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Conquer the Supply Chain with a Small Army

The righ technology can help process more shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Conquer the Supply Chain with a Small Army

Conquering the world is no small task. Any world leader throughout history who’s ever tried it could tell you that you meet resistance wherever you go, and you find that you just don’t have enough resources to fight all the battles you need to gain total victory. No matter your size, your quest for world domination is an exhausting struggle.

However, history has also shown that even with minimal resources the grandest battles can be won. I’d argue that even with their guns and armor, what truly brought victory to the 900 Spanish Conquistadors who faced 200,000 Aztec warriors was superior strategy.

Your business is no different. With the right strategies, you truly can conquer the logistics industry with a small, dedicated army that utilizes simplified yet powerful technology.

No company can afford to send their staff members to the four corners of the globe to reach all possible markets, but modern technology now provides the tools to create the same effect with far less effort. With web conferences, you can talk to your customers regardless of whether they are next door or in the next continent, and you can deliver a broad spectrum of material through this medium directly from your screen to theirs, whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation, a video highlighting your services, skills, and value proposal, or even a live-streamed tour of your facilities. The power of video conferencing allows you to be in the room with your prospects and customers no matter where you are in the world. Having the ability to scale your business quickly allows you to reach new markets without having to over-stretch your payroll, and minimizes the cost of travel at the same time.

While high-speed web technology is the superior weaponry of the logistics business, the same can also be said for training your own army. With the power of the web, you no longer need to assemble your staff in a central location, which inevitably drains valuable time and productivity. Whether you have staff in offices overseas or working remotely from home, e-learning enables you to train your team with the minimum of inconvenience, and at a significantly reduced cost. Software companies may be driving this approach, but the industry itself finds ways to educate staff in new processes and procedures, from how to use new software or effectively load a container, to how to comply with the latest changes in customs regulations. E-learning is the fast and direct way to educate anybody to do anything. Simply type “How do I….” into YouTube and see the multitude of videos dedicated to showing people how to do something new.

Now that your staff is equipped and trained, scalability becomes the most important factor to consider when looking to grow your company. Gaining a victory here means expanding as fast as possible, all while minimizing capital expenditure, head count, and risk to your business. (Perhaps not as difficult as conquering the globe, but close.)

Training staff via e-learning is the first element in minimizing costs. But once they have the skills, what tools and strategies can you provide to make sure they bring the biggest success possible and contribute to business expansion? More than simply having the Spanish guns and steel, their soldiers knew how to use them, when to attack, and when to defend. Because the Aztecs fought 100 percent of the time, it could be said the Spanish were the more productive company in the end, despite the smaller workforce.

You should look to utilize everything at your disposal to ensure your staff work smarter, not harder. Your software—whether that’s your email client, CRM, or freight software—should help you automate your business and remove the manual task burdens that prevent quick and efficient business. Let your highly skilled staff play the highly skilled roles, and let the computer complete the extra work in between, such as automating emails and updating track-and-trace data.

Allow your software to guide your staff to what tasks come next, so the high priority items rapidly rise up the task list. Ultimately, you will provide your current clients with the high quality service and experience they have come to expect, which sets the standard of excellence that attracts new clients as your business naturally scales from there.

Be smart, train smart, and use the best tools, and you really can conquer the world with a small army.

Darren Matthews is a business development analyst for WiseTech Global, a developer of cloud-based logistics software solutions based in Australia.

Transportation Management System software helps third-party logistics providers process greater volumes of export cargo and import cargo in internaitional trade more efficiently.

Working Smarter and Faster with Automation in Logistics

The rise of globalization and ever-changing regulations and security over the last decade has meant logistics providers had to change how they do business. But it is the shift in IT that has had the most profound effect on the logistics industry.

Advancing technology in the past meant reducing staff, but the tech coming in the future may not necessarily lead to layoffs. While some companies may be able to survive without advanced technologies, they certainly can’t thrive without the productivity benefits new tech brings.

The transportation and logistics sector is going through a rapid and unprecedented transformation. Take the online retailer Amazon as an example. It now promises its customers in some areas that their deliveries will arrive within an hour after being ordered online. It’s no secret that this global giant is investigating the use of drone technology to make that speed and efficiency really happen everywhere.

There is a long-standing joke that teleportation could replace delivery, but consumers can see that idea moving a step closer to reality with the advent of 3D printing. Rather than wait for a man in a van to bring your replacement part for the washing machine, you simply receive an electronic file and print the item yourself from the convenience of your own home.

The world is also well on its way to true interconnectivity through the internet of things, which enables various devices to communicate with one another without human activation. Applications that can change the face of the logistics industry are closer to coming true every day, and there are more to watch out for.

A recent study found that 42 percent of retailers and manufacturers would like 3PL companies to have some degree of knowledge about driverless vehicles. Counter to this enthusiasm, however, is the position of the 3PLs themselves, where only 0.75 percent of the providers said they had any knowledge of the technology, and only 12.78 percent said they were even aware it existed.

This is a clear sign of what the marketplace demands for the future, and it’s a resounding call to action for the world’s 3PLs to start investigating the opportunities.

Today, even simple tools—such as POD signature capture devices, in-cab GPS, various vehicle telematics, and RF scanners—are reducing the workload of staff and speeding up processes. But when these devices are integrated across your global transport management system (TMS), you not only speed up the process for a single user, you do so for the whole business. Accurate, timely data is readily available to all, without a second thought.

Automation will, of course, have an impact on your staff. While that may at first signal a reduction in staff numbers, many in the industry are finding that by automating they have been able to significantly grow the businesses by finding the technology that puts the skillsets of their highly valuable teams to the greatest use.

A small change inside your business can allow you to completely restructure the roles of your staff, putting them right where a human face is best placed, rather than where capability limitations dictate them to be. Operating from a single, integrated TMS, they can be easily reassigned to new or different areas of the business whenever the need arises.

TMS software is increasingly automating tasks to replace the manual processes historically managed by staff. Reducing the number of documents you need to produce alongside automating the creation and delivery of emails and various notifications to numerous trading parties can bring efficiency gains of between 30 and 50 percent. When you add other productivity tools, the further potential for automation can completely change the job role or workflow of your personnel. Technology can help you embrace the new era.

Driverless trucks may not happen for a decade yet, and your Amazon order might not be landing in your garden by drone for another couple of years, but technology does exist right now to completely change how you do business. Take advantage of what’s out there, and everyone will see how you work smarter and faster on the outside, all while reducing costs and scaling your business efficiently on the inside.


Darren Matthews is a business development analyst at WiseTech Global, a developer of cloud-based software solutions for the logistics industries, headquartered in Sydney, Australia.