Leading-edge Tech For Contingency Planning and Staying Competitive

In a complex, crisis-driven world, contingency planning and business continuity are top of mind for transportation and supply chain decision makers. That’s the reason logistics technologies continue to get sharpened and more sophisticated.

Here are the latest logistics technology advancements that are supporting shippers with contingency planning and giving them a competitive advantage.

Tech-enabled services and solutions

If you haven’t explored the latest upgrades to transportation management systems (TMS), make a point of finding out what’s new.

For example, TMS are enabling “instant price” quotes from multiple providers, while still allowing carriers without this capability to directly interact through the more traditional carrier portal for spot shipments.

Providing access to emerging technology like real-time visibility, service prediction, service performance benchmarking, network collaboration, and optimization give shippers a quick, cost-effective way to take advantage of leading-edge logistics technology, intelligence and visibility to optimize supply chain operations in concert with their current TMS infrastructure.

With the democratization of data, logistics technology specialists are able to minimize risks and spot opportunities to save costs to help shippers make smarter decisions for better business outcomes. TMS apps are making the dashboards and analytics accessible from any device, anywhere in the world.

AI-enabled automation and analytics

In addition to global uncertainties and marketplace volatility, retailers are demanding more visibility into the entire supply chain to avoid empty shelves. Logistics professionals must invest in technology that boosts contingency planning and business continuity.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are supporting intelligent inventory demand forecasting, production scheduling and predictive analytics. Through AI and ML, more logistics execution will be automated, saving time and increasing efficiencies within the supply chain.

For example, we upgraded our Tracking Portal and Control Tower as a central source for managing dynamic and complex planning. The display shows hot spots in addition to weather and traffic incidents to help shippers avoid disruptions in their transportation network. Combined with integrations for real-time location and status updates, AI can accurately predict problems before they occur, allowing for mitigation to minimize impact.

Near real-time data processing continues to advance through IoT devices, APIs and potentially Blockchain shared ledgers. The newest tech surpasses geo-location visibility, allowing logistics plans to be adjusted to avoid delays and disruptions by the superior accuracy and timeliness of the data. The smarter, automated supply chain analytics will reduce risks, identify root causes, improve procurement performance and accelerate forecasting. With automated data processing and predictive analytics, workstreams will be more aligned across supply chain and transportation departments, as well as logistics partners.

Network-enabled flexibility

Increased collaboration between shippers, carriers and the logistics and transportation communities will enhance agility. The newest technologies upgrade the usual digital brokerage relationships and offer a competitive advantage. Now, supply chain professionals can improve capacity and cost management by taking advantage of multi-shipper collaborations, planned and dynamic continuous moves, LTL pools and other strategic carrier partnerships.

Significant advancements in multi-shipper collaborations are made possible through AI, ML, and other technologies, along with having a large connected network of shippers and carriers representing billions in freight under management. These optimization opportunities generate significant transportation cost savings for both the shipper and carrier communities.

The use of APIs is to facilitate connections and transactions is another important advancement. For example, we are launching a set of APIs to connect carriers with our auction and bid technology within our logistics platform, allowing carriers to bid on lanes. These APIs will significantly shorten auction timing without compromising the ability to find a true market price in near real-time. 

To stay on top of the latest logistics tech, shippers should partner with supply chain experts who will tailor solutions to meet their specific needs. The technology must be customizable and flexible to changing circumstances and business evolution. Adopting leading-edge logistics advancements allows supply chain leaders to plan for contingencies while staying competitive.

Jim French is Chief Technology Officer at Transplace. He has more than three decades of experience working in information technology. Jim served as a developer at British Airways in London and continued his career at American Airlines in Dallas–Fort Worth. He assumed a number of leadership positions at Sabre, one of the largest transaction processors in the world, where he helped develop and operate many high-availability, mission-critical and high-throughput information systems. Most recently, Jim served as Chief Technology Officer at MoneyGram International, a leading global money transfer service provider.