“What can you do to improve your company?”
That is a loaded question, loaded with innuendo, desire, financial concerns, questions about the state of the road and weather and much more, but the ways you improve your company are becoming easier to see. Modern, cloud-based analytics systems within transportation management systems (TMSs) have redefined how you strive for continuous improvement. The goal of seeing your freight’s location 24/7/365 is well underway, and TMS analytics are providing insights beyond knowing the shipment’s location. Your business strategy will evolve. Your opportunities will grow, but how do a dedicated TMS and analytics make this possible?
Strong TMS Analytics Use Real-Time Data to Increase Visibility in B2B and B2C Shipments.
Knowing where a product or shipment is in transit has always been a major driver of innovation in the supply chain, asserts Bridget McCrea of Logistics Management magazine, but it is not enough in today’s internet-connected world. Analytics simply means using mathematics and algorithms to isolate common occurrences and possible links between them, so even the simplest computer programs can have analytic properties. Think the “find” field in your web browser. But, this is only the surface of analytics.
You still must figure what the data means and how it applies to the industry. Through TMS solutions that have integrated, built-in analytics, companies achieve greater visibility beyond the “where’s it at” factor. Modern companies want to drill down into details, seeing possible causes and likelihood of issues, a feature possible only through cross-checking of variables to isolate trends, explains Talking Logistics With Adrian Gonzalez. For companies operating with higher volumes, this is not possible through spreadsheet-based analysis. Instead, automated analytics handle everything, presenting the user—you—with the information you need to improve visibility.
Fewer Touch-Points Boost Shipment Efficiency and Accuracy, Optimizing Routes.
One of the oft-forgotten benefits of analytics remains reducing the number of touch-points per shipment. Analytics help companies streamline processes, ranging from warehouse management, including picking and packaging, to transit modes. Shipments with fewer touch points are less likely to become damaged or end up in the wrong truck. Analytics consider all the possible scenarios for a given shipment and select the best route.
For example, a shipment might be held to be included in full-truckload (FT) shipment, which may be faster than delivery via less-than-truckload (LTL) modes. The key is identifying which shipments can be moved from LTL to FT without causing delays in delivery windows. In addition, this leads to less paperwork and accounting processes per shipment, increasing accuracy and efficiency, promoting
Information Processed Through Analytics Can Identify Possible Warning Signs to Fleet Wear and Tear.
Analytics may also be used to drive improvement in your equipment. Through the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors can provide detailed information about a piece of equipment’s function, such as fuel efficiency, air pressure and more. While primarily useful for fleet maintenance, the system can be leveraged to benefit in-house equipment as well.
For example, a dedicated TMS can identify when x number of shipments have been processed, indicating a possible need to service forklifts.
Automation in Analytics Reduce Human Error.
People make mistakes, but in shipping, a mistake can result in lost customers and chargebacks to your company. Analytics and automation go together. Automation reduces the opportunity for error in data entry, and decisions are made automatically, eliminating the risk even further, reports William B. Cassidy of the Journal of Commerce.
Actionable Data Insights From Analytics Prevent “Data Distrust and Discombobulation.”
There is a fickle side to automation and analytics. Using them means giving up some control over freight selection and how your company operates. Meanwhile, the amount of data generated and used can be extremely confusing in its raw from. Fortunately, powerful TMS analytics give companies the ability to clearly define the “Big Picture” of operational efficiency. Moreover, their use naturally lends itself to better trust in automation and analytics for decision-making processes. Together, they promote bringing order to chaos and reducing upset and anguish over your operations by knowing what you need to change and how such changes benefit your company.
What Does It Mean?
Analytics drive continuous improvement throughout your organization and beyond. They help vendors see more about how to better serve your company, and on the other end, you can use analytics to hold manufacturers accountable for customers’ complaints or needs. The key to analytics is simple: let them do their job, showing you what your business needs to improve.
Essentially, TMS analytics are the guardians of sustainable practices in your company, and you owe it to yourself, your employees, your vendors, your customers and everyone in between to make the flow of information and product as seamless and efficient as possible. Analytics are here to stay, and it is time for your company to take advantage of them by using a dedicated TMS that is built on them as well.