By: Gregg Abbate, key account manager at Advantech
One of the shipping industry’s biggest and most difficult challenges has always been finding ways to efficiently manage supply chain logistics. In the past, the shippers that dominated the industry were those with the best operational management programs.
Today, with the availability of big data and the push for better business intelligence, controlling logistics is easier than ever before. This is resulting in more companies being able to competently handle their supply chains, versus a select few at the top. However, being “competent” at supply chain management isn’t good enough, you have to be great. Especially in current age of ecommerce and online shopping, the ability to efficiently manage supply chains is absolutely critical.
Here are five steps shippers can take to leverage IoT technology solutions in their supply chains to maintain a competitive edge:
- Map out your existing process
To prepare for proper IoT implementation, it’s important to first determine and then analyze what stage you’re at in the process. Mapping out your existing business processes with fine, granular detail, or brining in a Six Sigma expert, will enable you to determine the current the steps and workflows of your current processes. This will better equip your company with the necessary insight to further enhance and improve your supply chain with IoT solutions.
- Build a dedicated team to implement new IoT solutions
When implementing new IoT solutions, it’s imperative to have a strong, knowledgeable leader at the helm, as good leadership translates to long-term success. Additionally, this individual will be tasked with ensuring you have enough highly invested team members to spearhead the implementation process with the proper levels of commitment. A sure-fire way to put a wrench in your plans is to assign a team with minimal direction, low commitment and no incentive to get the job done. Identify your best go-getters, have regular meetings with them and work together on S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals.
- Know your competition
Take a deep dive and analyze what your peers and competitors may be doing right or struggling with. You will most likely find that you have similar challenges as your competitors; however, don’t just follow their lead blindly. Examine how several different companies are handling similar challenges and then develop a competitive plan based on where their strategies and tactics are lacking. Basically, take the best parts of how they have implemented IoT technology to create a new and unique approach that will set your organization apart from your competition.
- Ask an expert
Don’t be afraid to “call a friend”— or phone an expert! An outside expert source, in the form of a consultant, typically has their finger on the pulse of the latest industry trends and processes and knows what works and doesn’t. Developing and implementing new IoT solutions can be complicated and a major financial investment. Speak to multiple experts to gain a variety of educated opinions on how to proceed. These outside expert sources will better enable you to choose the best path toward the greatest ROI.
- Study your results and constantly evolve
Once you’ve completed steps one through four – don’t stop! IoT technology is constantly evolving and as new innovative solutions hit the market. The more resources and time you invest into IoT implementation, the sharper your processes will become. Your continual improvements may open doors to opportunities for more efficiency and possibly new markets in your supply chain.
The potential market in the logistics industry is wider than ever before. However, as new technologies continue to bridge the traditional gaps in efficiency, this also means that companies are now locking horns over who can have the best delivery speeds, and the most customizations and options to accelerate package deliveries. This is why it’s vital that companies find new ways to protect their current market share by expanding their verticals. IoT allows for this type of greater adaptability and agility in decision-making processes. Data collection capabilities also provide an unprecedented look at customer needs and behavior, allowing companies to innovate based on compelling evidence—all of which create opportunities for revenue growth.IoT technology is the future of supply chain development. As always, innovation is an ongoing process, and in the pursuit of greatness there is simply no replacement for investment and creativity. With all the tools that IoT provides, and these actionable steps, the possibilities are truly endless.