Time to Transform, is Now
The logistics industry is at a crossroads to either transform or to hold off acceleration. Companies should no longer hope that the old style of “Favors and Handshakes behind closed doors” in order to keep a business strong through these challenging times to continue.
The impacts from the pandemic and the war initiated by Russia on Ukraine had accelerated the slowing of the industry. Trade between countries continues to slow down immensely. Independent logistics companies need to start their own digitalization/process-automation transformations before it becomes too late to catch up with the evolution of the industry.
The way that a conventional company operates during the off hours has diminished the worker’s willingness to adapt to a digital working environment. Companies need to respond quickly to re-train their workforce in order to understand that emerging technological skills and tools are required to become more efficient, responsive and competitive against competitors with more resources.
One of the critical problems that independent logistics companies face is relying too much on the manual workforce and the use of paper to run their operations, customer service, sales and marketing. As a result, each given task becomes slow and expensive. It requires time to give instruction and supervision which adds into the customers’ end cost.
Another challenging and difficult job is to figure out how to expand sales outside the home country. It takes time and money to find and to know new partners to work with. Most find an easier networking-route or participate as members of a Domestic or International Association. However, working with un-familiar company owners can create new delays in operation and conflicts of potential sales orders.
Working in an off-line environment is still valid, however it is going to be difficult to out-bid against competitors who have an integrated business model. Most current companies are 2nd generation owners, with an inherited or purchased business that needs to immediately identify the right tools for the company to adopt in order to survive and prepare for more difficult times.
The technology world has evolved drastically. With the ability to automatically download digitized documents from anywhere with mobile devices, it has helped businesses better manage their distribution of resources and makes it easier to alternate the rotation of drivers and vehicles to arrange work schedules and to reduce bottlenecks of waiting for instruction. Drivers can download tasks directly into their mobile device instead of getting instructions directly from a supervisor, limiting overlapping job functions.
Another key area that must be improved and integrated is the Customs Procedures, to inform shippers of import-export rules and regulations. Shippers should be alerted of shipment restrictions or documents requirements to import-export before proceeding to ship. Many shippers are caught after shipments have arrived in their destination country. Shippers have to pay excessive duty and penalty because of incomplete customs clearance documents and have to pay additional warehouse charges due to exceeded allowance storage days at seaport or airport-warehouses.
With better technology integration, shippers can enter their products HS/Customs-Code and the system will immediately advise about documents needed by customs at the origin and destination countries. Drivers will then be able to get clear instructions when picking up a shipment that requires additional documents such as: MSDS, Quarantine, Health certificate, etc. needed to be picked up together to speed up the customs process.
Rebalancing the logistics industry into a digital or platform business model requires a thorough coordination by technology developers to Digitize information and make it easier to store and share transmitted data.
We need to transform the conventional logistics information system to improve the trade-supply chain networks. With Digitalization of logistics functions, Operations, Customer service, Administration, Sales and Marketing become auto responsive in distributing information to the right person at the right time to improve decision making. The accelerated growth of Global and Regional market will require each one of us to respond not tomorrow, but today.
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