often multi-legged. The customer might be shipping raw materials through multiple FCL and LCL shipments, say from China and Dubai. The timely arrival of these raw materials is directly linked to production planning schedules or customer delivery commits. Any delay in such shipments directly puts revenue at risk for both the customer and the company.
During multiple customer calls, I have heard a recurring theme from customers – “I already have shipment-level visibility but if I don’t know on which shipment the material I need right now is in, how do I take action for it?” Without this key insight, just shipment-level visibility is not enough. A container might be docked for 4 days - while the shipment-level visibility suggests that the container has arrived, the material you need might not come out for another three days! This is further exacerbated by the fact that most global shipments are multi-modal in nature, i.e. one container goes across multiple hands – road leg at source, air/ocean transport and then another road leg at the destination. For a warehouse planning team, knowing about material-level delays helps them plan better for their production runs, and map revenue-at-risk due to any delayed shipments. This revenue-at-risk can be directly mapped back to finished goods whose production will be impacted due to a particular raw material not reaching in time.
Furthermore, the visibility not only provides benefits to the transportation organization, customer service and associated warehouses, but also allows extending this visibility to the customer who is demanding such insights for their materials. These preemptive insights positively impact customer NPS scores and ensure more repeat orders.
While preempting shipping delays is critical, a system should also be capable of suggesting remediation steps. Remediation steps for delayed shipments can include options to expedite a subsequent shipment through air as an immediate solution, and alternate sourcing strategies in case of recurring delays on a particular route or supplier (in case of inbound shipments)
At Pando we have adapted three key levers to addressing this “material level visibility” problem:
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