A key step to automate manual tasks successfully via fully-automated systems is a seamless integration for an end-to-end solution to be effective; better if hosted in the cloud.
Numerous interesting options for supply chain automation are available in the market with eye-catching capabilities; from “plug-and-play” solutions to robust ones, depending on the needs and goals of users, there is a window to set up interoperability structures; however, the integration process of those solutions into a shipper’s ERP or TMS system might be undervalued or ignored. We detected 3 common explanatory reasons:
It is sometimes considered an unnecessary extra layer that could increase costs but ROI is unclear.
It is somehow understood to be part of the shipper’s responsibilities as the main decision-making party to execute this integration, which requires internal communications within several departments in the organization that could also be time-absorbing.
It might require investments in terms of updating ICT systems or transmuting them from local-server versions into cloud-versions.
Supply Chains, as complex as they become, involve interactions within an heterogeneous network of stakeholders: several local logistics teams in different locations, IT experts, global logistics procurement leaders, freight forwarders, ocean carriers, airlines, port authorities, trucking companies, customs brokers, external control towers and more.
Both internally and externally, communications, process design and optimization influence the result of automation (re-) engineering within a shipper’s fragmented supply chains. Leading these 3 key areas will accomplish better results and, most importantly, deciding who within the company or from the outside will lead this process.
At VUSE Supply Chain, we were able to lead an integration process as a consultant arm for a multinational company aiming to digitally transform its supply chain structure. We helped integrate an application with its service providers (logistics, ICT, consultants) and orchestrated an automatic alert system when failures occurred, displaying different diagrams for every operation channel. The dashboard used top-notch technologies to enhance the user experience. The key milestones from this process are described herewith:
Agile communication with shipper’s service providers: repetitive tasks within the network were eliminated as the communication process was moved to the cloud with automated steps. No longer A-B-C interaction needed when A-C communications were feasible, eliminating the need to do several error-prone tasks.
Manual tasks / calls & emailing reduction: tons of emails and calls were eliminated from the average 148 emails and unregistered calls per shipment that performed manually in the previous setup.
Application Programming Interface (API) ecosystem: API’s from carriers, truckers and customs agents were linked bilaterally with e-platforms and TMS for a secure and automated exchange of data and docs.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) conversion: few areas of EDI interchanges were either changed or converted to assure a full visibility of shipments.
Digital density assessment: an evaluation of every transport and logistics point of contact at shipper’s facility was performed to measure the digital impact of the new setup. All points of contact improved their digital density (i.e: the use of full digital tools per unit of work) between 30 and 99%.