Are you ready for the future of the supply chain?
Transport and logistics are more important than many people credit. They account for 8.6% of Australia’s GDP, contribute around $130 billion to our economy, and employ around 1.2 million people, according to estimates by ACIL Allen Consulting.
But it’s also a sector that never stands still. And nor can it afford to. The supply chain is getting smarter, more complex and more competitive. So, for transport and logistics providers, as well as manufacturers, there’s never been a more important time to stay alert and ahead of the game.
Here are 4 changes you can’t afford to ignore:
- Need for better visibility
Lack of visibility is an ongoing supply-chain challenge. As soon as goods and shipments start moving downstream, they are beyond the reach of a single provider’s tracking system and simply “disappear” from view.
However, as the focus moves from delivering goods from “port to port” to “door to door”, the traceability, security and safety of shipments has never been more important. As a manufacturer, you need to know exactly where your goods are — just as your customers need to know where they have come from, and when they are due to arrive. Without this, you have absolutely no way of managing customer expectations around deliveries and delays.
However, different business processes and approaches create a barrier to visibility, not to mention generate extra costs and inefficiencies for individual parties.
But the answer is closer than you think: simple and efficient information exchange.
Putting logistics labels on goods is an important step. With logistics labels, information is provided more quickly, reliably and accurately when the label is scanned at receival. With one compliant label, you eliminate the need for goods to be relabelled by all parties in the chain, thereby improving the reliability of information exchange.
There are 3 essential elements to a logistics label:
- They are identified by a Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC), which is a unique tracking code for logistics units
- The shipper should affixed them
- The carrier can reuse the labels when they take over the goods
GS1 Australia has set standards to ensure logistics labels include all the information required for identifying goods and delivering them. (Matthews can help you with more information and advice on how to print, apply and scan logistics labels. You can also read this paper on Creating Compliant Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) Labels and this quick guide to pallet labelling made easy.) Plus, stay tuned for details of the new Harmonised Australian Transport & Logistics Label.
Another emerging standard designed to enhance visibility through the supply chain is the Electronic Product Code Information Service (EPCIS). As part of the GS1 Australia system of global supply chain standards, the EPCIS is an international standard for recording key events, as goods or items move through a supply chain to the end customer. What makes EPCIS unique is its ability to cover an open supply chain from end to end.
While not yet widely used, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and GS1 Australia have been trialling this standard in supply chains operated by Nestlé Australia, OneSteel and The Reject Shop. The results showed that, when implemented properly, EPCIS could provide a wide range of benefits to the business, their supply chain partners and customers — not least by enabling the companies to enhance customer service for both the primary customer, as well as wholesale and end customers.
- Invest more in technology
Innovation is becoming even more important to transport and logistics companies as they respond to evolving market dynamics and cope with a challenging new environment. The recent 20th Annual Third-Party Logistics (3PL) study, which examines the global outsourced marketplace of shippers and 3PLs in the logistics industry, revealed that: 60% of 3PLs are using technology to increase visibility within orders, shipments and inventory; 48% for scheduling within transportation management; and 40% for planning within transportation management.
Look to technologies that can help you uniquely identify and automatically capture information about logistics units (cartons, pallets, etc.), such as barcode scanners and RFID technology. This enables information to be automatically captured, reducing manual data entry and streamlining your business processes. For example, when a forklift fitted with a scanner picks up a pallet off the end of the line, the stock can be automatically booked into the business’s WMS system.
- Increased competition
To remain competitive, transport and logistics companies must have greater communication and co-ordination with their internal and external trading partners. At the same time, manufacturers need to ensure they have everything in place to keep the supply chain running smoothly and maintain strong relationships with customers.
To meet increasing customer requirements, 58% of 3PLs said they are investing in new capabilities for themselves, while 40% said they are leveraging new capabilities from other companies in different industries and 15% are leveraging new capabilities from competitors.
- Cubing and weighing
The rise of e-commerce and “buy anywhere, ship anywhere” has meant transport and logistics providers have needed to work out how to deal with huge volumes of small packages. What’s the most efficient way to ship and store these?
The result is a growing trend towards cubing and weighing; in other words, using specialist systems to provide precise dimensions and weights of individual items.
By capturing this information, distributors can pick, pack and ship items in the most efficient and economical way. At the same time, the warehouse management system (WMS) can use the information to group items together in a way that optimises packing and storing.
In the USA, FedEx and UPS have already rolled out new dimensional (“dim”) rates, forcing distributors to review their approaches to packaging and shipping. For example, because there are penalties for shipping empty space, many distributors need to find smarter and more economical ways to package goods. (See how optimising your packaging can optimise your supply chain.) One tool helping them find a new approach is “lean” — after all, lean manufacturing is all about identifying and eliminating waste. (Learn more about how lean manufacturing can benefit your business.)
Don’t get left behind
In a competitive and challenging market, it’s essential that transport and logistics providers as well as manufacturers continuously look for ways to drive efficiencies across the supply chain, while lowering costs and meeting customer demands. Don’t get left behind with supply chain changes. You may find this piece on how 3D printing could completely restructure supply chains, improve customisation, push the boundaries of innovation and speed-up manufacturing interesting.
Matthews Australasia was a part of the technology panel on the Transport & Logistics day at the GS1 Supply Chain Week.
Click below to download this free whitepaper on SSCC pallet labelling. Matthews has a vast library of free case studies, whitepapers, FAQ’s and presentations to help you understand solutions better and gain ID and inspection insights that you may find useful. Feel free to download them!
And if you couldn’t get to GS1 Australia’s Supply Chain Week for 2015, here are the highlights, best bits and things you need to know.