There is no question about it. To effectively grow your business and stay in front of the competition, you must improve on a regular basis. However, in supply chains, as in many other business functions, you simply can’t improve what you can’t see.
Supply chain visibility provides shippers real-time updates so that they can increase their speed to market; not to mention, it also helps them reduce their capital expenditures and efficiently manage their inventory and risk.
And, as a result, their supply chains are also strengthened. Although difficult to access at times, virtually any type of information (due to the real-time updates) is possible to cultivate, so that shippers can respond to all disruptions quickly and effectively.
To achieve each of these fundamental goals—timeliness, cost savings, reliability, risk management—shippers should consider partnering with a 3PL that can help improve their supply chain visibility long-term.
5 Key Benefits of Partnering with a 3PL for Supply Chain Visibility
As customers’ demands for faster and more accurate shipments increase, changes are often required in less time than ever before, while deadlines are only becoming tighter and tighter. Constant alerts are critical to providing the awareness that shippers need to make adjustments, so that they can meet their deadlines and have more informed process changes for future orders.
“A successful partnership with a 3PL will include 4 steps to provide visibility to potential defects: 1.) A process to discover an issue to become aware of; 2.) a method for alerting the proper parties; 3.) a recommendation for a solution; and 4.) a continuous improvement process adjustment to prevent reoccurrence,” says Dave Giblin, Vice President of Operations, ODW Logistics.
Reduced Lead Times Through Data Visibility
From shorter cycle times to faster delivery, real-time data offers shippers a variety of benefits, as it provides them the flexibility they need to make informed decisions to deliver products on time and on budget, despite any obstacle they encounter, including man-made or natural disasters.
In addition, with real-time, visible data, shippers can also reduce their lead times—a common request. By providing access to data, 3PLs can help shippers execute their various needs, particularly with regards to shipment execution, as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
“As customer requirements become increasingly more demanding, supply chain visibility helps shippers remain in front of the constantly changing landscape of their customers,” Giblin says. “Clear, real-time data offers the flexibility that is necessary to make adjustments to customers' needs, whether it’s hitting their lead times or reducing them.”
Through visibility, shippers will not only avoid incorrect decisions that may disrupt their supply chains but they will also better manage inventory control, distribution and transportation goals.
By leveraging 3PLs and Tier 1 transportation management software (TMS), shippers can ensure their networks are optimized for full efficiency, while also further increasing their supply chain visibility, which, in turn, will minimize potential shipment risks and expenditures.
“As shippers make informed decisions about eliminating bottlenecks and inefficiencies, they are also reducing the risks of mistakes,” Giblin explains. “In fact, enhanced clarity will lead to fewer errors, missed deadlines and damaged deliveries.”
3PLs can also leverage their workforces by pulling resources between accounts, thereby reducing shippers’ requirements (and expenses) for employees to work overtime, no matter which industry they serve.
“The visibility of workforces helps shippers manage seasonality and understand where certain peaks may require more manpower so that orders are consistently executed in a timely fashion,” Giblin says.
By having access to the right data, 3PLs will not only help shippers with end-to-end supply chain visibility but also reduce their customers’ inventory. To do so, 3PLs must understand what customers are going to order, when they intend to order (and receive) their products and how they are going to help shippers execute the requests.
“The better visibility that 3PLs have of every moving part, as well as shippers’ forecasts, the better their execution,” Giblin says. “If each aspect of product delivery—what, when and how—is in synch, 3PLs can successfully partner with shippers and reduce their customers’ inventory.”