How can companies step up their game and deliver the COVID-19 vaccine efficiently?
The COVID-19 vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorization in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, the EU, and a few other countries. Many frontline workers and even the priority population have already received their first doses. Vaccines from several major global manufacturers like India are also set to arrive and be distributed for administration globally.
However, in certain places, the vaccine effort has hit a few roadblocks. Deployment to vulnerable countries and the at-risk group is also slow. As the COVID-19 vaccine is being made available, supplying the doses efficiently with utmost care will be the ultimate logistics challenge. Massive volumes have to be handled, stored through cold chains, and distributed. All processes need to comply with safety regulations. In other words, the vaccines should be distributed quickly and safely worldwide.
In the United States, several organizations play a crucial role in vaccine deployment by adapting their operations to meet the demands. Suppliers, manufacturers, and regulators are stepping up the production of vaccines. Additionally, several thousands of medical, pharmacy staff, frontline workers, and vaccine handlers attend training sessions to understand the peculiarities of different manufacturers’ specific vaccines.
Here, we have discussed seven steps that organizations must engage in to ensure the safe delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine. Following these steps can boost the productivity of your logistics business and efficiency on your future orders and deliveries.
1. Ensure raw-materials supplies
Vaccine producers can partner with global suppliers of raw materials and provide support to create redundancies wherever needed in the supply chain. Last year, many manufacturers established new partnerships. However, a wide diversity of suppliers is necessary to meet the demands of each vaccine seeking approval. Manufacturers can negotiate contracts and offer incentives to suppliers who invest in boosting production and stocking-up the goods. Also, producers can evaluate their inventory management and check for stock-outs of essential raw materials.
2. Collaborate with the government
In addition to the above point, the producers must have sufficient interaction with the government to increase production and maintain it. Many manufacturers and suppliers are working closely with the government to manage natural resource allocation. This collaboration must be continued over the economic and public health implications of outsourcing legacy products and optimize production lines for COVID-19 vaccines. Additionally, producers can collaborate with the government to create technology-transfer timelines and develop innovative ways to push bulk volumes to the market. It also helps improve inventory management and distribution.
3. Boost manufacturing by adhering to quality guidelines
As producers need to ramp-up operations in new or existing manufacturing facilities, they could look for opportunities to accelerate the process. Companies can use several digital and analytics tools to expand capacity and scale faster. Additionally, they can accelerate technology transfer time. For example, companies grow and speed up production by conducting engineering runs, validation runs, and stability studies simultaneously.
By collaborating with regulators and manufacturers, authorities can ensure that they meet the established and newly issued guidelines related to the dosage quality and procedures. With such coordination and understanding, higher throughput can be achieved. Similarly, stakeholders can collaborate and employ novel technology platforms such as mRNA to establish new vaccine production standards. Creating best practices at the facilities and the production can help set a clear road map for new manufacturing facilities. Eventually, this can improve future production capacity and throughput while meeting all the quality standards.
4. Optimize cold chain logistics
To mitigate distribution risks, manufacturers and distributors must identify failure points and create redundancies at each stage. For instance, dry ice can be used in warehouses fitted with freezers to deal with power loss or machine malfunctions. So, sources of dry ice must be identified across the distribution routes to restock coolers as required.
Reporting systems can be set up to identify supply-chain disruption events whenever they occur, using the data for refining best practices and procedures to avoid more losses.
In case there is a drop in the vaccine demand to the point that they are not immediately consumed, vaccine inventories must be redistributed to locations with higher demand. Manufacturers and distributors must avoid too much stockpiling to maintain the cold chain and reduce risks to the receiving administration location. If this is not possible in some areas, long-term storage by replenishing dry ice or increasing freezer capacity can be considered.
5. Address labor shortage
Currently, many locations are relying on hospitals and primary-care sites alongside retail pharmacies for vaccine administration. However, as vaccines will be deployed to the general public, more vaccine administrators will be needed. So, deploying the vaccines to larger and streamlined sites will be more efficient. This will improve patient safety, utilization of labor, and speed of vaccination.
6. Reduce spoilage at “care-points”
Manufacturers, distributors, and companies can collaborate to create ways to identify and track instances of spoilage. They can achieve this with proper guidance, training, certification, and optimization of doses.
As vaccines will be deployed to broader populations, accelerating the first-dose allocation as scheduled will be of paramount importance.
A possible way to prevent second doses from spoiling is to ask the vaccine recipient to commit to a second dose appointment at their point of care before administering the first dose.
7. Plan to overcome IT challenges
COVID-19 stakeholders must identify IT systems and assess their ability to perform at scale. They must also agree upon standard requirements and processes to generate and share threat intelligence. Awareness of attacks on the vaccines will lower the chances of seizures in number and magnitude.
Additionally, manufacturers and distributors can commission systems to track if the vaccine recipient has demonstrated immunity. This will not only build confidence in immunity but help people have a recognizable and accepted way of certifying that they have been vaccinated. This is true, especially if it will release them from travel limits and other pandemic-related restrictions.
The organizations involved in the deployment of vaccines are not solely responsible for managing it across the common operating model. The risks can be reduced to a great extent with increased cooperation from stakeholders. So, working groups could get together to identify the risks, assess their impact, and determine if certain risks are evolving and how they can be addressed.
Building smart and custom logistics software applications can help fulfill the increasing demand for last-mile delivery. Fingent helps build healthy tech partnership ecosystems to ensure uninterrupted supply and distribution of your products and services. It is the right opportunity to look at the future of logistics and decide whether to continue on the pre-COVID trajectory or change course. To see how our custom logistics software solutions can improve your team’s productivity, get in touch with us.
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The logistics and supply chain market is predicted to experience most complexities this 2021, especially with the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Here are ways to enable smooth logistics operations, even amidst the chaos!
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution: A Guide for Logistics and Supply Chain Leaders to Make Strategic Decisions
Crunch time and performing in a crisis – logistics and supply chain leaders are familiar with these challenges. The pandemic recovery mode has turned out to be a whole different ball game for logistics and supply chain service providers. It has thrown them a new and unique challenge in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Now, the world is looking to those same industry leaders for more strategic decisions and ways to shock-proof the supply chain.
Thus far, most companies have relied on a strategy of low-cost supplies and minimum inventory. However, given the combination of the pandemic, trade conflicts, and harsher natural disasters, they are rethinking such an approach. 2021 is facing one of the most complex logistics and supply chain challenges that we have never experienced in the past. This article shows how logistics businesses can enable smooth operations, especially with the vaccine distribution throughout 2021.
How is COVID-19 vaccine distribution affecting the logistics sector?
According to Jabil’s report on supply chain resilience in a post-pandemic world, the coronavirus disease impacted 78% of respondent supply chains, more than any other disruption over the last decade. Supply chain disruptions are not new, but they are usually contained and short-lived. However, COVID-19 has brought in extraordinary challenges. Here are a few of them:
1. Speed to market
Swift development of the COVID-19 vaccine has a ripple effect throughout manufacturing and distribution. Unlike other vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines need to be shipped under ideal conditions. Speed to market and the need to maintain cold chain integrity will be a big challenge for the supply chain sector.
2. Global and pervasive
Unlike traditional vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine is not location-specific. Supply chain leaders may encounter challenges as they ship to new customers through unfamiliar trade lanes, using new transport systems. In other words, the vaccine supply chain has to meet the demand on a global scale.
3. Full-scale distribution
The COVID-19 vaccine will have to be distributed full-scale from the start. Given the unfamiliar network, the risk entailed in this process doubles.
These unique challenges are forcing industry leaders to rethink traditional approaches. Those in the supply chain dedicated to the COVID-19 vaccine distribution will need to act in real-time and guide others downstream proactively.
Six stages to enable smooth logistics operations throughout 2021
Post the COVID-19 vaccine release announcement, the public’s attention began to shift from research and development to distribution. And rightly so! Here are six stages that supply chain leaders must focus on while making strategic decisions:
1. Planning is everything
The success of any task starts with proper planning. The supply chain encapsulates the procurement of goods, storage, and delivery to a specific location. With appropriate management of time, transportation, and other parameters, logistics companies can earn maximum profits. Adhering to the schedule helps attain better tracking, quality control, and timely delivery.
Despite good planning, supply chain procedures may encounter some challenges. Supply chain providers need to have a backup emergency plan to manage such unexpected situations.
2. Train for efficiency
The success of the plan is determined by those who execute it. In other words, well-trained staff can have a significant impact on the plan’s success. To this end, the team must be well trained in utilizing modern techniques.
Apart from frequent training sessions, companies can increase their teams’ efficiency through brochures and paper notices posted on the workplace walls. Apart from that, make sure that each employee is aware of the new policies. Educate your staff on how to handle the vaccine shipment so that the handler is conscious of packing and labeling.
3. Keep up with the latest technology
Technology is continuously evolving now more than ever. It is essential to keep up with the latest technology to handle challenges and tackle vaccine distribution demands.
- Artificial Intelligence can assist in providing timely updates regarding the movement of goods.
- It helps the client know the details about the supply, warehouse, and delivery. Automation of such information can save a considerable amount of time for the industry and its clients.
- Automation eliminates human error in tracking, which improves overall process management.
- AI can also assist in managing the account details and employee details.
- Automated warehouses can make sorting, packaging, and organizing vaccines much easier.
- Automated voice bots and chatbots can play a significant role in customer services.
4. Warehouse and inventory management
Effective supply chain management is incomplete without proper warehouse management. Warehouse operations vary according to the product. For example, most vaccines require ultra-low temperatures. Ensure that your current warehouse facility is capable of stocking the vaccine at appropriate temperature levels. Proper warehouse inventory will ensure minimum wastage of goods.
Moreover, using vertical storage columns can maximize storage capacity. Implementing efficient tracking software allows warehouse personnel to locate products quickly.
Implementing logistics software solutions or applying robotics logistics such as robotic palletizing, packaging, and automated picking can modernize warehouse operations, improve health and occupational safety in the warehouse premises, reduce physical contacts between workers, and increase efficiency fulfillment.
5. Improved transportation
Efficient transportation can decrease expenses and speed up the delivery of vaccines. Determine the shortest and safest delivery route. Optimize the packaging to reduce the weight of the package and the volume.
The pandemic has accelerated digital shopping. Last-mile delivery has become more critical than ever before. The use of technology can help logistics managers optimize that last-mile and help them keep their customers updated.
6. Analyze and improvise
Integration of feedback and analysis makes any logistics network complete and optimal. Predictive data analytics can help industry leaders learn from what happened and improve in the future. You can use it to get a detailed understanding of what caused delays in your supply chain. Once you identify those bottlenecks, you can boost the productivity of your logistics business and efficiency on your future trips.
Building supply chain resilience
Just as the coronavirus spread from place to place, the vaccine must follow suit to support a global recovery. However, the vaccine’s possible routes are determined by the cold chain. Some areas do not have the option of freezer storage. Local logistics and supply chain leaders must ensure that these communities have access to the approved vaccines.
Location intelligence and technological advantage help leaders determine where vaccines need to go and how to get them there. For most logistics firms, the pandemic seems to be a trial-by-fire. By implementing responsible strategies, you can build resilience in logistics and supply chain practices.
To fulfill the increasing demand for last-mile delivery, logistics companies must strengthen smart tech investments and build healthy partnership ecosystems. Fingent is closely monitoring the situation and helping businesses return to work with our technology consulting and innovation capabilities. Contact us, and let’s get you started.
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SAP helps increase warehouse management productivity with voice picking!
Voice technology has been there for a while and is here to stay. Its increasing adoption among warehouse distribution centers has led to increased accuracy, improved productivity, and training time reduction. Supply chain executives report attaining a 50% decrease in picking errors and a typical ROI in less than one year with voice integration.
In retail warehouses, complex facilities such as inventory control are vital, with several picks to be performed every hour. The warehouse employees should be an efficient and accurate while ‘picking’ as wrong picking can lead to incorrect deliveries and affect customer satisfaction.
To improve staff accuracy and speed of pick, warehouses can consider “Voice Picking” technology. Voice picking is an extension of the Warehouse Management System (enhanced by additional software and hardware) that allows transferring instructions to the warehouse operators using earphones and microphones. Voice Picking uses a wearable computer that includes a headset and microphone so that the order pickers can be instructed on what items to pick from where and later confirm their actions verbally into the Warehouse Management System (WMS).
Benefits of Voice-picking
A voice-picking system creates a hands-free, heads-up workflow. Unlike the traditional warehouse order picking, where you need to stop to read, scan, or punch keys, the voice-picking system allows users to listen and speak efficiently. Some of its benefits include:
- Productivity improvement
- Reduction in errors by 25% or more
- Decrease in accidents as operators rely on eyes and hands-free technology and hence are more aware of the surroundings
- Cuts training time
How is voice-enabled warehouse operation helping during the COVID-19 pandemic?
In the last few months, warehousing and logistics have been hit hard. While there was enormous pressure on the warehouse to execute deliveries quickly due to increasing customer expectations, COVID-19 has caused further disruption.
Logistic companies have had to evaluate options and make changes across transportation modes, considering delays, interruptions, and price changes.
According to a survey from August to September 2020, about 32,200 jobs were added to the warehouse and storage sector. Thanks to voice and device technology! Voice integration helped address the labor shortage and equipped new workers. Here are a few benefits of voice-enabled warehouse management.
1. Efficient onboarding
New workers can pick up their barcode scanner or mobile device and begin their work with minimal onboarding time. Latest device upgrades offer improved designs and user-friendly interfaces. Whether a Windows 10, iOS, or Android device, workers can choose the device they like. This flexibility helps simplify the training and onboarding process of new workers, optimizing workforce management, and making it a more efficient experience.
New workers can get started quickly without the need for lengthy training processes. With voice-enabled applications, you can reduce the training time from several hours to just a few minutes.
2. Increased productivity
Voice capabilities are helping workers to keep pace with the high volume of orders. It helps them cope with the increased pressure to meet soaring demands, reduce training time, and use the hand-held devices of their comfort.
3. Higher accuracy
With hands-free wearables and voice picking, workers don’t need to stop frequently to check their devices. It will reduce errors and allow pickers to complete more orders within the same timeframe with improved speed and accuracy.
4. Improved safety
The coronavirus has made “contactless” mandatory. Voice picking can eliminate many physical touchpoints that can lead to virus exposure. Minimizing surface contact is one of the best ways to protect warehouse workers.
Read more: Contactless services: The new retail norm
How does SAP help voice-picking?
SAP’s open architecture supports several voice integration methods that help users achieve immense productivity and accuracy. If your business is running on SAP’s Extended Warehouse Management (EWM) solution or Warehouse Management (WM), voice can be easily integrated. It results in the seamless integration of ERP with your warehouse management solutions and voice. Ultimately, the accuracy, productivity, comfort, and safety of all your warehouse processes will improve. It helps distribution centers deliver on time, achieve deadlines, and scale.
Today, voice integrated into SAP has become an essential tool for many businesses. SAP’s voice picking provides superior ergonomics, eliminates distractions, and allows users to focus on the task. The voice technology is specifically designed to provide voice recognition in noisy environments. The noise cancellation ability helps lower warehouse background noise, such as truck horns, pallet drops, and conveyor system mechanism.
Additionally, the technology helps overcome language barriers as most systems come in more than 40 languages allowing users to interact with SAP most naturally and effectively.
Voice with SAP can quickly scale with your business both when your business grows and when you need to accomplish seasonal peaks. With SAP’s explicit instructions, you can add new employees’ onboarding time and capacity without any complex changes to the given infrastructure.
Download Our Case Study: How Fingent automated integration between SAP SuccessFactors and SAP S/4HANA
As the economy battles to overcome uncertainty, using safe, cost-effective solutions, embracing advanced technologies like voice-enabled applications are imperative to sustain. Additionally, with COVID-19 showing no signs of ending soon and the world shifting to contactless shopping, embracing voice-enabled applications makes sense from an economic and physical safety standpoint.
No other technology has impacted the logistics and shipping industry like voice in the recent past. Extend your logistics and fulfillment processes by making voice technology a vital ingredient of your company’s IT strategy. Contact us now to get started.
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Robotics in Logistics: Dawn of a New Era
Since the advent of e-commerce, getting goods to the customer’s door or stores from the factories or warehouses has become a mammoth task for logistics companies. Forecasts say that “worldwide warehousing and logistics robot unit shipments will increase to an estimated 620,000 units annually by 2021.” The solution for this herculean task of transporting goods far and wide thus becomes apparent: the dawn of robotics in logistics. The use of robotics in logistics offers far greater levels of uptime over manual labor, bolstering productivity in a vast array of professional environments.
Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart that have already deployed robots in their warehouses and fulfillment centers will only expand their deployments, especially in the wake of current situations. Leveraging robotics in logistics cuts around 70% of warehouse labor costs and helps businesses function day and night with minimal costs. Want to find out how? This post will help you understand the importance of utilizing warehouse robotics in the supply chain.
A Surge in Warehouse Robotics in Supply Chain
The first robot in the supply chain was capable of moving material about a dozen feet. For several years, robots were used only in industrial manufacturing because it was not safe for people to be around them. However, over the last few decades, innovative logistic robotic companies have worked hard to mesh AI and machine learning, better sensors and response capabilities, warehouse management software or logistics management software.
Recently, warehouse robotics in the supply chain has picked up pace exponentially. There has been huge funding and investment in the industry. For example, Alibaba invested $15 billion into robotic logistics infrastructure and Google invested $500 million into automated logistics for JD. It is also estimated that the global market for warehouse robotics in the supply chain is projected to reach a market value of $22.4 billion by the end of 2021.
Evidently, the dawn of robotic logistics is right here now!
What is Robotic Logistics?
The logistics industry is what is holding our modern world together. It includes a huge amount of different processes. Ordering, transportation, warehousing, picking, packing, delivery, inventory, and routing are just a few of those processes.
So, robotic logistics means the application of robotics to one or more of these processes. A few common robotic applications are robotic palletizing, robotic packaging, robotic picking commonly used in warehousing or any other logistics software solutions.
So, what kind of robots could be useful for your warehouse?
Warehouse Robotics in Supply Chain
1. Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR)
AMRs use sophisticated sensor technology to deliver inventory all over the warehouse. They do not require a set track between locations. They can understand and interpret their environment through the use of maps, computers, and onboard sensors.
These warehouse robots are small and nimble with the ability to identify the information on each package and sort it with impeccable accuracy. They cut down on the redundant manual process which is prone to human error.
2. Aerial Drones
Aerial drones aid in optimizing warehouse inventory processes. They can quickly scan locations for automated inventory. They can scan inventory much faster than a human can and send an accurate count immediately to your warehouse inventory management software.
These drones do not need markers or lasers to guide them. They don’t take up valuable space in your warehouse. They can travel quickly and assist in hard-to-reach areas.
3. Automated Guided Vehicles
Automated guided vehicles and carts (AGVs and AGCs) transport inventory around your warehouse following a track laid in your warehouse. These warehouse robots are perfect for larger warehouses because it reduces the time spent by workers just moving from one area to the next.
4. Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS and RS)
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems are robot-aided systems that can place or retrieve loads from set storage locations. AS and RS differ depending on the system needed, the type of task, or the goods that they will be working with. They can be programmed to work as a craft that moves and works on a well-defined path or a crane that retrieves goods between aisles. There are also aisle climbing robots that retrieve customer orders.
These free up the time of workers who can then concentrate on more complicated processes such as packing and posting the goods.
What is Driving the Need for Collaborative Robots in Logistics?
Although there has been a boom in logistic robotics, there are two specific factors that are driving the current need for collaborative robots in logistics.
- The growth of e-commerce: When products are directly shipped to customers, there is a huge variety of different packing requirements.
- The lack of available workforce: Shortage of skilled workers can affect logistics.
What are the Benefits of Adopting Robotic Logistics?
The logistics industry can see many tangible and clear benefits of adopting robotic logistics.
- By reducing human errors, robotic logistics can bring in significant profits and can also reduce warehouse costs.
- Robotics can allow for workforce adaptability.
- Robotic logistics improve safety for workers by taking over dangerous jobs such as getting items from high racks or storage spaces.
- Reduced human error and increased delivery speed brought about by robotic automation will increase customer satisfaction.
Read more: Open source robotics process automation
Enjoy the Freedom To Do More
Robots are being used rather extensively in logistics. Due to the complexity of supply chain processes robots will be increasingly used for dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks freeing your workers for more complex tasks. This means cost-effective, fast, and error-free operations. If you want this for your business, get in touch with us immediately and let us fix your business up with robot power.
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Robotic Process Automation Reflecting The Banking, Insurance & Logistics Industries
Robotic Process Automation is the fastest-growing segment of the global software market. Using this technology, companies can fast-track their digital transformation initiatives. Although RPA is useful in all industries, the biggest adopters of this technology are banks, insurance companies, and logistics. These companies traditionally have numerous legacy systems and choose RPA solutions to enhance or replace manual IT processes. This article discusses how Robotic Process Automation is revolutionizing the banking, insurance, and logistics industries. First, let’s consider what is Robotic Process Automation.
What is Robotic Process Automation?
Robots have fascinated humans for a very long time. From the futuristic robot Maria from the movie Metropolis in 1927 to this day of AI sci-fi, the possibility with robots is a topic of endless discussion. Interestingly, though, this word “robot” in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) does not involve a physical or mechanical robot. Instead, it is a software running on a virtual or physical machine. Aaron Bultman, director of Product at Nintex simplified the expression saying, “RPA is a form of business process automation that allows anyone to define a set of instructions for a robot or ‘bot’ to perform.”
According to Gartner, RPA grew by 63% in 2018 and continues to be one of the fast-growing technologies in many industries! RPA lets companies automate current tasks as if a real person was doing them across systems and applications. It interacts with each system just as a human user would interact. This does not require complex system integration. These functional RPAs are virtual workers and execute rule-based information processes, enhancing efficiency and accuracy. Additionally, it is easy to model and deploy. Let us consider the three specific industries where RPA is most beneficial.
RPA in Banking
The banking industry is completely process-oriented. Every activity is done meticulously to avoid errors in processing. The repetitive nature of the job and the high probability of human error could cause mistakes that might prove very costly. Therefore, in the recent past, leading banking institutions have started using RPA to minimize errors. According to a report by KPMG, RPA will perform almost 75% of the existing offshore jobs, which could save operational cost.
Scalable Benefits of RPA in the Banking Industry
- Mortgage Lending. RPA can enable the banking industry to meet loan quality and cost concerns head-on. Automation of repetitive and time-consuming manual tasks will free up your team to focus on the more important details of loan applications. It speeds up the work, increases revenue. enhances customer experience, reduces operational costs, decreases risk and improves compliance.
- Compliance and Risk Management. It enables the banking industry to automatically integrate and aggregate compliance information into business processes, streamlining the required work while reducing expenses. RPA eliminates the need for manual regulatory monitoring and data collection. It can empower risk management and compliance teams. It enables banking industries to avoid costly fines and damages to reputation. It provides accurate and complete information.
- Customer Service and Support. RPA ensures the longevity and loyalty of your customer relationship and the future of your bank. It helps you engage customers in real-time. It automates customer service activities so the customer is not waiting endlessly. It increases the productivity and efficiency of the team.
Related Reading: Check out these 5 simple hacks on using banking mobile apps safely.
RPA in Insurance
An insurance company receives hundreds of claim requests. Validating each request and handling them is not only a herculean task but also a painstakingly slow manual process. The entire process of the claim takes several days. Because this is a costly and time-consuming process, the company risks losing customers. To prevent further damages, insurance companies are now relying on RPA to help them improve operational excellence and reduce costs.
Scalable Benefits of RPA in the Insurance Industry
- Improves customer service because RPA effectively reduces the turnaround time in resolving customer issues.
- Processes and workflows could be tracked and recorded at each phase. This reduces staff workloads and improves process efficiency.
- Reduces the processing time by 40-80%. This frees up the team to focus on more important activities such as acquiring new clients.
- Reduces errors made during data entry significantly.
- Speeds up and organizes the processing of claims through a systematic underwriting process.
- Based on the demand, intelligent bots can scale up or down, which delivers consistency in service and operational efficiencies.
- Improves audibility and operational risk management due to the accuracy level of RPA.
- The time for the cancellation process could be reduced by one-third.
RPA in Logistics
The logistics industry depends on several processes to facilitate the proper distribution of products, materials, and services from B2B or B2C. The need for an intelligent logistics system increases as the industry along with competition advances every day. Here’s how the RPA can contribute to the logistics industry:
Scalable Benefits of RPA in Logistics.
- Better data management and customer service. Negative experiences and a multitude of errors with logistics providers are causing customers to lose their trust in online shopping. With the benefits of automation and digitalization brought about by RPA, logistics providers no-longer need to rely on huge amounts of paperwork, which was the underlying cause for errors and poor customer service. Logistics companies are enabled to manage real-time monitoring of flow and resources, availability, costs, staffing, transportation, suppliers and so on more efficiently.
- Improved work safety for employees. Through the use of automated machines in unsafe environments and the reduction of repetitive stress in manual tasks, work injury has been dropping steadily with the aid of RPA. This results in savings in terms of injury compensation and loss in reputation. It can also increase productivity, improve employee satisfaction and loyalty, and increase their efficiency.
- Improved efficiency and precision. RPA can help logistics companies easily manage the supply chain processes more efficiently. The anticipatory logistics system helps companies gauge the demand from their customers and adjust their production volume accordingly. It can help in managing and analyzing huge amounts of data within seconds, resulting in fewer human errors, faster deliveries, and fewer errors in delivery.
- Cost reduction. Fewer errors from human decision-making result in cost savings for logistics companies. Also, RPA reduces the need for human workers, which results in fewer paychecks and more profits. Where workers are still needed, it can raise their productivity, margins to a whole new level. It improves customer satisfaction and creates a safer work environment for the workers.
Empower Your Business With RPA
According to Global Market Insights Inc., the RPA market is expected to reach $5 billion by 2024. It is increasing capabilities and improving performance while reducing costs in several industries. Fingent Technologies has been one of the top software companies empowering industries globally with robotic process automation capabilities. Give us a call and let us discuss how we can transform your business with RPA.
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Technology continues to disrupt logistics and supply chain processes by changing it altogether from its core. Consequently, logistics became more refined and fast, which changed the way how materials, goods, freight, sales orders, inventory, and production are managed.
As efficiency and speed became the determining factors, logistics adopted a new approach to deal with the rising demand and complexity of processes. A viable solution that manages the flow of things so that the right product reaches the customer within the specified time.
With the use of logistics software, the entire base of logistical operations was streamlined that took away the hassles involved in the process. Organizations that invested in logistics management software have produced good end results with noticeable improvements in process, operations, and delivery.
In this article we take a look at logistics management software in the following aspects:
- What is Logistics Management Software?
- Challenges in Logistics Management
- Pros of a Having a Logistics Software
- Trends that reshaped Logistics Management
- Choosing the Right Logistics Management Software
- Checklist of Essentials in an LMS
- How Logistics Software Improves Efficiency
- The Future of Supply Chain
An Overview of Logistics Software
In order to understand how the software works for logistics, it is important to know about logistics management. Logistics involve the flow of things from its point of origin to the point of consumption usually general customers or businesses. The selection of vendors, transportation means, routes and delivery methods constitute an important part of logistical operations.
Logistics management is a part of the supply chain that uses planning and implementation to store and deliver goods and services to the customer. It coordinates several key activities of the supply chain that ranges from the development of the product to its commercialization.
Typically a logistics management system includes the following:
- Inbound and outbound transportation management
- Warehouse management
- Fleet management
- Processing orders
- Inventory control
- Managing third-party logistics service providers
- Planning supply and demand
Related Video: Top Challenges Faced by Logistic Management
Logistics management constitutes several functions such as production planning, sourcing, procurement, packaging, and dispatching. It also involves finding the right means to deliver goods and services to the end-user. Inbound and outbound traffic is vital in logistics management. Inbound logistics is a linear flow of raw materials from suppliers into a warehouse and then a production unit.
Shifting the products from the warehouse inventory into the hands of the customers falls under outbound logistics. An example of inbound and outbound logistics at play is that of a manufacturer of electronic goods, which requires several raw materials in the form of components, nuts and bolts, cables, casting, packaging cartons etc. to build products.
Challenges in Logistics Management
Logistics is prone to several issues that occur mostly due to simple human errors or other factors. Weak decisions usually result in delays in the transport or delivery of goods leading to dissatisfaction among the customers. Besides, another challenge that logistics usually face is in the safe transport of goods. The goods can become damaged or faulty if not handled accordingly while in transit.
Customer demand has also become higher as they want more transparency in the delivery process. Moreover, logistics and supply chain are facing the still unsolved issue of cost control. The rise of fuel charges combined with a steep increase in energy, freight, and labor rates have put further pressure on logistics providers.
Means to effective risk management and directing the relation between the suppliers and partners is also vital. A reliable solution that covers all these individual challenges in logistics is thus becoming a necessity. The use of logistics management software (LMS) can streamline the flow of things in logistical operations, which guides a logistics provider or business deal with them appropriately.
What is Logistics Management Software?
Essentially, logistics management software (LMS) simplifies operations by refining the production cycle and making it easier to access important information quickly. What a logistics management software does is help businesses manage the multifarious process that goes into the production cycle from the delivery of raw materials to shipping the finished products to the consumers.
Logistics software has become wider in its scope and functionality to deal with a wider array of operations and processes. It shares similarities with supply chain management software (SCMS), which contains a set of tools that help deal with transactions, processes, and suppliers. The functionality of a logistics management software extends to areas such as:
- Processing customer requests
- Processing purchase orders
- Inventory Management
- Suppliers Management
- Sales and Distribution
A logistics management software gets rid of all the conventional approaches like paperwork and spreadsheets to simplify management. It comes in three variations such as warehouse management systems, enterprise resource planning systems, and integrated supply chain management suites.
Companies that have an in-house logistics or supply chain division and third-party logistics providers utilize any of these different versions according to their own requirement to manage their logistical and supply chain operations efficiently.
The Pros of Having a Logistics Software
In the area of logistics, handing over the process to a logistics management software has its own advantages. With logistics management software, a company or 3PL could avail the following benefits.
- Refine Transportation – Transportation being a pivotal area of logistics incurs the most charges in the form of fuel, energy, labor, tolls and shipping fees. Relying on logistics software can help manage the various transportation means and leverage the data to automate the process. This allows for easy analysis, which a company can utilize to make relevant decisions for maximizing efficiency and reducing costs.
- Faster Delivery – Logistics being a linear flow of goods and services come across several issues that affect delivery and cause delays. By incorporating a logistics software, a singular benefit that businesses derive is in the faster delivery of products to the customers. A logistics management software can improve the speeds in delivery by interfering in the production cycle and selecting the right shipping service, which cuts short any delays to a large extent.
- Minimize Human Errors – The other notable advantage of having a logistics management software is in reducing human error. Analysis of transportation data results in huge quantities of data that is difficult, time-consuming and prone to errors when processed manually. A logistics software can process these data without any errors in less time, which will seamlessly push forward the operations with zero chances of delays.
- Automates Functions – Automation is another boon to integrating a logistics software to deal with the processes. Certain functions like creating shipment routes, load planning, and tendering of load to carriers are easily automated and managed by using a logistics software. Moreover, it eliminates paperwork, which helps deal with the processes in a more efficient and timely manner.
- Reduce Costs – Savings is the other end result as the logistics software can automatically compare different shipping services, delivery agents and transportation methods to find ones with the least pricing. The other way by which a logistics software reduces costs is by lowering the expedited shipments through improved planning of the shipments.
How Trends Reshaped Logistics Management Using Software
Logistics is on a forward growth and several trends have changed it remarkably. The demand for logistics has peaked with the widespread popularity of e-commerce. As a result, logistics is constantly evolving to accommodate the rising demands of each industry that depends on it. One area where logistics clearly transformed is in the digitization of its processes and resources.
With the introduction of logistics management software, the entire nature of logistics changed allowing a business owner to supervise the operations across different levels. Digitization combined physical devices and software solutions to streamline the entire cycle of logistics by putting the owner at the center.
Software as a service (SaaS) is clearly gaining the upper hand as this model continue to find widespread acceptance in logistics management and supply chain. It is a reliable model since it offers the security and convenience that logistics managers can depend upon along with the benefits of cloud computing.
The use of AI is another significant trend in logistics and supply chain. It holds the most potential to disrupt the field of logistics in the near future. Some of it is already a reality now such as in the automation of specific tasks and is slated to advance further with gesture recognition and autonomous delivery via self-driving vehicles.
Moreover, the trends also clearly hint at an improved collaboration in the processes that govern the logistics and supply chain. Emphasis is also given on managing risks and promoting resilience in the supply chain, which increases the dependence on logistics software for dealing with the processes more effective than before.
Opting for the Right Logistics Management Software
With the trends shifting logistics management in a progressive direction, the need for software solutions in the field has become indispensable. Businesses, whether focussing on e-commerce or delivering services, can benefit from having a logistics management software. However, the real question is finding the right kind of logistics software since the requirements vary for each business.
A Checklist of Essentials in an LMS
Prior to settling on software for logistics management, it is vital to understand the requirements and challenges that a business face on a daily basis. Carrying out a detailed analysis can help identify weaknesses in the existing logistical operations of a business. Besides that, it can suggest measures to redeem any discovered weaknesses in the cycle.
When deciding on logistics management software, there are several essential factors to consider. Firstly, it should contain a basic set of functions that can aid in simple logistical management operations.
Besides that numerous other things should also be present in the software to tackle the wide base of logistical operations and processes that each business undertake. Some of the key features to look for in a potential LMS are:
- Compatible Multi-Client Architecture – A logistics software that comes with multi-client architecture support is necessary if a business handles multiple customers. Software with inventory and purchase orders have more emphasis since the process deals with several customers simultaneously or in different phases.
- Forecasting – The ability to forecast is a needed trait in a logistics and supply chain management software since it can bridge gaps in supply and demand by enhancing the business processes. Demand, supply and price forecasting can help supply chain management with proper scheduling of production, improve customer satisfaction, minimizing stocking out of inventory, etc.
- Finance Integration – Having tools that integrate the financial side of the supply chain is another key requirement in the software. Key financial aspects like general ledger, account payables, and receivables, when included in a logistics software can guide manage the bookkeeping and records of transactions conveniently.
- Inventory Tracking – Having an inbuilt inventory tracking feature can make a logistics management software more dependable. Since logistics involves transactions of various kinds, an inventory control feature enables easier processing while making sure that the customer gets the invoice on time.
- Customizable and Streamlined Interface– A good logistics management software should contain a streamlined interface that allows for effortless navigation across its chief functions. A customizable logistics software can easily accommodate the unique infrastructure and methods implemented by a business.
- CRM – A proper logistics software should also cover the customer side. A CRM embedded logistics software allows the customers to know the status of their deliveries. For both inbound and outbound logistics, CRM can answer the queries of the customer and supply them with relevant information along with adjustments to the delivery.
- Bill of Lading Creation – As a key document in shipping and freight chain, it is recommended to look for a software that can generate bill of lading. This can make it easier for creating bill of lading receipts to facilitate the seamless transaction of goods under the consignee of the shipper and the logistics company.
Refer the chart below to get a grip on the overall profile of any software logistics management:
With logistics pushed to the forefront of business operations, leveraging the right technology can make your business compatible with the changing environment.
Outsourcing to a software development vendor will help deploy a scalable software for logistics management into your entire supply chain operations. A global software solutions provider like Fingent can give you the advantage of custom logistics solutions built solely with your requirements in mind.
Logistics Software Upholds Efficiency and Speed for Businesses
Having a logistics management software can guarantee more efficiency and control over the logistical and supply chain operations run by a business. It means simply substituting the existing methods with a software-centric solution. The array of features in an LSM can refine the entire cycle of logistics right from its center. For owners, vendors and the end customers, the use of an LSM model opens up improved collaboration, which is the essence of effective logistics management.
Opting for a logistics software requires considering all the above-mentioned criteria. For a business, it involves addressing their needs and then choosing one that wraps around their existing processes. By integrating an LMS into their operations, businesses could ratchet up their turnaround times, streamline the overall cycle of planning and delivery all the while keeping up with the customers’ requirements.
Transitioning into Cloud-Based SaaS – The Future of Supply Chain
With cloud computing gaining momentum, a whole new way of processing data is left open where services and functionalities are offered via the web. This latest innovation has also made its influence on the web of operations involved in supply chain and logistics. With the rising adoption of supply chain and logistics solutions, there now exists various options that shift from premise-based software into that of a SaaS model.
Predictions estimate that a subscription-based SaaS model will clearly dominate supply chain management in the coming years. Adopting a cloud-based supply chain solution has its own benefits in the form of flexibility, robustness, and affordability. This is increasingly becoming the choice for several logistics providers and organizations as several cloud services have opened up cloud computing to a wider extent.
The benefits that businesses and providers can reap from having a cloud-based SaaS supply chain solution are numerous. It gives a comprehensive outlook on the overall operations in logistics by making it more transparent and collaborative. Implementing a cloud system could reduce the upfront and operating costs along with the ability to scale up in accordance with the needs all the while enhancing the efficiency of supply chain operations as a whole.
Opting for a logistics solution is one step to simplifying the entire cycle of logistical and supply chain operations. Effective management of each process from procurement to delivery requires a custom solution that can accommodate the demands of each provider. For instance, an organization lacking an in-house logistics department need a software management tool that can wrap around their existing methodology and improve it.
By partnering with a vendor specializing in software development, businesses can deploy logistics management software customized with their individual requirements. Pioneers in software development like Fingent who have experience in the field for over a decade can assist businesses from wholesale to e-commerce with the advantage of custom logistic solutions to spearhead their operations in a swift and efficient manner.
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Digital technologies have permeated and disrupted almost all sectors, and logistics companies are no exception.
Optimization and efficiency, combined with speed and seizing the moment are the keys to success in today’s highly competitive advantage. Technology is the key enabler allowing companies to realize these aspects.
Leveraging Technology for Strategic Planning
A report by transport and logistics analysts Oliver Wyman reveals transportation and logistics companies increasing revenue, yet having reduced profits, over a 10-year period, and come with the recommendation to “standardize and streamline structures and processes, developing industry oriented and innovative solutions, thinking and acting in terms of networks.” Technology is the key enabler in this regard.
On average, transportation companies invest about 5% of their annual revenues in digital operations, with the main focus on digitizing their customer interface. The thrust these days is especially on mobile apps and solutions, to offer a personalized experience for their customers, and track the movement of vehicles accurately. However, side-by-side companies are also increasingly using digital technology to unlock new business models, focused on the creation of value-added services and innovative solutions.
The Use of Big Data to Improve Operations
The need to cut cost and take real-time action, in a competitive environment where margins are wafer thin, require logistics companies to take greater control over their supply chain and ensure the processes take place seamlessly, at great speed. Towards such ends, logistics companies are increasingly applying Big Data technology, to capture and analyze data, to streamline their operations and optimize the supply chain.
Computers apply algorithms to crunch Big Data, unlocking insights and opportunities not possible before. Such insights enable streamlining operations and optimization of the supply chain.
- Data based automation, especially automated load building and optimizing the inbound and outbound movement of cargo, enable optimal usage of available resources, reduction of waste, and facilitate lean operations.
- Effective real-time fleet management solution facilitates “uberization” of trucks and other delivery vehicles, where empty containers may be utilized immediately by matching it to the nearest load. Mobile solutions enable greater transparency into the operations.
- A comprehensive data based inventory and supply chain management system unlocks silos, and facilitates end-to-end visibility to inventory, orders and shipments across the supply chain. Such transparency allows improved tracking of inventory movement, facilitates the reduction of network-wide inventory levels, and enable managers to respond dynamically and in real-time to any events or issues that disrupt or hinder the supply chain.
- Analytical data makes explicit greenhouse emissions and carbon footprints of truck and machinery operations, allowing companies to take steps to become carbon-neutral, thereby contributing to the cause of “Green logistics.”
- The combination of machine learning with supply chain management enables turning reams of passive data into actionable business intelligence. Logistics companies apply the wealth of data related to the movement of their goods and trucks to identify patterns related to customer trends, identify what works well, unearth market insights, and gain competitive advantage.
Digital Improves Security
Supply chain disruption is the number one global business risk for logistics companies. Technology enables fortifying the supply chain in many ways.
- Digital locks make the inventory more secure, offer a robust layer of security, in addition to physical security.
- Optimal route planning, combined with real-time tracking of cargo movement through mobile apps enable routing of cargo by avoiding congestion points and trouble spots, to minimize risks and interruption.
Internet of Things (IoT) Enhances Operations
The earliest applications of RFID and nascent IoT technology have been in asset tracking and warehouse management. For instance, rather than simply tracking inventory of pallets and crates, enterprises use sensors, beacons, RFID and other technology to gather information on the state of the connected item, such as when the “thing” requires maintenance, the expected life of the “thing,” and more.
IoT contributes to highly integrated warehouse management solutions, enabling precision movement and accurate tracking of movement of goods. The applications of IoT instruments in logistics are virtually endless, ranging from tracking transportation goods in a temperature controlled way to ensuring the correct package reaches the correct location at the specified time and more.
The trends in the immediate future include connected and ‘autonomous’ trucks, warehouse robotics, and smart warehouse solutions, all of which will improve efficiency manifold, speed up operations, and improve accuracy.
Technological Innovations Unlock New Possibilities
Logistics companies use technology not just to improve efficiency of operations, but also transform the way operations take place in itself. The use of robots in large warehouses, and to handle hazardous goods is already widespread, as is the driverless, remote-controlled vehicles.
The next big thing is the use of drones, especially for last mile delivery. The U.S. Government is already piloting a drone-based traffic monitoring system. Countries such as Spain, France, and The Czech Republic and others have several research projects looking into the use of drones for traffic management. The widespread use of drones would speed up things considerably, reduce the hassles, strain and inefficiency associated with maintaining an army of delivery boys, and also reduce costs considerably.
A start has already been made, with Amazon Prime Air already making legit deliveries using drones, in less than 30 minutes from the time customers place an order. When the technology becomes widespread, logistics will change like never before.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
Proactive transportation and logistics companies go beyond improving their operational efficiency and retaining greater control over their operations, to enhance customer satisfaction.
Technology propels a shift to a customer obsessed operating model, enabling the delivery of personalized and customer-focused logistics, with faster cycle times.
Hyper-connectivity facilitates not just big data, but also speed data. Speed and timeliness, manifesting in seizing the moment enable companies to match customer expectations and deliver competitive differentiation over its competitors.
It requires considerable expertise in both business operations and the latest cutting edge technology to roll out successful technological solutions acceptable by the rank and file. By partnering with us, you can piggy-bank on our vast and extensive experience in delivering highly intuitive apps and other solutions for transportation and logistics firms. Our rich talent pool, combined with extensive experience allow us to add value to your strategy, and roll out seamless apps that make your processes highly efficient, allowing you to cut costs, unlock new possibilities, and take customer satisfaction to new levels.
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The logistics industry has been undergoing a series of transformations for the past few years. Things that seemed like science fiction in the past, like augmented reality and 3D printing, are actually becoming part of the industry. Technology is being used widely today in order to provide faster and more reliable delivery services. In the future, we can see a lot more technology and innovation shaping the entire concept of logistics.
While we are on the subject of innovations and trends in the logistics industry, let us discuss 3 such smart technology trends in 2015, which are greatly influencing logistics and supply chain management:
- Carrier technology – The latest advancement in the area of carrier technology is that smaller trucking companies are being given access to the technology support and operations that bigger companies use to manage. Earlier, small motor carrier companies, especially ones in the truckload segment, were always ignored when it came to the technology provision aspect. It was always the bigger companies, who could spend more on user fees and upgrades, that became the targets of technology providers. Hence, the smaller companies stuck to little or no technology at all and suffered from a lack of efficiency in their operations. It was not until recently, that this trend began to see a change. Companies like 10-4 systems have started developing technology solutions for carrier companies so that they can compete better in the industry. Carrier technology is set to be a turning point in the whole industry as it helps companies manage their demand planning and at the same time reduce wastage in their value chains. It also helps smaller companies grow by enabling them to generate better cash flow.
- Web services – One of the biggest factors that was holding back the supply chain industry is its undue reliability on unreliable data, and the lack of efficiency and effectiveness in data transmission. Sharing of important information was always through technologies like EDI, fax and email. This year, we are going to see widespread use of web services and also a set standard for the language used for transmission of data. Several companies like Project44 have already taken the lead in this regard. This is going to have a significant impact on the whole supply chain industry, as it will change the way companies perform complex demand analysis, reduce wastage and shall transform the way that companies charge for their services. Clearly, a much-needed change.
- Integrated supply chains – Integration between supply chains world over, not only enables instant online freight booking, but also enables the traders to serve their customers while simultaneously allowing traders to manage their connections with their transportation vendors. Such an integration will reduce the overall cost of logistics because it eliminates the need for intermediaries at various levels of the supply chain in the course of shipping products. This again, will make use of technologies like cloud services and pave the way for a more effective management of operations.
Technologies like these are soon becoming mainstream and are revolutionizing the logistics and supply chain industry. They clearly help overcome the challenges that the industry has been facing till recently. As a matter of fact, in the course of time these are most likely to bring the highest level of sophistication and much-needed efficiency in the industry. They will surely help in building stronger, more effective supply chains as well.