These days, real-time visibility is all the rage. From industry publications to expert reports to supply chain events and conferences, it seems like visibility is at the forefront of everyone's minds. But it's more than just a buzzword. Visibility is the key to building the supply chain of the future.
So what's so great about real-time visibility anyway? Below we've outlined the five reasons that forward thinking manufacturers have already begun to invest in in-transit visibility solutions today.
1. Reduce In-Transit Damages
Every year, billions of dollars are lost due to shipments that have been damaged in transit. Whether it's pharmaceutical products destroyed thanks to an incorrectly set refrigerated container or a shipment of critical medical equipment broken due to mishandling on the loading dock, in-transit damages can be a serious problem. That's why manufacturers are turning to real-time visibility solutions that provide an immediate heads up is damage is likely to occur. With long-lasting multi-sensor trackers attached to each shipment and transmitting data to the cloud, the manufacturer can monitor in-transit condition in real time, enabling them to identify exactly when and where problems are occurring, and in some cases, solve the problem before the damage is done.
2. Eliminate Late Shipments
In addition to pinpointing in-transit damages, real-time visibility tools make it possible to know exactly where shipments are at all times, if they've been stopped in one location for a long time, and if they are likely to arrive late. Armed with comprehensive data regarding the real-time location of high-value shipments, manufacturers can eliminate the source of delays (be it a less-than-reliable carrier, a sub-optimal route, or some other issue), as well as plan ahead to mitigate the costs of delays when they do occur.
3. Impress Your Customers
Ultimately, it's all about offering a top-notch customer experience. With immediate insight into potential problems such as damages and delays, you can warn the customer in advance, or better yet, you can fix the problem before they even noticed anything was wrong. Instead of waiting to find out from your customer that the shipment of critical electronic components or high-quality coffee beans arrived damaged, you can get a notification as soon as the damage occurs, giving you time to order a replacement, warn the customer, and take other proactive steps to remedy the situation.
4. Optimize Your Operations
In addition to improving customer experience, real-time visibility across your supply chain makes it possible to leverage big data analytics and frameworks such as Lean and Six Sigma to comprehensively optimize your internal operations. Instead of putting out fires whenever they arise, you can rely on large datasets to identify trends and eliminate the root causes of problems on a systemic level. For example, methodologies such as Statistical Process Control make it possible to separate real problems from noise in the data, enabling a quantitative, data-driven approach to the optimization of the supply chain.
5. Stay Competitive — Or Get Left Behind
Whether you're most interested in cutting costs through data-driven optimization, eliminating in-transit damages and delays, or just delivering the best possible customer experience, real-time visibility is key. In the past, customers may have been satisfied with limited transparency into the real-time location and condition of their goods. But today, we have entered a new era. As the Amazon Effect shifts both consumer and commercial expectations, it's become vital to embrace new visibility technologies to stay competitive in the modern marketplace.
The future of supply chain is all about visibility. The modern manufacturer must incorporate digital visibility tools, but more importantly, they must foster a mindset of transparency, collaboration, and data-driven optimization. It is only by maintaining this mindset - and the tools and technologies that go along with it - that one can stay competitive and succeed in the modern market.