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How Technology is Redefining the Supply Chain Industry

The following is an interview by Steven Gundlach, Executive Vice President of Americas Contract Logistics/SCM for DB Schenker. This interview was originally posted by Logistics Tech Outlook Magazine.

1) How do you see the benefits of cloud computing for the Supply Chain industry and how have you embraced it?

  1. Cloud computing provides a quick launch for prototyping and a great way for scaling services on the fly. We use a combination of private cloud and public cloud infrastructure based on different use cases.
  2. We are embracing this technology as a new requirement in proving our operating management team the step change in scaling services, and driving areas of efficiency improvements in the services provided.
  3. Second important step change is our ability to give our customers real time visibility and answers on how the business is performing against key deliverables. The reduced time or efforts of interfacing with multiple systems is reduced providing more time and freedom to develop reporting and value added technology solutions.

2) Companies are moving fast towards cloud-based TMS. Please share how this is affecting end-to-end supply chain?

  1. Cloud-based TMS is not the goal but a frictionless experience for our customers and operations. This means a flexible and scalable TMS but not necessarily a cloud-based TMS.
  2. Cloud-base gives us the flexibility and application speed needed by the operations team to better service our customers demand.

3) What does the internet of things mean for Supply Chain Industry?

  1. Internet of things provides a basis for real time tracking of many different elements (i.e. gps, temperature, shock) as well is inside the four walls of a warehouse with automation and support systems (i.e. power, security). When you have real time information you can react faster to anything that disrupts your supply chain.
  2. The ability to tap into the internet of things closes a gap through automation for our operator to have the ability to compare benchmark and trend critical operating costs.
  3. The ability to place real time actual data into the hands of operations and sales professionals allows management to move from lagging to leading reporting in areas of improved service response and cost controls.

4) How can technology be used to mitigate rising Supply Chain costs?

  1. Real time tracking, predictive analytics and AI can all be used to drive exception management and increase efficiency for the best performing supply chain to support your business.
  2. Technology should remain as a management tool to make decisions, not a tool to make the decisions for management. The supply chain today is global, complex and involves numerous partners. Technology can provide the tread through all of those partnerships of the entire supply chain and gather the data, provide the critical information to mitigate supply chain costs.
  3. Secondly, to create supply chain surplus all partners need to be aligned, incentivized towards the entire supply chain goal. Technology can provide the visibility to move from individual agendas and focus on cost migration, to supply chain partners to make managerial decisions that create more earnings for all partners.

5) Most organizations have high hopes for using big data analytics in their supply chain but many have had challenges in deploying it. What are your thoughts on this?

  1. For data analytics to be successful you need many years of historical data and wide geographical coverage. It requires clean data to work with and expertise to guide the analysis. When you have these elements converge there is a great wealth of information that can be used for predicting issues, analyzing prescriptive root causes and providing new ways to leverage your supply chain to create real cost savings.

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