The COVID-19 pandemic made logistics managers pay closer attention to accessing critical data in real-time. It also influenced warehouse managers to take proactive steps in risk management regarding how supply relates to demand. Both undersupply and oversupply can be avoided using machine learning software that scans real-time data, just as IoT sensors help transportation companies track deliveries along the journey. Here's a look at today's biggest logistics challenges and how to overcome them.
1. Improving Delivery Service While Cutting Transportation Costs
The most resourceful logistics managers are concerned about fuel prices daily and plan routes accordingly. A major goal of transportation management is what the entire supply chain wants, which is customer satisfaction. It's imperative to keep delivery delays to a minimum since next time, customers can easily and quickly find competitors online.
Supply and labor shortages can slow down the process of meeting customer expectations. Creating a list of multiple backup suppliers will help resolve supply issues, while automation software can be applied in certain stages of logistics to accelerate the order fulfillment process.
Rising fleet maintenance costs will be a central economic concern for a while. But a likely solution will involve the proliferation of electric vehicles, including trucks, in the next decade. EVs don't require as much maintenance. Another solution to cut delivery costs includes developing a network of micro-fulfillment centers near clusters of target consumers. Another solution is cross-docking, in which inbound and outbound deliveries are scheduled close to each other to minimize time spent on cargo transition. Cross-docking also helps avoid storage costs at ports and other commercial transfer centers.
Ultimately, you must focus on how to reduce operational costs, which begins with formulating a cost-reducing objective. You must audit your operation to determine the most appropriate ways to cut costs.
2. Strengthen Communication at All Levels
Planning for logistics challenges and how to overcome them is a major key to business survival. Part of your planning should be to strengthen communication with your global supply chain members. Even if your business is local, you may want to still connect with distant logistics companies to expand your marketing reach. Maintaining regular communication with suppliers to ensure you're up to date on the status of resources that support your products and market is important.
Real-time communication is a crucial solution to many logistics challenges, especially regarding tech support. Of all the different vendors you need to be in touch with during an emergency, an experienced IT team can significantly reduce downtime. IT consultants contributed to quick solutions during the pandemic, setting up various cloud services and IoT devices to facilitate real-time communication between warehouses, transportation companies, and other supply chain members.
3. Establish Standards for Suppliers and Partners
Some companies must schedule multiple deliveries daily with different supply chain managers, which opens the door to confusion if firms operate under different standards. Logistics operations are much more cohesive and streamlined when each service follows the same loading and unloading standards. This coordination involves maximizing supply chain visibility for all members through interconnected electronic networks and smart technology.
4. Invest in the Right Technology
Business technology continues to change rapidly, causing many firms to invest more than they need in electronic hardware and software trends. The cloud has made it possible to reduce technology spending while maximizing efficiency. Cloud services are the most cost-effective solutions for business operations with tight budgets. A warehouse that needs more flexibility, scalability, or experience should consider partnering with logistics industry experts.
One solution for companies that need to be in a position to invest in developing a modern logistics service that uses AI, robots, and automation is outsourcing to third-party logistics (3PL) firms for transporting goods to multiple markets. The growing use of 3PLs has accelerated logistics and supply chain communication, which in turn has contributed to more reliable deliveries to meet customer satisfaction. According to Mordor Intelligence, the 3PL market is expected to grow to $1.75 trillion by 2026.
5. Reduce Warehouse Management Errors
The more digital an infrastructure becomes the less chance for errors, either through automation or better access to relevant real-time data. Last century warehouse management errors were much more common. This century's key has been the adoption of warehouse management software that integrates with new innovative technology such as AI, IoT, and 5G. These smart technologies make collecting and storing an enormous volume of valuable data easier.
Even with the help of advanced technology, human errors still occur at warehouses and in the shipping process. Warehouse inventory products must be placed properly to prevent a domino effect of disruptions. Then they must be picked and packed properly to the stage for deliveries. Common order fulfillment errors, including incomplete orders or wrong shipping information, still occur. Warehouse managers can reduce these errors simply by applying sharper oversight and improved picking and packing confirmation procedures.
Meeting and exceeding customer expectations will be the toughest challenge for the logistics industry in the next decade. Analyzing logistics challenges and how to overcome them will lead to subtle realizations on better warehouse layout and organization. At Pallet Market, we market pallets with sustainability in mind. Investing in durable, eco-friendly pallets is a strategy that will help you champion various logistics challenges.