4 Essential Technologies of Highly-Effective Logistics Management

Nearly every company—large and small—has access to advanced enterprise technology that at one time was only accessible to the largest businesses. These are four major technologies that have become essential tools for mastering any company’s supply chain or logistics operations:
1. Configurable Business Process Management

Every day, logistics leaders execute hundreds of processes and activities within their freight operations, many of these, manually. Business process management technology leverages code-free tools to enable businesses to automate flexible freight processes. These configurable tools help companies more efficiently execute and track freight orders and control how carriers are managed and paid.

Speaking on the benefits of business process management technology for logistics operations, Andrew Haines, Senior Product Director for GlobalTranz’s Enterprise TMS said, “Leveraging business process management tools enable companies to decrease rebills through advanced matching and auditing, which ultimately leads to reduced freight costs.” Haines noted, “With increased automation, a result of utilizing business process management tools, companies can also enable employees to focus more time on new revenue-generating activities, instead of manual tasks.”

2. Business Rules Engines

All businesses have unique requirements and behaviors within their freight operations that impact accuracy, corporate goals, and customer service levels. Technology that’s capable of using business data and configurable business rules to automate decisions based on customer specific needs drives efficiency. For example, if a consignee’s terminal closes from 12–1 p.m. and does not accept pick-ups during this time, a TMS with a business rules engine can provide only the carriers that meet those specific delivery windows and standards when rating and procuring transportation. This leads to higher customer satisfaction and a significant decrease in rebills and retention fees, which ultimately saves in overall transportation costs.

3. Cloud Integration

An important component to process automation is integrating all critical business systems, like ERP (enterprise resource planning), WMS (warehouse management software), OMS (order management software) and shipper TMS (transportation management software), to gain full visibility and data exchange. An enterprise shipper and broker TMS will have pre-built integration adapters for the most common business applications, along with professional service teams that will assist with integration.

Integration platforms using a broad set of web service and EDI application programming interfaces (APIs) create a robust exchange of real-time information, as well as increase the speed and accuracy of purchase orders, acknowledgments and shipment updates.

For example, leading enterprise TMS solutions often integrate movement orders from a WMS or OMS and receive data on planned movements far in advance. This allows true managed transportation providers to lock in capacity ahead of actual shipment dates.

When you connect your systems, you gain full visibility into your supply chains through a control tower of combined vendor, customer and operational data. Ultimately, integration and automation helps businesses go-to-market faster and outpace the competition.

4. Predictive Analytics

Using big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analytics evaluates current and past data to make predictions. Through predictive analytics, companies can shift from reacting to events to proactive decision-making. In logistics, predictive analytics helps businesses manage disruptions (like weather), reduce downtime and effectively plan and budget logistics spend and operations.

In addition to dealing with disruptions, predictive analytics also helps companies manage freight spend and track financial forecasts. When you combine data points from manufacturing production and order processing with carrier capacity and performance, you’ll gain a better understanding of the ideal combination of carriers and services to meet your needs. With predictive analytics, you’ll discover answers to questions like “How many orders can we service within budget for a given set of lanes? or What will our freight spend look like in two to five years based on production goals?”

Leveraging Improvement and Optimization Technology

Fortunately for all of us in the logistics industry, you don’t need a Fortune 100-sized budget to use these emerging technologies. Instead, partner with a 3PL or TMS provider that offers a proprietary and configurable TMS leveraging these technologies. GlobalTranz’s TMS, GTZconnect, for example, arms companies of all sizes with business process management tools, business rules engines, integration tools and predictive analytics capabilities to help drive efficiency and cost savings into supply chains. And all at a price point that’s affordable for any company.

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