• Logistics plays a fundamental role in the efficiency of every company. While a strategic logistics plan takes care of the selling and buying of goods, a key component that could throw a potential spanner in the works is an unhealthy relationship with the various stakeholders of your supply chain network.  Relationships matter. With variables at every stage of the supply chain, carrier, consignor-consignee and freight forwarder relationships form the foundation of a strong and long-term commitment. Good relations are critical to building a resilient supply chain, which, in turn, is crucial to a company’s success and profitability. A bi-directional relationship will lead to reduced shipping costs, improved transit times and lesser misunderstandings. There are a few pointers to keep in mind that will help you build a brilliant relationship with all the stakeholders involved. How to cement relations with your freight forwarders? Envisage and plan for the unexpected Ups and downs in any business are to be expected and more so in the logistics industry. Planning in collaboration with your freight forwarding company for such an event that could damage your shipments or impact your business, is necessary. While they may not be responsible, you do require their help in mitigating the damage. Maintain a consistent shipping schedule Consistency in your shipments allows the freight forwarders to offer better quotes as well as handle your shipments better. Maintaining transparency and providing easy access to all your shipping information makes the job of the freight forwarder easier and more efficient. Avoid accepting shipments at the eleventh hour Last minute bookings are a sure-fire way to trouble. Freight forwarders have a hard-enough time arranging transport in advance, let alone at the very end. Delays in transit and higher shipment costs will be incurred unnecessarily. How can you better your relations with carriers?...
  • Unexpected disruptions in supply chains around the world have led the industry to be more cautious, especially in the post lockdown phase that we are currently entering. Newer technologies and better approaches to existing solutions are required to gain a competitive edge in the market. One of the major ingredients of competent decision-making is a bulletproof strategy, which is why it is expected of every business to look ahead and take note of the current digital and other advancements in the supply chain. Not only will this approach make your supply chain more resilient, but also keeps you well-equipped to tackle any unanticipated disruptions head-on. Here are some of the emerging trends in the supply chain industry: Supply chain digitization The amount of disruption in the global business space makes it necessary for the logistics industry to respond intelligently, provide greater visibility of operations and send out live notifications of processes. This calls for the digitization of the supply chain at the earliest and it is no longer optional. From paperless systems to automated billing and minimal human intervention, an advanced digital environment is the only way forward for modelling the modern supply chain networks. Transform your supply chains digitally to demolish silos, enhance responsiveness, create transparency and increase your market share as a supplier. Modernize supply chains through digitization and provide an answer to all your challenges in one go. Big data, IoT and AI integrated supply chain Gartner predicts that by 2023, at least 50% of the global companies will be using AI, advanced analytics and IoT in supply chain operations. Adopting IoT frameworks in your supply chain leads to better monitoring, real-time tracking of shipments/deliveries, automated inventory and most importantly, supply chain transparency. Owing to the rapid growth in IoT, digitization of the supply chain and easy...
  • With the market being as volatile as it is, unforeseen disruptions at every stage in the supply chain have become a common occurrence,  emphasising the need to build resilient and agile networks that facilitate quick response and minimise risks.  Due to the ongoing pandemic,  heavy restrictions on transport and labour have thrown a huge spanner in the works, with missing production parts, missed handoffs and delays in meeting deadlines. Such events only drive home the fact that supply chain resilience is crucial to the continuity and profitability of every business now more than ever. While there is room for improvement across multiple tiers of the supply chain, one major aspect to take care of is the visibility of shipments in real-time. Shipment tracking is interlinked with several tiers of the supply chain.  If you achieve end-to-end visibility of all your shipments, you will be able to gain control over a crucial aspect of your supply chain management.  Here’s how an inefficient shipment tracking system invites more trouble during a crisis situation: • Transportation delays One of the most common disruptions is the delay in the Estimated Time of Arrivals (ETAs) of the shipments. This could be due to a number of factors such as overbooking and rolling, customs, unusual traffic and the like. Answering the question of “Where is my cargo?” becomes almost impossible with no way to anticipate these circumstances.  The next best thing would be the dynamic visibility of the containers. If timely updates can be sent to the client of the exact location and ETA, the client will be able to make due arrangements for the arrival with no major issues. • Keeping the customer in the dark The problem lies in the shippers blindly relying on their carriers to provide freight visibility. The schedules prepared by...
  • Big data has heralded a new era where today’s leading organisations are basing their decisions, not on guesswork, but concrete information. Data-driven supply chain management and automated analytics have become imperative to staying relevant amid our fast-moving times.  From the point your goods are manufactured to the point they are delivered to your consignee, your supply chain generates massive amounts of data. The real challenge is to build the capacity to gather this valuable business intelligence and process this data to help you leverage insights gained.  Advanced algorithms now allow us to simplify this process and convert our data into actionable insights. The key is to leverage these tools and combine them with a thorough understanding of your business requirements.  Here are some examples of how data-driven supply chain management via the adoption of digital solutions that can help you optimise your business and reduce your freight spend.  Choosing the right shipping lane and carrier  By deploying a digital solution with real-time visibility on the movement of your goods, data is recorded throughout its journey. From the time the shipment leaves the port of loading until it reaches the port of destination, systems can capture its movement along every step of the journey.  Through an analysis of this data, you can know exactly which carriers have been offering you the best service with minimum delays and which routes help you save costs. With these insights, you can help to minimise future delays and overspend. Easy assessment of vendor performance  Advanced data processing now makes it easier to assess vendor performance. For example, your system can collect multiple data points in the negotiation process such as the rates offered by different vendors and the number of negotiations that happen for each shipment, or whether contracted service level agreements are being met...
  • As global trade and supply chains continue to be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations across industries are looking for ways to build resilience and agility into their systems. A good starting point for improving efficiency and optimising supply chain operations is by the adoption of digital automation technology. Today, the power of advanced technology such as artificial intelligence or machine learning has indelibly altered the supply chain landscape and their adoption is only set to increase. Here are some of the key ways automative technology can help you improve your supply chain management:  Best deals at the best price In a typical scenario, your team manually negotiates freight rates with a limited pool of vendors via calls and emails. However, today there is a smarter and cost-efficient way to do this. Through automation, you can benefit from compounded negotiation, a system where your vendors compete with each other on a digital platform to offer you the best deals. A Logistics Resource Management (LRM) platform allows you to create and share RFQs with your vendors and on submitting their quotations shows them their rank in the bidding process. The system nudges your vendors to keep squeezing their rates in order to secure the first rank and win your business, which in turn allows you to benefit from their best deals each and every time.  Improved visibility with live shipment tracking    An integral part of efficient supply chain management is knowing exactly where your shipment is despite uncertainties. The traditional approach of manually visiting countless websites of shipping companies to track shipments is not only time consuming but exhausting. However, adopting an automated solution for tracking transforms this process completely. By giving live, automatic updates on the movement of your shipments on a unified dashboard, technology helps you massively reduce the...
  • Often, the terms green and sustainable seem like synonyms of each other but are most definitely not. While going green looks at only the environmental aspect of it, being sustainable is equivalent to taking into account the social, economical and environmental impact of that particular product or organisation. In this day and age, the traditional way of managing a supply chain doesn’t cut it anymore. Supply chain management plays an integral role in your company’s success. With increasing pressure from customers and activists alike, the onus falls on the organisations to run green as well as a sustainable supply chain.  Green supply chain management (GSCM) and sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) have several overlapping elements but they are not the same thing. To do away with any ambiguity, there are a few key features to keep in mind that set them apart. What does Green Supply Chain Management entail? Bringing the eco-friendly aspect of operations into a traditional supply chain is the main objective of green supply chain management. Right from product design, raw material sourcing, manufacturing processes to end-of-life product management, GSCM integrates environmental processes throughout the supply chain. This serves to mitigate the environmental impact of not only the supply chain but also the entire organisation. One commonly asked question is, “Can a container company possibly be green?” This is where GSCM steps in and says yes, it is possible. The eco-friendlier a supply chain becomes, the greater reach the company gets. Customers want to go into business with organisations that care about reducing their carbon footprint. With GSCM, reduction of waste generation, reuse of raw materials, less greenhouse gas emissions, all become doable goals. The definition of Sustainable Supply Chain Management Sustainable supply chain management is a much broader concept than that of GSCM, and takes into...
  • Shipping goods internationally, especially on a large scale, can be quite a task. While dealing with international shipments, logistics teams are faced with three fundamental questions:  Which freight forwarder is the best fit for their business? Who among all the interested freight forwarders, is the most reliable?  And most importantly, how can they get the best deal at the best price?  While the first two questions can be handled with ample research, dealing with the third question is complicated. Negotiating well is the key to paying less for your freight procurement. Without the right tools in place, manually creating, comparing and negotiating rates with individual freight forwarders to secure the best deal, becomes a daunting experience. Gathering copious amounts of information to put together a suitable RFQ is a time consuming, but crucial process. A whirlwind of activities follows with your logistics team reaching out to all the vendors with the RFQ and negotiating quotes in a short time span. Moreover, the traditional process has been plagued with inefficiencies.  A troubling question in light of this information is how transparent is your current freight negotiation process? Manual freight negotiations affect your bottom line  Negotiating rates manually is quite a hassle. Keeping a track of all the bids received, selecting the vendor with the lowest quote and engaging with the vendors via emails or calls, makes it difficult to document the important details. One crucial thing to note is the matching of the final invoice with the initially posed contract. Often, due to human error certain costs and taxes get excluded while generating invoices and these discrepancies get revealed much later, damaging your bottom line. These instances showcase the clear lack of transparency in freight negotiations. Such misconceptions are to be expected in any business, which leads to the next question: ...
  • The global pandemic has highlighted the value that Logistics Resource Management (LRM) platforms provide to export-import oriented companies. For organisations considering LRMs for the first time or an upgrade of their current solutions, should they invest in building a customised, in-house platform or buy a ready-to-go, off-the-shelf software? Here are some of the factors to consider to help you make the decision that’s right for you.  An ideal way to start is by outlining the key requirements of your company and the corresponding features you will need to meet those requirements. Consider making a list of features that you may or may not need or would be good to have.  With your requirements defined, next consider your implementation timeline, budget and other resources available to you.  To build, or not to build, that is the question… Ok, your IT team have confirmed that they could build a system, but should you? Your organisation may lean towards building an in-house system and may have all the resources it takes to build one but is it worth your time and money? Unless localised solutions are at the core of your business, building your solution might just translate to a waste of invaluable resources.  On the other hand, a pre-built solution that can be customised to meet your needs can help you instantly leverage your resources while staying within your budget.  What’s more scalable? Quickly scaling up your customised solution to meet each need that arises with time may not be always viable. Quite often, companies are very specific about their needs and customise their solution accordingly. Unfortunately, this can become a barrier that limits the flexibility of the system especially when additional functionality is required, such as during the times of crisis.  Even when it comes to investing in a pre-built solution,...
  • When it comes to organisations that ship goods internationally, dealing with freight forwarders is not a one-time transaction but a part of the business itself.  As a shipper, it’s crucial that you choose the right forwarder as they bridge the gap between you and your customer,   making the import and export process seamless.  But in a market saturated with freight forwarding agencies, how do you identify forwarders best suited for your business?  Here’s a checklist to guide your decision when choosing freight forwarders:  1) Do you need a freight forwarder? A freight forwarder is not exactly required for the actual process of import and export of goods. However, importing and exporting of goods involves a lot of paperwork that varies from country to country and coordination between several stakeholders. Companies prefer working with freight forwarders as their worldwide network, thorough knowledge of documentation, customs laws of various countries etc. makes the process easier.  Undoubtedly, it is beneficial for almost any company dealing in international transportation of goods to have a freight forwarder involved, especially when in-house resources are not well-aware of the international shipping procedures. 2) Experience counts  There are several freight forwarders in the market but it is important to award business to an experienced forwarder. Problems like port shutdowns, dockworkers’ strikes, cargo reroutes, customs issues and warehousing issues, etc. are a common occurrence when it comes to international shipments. Only a seasoned forwarder can handle them with ease and ensure that the cargo reaches the destination without any hindrance.  3) A global network is a must  A good freight forwarder has an established global network. As the vendor is likely to handle your shipments at both ends – the port of origin to the destination port, make sure that he has a network in the destination country...
  • An agile and resilient supply chain is truly an asset for organisations around the world as it boosts business opportunities and growth in countless ways. However, simplifying end-to-end logistics and building a robust supply chain doesn’t happen overnight. It requires strategic planning, the right choice of technology and a thorough understanding of the existing system.  According to the Management Events Report, the eight key drivers of supply chain development are as follows:   Reducing supply chain costs  Improving responsiveness to customers’ needs  Enhancing delivery performance  Minimizing supply chain complexity  Strengthening supply chain sustainability Improving volume flexibility  Optimizing end-to-end visibility  Mitigating risk When it comes to supply chains, the devil is in the details. In order to get the bigger picture right, it is imperative to pay attention to the minutest details. Here is a list of mistakes that supply chain professionals must avoid: Lack of strategy:  Having a strategy in place helps align logistics management with the company’s overall goal. A good starting point is to design the management principles of your supply chain and review them regularly.  Even companies with apt planning tend to fail at times as they overlook the fact that the plan needs to be modified over time. It is crucial that you reevaluate your strategy with every financial milestone of your company.  Improper allocation of staff within the supply chain:  The supply chain is one such element of your organisation that requires a dynamic team.  An industry best practice is to have a centralized strategy in place and then allot specialized managers to each unit of the chain. It is imperative to have a decentralised team to ensure that every time a crisis hits, people with expertise in their respective spaces can step in.  Ignoring the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO):  A lot of times, procurement...