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Growing Manufacturing Companies Through System Integration

manufacturing

Growing Manufacturing Companies Through System Integration

Each function in a supply chain must work together like a well-oiled machine. Not only does this require systems and technology to work together, but also the processes built around it and the people managing it. Integrating diverse solutions deployed within a supply chain network can maximize data sharing to improve visibility, processes, and overall operational excellence.

Successful supply chain management relies on information and communication in order to track the movement of goods, spot issues, and make effective day-to-day decisions to, ultimately, deliver the right items, to the right customers, on time.

Integration across this ecosystem can yield:

1. Greater efficiency through streamlined and optimized operations.

2. Time and cost savings through productivity improvements, waste reduction, and efficiency increases.

3. Accelerated time-to-market with automated processes, optimized workflows, and the ability to make decisions faster.

4. More flexibility to adapt and change strategies to meet demands or shifts in consumer behavior.

5. Added insights by using advanced analytics on centralized, accessible data.

Often, the types of systems in this ecosystem include:

-Order management systems (OMS)

-Warehouse management systems (WMS)

-Manufacturing execution systems (MES)

-Transportation management systems (TMS)

-Warehouse control systems

-Yard management systems (YMS)

-Enterprise asset management systems (EAM)

-Enterprise resource planning systems (ERP)

 

supply_chain

A Digital Supply Chain Hub with SOLOCHAIN WMS Integrations

Companies that focus on creating Digital Supply Chain Hub can break down silos of legacy systems and bring processes and data into an integrated and connected ecosystem. SOLOCHAIN WMS transforms warehouse operations to scale for growth with the integration capabilities to support manufacturers digitizing the supply chain processes.

Importance to Manufacturers

Digitization of supply chain processes is critical to future growth. The SOLOCHAIN WMS ecosystem provides the specific processes and capabilities manufacturers require:

-Advanced warehouse functions and manufacturing execution

-Optimized production floor execution and lean manufacturing

-Work-in-process management and tracking

-License plate and container management

-Recipe management and consumption module

-Quality assurance with electronic checklists

-Track and trace capabilities

-Electronic recall capabilities

Built-in MES

As the command center of manufacturing operations, MES enables manufacturers to attain high inventory accuracy, productivity, and waste elimination throughout the manufacturing process. SOLOCHAIN WMS has built-in MES functionality to give businesses visibility and traceability within their supply chain. This integration is ideal for manufacturers and industries with multi-stage manufacturing processes and traceability regulations that need to connect the warehouse to the production floor and trace raw materials and finished goods forwards and backward.

Warehouse Control System Integration

Warehouse control systems are important to a warehouse’s automation capabilities as it controls and monitors equipment performance. SOLOCHAIN WMS integrates with various warehouse control system components, such as conveyor belts, sorters, scales, pick-to-light systems, carousels, and print and apply stations.

Mobile Hardware Integrations

Mobility is central to efficient warehouse operations. Handheld and mobile devices make it possible for a worker to be mobile within the warehouse, but it also can boost employee morale. By giving and utilizing devices that workers are comfortable with – iPads, touch screens, etc. – work is more enjoyable, and it takes less time to complete tasks. SOLOCHAIN WMS is platform-agnostic and compatible with Apple iOS, Android OS, and Microsoft Windows mobile.

For Cameron’s coffee, using iPads and tablets for production combined with other handheld devices enabled workers to run more production lines, be more mobile, and reduce the need for computers at every station.

ERP Integration

ERP systems support supply chain planning and manage day-to-day business activities, such as procurement, purchasing, risk management, accounting, and more. It is critical for a company’s warehouse management system to share information with its ERP seamlessly. SOLOCHAIN WMS provides out-of-the-box integration with third-party ERP systems to synchronize data and monitor inbound and outbound transactions in real-time.
This integration allows companies to report faster, close month-end sooner, and manage all business processes better.

ERP integrations include:

-SAP

-Oracle Peoplesoft

-Oracle JD Edwards Enterprise One

-Microsoft Dynamic AX

-Microsoft Dynamics Nav

-Microsoft Dynamics GP

-Syspro

-Epicor

-And others as we are ERP agnostic!

TMS Integration

TMS systems can vary. And how companies ship their products is shifting with changing consumer behaviors. Traditionally, large companies would send products LTL using freight brokers. With eCommerce and omni-channel distribution taking priority, there is a movement toward using small package courier systems. SOLOCHAIN WMS integrates with a variety of TMS systems.

SOLOCHAIN can further optimize warehouse processes, such as picking strategies, based on information exchange with the TMS through this integration.

Manufacturer Blue Streak Electronics doubled output capacity and expanded to eCommerce channels using SOLOCHAIN WMS and a TMS, ProShip, for small parcel shipping.

Read more about how four companies used SOLOCHAIN WMS and integrations to digitize their supply chain processes, transform operations, and facilitate growth.

Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. Our solutions are in use around the world, and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.

This article originally appeared here. Republished with permission. 

WMS

How SOLOCHAIN WMS Can Enable Your Growth Strategy

Successful growth strategies require technology-enabled innovation. Manufacturers can look at various technologies to automate operations, improve efficiencies, and scale more efficiently throughout the entire supply chain. A WMS is one technology that can help manufacturers transform their warehouse or plant operations to scale for growth. 

A good WMS will provide real-time inventory visibility and create new efficiencies within inbound, warehousing, manufacturing, and outbound processes. SOLOCHAIN WMS combines warehouse management and manufacturing execution system capabilities to deliver a cloud-based, flexible platform with features and capabilities to enable efficiencies and support operational excellence.

Inbound Processes – Improve Receiving, Inspecting, and Put-Away of Inventory

The goal of a WMS is to reduce the number of steps in a process and the touches or movements of inventory. During inbound processes, SOLOCHAIN WMS optimizes inventory receiving.

-SOLOCHAIN WMS enables cross-docking by receiving, creating the picks, and staging the inventory to ship out within a cross-dock zone without putting the inventory into overstock or pick locations within the warehouse. Cross-docking can help move products more quickly based on sales orders and reduce overall handling and movement of inventory.

-Put-away logic in SOLOCHAIN WMS can help workers put inventory in the best or right location when it enters the warehouse. This is important for frozen, refrigerated, and other goods to ensure it is in the proper place. Likewise, put-away logic can bring additional efficiencies if it makes sense from a logistics standpoint to allow forward pick locations to be topped up during the receiving process while still respecting FIFO/FEFO rotation. Put-away logic will help optimize the picking process and improve inventory turnover.

Warehouse Processes – Improve Inventory Control, Accuracy, and Movement of Inventory

SOLOCHAIN WMS can improve inventory control and accuracy within warehouse processes and make inventory movement more efficient and productive.

-Cycle counting within SOLOCHAIN WMS allows for inventory control and accuracy. Inaccurate inventory is one significant way businesses lose revenue. A strong cycle counting process gives a warehouse an ongoing measurement of inventory accuracy while reducing stock shrinkage and shutdowns and the ability to identify out-of-sync inventory or mistakes more quickly.

-Warehouse movements are managed in SOLOCHAIN WMS. These can include put-away moves, replenishments, pre-emptive replenishments, manual moves, and picking. To improve operational efficiency within the warehouse, task interleaving can reduce deadheading and maximize travel time. For example, a forklift operator will complete the next closest task based on their location in the warehouse – it could be a pick, a cycle count, a replenishment, etc.

Manufacturing Execution Functionality – Support Kitting, Multi-Stage Manufacturing, and Recall Reporting

Unlike many WMS, SOLOCHAIN WMS has MES functionality built into the platform to give businesses real-time visibility and traceability throughout the supply chain.

-Kitting or multi-stage manufacturing processes can be managed with SOLOCHAIN WMS to produce finished products. The warehouse becomes connected with the production floor to ensure a consistent material flow.

-Traceability and recall reporting is made possible by SOLOCHAIN WMS. Throughout assembling or producing a finished product, detailed information about each material used is tracked, including lot numbers. As a result, manufacturers can trace forwards and backward. For example, if there was an issue with a single ingredient, the manufacturer can trace all finished products where it was used. Alternatively, if there was an issue with a finished product, the manufacturer can also identify all raw materials used to produce the good. Real-time traceability allows for recall reporting in instances where there are product issues. This functionality is ideal for industries with traceability regulations such as food, cosmetics, and nutraceuticals.

Outbound Processes – Manage Order Types, Fulfill Efficiently, and Meet Customer Compliance Requirements

As customer buying behaviors have shifted significantly, businesses strive to enable new channels to support customer needs, such as eCommerce and omnichannel experiences. How efficiently outbound logistic processes operate is critical to success. Outbound processes managed within SOLOCHAIN WMS are flexible and highly configurable.

-Multiple order types are managed within SOLOCHAIN WMS, and the solution looks to optimize the picking process for the specific order type. A warehouse can fulfill orders for direct eCommerce, omnichannel, and traditional wholesale more efficiently as WMS will direct the pick from the most efficient location. For example, if a large pallet quantity is in the order, the WMS may suggest picking the oldest pallets from bulk overstock rather than from forward pick locations. Likewise, customer compliance requirements can be generated through SOLOCHAIN WMS.

-From a shipping perspective, SOLOCHAIN WMS can be integrated with a TMS system. If the WMS is integrated with the TMS system, the platform can further optimize the picking process. For example, SOLOCHAIN WMS can wait for enough case quantities to create a picklist that will pull a full pallet shipped out by UPS. The UPS shipping labels are printed and applied in sequence during the pick creation as the worker picks the product. With a whole pallet of product, the worker can move and load it onto the UPS trailer versus taking it to a packing station.

The core capabilities of SOLOCHAIN WMS optimize processes – inbound, outbound, manufacturing, warehousing – and accurately capture data and use it to enable new efficiencies. To learn more about the features and capabilities of SOLOCHAIN WMS, download the Gartner Magic Quadrant for WMS Report today.

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About Generix Group

As omni-channel driven demands become the norm, with resulting customer satisfaction harder to achieve, supply chain professionals need to leverage advanced WMS technology to keep their operations nimble, efficient, and scaling – especially in these volatile times.

Given Generix Group’s completeness of vision and ability to execute, as recognized once again by the Gartner analyst community, their SOLOCHAIN WMS is well positioned to help companies needing a modern, flexible and agile solution that can easily adapt to their changing needs. We invite you to contact us to learn more.

This article originally appeared here. Republished with permission, 

transportation

Transportation Solutions for Retail Companies

One of the most headache-inducing tasks in the retail sector is undoubtedly transport management. The increasing complexity of flows between suppliers, warehouses, stores, end customers and, of course, the inevitable returns. This can create a nightmare universe for those responsible for coordinating the transportation area, but, above all, it can open a gap through which the company’s profitability is lost surprisingly quickly.

It is normal for the retail industry to face daily fluctuations and changes in its transportation needs, and in these conditions, having an effective Transportation Management System (TMS) solution is what makes the difference between companies that can always track and manage the movement of their goods and those that continue to blindly trust that everything will go according to plan.

Transportation technology as a lever of value

As companies realize the importance of transportation and its direct impact on business results, TMS technology solutions are emerging as key tools to help improve the customer experience, increase the efficiency of their shipments to stores and reduce costs in their transportation network.

Download Our TMS Product Sheet

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A TMS facilitates route and load optimization, contract writing, order tracking and shipment notifications so that not only is uncertainty reduced, but decisions can be made and executed in real time based on available information.

Multi-collection, multi-delivery, optimization of resources in terms of volume, weight and optimal mileage are unavoidable needs for a retailer who wants to stay in the market and not be left behind. As if all these day-to-day difficulties were not enough, Covid-19 has introduced more variability, uncertainty and difficulties in planning or maintaining fixed routes, so the flexibility provided by a TMS now takes on vital importance.

Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. From Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Transportation Management Systems (TMS) to Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and more, software platforms can deliver a wide range of benefits that ultimately flow to the warehouse operator’s bottom line. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.

This originally appeared here. Republished with permission. 

multimodal

Leveraging International Multimodal Transportation in the Face of Globalization

Transportation activity has expanded considerably in recent years with the globalization of trade. However, in the face of accelerating flows of goods and passengers, supply chain players have had to review their supply strategies, especially in terms of demand and regulatory standards. In this context, multimodal transport is a sensible solution to meet consumer needs and solve the problem of network saturation. With new methods that move lines internationally and stimulate innovation in the field of logistics and transportation, we won’t complain!

The new challenges of international transport

The supply chain today is subject to multiple factors to be considered to propose the right transportation solutions. But what are the points that must be respected to meet the needs of consumers around the world?

New consumption patterns

Consumer trends observed around the world have a very significant impact on logistics services: diversity of consumption habits according to countries and areas of residence, changes in customer expectations at the point of sale, and new delivery requirements.

The end of the “one size fits all” era

Contrary to what we had thought in the past, globalization is no longer synonymous with standardization. The era of “one size fits all” is over. Consumption patterns vary greatly from one country to another: it would be dangerous to ignore them.

Export companies must be able to meet local requirements as precisely as possible. The key to international success now lies in the customization of the offer.

Variable customer profiles according to culture

To be successful at the international level, brands must deal with different consumption patterns according to cultural habits. Regional specificities must be considered in companies’ commercial strategies.

Although it is shared in Europe and the United States, the e-commerce trend is taking shape, for example, in totally different ways in different countries, especially when it comes to services. In China, companies are confronted with the needs of two main categories of consumers: city dwellers, who want quality and services, and rural dwellers, who buy products in bulk at low prices.

In the promising African market, professionals expect a lot from the implementation of banking services and infrastructures to catch up. As for the Middle East and North Africa group, they are ideally located at the crossroads of international highways. On the other hand, the political and social changes currently taking place in Libya, Syria and Yemen bode well for the future.

Increasing urbanization and demand diversification

Sociologically, the global trend is towards urbanization. According to a UN study published in May 2018 in New York, the world’s population living in urban areas is expected to increase from 55% in 2018 to 70% in 2050. Therefore, consumer expectations and needs are inevitably changing. Customers now prefer smaller stores, which in turn also have less storage space, and are demanding more and more services such as home delivery or click and collect.

While convenience shopping is becoming increasingly common online, customers also want a different experience at the point of sale. As a result, brands that once focused on low prices and self-service must now question everything. They must also adapt to a growing middle class whose needs, homogeneous in terms of basic offerings and services provided, are diversifying into products that offer better margins.

One of the main challenges of global transportation is undoubtedly the issue of delivery times. A major problem for Supply Chain players, penalized by infrastructure capacity problems and difficulties in finding labor.

To learn more, consult our TMS Product Sheet here!

Transport infrastructure capacity: a major challenge

Regardless of the mode of transport they use, all carriers face network congestion problems. Therefore, new solutions remain to be invented to develop transport modes, especially in terms of capacity.

Globalization and its limitations

Shipping, which covers more than 90% of world trade, is still the cheapest mode of transport today. But it is less and less responsive to the challenges of today’s trade. The consequences? A capacity crisis causing many delays with unavoidable negative impacts.

And the increase in the capacity of container ships does not change this, as it also limits the possibilities of accommodating cargo ships in ports. There are few infrastructures capable of accommodating large vessels and with sufficient resources to load and unload them.

Always cost-effective and flexible, road transport is the essential option for door-to-door deliveries. But the shortage of truck drivers in Europe and North America is limiting its development.
Rail transport is also reaching its limits, with heterogeneous infrastructures in Europe generating a high rate of damage. In fact, a global trade route war is currently being waged, with significant financial investments.

How to overcome the problem of road transport?

Different approaches are being explored to address the problems encountered in road transportation.

Investing in autonomous vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are undoubtedly the future of transportation, provided that regulations are changed and that this new mode of transportation is accepted by the population. Although the technology is almost ready, there are still some bottlenecks. As proof: in the absence of benefiting from a regulatory framework for non-polluting vehicles, Deret electric trucks were recently blocked at the entrance to Paris during the first days of alternating traffic.

Evolution of rail transport

The railroad began its offensive with the commissioning of a new rail route between China and the Netherlands. The first train carrying cargo containers arrived at the port of Rotterdam in 2015. It took only 18 days to complete the journey, compared to 44 days by sea.

The problems of punctuality and tracking have yet to be solved, but the rail industries are testing new technologies to reduce these risks. Like the partnership between IDEO (a subsidiary of ID Logistics) and Lille-based start-up Everysens to produce connected wagons integrating IoT sensors on behalf of Danone Eaux.

Consider alternative solutions

Other interesting solutions have been developed to address specific issues. Take Steve Jobs, for example, who invested $50 million in buying air cargo space to ensure delivery of his new translucent blue iMacs by Christmas.

The revolution is underway. International companies cannot ignore it: to think globally, they must empower themselves to act locally, according to the context and characteristics of the market.

Multimodal transport: A response adapted to consumer needs?

Global trade also means international sourcing, distance from production sites and mass flows of goods. These are all challenges in terms of logistics. To meet these needs, actors in the supply chain are increasingly using multimodal transport, which has many advantages.

A bit of history

A small leap in time. In the 1960s, the advent of the container was a real revolution in transportation. Thanks to this invention, it was possible to transport goods all over the world without breaking the cargo. This could be done by sea, air, rail, road or water. In this context, multimodal transport was able to take off.

Today, although globalization and the large production centers located in Asia have accelerated the development of maritime transport of goods, alternative means of transport are still necessary to reach the end consumer. Thus, today, transport is mainly overseas (by ship or plane), but road transport is essential when approaching ports and for home deliveries.

So, it is not only maritime freight transport that has benefited from internationalization: road transport and other available means have managed to develop in its wake. But in addition to the complementarity between maritime and road transport, other forms of multimodality have emerged. Take the example of Switzerland and Austria, which have developed rail highways to transport complete road units by train to improve regularity and limit pollution.

The advantages of multimodal transport

As an alternative to 100% road transport of goods, multimodal transport combines at least two different modes of transport, from the departure of production units to their arrival as close as possible to the final consumer. The transfer takes place without load breakage since the same loading unit (the container) remains the same for the entire duration of the transport of the goods.

Its many advantages justify the enthusiasm it generates in the supply chain:

1. Improved delivery times.
2. Increased security of the goods.
3. Optimization of costs related to the transport of consumer goods.
4. Improved load capacity, which is higher than that of road transport.
5. Greater respect for the environment.

Reconciling urban logistics and quality of life

Last mile delivery, which represents about 20% of freight transport costs, is the current challenge for logistics professionals. New organizational schemes that respond to the commercial strategies of brands and meet the urban and ecological policies implemented in the territories have not yet been found.  Multimodal transport could once again play a key role in this area. Proof of this is the multiplication of multimodal transport experiences and the structuring of shared logistics platforms in urban areas.

Some examples of multimodal procurement

Several brands have already taken the next step by focusing on new multimodal transport solutions. Monoprix, for example, has chosen to combine rail and road freight transport for its supplies within Paris.

From the departure of the warehouses to a logistics platform based in Bercy, goods are first transported by rail. The products are then transported as close as possible to consumers by road: gas-powered trucks are used to supply the points of sale, in addition to electric vehicles for home deliveries.

Thanks to a partnership with XPO Logistics, Ports of Paris and Voies Navigables de France, the Franprix brand (Casino group) has entered the urban waterway shipping market.

Urban centers are multiplying

Logistics is not lagging in terms of multimodal sourcing: several initiatives underway in Lille, Saint-Etienne and Paris show a strong will to offer innovative solutions.

A multimodal urban distribution center opened in the port of Lille in 2015, for example, makes it possible to consolidate upstream transport and group deliveries in the city center. In the same spirit, the Saint-Etienne metropolitan area is a laboratory for urban delivery with the pooling of its goods distribution platform, transported to the city by a fleet of electric vehicles.

In Paris, the Chapelle International project is also proving to be a bold challenge in terms of urban logistics. Its objective: to reintroduce rail transport in the capital by building a 45,000 m2 logistics hotel on a former railway wasteland located at the Porte de la Chapelle in the 18th arrondissement.

Faced with the many challenges posed by the globalization of trade, multimodal transport now seems to be a solution of choice. Experiments are multiplying in this field, each one more innovative than the other. It remains to find the right level of regulation and innovative capacity for supply chain players to effectively implement the change.

Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. From Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Transportation Management Systems (TMS) to Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and more, software platforms can deliver a wide range of benefits that ultimately flow to the warehouse operator’s bottom line. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.

This article originally appeared here. Republished with permission.

warehouse

Attracting a New Generation of Warehouse Workers

One of the biggest problems facing the warehousing industry today is the shortage in warehouse workers. Prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that the warehousing industry needed to fill roughly 450,000 jobs. Since then, the shortage has dramatically increased. 

 

As the world moves past the pandemic it is only natural for more workers to be hired, but the solution to the original problem was never resolved. The solution to a warehouse worker shortage lies in WMS and automation to attract a new generation of Workers.

Generational Differences

 

The Department of Labor Statistics released a study that shows the average tenure of individuals between the ages of 18-19 is 0.8 years, 20-24 is 1.3 years, and 25-34 is 2.3 years. This data shows Millennials and Generation Z are not inclined to work in warehouses. Within the next few years, kids who were born the same year as the first iPhone was released will enter the workforce. People who have only ever known touch screen cell phones will be applying for jobs in your warehouse.

To attract a generation of individuals who have lived with technology their entire lives you must offer them a place to work that does not leave them mentally exhausted, eases their labor with the assistance of safe technology and gives them a place to be proud to work.

 

Cameron Coffee Warehouse Efficiency

 

Cameron’s Coffee is a coffee roasting, packaging, and distribution company that receives its coffee beans from South America, stores them in Minnesota, and ships them to hundreds of stores across the country. They originally had a paper-only warehouse where individuals had to manually check and encode items.

They decided to update their warehouse and use a combination of the SOLOCHAIN WMS and MES that directly tied in their ERP. With the addition of the software coupled with iPads and handheld devices the efficiency of the warehouse skyrocketed leading to the growth of sales by 50%, e-commerce growth by 200% and 25% expansion of the warehouse.

With the new software and iPads, the workers efficiency and happiness also increased, due to a reduction in the time required to complete their jobs, the new technology and increased independence.

 

Updating Your Warehouse is Good for Employees

 

Choosing a WMS to update your warehouse, will not only lead to efficiency gains but will lead to an overall boost in employee morale. The more you reduce the mental and physical strain on your employees the happier they will be. Utilizing technologies that younger staff is comfortable with such as iPads and touch screen devices will make them more comfortable at work. Implementing voice commands into your warehouse will relieve the workers of the mental strain and lead to an increase in productivity.

Creating a smart warehouse and considering what the employee wants will decrease the rate of people leaving your warehouse and decrease the amount of time spent training new hires. It is important that you begin to consider employee happiness and retention when deciding to upgrade your warehouse.

Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. From Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Transportation Management Systems (TMS) to Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and more, software platforms can deliver a wide range of benefits that ultimately flow to the warehouse operator’s bottom line. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.

 

This article originally appeared on GenerixGroup.com. Republished with permission.

TMS

TMS – The Digital Disruption Enabler for 3PLs

It’s clear that digital transformation is rapidly upon us in transportation and is changing the way managed transportation 3PLs and truckload brokerages are doing business. Advances in technology, adoption of APIs, and huge disruptor companies are evolving the market faster than most can keep up. This transformation is only accelerating.

Disruptive Companies Are Changing Customer Expectations

Uber Freight, Convoy, and Amazon Freight are examples of the new digital freight marketplaces (DFM). A DFM is designed to allow shippers to book truckloads in the spot market electronically – usually over an app or an API. It’s a service that gives real-time truckload quotes, electronic tendering, and real-time tracking. If your business is primarily a classic brokerage, then this affects you.

The DFMs are already changing the way many shippers do business. These marketplaces are not going to erase classic brokerage, but there is no doubt they will change it and the way that many are doing brokerage. Not that classic brokerage is going away anytime soon, but we are seeing a rapid evolution of customer expectations. Customers’ digital expectations for visibility, automation, tracking, quoting, and payment are now growing and will soon evolve into general requirements.

To be clear, only very few companies with deep pockets can set up a DFM. A mid-sized brokerage firm trying to compete with what Uber Freight is doing is unrealistic. Instead, companies can look at their own strengths and carve their own path. LSPs (3PLs and Brokers) have the opportunity to write their own digital transformation story or run the risk of remaining complacent in a changing world of digital technology.

What Is Your Digital Transformation Strategy?

Every LSP company should be asking themselves how they are dealing with digital transformation. As an LSP, the details of digital disruption are unique to your business model, and it’s important to have a plan. Yet many companies overthink the issue or feel it’s too large of a task to do anything about. History shows us that most winning strategies come from simple core ideas, not just massive disruptors.

Innovative companies know that disruption creates opportunity. And it’s clear that the digital transformation going on in transportation will create opportunities. Every LSP needs to look at their own business model, figure out what makes them unique, and carve a path. It’s ineffective to try to duplicate what the high-profile companies are doing. It would be like trying to replicate what Amazon did for retail. Competing against Amazon in retail is reserved for the very few, yet many have learned how to profit off Amazon by creating their own specialized fulfillment model. The same is true of the digital disruption going on in transportation.

Very few companies should be looking to compete directly against Uber Freight or Convoy. Yet all should be looking at their own model and chart their own digital transformation path. This is where transportation management software like 3Gtms is uniquely positioned to help. It is not the system that will turn an LSP into the next Uber Freight, but it will serve as the central platform – the intelligent system of record that allows flexibility in how an LSP executes its own unique business model. A TMS is the central point of an LSP’s transformation – it’s the digital disruption “enabler.”

Putting a Digital Transformation System in Place

When it comes to system structure, the key to designing a good environment starts at the core. And a successful core includes functionality and automation that supports business objects, workflow, intelligence, and integrations. For an LSP, that system is their TMS, as the TMS runs their transportation operations. Call it their “central rally point” for information or their “single source of truth.” A technology that connects customers, vendors, and carriers while serving as the platform to leverage digital disruption opportunities. A Fully Connected Transportation Management System goes beyond simple RESTful API integrations because it connects natively to other business systems and operates as an enabler for different technologies.

Leveraging a cloud-based TMS as a rallying point combines information from integrations with business intelligence for a total technology package. Turning data into business intelligence, workflows, and automation is more complicated than mapping fields. Most systems can use an API to map fields but lack functionality to determine rates/margin, find a distance, calculated drive times, chose equipment type, and most importantly, identify missing data and create this data when necessary. Technology has to be smart to execute on digital transformation opportunities. Exception-based management is a basic requirement as next-level systems look to manage as many exceptions as possible so users can focus on true issues and generate more business.

A solution like 3Gtms delivers the different integrations and technology required to build a successful digital transformation strategy. For example, the solution includes connections to load boards for TL capacity, mileage engines, tariff services for rates, OCR for paperwork and document management, ELD and visibility mapping services, carrier insurance onboarding, rate index data, informational portals, and many other features. It’s the robustness of the software in combination with the software’s integrations to create an actionable platform for LSPs to get ahead. The technology’s ability to scale is also essential, especially when maximizing opportunities created by larger DFMs.

This is where LSPs look at the technology puzzle they wish to solve. Identify customer needs, capture a larger target market, and expand business lines. What digital components do you need to meet these goals and grow your business? Is it time to explore outside of traditional silos? For example, brokers and distributors are doing more managed transportation while TL fleets are offering more 3PL services. Understand what your company does best and what your customers need, then write your own digital disruption story.

Embracing Opportunities to Digitally Disrupt

This brings us back to the digital disruption going on in the transportation industry. The opportunistic LSPs will carve their own path and realize that the key to growth lies in their core technologies. Leveraging a TMS to rally around will centralize their information and enable transportation execution regardless of their planned strategies. It’s here that 3Gtms is differentiated in the marketplace as a single platform that marries technical abilities and integrations in the LSP space. Because of this, 3G customers quickly realize the importance of having a central TMS and how this technology helps obtain their vision.

It’s an exciting point in the history of logistics as digital changes emphasize supply chain technology and the need to utilize digital strategies for success. As more LSPs upgrade their technology stack, they will be better positioned to leverage new digitally-driven opportunities. And by using a scalable platform like 3Gtms, they get advanced TMS functionality for today and all the tomorrows to come.

Are you an LSP trying to decide if you should leverage a TMS to meet your digital transformation goals? Use this checklist to see if any of your objectives can be solved by 3Gtms.

Examples:

-Do you need APIs and portals for customers and carriers to interact with you?

-Do you want to use TL automation to streamline processes?

-Do you need logistics exception reporting and automation?

-Do you need workflow and process automation?

-Do you struggle to connect your ERP, OMS, WMS, carrier, customer, and vendor data?

-Do your customers need simple portals for their CSR’s to quote?

-Do you use standalone load boards, visibility trackers, SMC3 rating, distance calculations, carrier tendering, OCR document management, or other disconnected systems?

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JP Wiggins is the co-founder and Vice President of Logistics for 3G. 3G is a leading provider of cloud-based end-to-end transportation management software (TMS) for omnichannel shippers, e-commerce companies, 3PLs, and freight brokers. Our solutions include 3Gtms, our multi-modal transportation planning, optimization, execution, and settlement system; and Pacejet, our advanced multi-carrier shipping software. For more information, visit 3Gtms.com.

food

Top Three Lessons from the Food Transformation Industry

The food industry has learned more from the pandemic than it bargained for. The pandemic taught us some important lessons about improving quality, paying attention to employee and partner safety, and working regularly and consistently with suppliers. The past 12 months have been focused on response and short-term solutions. Many companies found that their operations and supply chains were not prepared to handle unpredictable peaks, and supplier pools lacked flexibility and diversity. Manual logistics processes similarly did not show the flexibility and speed of results needed, and it was difficult to make the quick decisions needed to keep businesses, customers and employees safe. With uncertainties in the safety of food imports and the functioning of restaurants in 2020, food and beverage companies were suddenly faced with new challenges.

Prevention is better than the cure

As the Covid-19 crisis set, a crisis in the supply chain followed, triggered by people’s responses to the spread of the virus, such as panic buying, which submitted the supply chain to an unusual stress, and eventual disruption. As the situation evolved, it became clear that digital transformation and technology upgrades were actions that could not be delayed if you wanted to make decisions based on actual live data.

In preparing for the future, we shift from “responding to challenges” to proactive action. First and foremost, you need a selection of technology solutions that support scalable and transparent processes. There’s a lot of talk about predictive analytics and supply chain modeling solutions these days, but the first step in this process is always the implementation of operational management systems and data exchange systems.

By standardizing your processes and transforming your technology, you can create a system that lays the groundwork for staying ahead of the competition, improving efficiency and preparing for long-term growth. Here are a few ways to get started:

First: Think about continuous quality control.

Food-related industries need to rely on a dynamic system that shows how your business is performing every day. It’s time to set goals for maintaining continuous quality control with your suppliers, within your own walls and in every part of the supply chain.

The first step is to look at all the software or technology you’re using now to see if you can consolidate or eliminate point solutions or irrelevant applications. Once you have a clear picture, you can ask if your systems can “talk” to each other and connect all decision data into a single source of truth. This helps eliminate siloed data and improves communication.

To give examples based on our company’s portfolio of solutions, the WMS system features automatic tracking of expiration dates, including residual expiration dates based on customer requirements. And personal customer accounts based on Generix Supply Chain Visibility provide data on availability products at various points in the supply chain, both in warehouses and in transit.

Second: Move away from manual processes.

How many times has a document or other data been “lost” in email or file-sharing folders? How many times have you worked extra hours to put together a report manually from multiple spreadsheets?

It’s time to let technology take over most of your administrative and routine work. It’s time for the food industry to stop relying on paper, spreadsheets and other manual tools. Chapman’s Ice Cream was enabled to effectively track their ingredients throughout the supply chain thanks to automation, and thus had the data required to react quickly to changes in consumer preferences and protect food safety. During the early days of the pandemic, John Fleming reports in a recent webinar that Chapman’s used the real-time data provided by their WMS to anticipate the supply of their ingredients and manage their customers’ expectations accordingly.

It’s important to remember that modernization doesn’t exclude people from processes. It is the use of human-centered technology that reduces human error, reduces administrative work and improves results. Certainly, you will have to invest in innovation, but technology creates efficiency and transparency that will ultimately save you time and money. Chapman’s for example, were able to reduce losses by gaining real-time visibility over their inventory.

Generix offers its customers an end-to-end process implementation based on the Generix Supply Chain Hub solution. All modules of the solution are interconnected by an integration bus to which you can connect your accounting system (ERP) and other applications in use.

Third: Upgrade your supplier management practices.

Integrating new suppliers and working with existing ones comes with many challenges. Emails go unanswered, contract renewal dates are often missed. Updating certificates, documents and audit results is a chore, to say the least. In addition, supply disruptions during the pandemic may have prompted you to diversify your supply chain. To summarize, working with suppliers is a lot of communication, paperwork and dates to keep track of. In addition, you are responsible for making sure your suppliers meet government and industry standards.

Using vendor relationship management software makes it easier for all parties, allowing everyone to work faster and more collaboratively. Supplier contacts, certification submittals and audit results are all centralized in one place, allowing you to work quickly and accurately to develop and renew contracts. Automated renewal reminders eliminate routine monitoring or worrying about updating a common Excel file on time.

Our company’s portfolio includes different level solutions to standardize work with suppliers: SCV based supplier accounts for goods and services, EDI based supplier portal solution, Generix Collaborative Replenishment for VMI based work. Our company methodology allows us to develop onboarding packages for fast integration of new vendors.

To Summarize

Modernization of systems makes sense both competitively and financially. However, in my opinion, the most compelling reason to upgrade is the well-being of your employees. In these volatile times, they are doing more with the same or even fewer resources, taking on more workload, which can lead to faster and harder burnout. If you can do more to support your employees and their effectiveness, you will achieve better results in the long run.

Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. From Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Transportation Management Systems (TMS) to Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and more, software platforms can deliver a wide range of benefits that ultimately flow to the warehouse operator’s bottom line. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.

This article originally appeared on GenerixGroup.com. Republished with permission.

digital procurement

Is Digital Procurement Needed for Businesses to Stay Competitive?

Digital procurement is yet another avenue in which logistics businesses are moving forward, and those that have elected not to make the upgrade may find themselves left behind. When a business makes the transition to complete digital procurement, they make available a wide variety of advantages.

At its core, digital procurement automates repetitive tasks, boosts efficiency, and lowers costs. In addition to that, it produces a wealth of useful data, with real-time insights and analytics that are intuitive for users to access and make use of, and makes day-to-day operations and decision-making more informed thanks to accurate and informative data models.

Digital procurement leverages pricing, matching, and ranking algorithms across vast amounts of capacity data to efficiently distribute load opportunities to carriers. On top of that, it is extremely fast and utilizes data to more efficiently connect carriers with available freight.

Understanding traditional procurement

Procurement as a concept can be difficult to fully explain and understand. While an essential process for any business, it can often be confused with purchasing or sourcing, which while similar, are separate functions. Of the three, procurement has the broadest application and responsibility.

While purchasing is a direct process of exchanging goods for money, procurement- particularly when made digital- has the ability to serve as a platform for collaboration between buyers, suppliers, and third parties. The common wisdom at this point is not if a business should go digital in their procurement processes, but when they will need to in order to stay competitive.

Traditional procurement ultimately involves manually matching available truck capacity (usually identified through phone calls) to available freight. The process is manual for both the carrier and the brokerage rep, time-consuming, and draws on a more limited pool of carriers.

Benefits of digital procurement

As with many digital upgrades, once users have had access to the smoother experiences associated with upgraded technology, they embrace it. Digital procurement allows bots to automate and streamline processes that are routine and time-consuming.

With an interface that allows buying agents and advisors to make optimal purchasing choices, businesses receive peak value on the backend.  The myriad benefits associated with adding digital procurement to your business strategy include greater job ease and satisfaction for procurement officers, automation of tedious tasks that free up employees for better efficiency, and significant return on investment.

Adding digital procurement may be expensive upfront, but once successfully integrated, utilization creates a significant reduction in costs and an increase in profits. For businesses weathering the tumultuous markets of a post-COVID world, any opportunity for cost reduction and increased profitability is a no-brainer.

Facing the challenges

When considering what challenges businesses in this currently rapidly fluctuating market face, better forecasting models and visibility are key components in the decision-making that will allow them to remain competitive. Digital procurement has a role to play here. Digital procurement includes visibility features that give procurement officers and business owners actionable insights into their processes.

The supply chain is extremely stressed right now from high demand in the market. As a result, routing guides are failing for shippers, and price inflation from going to the spot market is eating into shippers’ budgets. Additional work and stress are being placed on transportation managers to navigate failing routing guides and insulate themselves from expensive transactional capacity.

A tech-forward approach helps solve these problems for shippers by delivering real-time rate insights and capacity. Shippers can quickly and confidently source capacity on any overflow freight in their network.

With detailed information more readily accessible and easy to understand, they are now better equipped with the tools they need to forecast potential demand paths and create action plans that will be most profitable and beneficial to the business overall. Armed with increased data and automation, businesses will find themselves much more agile and flexible in response to changing markets.

In addition, a completely digital system can be more easily updated and changes across platforms more rapidly implemented without the need to wade through a variety of piles of old-school record-keeping. Distributing information across the business becomes a simple process.

A more streamlined system

Finally, digital procurement allows for the streamlining of processes. A buzzword constantly heard in the ever-upgrading world of business processes, a streamlined system is by its very nature more efficient and less expensive. Faster results, smoother transitions and transfers of information, less time spent on tedium and repetitive processes, as well as AI accuracy that prevents costly errors prior to their occurrence. All of these aspects mean digital procurement saves time and money by streamlining.

Shippers can streamline their transportation planning process and achieve high levels of productivity with a more connected supply chain strategy. In addition, higher levels of rate control can be managed once rates are delivered into the TMS they are using instead of getting lost in emails and spreadsheets.

Recognizing the value of a digital transition as early as possible will keep your business in line with the curve, rather than behind it. While there may be some adoption reluctance, analog methods could leave your business in the dust if your competition has already taken the digital leap forward into the future.

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Michael Johnson is the Executive Vice President of Strategy at Redwood Logistics. Redwood, a leading logistics platform company headquartered in Chicago, has provided solutions for moving and managing freight for more than 18 years. The company’s diverse portfolio includes digital freight brokerage, flexible freight management, and innovative platform services that simplify integrating disparate supply chain technology. Redwood Logistics connects its distinct roster of customers to the power of supply chain management, technology, and the industry’s brightest minds. For more information, please visit www.redwoodlogistics.com.

management

5 Important Tips for Effective Logistics Management

Logistics management can be an uphill task that could get frustrating and expensive if not handled well. It is essential to ensure that transit and other logistics remain cheap and straightforward. Different mechanisms have been put in place to ensure an efficient flow of service. Transportation management systems top the list of inventions that have reduced the stress for transportation managers. Below are five important tips that will ensure a smooth run of the supply chain.

1. Proper Planning

Having a good plan that includes contingency plans ensures all possible outcomes are covered and prepared for. The plan should consider the time taken for goods to move from each point, transportation required, and cost. A schedule should be put in place for all logistics segments. Since things tend to take a wrong turn, unnecessary panic and emergency board meetings can be avoided by having a contingency plan in place. 

2.  Smart Staffing

Staffing in a logistics company is a process that should be treated with importance. The manager and team handling clients should possess excellent interpersonal skills. Whenever things go off-plan, clients tend to panic and cause havoc if they are not given proper updates. Therefore, the logistics team should be able to calm the clients down as the contingency plan continues to salvage the situation.

Also, warehouse managers need to be tough and fast to ensure operations are moving fast. Good warehouse employees avoid cases of perishable goods going bad, goods getting lost, or even time-sensitive items losing value.

3.  Automation

The logistics business depends on quick services to reduce time wasted. Doing most of the activities manually will only waste time and increase costs. It is therefore important to embrace automation and all its elements. Not only does it smooth out the supply chain process, but it also makes it easier to track and monitor inventory in real-time. Investing in updated transportation systems and tracking devices could save the business a lot of time and money. Monthly system reports allow the managers to identify potential areas of improvement hence implementing necessary changes. 

An example of a standard way logistics companies have embraced automation is implementing transportation management software in the transport sector.

4.  Efficient Transportation

Delivery of goods to the customer shows a lot about the company. The plan is to safely deliver goods within the stipulated timelines using a safe and cost-friendly route. Also, goods should be packaged in methods that will decrease weight and save space hence reducing costs. It is crucial to use good transportation management software that will show key information to be used by managers. A good TMS should show the details of goods, estimated time of delivery, and the transit vehicle’s real-time location. 

5. Embrace Changes

Where growth is expected, change is inevitable. It is important always to identify areas of improvement to apply the necessary changes. Frequent meetings with stakeholders are required for the business to address all issues that can be avoided moving forward. 

Conclusion

These tips will ensure that the supply chain is smooth and effective, saving money and satisfying clients through the process. Logistics is a co-dependent process where all stakeholders must work hand-in-hand for optimal results.

shipments

Best Ways to Keep Track of Your Freight Shipments

When shipments are late, so much becomes inconvenienced. Production stops, work gets backed up, further shipments are delayed. Then, the phone calls arrive with customers wanting to know the status. If you have ever had to ask “Where is my freight?” then, it’s time to learn about the best ways to keep track of it.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options that are helpful for tracking freight from the moment it leaves the original location all the way to the final destination. Many of them are under your control. If you follow best practices and meet the needs of shipping company regulations, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about where your freight is, as it should arrive on time.

Tip #1: Accuracy Matters with Time and Cost

When you ship freight, the accuracy of the information improves your shipping speed. Your shipments need to have accurate measurements of length, width, height, and weight. If you have fractions, they should be rounded up.

When your measurements are inaccurate, the shipping company has to make adjustments which can be costly in both time and money. Shipping companies do not set their own freight weight regulations; the Department of Transportation does. Companies have to comply with the DOT rules. If you give the shipping company inaccurate dimensions, they have to make adjustments that could cause your shipment to be delayed.

Tip #2: Package Properly for Pallets

Another reason your items could be delayed is another one that is under your control. When you ship freight, you should expect that it will sit on a typical 40” x 48” pallet. Your best bet for timely shipping is to package your freight to fit on a standard pallet. If you cannot do that, then you should take time to talk to your freight company for the best advice. If the freight company has to take care of poorly packaged items, they are slowed.

Tip #3: Learn About AEI Tags

Shipping companies of all types rely on Automatic Equipment Identification (AEI) tags. These passive tags help shipping companies see where their rail cars and semi-trucks are when they are in transit. With various types of AEI readers, real-time information about the location of the freight cars and the items they are carrying can be shared with shipping companies and their customers. AEI tags can help you not only see where your freight is in real-time, but they can also provide you with alerts when the shipment is expected to be delayed.

Tip #4: Use a Transportation Management System

Freight or transportation management systems help you keep track of what you are shipping, where it is, and when it arrived. They are designed to create helpful reports in real-time, and they can help you manage all of your freight to optimize your business. Some systems can be connected with AEI readers to create timelines for arrivals and to show what is happening when shipments are delayed.

Tip #5: Put Your Smartphone to Use

Along with a transportation management system, mobile apps can help you track your freight. Businesses rely on apps that provide GPS tracking and confirmation. Delivery logs are helpful, too. Some freight companies offer their own branded, specific apps to follow shipments. Some apps even get down to fuel efficiency and how to save money that way. When you are able to see all the data regarding your freight and shipping, you will be able to save more money in the long run.

Tip #6: Know Where Your Freight is Going

Sometimes, when things go too well, it can be too good to be true. Imagine the freight that is packaged perfectly and arrives on time to the destination without any hitches along the way. But, once the freight arrives, no one is there to meet it and assist in unpacking. Then, there’s no loading dock. It is just as important to know where your freight is going, so there aren’t any unexpected delays at the arrival end.

Tip #7: Watch the Road Conditions

There are times and places where road conditions become impossible to maneuver. When the weather is bad or traffic is at a stand-still, freight companies cannot do anything about it. But, when they use apps or tracking software, you can find out where your freight is and realize the problem.

If you require shipments to arrive on time and weather could affect your production, then you should do what you can to plan your shipments in advance. For example, it can be tough to trust the road conditions in the northern United States in the middle of January. So, planning for delays should be part of your production design.