Supply chain – more transparency in logistics through digital platform – eCommerce magazine


The accompanying documentation, which is mandatory for the dispatch of goods, is a particular challenge. In the case of larger deliveries, this can even span over a hundred pages: from the goods declaration to detailed customs declarations, which must each correspond to the different regulations in the recipient countries. Many of the Shipment information The supply chain in the logistics departments and on the forwarding side is still often unstructured in traditional form – as Excel spreadsheets, in emails or in paper form.

With many different sources, the organization is correspondingly time-consuming. Easy access to documents is essential, especially in times of home office. The increasingly stronger Supply chain diversification and increasing demand dynamics, not only as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, are creating challenges in supply chain management. But it can also be done more efficiently. The key word here is: digitization.

Supply chain: Lack of transparency makes control difficult

Most of our consumer goods that come from the Far East or other distant regions go through you combined transport from ocean freight, air freight, rail or truck. This means several transhipment operations, possible customs controls and temporary storage. For longer transports, which can run for weeks, this usually means a certain degree of uncertainty about where the shipments are at the moment or in which warehouse the goods are waiting for reloading.

Logistics managers usually have to make time-consuming calls to the various partners or start lengthy searches in documents. Is there a Interruption in the supply chain or if for other reasons a trading partner needs quick information about where the shipped goods are currently or when they arrive, a lot depends on the stored documentation. Many employees are familiar with such situations from their everyday work. Often, delays not only affect your own company, but mostly the entire downstream value chain.

Corona crisis as a digitalization driver in logistics

Even before Corona, the shipping of products was complex, the consequences of the pandemic clearly revealed the challenges of managing goods transport in an analogous manner. The production capacity was severely limited due to the expansion of Covid-19 impaired transport capacities in shipping and air transport and forced many companies to react quickly and to find alternatives for their procurement. In such a case, if the data and information of the individual transport steps are not quickly available, a flexible reaction is hardly possible.

The consequences, as seen particularly clearly in the initial phase of the corona pandemic, are not uncommon Bottlenecks in the delivery of goods and associated increased costs. This is where digital logistics platforms come into play. Their technology makes it possible, among other things, to get a grip on the forwarding processes so that the entire supply chain can be adapted to new, external factors within just a few hours. Of course, they cannot prevent future disruptions, but they provide the necessary transparency to quickly recognize challenges, react to them and thus create completely new options for action for companies.

Digital platforms can break up the previously self-contained system of the supply chain and open up the opaque steps of data transfer between the individual suppliers, the so-called “black box”, and offer all involved actors a transparent insight. They enable new data transparency and, even in normal times, provide a whole new potential for analyzing and optimizing your own supply chain.

Supply chain: real-time insights and straightforward coordination

Digitally operating forwarders such as Flexport use the technological advantage to modernize forwarding processes. All service providers involved can be Cloud-based logistics platform involve. To this end, individual teams of experts, the Flexport Squads, support each customer operationally along their entire supply chain in analyzing the delivery information as well as with the latest updates on the respective trade route and other influencing factors.

Logistics managers can log in easily and on the go using their cell phone or PC at their desk and get a comprehensive, detailed overview of their entire shipments with one click. Thanks to new technological solutions, it is no problem today to know exactly where the consignments are at any given time and what the respective status is. A personalized dashboard additionally visualizes all important information, making it even easier to maintain an overview and achieve greater transparency.

Supply chainSource: Flexport
The dashboard of the Flexport platform can also be used via mobile devices. (Image: Flexport)

Logistics platform supports prioritization of shipments

Another advantage of digital logistics platforms: All data can be called up centrally on the platform. Teams can use the dashboard to prioritize and bookmark important shipments, view their active transports on a world map or use filters to search for individual deliveries. Selection criteria can be status, arrival date, start and destination, deviations, mode of transport, service type, reference or user assignment.

For each process, certain tasks can be defined, resubmissions can be made, or employees and partners can be asked to complete specific tasks in a certain time. “Watchlists” allow goods consignments to be tracked transparently and you can see at any time when shipments will arrive in which warehouse. The integration of suppliers or trading partners is also straightforward – a simple invitation by e-mail is sufficient and information can be exchanged directly on the platform in real time.

Quick reaction to current conditions in the supply chain

In addition to a quick overview, central information storage and management as well as real-time communication, the most important advantage is the constant updating within the system. The platform thus becomes an agile information tool that enables quick and flexible reaction to changing conditions in the supply chain. Trading companies that rely on modern forwarding platforms also benefit from other advantages. This is about the topic Sustainability in supply chain processes increasingly important – only recently has a leading German online mail order company committed its logistics partners to greater sustainability.

By digitally depicting the supply chain processes, customers can use the Flexport platform to have the CO2 emissions of their chosen transport route analyzed and displayed. In addition, it is possible to opt for a more sustainable route alternative and to make up to 100 percent of the transport climate-neutral with a small donation per emitted ton of CO2, which is then used for CO2-neutralizing measures. Customs processes can also be significantly simplified through digitization. Many processes that otherwise require paper form can now be carried out much more easily directly on the platform.

Supply chain: Equipped for the future with a digital platform

The innovation in the transport business will continue to Corona. Higher demand dynamics and thus more complex demand planning will force companies to review their supply chains from an agility perspective. The already possible through digitization Transparency and speed the exchange of information will become a decisive competitive factor in logistics in the future. Intelligent logistics platforms that are available as web interfaces already offer this opportunity. They can be implemented and used without much investment. Login is enough.

Flexport Janis Bargsten
Janis Bargsten is General Manager of Flexport Germany.

About the author: Janis Bargsten is General Manager at Flexport International GmbH. Flexport combines many years of logistics expertise, technology and infrastructure on a digital platform on which all transport data can be viewed easily and transparently at any time. In this way, complex supply chain decisions can be made quickly and easily. The company today networks over 10,000 customers and suppliers in 116 countries, including globally established brands as well as innovative start-ups. (sg)

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