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4 Common Operational Problems Solved by 3PL Logistics Providers

When you take a step back from the day to day operations of your business and really give some thought to the challenges that are restricting your growth and impacting your bottom line, chances are very good that some of them will be directly related to your logistics. This is not unexpected, as logistics can be a struggle to manage for many companies, especially in highly competitive industry verticals.

However, there are ways that your company can regain momentum, increase efficiency, and boost your bottom line through a more effective approach to logistics management. This is where the services offered by third-party logistics (3PL) providers can truly deliver value to your business. 3PL services have many advantages to bring to the table that may just be the answer you’ve been waiting for.

In this article, we’re going to explore four common logistics problems that are facing countless Canadian companies, and how 3PL services can help turn them in to a source of competitive advantage for your business.

The Problem of Gaining Efficiency

As every logistics professional knows, bottlenecks in your supply chain are a major efficiency killer. As far as your customers are concerned, it doesn’t matter how smoothly everything runs at other points of the supply chain if there is one point where everything gets backed up and efficiency goes out the window.

In situations like this, it may not be the best choice to invest substantial resources in to addressing bottlenecks and efficiency drains when there are 3PL services out there that can alleviate the pressure and keep things flowing smoothly.

Whether the problem exists in inventory management, material handling, order fulfilment, or any other step along the way in your supply chain, 3PL services can be integrated seamlessly in to your existing operations to help eliminate those bottlenecks.

The Problem of Accelerating Growth

Sometimes the only thing limiting the growth of your company is your ability to get more product out the door at a faster rate and send it further in to distant markets you couldn’t reach before. After all, your transportation fleet can only do so much before it gets stretched too thin.

However, by incorporating 3PL transportation services in to your supply chain, you can supplement your existing fleet with additional resources and enable a wider range of serviceable locations. 3PL service providers have warehousing facilities and transportation networks that span the entire globe, and you can bring these resources to bear in order to service distant markets and accelerate the growth of your business.

The Problem of Managing Resources

Storing inventory, organizing it, and moving it where it needs to be at any given time can be extremely resource-intensive. It requires careful planning and ongoing attention in order to make sure things are properly tracked and monitored, otherwise you end up with problems like shortages of parts, missing inventory, or overstock.

By working together with a 3PL expert that specializes in inventory control and warehousing systems, you can make resource management a key strength of your logistics operations. Automated technology, integrated data systems, and real-time information flow can help you know exactly what the state of your warehousing is at any time with speed and precision.

The Problem of Controlling Quality

Managing customer expectations hinges on quality but is not limited to the quality of your products alone. In the eyes of the customer, quality can take on many forms, including the reliability of your services and transportation, the ease of use of your company’s online tools and account interfaces, and countless other factors. Managing quality is of critical importance and is one area of business where sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

In order to boost your ability to manage quality, your 3PL partner will help evaluate every stage of your logistics operations to determine where there is opportunity to make improvements that have either a direct or indirect effect on your quality control. These may include optimizations to transportation or material handling methods, or perhaps aspects related to the packaging of products for better protection. When it comes to the hunt for higher levels of quality, your 3PL experts should leave no stone unturned.

Getting Started with SCI 3PL Services

If your company has been experiencing challenges related to efficiency, growth, resources, or quality, it’s time to strike up a conversation with a trusted 3PL expert with a proven track record of success, and the team at SCI is ready to help.

By utilizing our vast network of resources and advanced set of technologies, your company will be setting the stage for success, now and in to the future.

Our team of logistics professionals has the knowledge and expertise that your company needs to take your supply chain to the next level, so contact us today.

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Supply Chains are Evolving, Thanks to the Internet of Things

The world we live in wouldn’t be the same without the Internet. The instant access to information and the connectivity it provides us to all corners of the globe have forever changed the way we live and the way we work. The way we communicate with each other today is vastly different than how communications occurred pre-Internet.

Furthermore, it should come as no surprise that the development and widespread utilization of connected technology, otherwise known as the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), is poised to forever change the world of logistics and supply chain management. Through this fascinating technology, companies are gaining greater insights in to the effectiveness of their logistics operations than ever before and achieving levels of efficiency that were simply not possible before.

In this article, we will explore some of the biggest impacts the Internet of Things has had on supply chain management, and what these types of technologies can mean for the future of your business.

Asset Tracking with RFID & NFC Technology

As products move throughout a supply chain, traditional methods for tracking progress and location of each item would generally involve scanning barcodes or manually inputting data at certain checkpoints throughout the warehouse and transportation stages.

These traditional methods of asset tracking carry certain disadvantages, such as the possibility for human error, and the delays that would be inherent in waiting for items to pass from one stage to another before the data in the systems could be updated. Now, these disadvantages can be removed through technologies known as near-field communications (NFC) and radio-frequency identification (RFID).

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) relies on a small chip to be implanted or attached to products or packages at the beginning of the supply chain. This chip emits a signal that can be picked up by receivers and scanners throughout the various stages of your logistics facilities and transportation assets.

Once these signals are received by Internet-enabled devices that are equipped with near-field communications (NFC) technology, the data can then flow in real-time throughout your business systems. This flow of data means you can track the exact location of large shipments, packaged orders, and even individual products at any time throughout the entire supply chain.

With this level of insight in to the flow of items through your supply chain, you can provide increased transparency with customers on the status and ETA of their orders. In addition, this constant flow of information allows you to pinpoint previously hidden bottlenecks or trouble spots in your supply chain that can then be optimized for greater efficiency. Inventory management becomes easier and more accurate thanks to the Internet of Things.

Transportation Management & Connected Vehicles

The Internet of Things has also provided many enhancements to the capabilities of transportation fleets. Connected vehicles provide instant shipment tracking information at any time and can assist drivers with the most efficient route between locations, factoring in weather, traffic, and other potential delays with up-to-the-minute accuracy.

These enhanced transportation technologies don’t stop there, however. Connected vehicles can also be configured with sensors to track everything from gas mileage to tire pressure. This incredible level of granular data allows fleet managers to model their transportation networks, analyze routes and even preemptively plan service and repairs, minimizing vehicle downtime and maximizing the useful life of transportation assets.

Automatic Replenishment & Proactive Ordering

These amazing advancements in asset tracking and transportation management have also enabled the Internet of Things to deliver many benefits to the processes in other areas of logistics, such as purchasing and sourcing. Systems can be implemented that leverage the data provided by RFID and NFC technology, combined with Internet-connected devices to signal for automatic replenishment or reordering of raw materials, supplies, packaging, and other products and equipment needed throughout the supply chain.

This technology also has many applications on the retail and e-commerce consumer side of things as well. One of the earliest adoptions of these concepts to consumer products was the introduction of the Amazon Dash system.

This simple system consists of a small, inexpensive ‘button’ device that connects to the Internet through the WiFi in the home. When pressed, the Amazon Dash button sends a signal to the consumer’s Amazon account to automatically place a pre-configured repeat order for many of the common consumable products that they use in their home, such as laundry detergent, pet supplies, health products, and more. This ensures that customers are able to quickly and easily replenish their household products at exactly the right time.  This was also a clever way for Amazon to increase repeat order revenue, and at the same time, increase the average lifetime value of a customer, both are important elements for any ecommerce retailer.

Implications of the Internet of Things for Your Business

While these examples are just the tip of the iceberg, you can inevitably see the vast range of possibilities that the Internet of Things can provide to your company in many different areas.

First and foremost, the added insight and efficient flow of data throughout your entire supply chain is a huge asset that can drastically improve your logistics operations. With this data, you can achieve higher levels of efficiency and make smarter decisions on how to optimize your supply chain and the assets within it.

You’ll also be able to invest in transportation resources that have longer useful life and lower operating costs, and then leverage those resources to move more products in less time than ever before.

The Internet of Things helps to reduce friction points at all stages of your supply chain, as well as in the lives of your customers. By making it easier and more convenient to place orders for the products and supplies they need, your customers are more likely to continue doing business with you and less likely to jump to a competitor.

Planning on a Connected Future

Right now, there are things that you can do to help your company benefit from the Internet of Things and also set the stage for future success as technology continues to advance towards an even more connected future.

Now is the time to start investing in mobile technology to enhance the productivity of your logistics teams, adopting cloud-based information systems to seamlessly pass information throughout your supply chain, and training your teams to understand and analyze the data to gain insight in to how to best optimize your operations.

If your business is ready to take the next steps in integrating the Internet of Things in your logistics operations and supply chain, contact the team at SCI today for a no-obligation consultation.

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Mobile Tech Causing Major Shifts in Logistics Operations Around the World

Mobile technology has been causing major shifts in logistics operations around the world due to the widespread adoption of mobile technologies across the globe.  The effects have been dramatic in both our daily lives and in the world of business. With every individual now constantly connected and accessible 24/7, the impacts of mobile technology have been profound in how companies operate and engage with their customers.

Here, we will explore some of the many ways that the proliferation of mobile devices has affected the logistics industry. Mobile tech touches virtually all aspects of logistics, including warehousing and inventory management, transportation, fulfilment, customer service, and the retail experience, both in-store and online. These trends are critical for businesses to understand in order to maintain their competitive edge in rapidly evolving markets.

The affordability of mobile technology and apps that integrate and connect directly to business systems has drastically improved. What used to be a massive capital investment is now simply the cost of doing business. In addition, since mobile technology can now do more than ever before, more and more companies are realizing the value that it can bring in shorter payback times through improved consistency, accuracy, time savings and customer satisfaction, amongst other factors.

Improved Data Flow & Accuracy

Mobile devices have replaced traditional manual methods of tracking just about everything that a business would want to track. Virtually anything that used to be jotted down on paper or kept in files or on clipboards is now entered directly in to the business’ software systems with mobile apps.

In many cases, the possibility for human error has been all but eliminated with the implementation of mobile systems that integrate with existing bar code and scanning technology, making data entry of shipment or product information automatic, saving time and ensuring accuracy throughout the entire supply chain.

Precise Location Tracking

Virtually every modern mobile device includes an integrated GPS, which means the precise location of each and every truck and shipment can be accurately tracked at any moment. This level of accuracy and transparency is invaluable to maintaining an efficient supply chain. Transportation delays can be easily avoided, customer expectations can be better managed, and contingency plans can be developed more effectively.

Inventory Management & Order Fulfilment

With mobile technology accessible to every member of your warehousing and fulfilment teams, you can realize many benefits in inventory management and order processing operations. Apps can be used to track quantity and location of parts and products to make order picking and packing faster and more accurate.

In addition, stock levels can be continually updated in real time to ensure that replenishment is always done at the best time to help optimize inventory and purchasing processes. With mobile devices and apps always connected to business information systems, these types of data will flow seamlessly directly to the people that need it most.

Accessibility of Transportation Resources

One of the more intriguing ways that mobile technology has disrupted the world of logistics is the way it enables small business and even individuals to provide valuable services to large corporations in terms of local coverage, LTL shipments, and enhanced last-mile delivery.

Companies such as Amazon and Uber are two of the driving forces in this area of mobile-enhanced logistics, recruiting a diverse range of transportation resources and independent drivers to offer nimble and rapid movement of products in a wide array of markets across the globe.

Customer Service & Retail Experience

While the majority of the effects we’ve discussed so far relate primarily to the business-to-business side of logistics, it’s important to recognize how these technologies have impacted the consumer retail experience, both in-store and online.

Mobile-optimized e-commerce sites are processing more and more transactions each and every day. These sites offer a “shop anywhere, anytime” experience and the ability to compare prices between online and physical retail stores instantly. In many cases, customers will browse a physical retail location to evaluate or compare products, and then conduct their purchase directly from their mobile device based on pricing, availability, and convenience.

Mobile devices in the hands of retail store employees can be equally powerful, enabling them to check inventory levels at multiple locations instantaneously, compare products and pricing from competitors, and even complete the purchase for customers from anywhere in the store. These added capabilities help deliver a smoother customer experience and less time spent in lines or waiting for service. Retail and customer service employees become more informed and better equipped to handle a wider range of tasks.

Moving Forward with Mobile Technology

The benefits that mobile technology can bring to the logistics operations of a business are clear, as many companies have already realized. Through mobile technology, your business can obtain greater visibility in to the performance of your supply chain and identify opportunities to gain efficiencies and reduce costs.

You’ll have up-to-date insight on all aspects of inventory management, stock levels, parts supply, and movement of product throughout your warehousing and transportation systems. This type of accurate data helps to enable smarter decisions in terms of resource allocation and investment for future growth.

Mobile technology helps improve the customer experience, making their interactions with your business smoother and more seamless, with fewer obstacles to overcome. As studies have shown time and time again, the easier a company is to do business with, the more satisfied customers will be with their experience and the more likely they are to come back and repeat.

If your company has not yet deployed mobile technology in your logistics and supply chain operations, the time for action is now. Through mobile-enhanced warehousing and transportation, your business can gain a substantial competitive advantage that will help you achieve your growth objectives, reduce costs, and deliver a better customer experience.

To learn more about how mobile technology can be integrated in to your supply chain, contact the team at SCI today. 

Our logistics professionals will be glad to answer any of your questions and help you leverage mobile technology in your logistics operations. If you’re not familiar with who SCI is, learn more about who we are in this short video.

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