How supply chain visibility platforms improve supply chain management

Jonas Mehrhoff

What is a supply chain visibility platform?

Supply chain visibility is key in identifying issues affecting supply and finding solutions for those issues, making supply chain visibility platforms a must have in any company’s supply chain strategy. Visibility in modern supply chains can only be created, tracked, and leveraged using advanced digital technology platforms.  

Supply Chain visibility became the hop topic in the recent years induced by COVID-19 disruptions. Customers were scrambling for goods or scrambling to find out where their goods were in the supply chain, leaving everyone questioning how much we really know about our supply chains and what important information might be missing.

Although supply chain visibility has been a key component of supply chain management for many years, COVID-19 amplified its importance in the industry. The global supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic highlighted what could happen to businesses when visibility is overlooked.

The need for a supply chain visibility platform

Modern supply chain visibility platforms can track the movement of raw materials from source through the manufacturing and distribution process, to delivery, and to the end-user in real-time. This form of tracking creates visibility to all the stakeholders in the chain through the provision of real-time data, ultimately allowing them to be responsive in the management of their supply chain.

Supply chain visibility platforms provide transparency in supply chain management and are used extensively in managing inventory levels and distribution services. A supply chain visibility platform integrates various other software used in supply chain management for the management of demand planning, CRM and TMS.

Digital transformation continues to be a strategic imperative for supply chain organizations. As per Gartner’s 2019 Supply Chain Technology User Wants and Needs Survey, a majority of respondents claimed digital transformation as a part of their core strategy in supply chain management, with the associated technologies seen as a competitive edge.  

By 2023, 50% of global product-centric enterprises will have invested in real-time transportation visibility platforms.


Capabilities of a visibility platform in your supply chain

Supply chains are inherently complex, with multiple moving parts, imagine all the data you’re not seeing every day. Each shipment has the potential to be met with challenges and roadblocks, but how can you plan ahead and tackle these issues before it’s too late? Advanced supply chain visibility platforms can extend visibility across the various modes of transportation covering ocean, air, rail, road, and parcel services, taking them deep into yards, depots, warehouses, and distribution centers in real-time. This allows companies to create sustainable and efficient supply chains which are agile and streamlined ensuring a complete digital transformation.

A typical supply chain visibility platform should have the ability to

  • Track products at various stages such as shipping, in transit, or delivery
  • Automate operations across the entire supply chain
  • Improve product fulfillment and reduce lead times
  • Optimize the use of products through reallocation
  • Monitor supplier and carrier performance
  • Find the optimal transportation model at the best price
  • Identify and address transportation disruptions
  • Manage the documents required for transportation
  • Analyze the efficiency of supply chain activities

Supply chain visibility platforms can be used to ensure OTIF (On Time In Full) cargo delivery ensuring complete customer satisfaction and customer trust in a company’s ability to provide supply chain services.

14 Benefits of a supply chain visibility platform

  1. Improve negotiation with suppliers and vendors
  2. To improve cargo receiving and delivery schedules in the warehouse
  3. Maximise staff and other resource allocation
  4. Create Better demand planning
  5. Improve choice of carriers based on performance data
  6. Manage inventory efficiently
  7. Achieve cost savings on avoidable expenses like storage, demurrage, and detention costs
  8. Automate inefficient manual processes like spreadsheets
  9. Enhance ineffective legacy systems like ERP platforms
  10. Manage complex networks of service providers
  11. Integrate various systems and IoT devices and applications
  12. Smooth onboarding of customers
  13. Smooth collaboration with various supply chain partners
  14. Create trust and predictability

A supply chain visibility platform can be used to digitally transform your supply chain using the power of big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. It can be seamlessly integrated into a company’s logistics ecosystem providing real-time shipment visibility and increasing reliability in a company’s transport flow. Through the effective use of technology, companies can manage logistics and service expenses, reduce carrying costs and landed costs of their products, prevent lost orders and avoid cargo claims and risks.

Moreover, companies can use the performance data to benchmark vendors and logistics providers to ensure customers are getting the best service possible, reducing customer support requirements. Using transformative technologies such as cloud computing, machine learning, real-time data streaming and advanced analytics, companies can provide complete visibility in one platform, from order placement to execution allowing for an exceptional customer experience.

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Adapting to a new world of supply chain

Supply chain networks are complex and have undergone many changes, constantly having to overcome external stressors. Companies have moved from “Just in Time” to “Just in Case” patterns which could increase storage space, cost, time and also the number of activities involved in the monitoring of the same.

A supply chain visibility platform providing effective solutions using transformative technologies should be an integral part of a company’s supply chain strategy.

Supply chain visibility platforms allow supply chain managers to make fact-based decisions based on the real-time data and full end-to-end visibility and control. There is also an increased awareness in relation to sustainability and supply chain visibility platforms can also assist in reducing carbon footprint by monitoring the movement of goods through the various stages in the supply chain and following best practices.

Supply chain visibility platforms consist of some of the most transformative and disruptive technologies in the global supply chain space, with many supply chain visibility tools reaching maturity and being adopted across the industries.

Supply chain visibility has become an essential tool to build a resilient and future-proofed supply chain, and supply chain visibility platforms are providing opportunities to companies to focus on their core mission to achieve an efficient, flexible, and seamless supply chain for all.

If you work with global supply chains, here are ways we can help you gain full control and visibility over your shipments.
If you’re operating with spreadsheets and disparate sources of data, learn more about how a digital platform can provide you with supply chain visibility in this free guide.
If you’d like to learn more about how to leverage your ERP with a supply chain platform, check out our free guide.
For more supply chain best practices, visit our resources page.
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