Digitalisation brings new visibility to the supply chain

Globalisation has added unprecedented complexity to supply chains and drastically changed the transportation industry. Historically viewed as just a cost centre consisting of many components operating in silos, supply chain management is now climbing the boardroom agenda as companies realise the opportunity to not only reduce costs, but also drive strategic value for the business by removing the silos and increasing visibility.

Ten to twenty years ago, it was typical for shippers to arrange their transportation manually with spreadsheets showing which shipments were inbound and outbound, and a list of carriers to call to pick up goods. Despite drastic advancements in technology, many companies still operate, at least partially, in this archaic way. The most successful businesses, however, are truly flexible and agile, and the digitalisation of logistics processes is crucial to enabling this by enhancing visibility across the supply chain.

 Digitalisation has helped immensely in driving efficiencies and allowing companies to make smarter decisions in their supply chain

“If visibility is lacking across a supply chain, the business is running blind,” says Carolyn Hunt, director, go to market – TMS, at Alpega Group. “You are effectively wearing a blindfold in terms of your supply chain key performance indicators and the shipments that are moving from point A to point B. This can result in very bad customer service and really poor operations.

“If an organisation doesn’t know, for example, what inbound supply is coming in and when, it can’t have the right people and resources ready to start manufacturing or to process and ship out, and it will likely hold a lot more stock in its warehouse than it needs to.

“Digitalisation has helped immensely in driving efficiencies and allowing companies to make smarter decisions in their supply chain, from optimising the distance between where their facilities, suppliers and customers are located, and making sure they’re not running empty or doing unnecessary transportation runs, to improving day-to-day operations and processes.

“A lot of the legwork is taken over by automated systems, so transportation planners can really focus on the tasks that add value to the business. A vast magnitude of transactions runs through supply chain systems and visibility allows companies to be more responsive and reactive, improving the overall logistics function.”

A transport management system (TMS) is a central pillar to digitalising supply chain management in an organisation. Alpega Group, a global logistics software company, has recently brought together two market-leading solutions in this area, inet and Transwide, to create an end-to-end software suite for the transportation industry, Alpega TMS.

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It is a single scalable solution designed to manage all levels of complexity in logistics processes. The software ensures companies can benefit from a system that evolves alongside their needs, providing real-time visibility over incoming and outgoing logistics and seamlessly linking truck drivers and logistics providers with shippers.

Digitalisation and automation help organisations plan and conduct certain tasks much faster, whether it is ensuring a truck is loaded to its best capacity, that it is driving on the best routes or it is managing supply and demand in the most efficient way. Visibility not only allows companies to reduce costs in their supply chain, but also meet their sustainability goals. With Alpega TMS, organisations can track the emissions in their supply chain and work to reduce the environmental impact of their business.

“In the past, companies may have implemented both solutions, but with very different problems to solve. Now we have merged them, we can provide a product suite that solves any transportation logistics problem and our customers don’t have to deal with different product providers,” says Karen Schmikl, director of product management at Alpega Group.

“Whether it’s a local site needing a dock management solution or a global rollout requiring multi-mode shipments across land, air and sea, we enable a seamless supply chain with maximum visibility. It really brings the best of both worlds together.”

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