Expert Insight: Guest Contribution
By Terry Norton
Date: April 30, 2009

Supply Chain Comment: Achieving a View of the World


Companies Need to Continually look Beyond Costs to the Multiple Factors that Drive a Dynamic Work Environment

The following column was taken from the recent SCDigest Letter on Transportation Management. An electronic copy of that Letter, plus a wealth of other resources can be found at our Transportation Management resources page.

Start with one international manufacturer. Add five distribution centers plus 45 or so carriers. Include hundreds of customer locations across North America. Then you get the equation for today’s complex and challenging global transportation networks.

While most understand this complexity, for companies using technologies to develop deeper visibility into, and control over, their global transportation networks, the view from the top isn’t all that bad.

In addition to growing global logistics complexity, a soft-demand environment with increasing pressures to perform more efficiently has companies moving logistics to the top of their mission critical lists. With transportation costs amounting to more than 50% of total logistics expenditures, optimizing this piece of the supply chain is vital. Driver concerns, changing regulations, fuel costs, global security concerns, and green initiatives only intensify the pressure.

In order for companies to react and remain responsive to customers, they need to enhance visibility into the movement of product – from manufacturer to consumer.

See Where You are and What You Need

Managing all aspects of a global transportation network can be a juggling act – with dynamic distribution channels, multi-modal needs, and high service requirements. Today, companies need greater visibility and control than ever before so that customers are assured the right products will be delivered exactly where and when they need them.

Companies creating world class supply chains need technology that integrates information and communications between suppliers, hubs, carriers, and customers – in order to see what is happening as it happens. In today’s competitive environment, with suppliers and distribution points spanning the globe, companies can’t afford to wait.

Whether it’s paperwork in Shanghai, a blizzard in Canada, or even delays at the warehouse loading docks, a company needs to know – now – whether it has inventory for an in-store promotion ,whether its e-store risks posting items as “out of stock.”

Simply put, companies need to know where their inventory is and what they need to do to move it to the right spot. Increased visibility paves the way.

Visibility Starts before the Purchase Order

Traditionally, visibility starts at the beginning of the order lifecycle. But many companies don’t realize transportation problems often start at post-production. It is imperative to reach into production processes and establish and monitor milestones from each shipment. By tracking and monitoring at this point, companies get earlier and pre-emptive insights into impending transportation issues.

Once the supply chain acknowledges an order, a number of requirements (e.g., when does the product have to be at the distribution center?), key metrics (e.g., ship date, mode of transport), and criteria (e.g., must deliver by date, temperature requirements), must be monitored to better manage the content of the order and provide in-depth visibility.

Through the latest technology, companies can monitor their transportation networks and synthesize that information into intelligence used to make decisions and generate communicate alerts – helping companies find the right path for inventory based on events within the system.

Manhattan Associates’ Transportation Lifecycle Management (TLM) provides all the tools needed to run an integrated transportation network.

Agree or disgree with with our guest contributor's perspective? What would you add? Let us know your thoughts for publication in the SCDigest newsletter Feedback section, and on the website. Upon request, comments will be posted with the respondent's name or company withheld.

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profile About the Author

Terry Norton is Vice President of Transportation for Manhattan Associates and has a long career in the industry both in the technology area as well as with carriers.


Norton Says:

Companies creating world class supply chains need technology that integrates information and communications between suppliers, hubs, carriers, and customers – in order to see what is happening as it happens.

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