How an integrated supply chain interface saves time, effort and money


What is the main reason why customers ignore the status of their packages during delivery? The answer is that freight forwarders and logistics providers also cannot track these packages during delivery. In reality, 62% of logistics providers define the visibility of their supply chains as “limited”.

Even when we see a truck moving across the map, we don’t know why it stops several hours after reaching town. This is due to a lack of context in supply chains. For example, the truck can stand for a few hours while waiting for a warehouse to open. How is it possible? Inconsistency and poor integration between Transportation Management Systems (TMS) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) is a likely answer.

What types of interfaces are there and why are they so different?

Supply chain interfaces include various applications and platforms that track, automate and organize logistics services for all stakeholders and customers. Freight forwarders typically rely on separate interfaces with their own standards and data formats to gain supply chain visibility, process data generated across their organizations, and collect market and customer information. . Not surprising 60% of logistics companies describe visibility as their top priority for the next 12 to 36 months.

By accessing different interfaces, freight forwarders and transport companies can perform tasks such as exchanging orders, synchronizing prices with a market, sending invoices and checking inventory. To accomplish these tasks, they can use integrated platforms, custom applications, APIs from third-party technology vendors, and commonly used enterprise resource planning (ERP), TMS, and WMS solutions. But, at the end of the day, these apps all have to interact with each other.

Integrated supply chain interfaces – problems to be solved, benefits to be received

The most annoying problem caused by poor integration between supply chain interfaces is slow data exchange and the need for a lot of manual work. A WMS can orchestrate inventory in a large warehouse, but if it doesn’t know when a truck with new inventory will arrive, the efficiency of the supply chain is drastically reduced.

In addition, customers demand to know the exact origins of products and want to verify these origins at every step of the delivery process. To provide definitive proof of origin, logistics providers must implement QR codes on packaging, RFID chips, NFC markings, and distributed ledger technology. The integration of these technologies can bring far greater benefits than the challenges on the way to integrated supply chains.

Organization of sparse data. Integrating supply chain interfaces can eliminate data fragmentation and help establish self-sustaining data pipelines that saturate your organization with valuable information and contribute to overall supply chain visibility.

Optimization and transparency. When supply chain interfaces communicate with each other, warehouse workers can prepare items for just-in-time delivery, get everything to the right dock, and ensure that other trucks can use other docks during that this happens.

Customer satisfaction and supply chain efficiency. Integrated supply chains help avoid surprises and keep everyone calm. With an integrated supply chain, errors become exceptions, while customer feedback is visible to all participants in the supply chain.

Logistics companies and freight forwarders can unite their WMS and TMS in two ways: by integrating an existing WMS with an existing TMS or by adopting a new unified WMS / TMS solution. Integrating separate systems comes with additional challenges, as a system can be older, less sophisticated, and offer limited scalability. Such integration often leads to a complete refactoring of existing systems.

On the other hand, adopting a new system can be difficult and time consuming without any guarantees that will suit your needs perfectly. However, there is always a third way to develop your own integrated interface to cover your exact needs.

Where to start integrating supply chain interfaces

The integration of supply chain interfaces requires some preparation. A logistics company must first assess the current state of its supply chain and identify the exact problems it wants to solve. The first step is to assess the data already in place and the systems that already meet the needs. Now is the time to look for ways to strengthen the weak links, which often means automating manual processes and excluding unnecessary operations.

It is only after knowing what is not working today that you can have a clear vision of how it should work tomorrow. Building a service integration strategy ensures you go further smoothly. If you have a strategy in place, the integration itself will become much easier and will be a natural process for all stakeholders. Whichever integration route you take, integrating supply chain interfaces will increase your business performance and increase customer satisfaction.

Who wants their trucks to honk around closed platforms at 4 a.m.? Better to align operations with built-in interfaces and rest easy while the software works for you, not against.

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