Leveraging Technology to Strengthen Supply Chain
1. In your opinion, how has the Supply Chain landscape evolved over the years?
Over the last few years, we have seen the volatility of the industry result in a need for technology that enhances efficiency, increases visibility, and reduces human error. At the same time, our customers consistently require customized solutions, which require “human touch” expertise. As much as technology, digitization and data analytics can help plan and forecast, managing a supply chain still requires the expertise of a knowledgeable customer service team to interpret the data and understand the nuances of the business to meet the needs of the customer.
Additionally, we have seen the industry move toward planning efficient, fluid supply chains by looking at the interconnectivity of overland transport, air, and sea networks. Our international customers in particular rely on Dachser’s interlocking process, which leverages our efficient multimodal logistics networks well as our state-of-the-art IT system, to provide a transparent, connected, holistic approach to planning.
Our customers look to our interlocking process to reduce complexity, reduce time, effort, and costs, offer seamless control and risk management as well as provide comprehensive and reliable end-to-end solutions. Our process combines our own IT system with our well-trained, knowledgeable experts.
Customers benefit from synergies in purchasing, contract management, tracking and tracing and data traffic. This optimizes their processes and makes them more efficient. Another significant benefit to our US-based customers is that, through interlocking, they have access to our unmatched European road network, which connects all major markets throughout the continent.
2. What are the some of the advantages of the current technological evolution?
The benefits of the technological evolution tie back to efficiency within the supply chain. Moving cargo smoothly and seamlessly through the supply chain relies on technology and digitization for a variety of reasons, including enhanced transparency and data analytics. Proper forecasting is one of the most important aspects of a fluid supply chain, especially during a volatile marketplace like we are facing today. There are equipment shortages as well as warehouse and air and ocean freight capacity challenges that need to be considered. We rely on technology to help us plan around these challenges.
The technology available today helps make forecasting much more timely and accurate, which is critical to keeping the cargo moving
Additionally, the technology we use to handle the administrative aspect of the business should not be overlooked. Accurate bills of lading and customs paperwork, for example, help ensure a smooth supply chain as well.
3. What, according to you, are some of the challenges plaguing Supply Chain landscape and how can they be effectively mitigated?
The biggest challenges affecting the supply chain today are the equipment shortages and warehouse, air, and ocean freight capacity challenges.
The warehouse capacity challenge has a ripple effect that has a dramatic impact on the landside of the business. For example, in the USA, as the economy slowed down, orders were not moving from the warehouses to the stores quickly enough to make room for the new cargo coming in, so instead, the cargo remained in containers sitting on chassis, which meant both the chassis and the containers did not move back into the supply chain, causing shortages.
The most consistent solution is accurate forecasting. Proper planning helps our intermodal partners ensure the right equipment is at the right place at the right time. Again, the technology available today helps make forecasting much more timely and accurate, which is critical to keeping the cargo moving.
4. Which are a few technological trends influencing Supply Chain today?
A major trend we have capitalized on is the shift toward one central IT system that connects an entire network—land, air and sea. Dachser customers all over the globe can see where their cargo is anywhere in the world. This enhanced level of transparency instills confidence in the customer, creates a one-stop-shop approach and allows our team to seamlessly manage the transport from door to door with one system.
In addition, the movement toward standards will have a big impact on how efficiently data is shared, which will dramatically enhance supply chain fluidity. Smooth intermodalism depends on supply chain partners sharing information to identify patterns and properly plan. Standards will help the different technologies within the industry speak the same language and therefore share information more easily.
5. What are some of the best practices businesses should adopt today to steer ahead of competitors?
I believe the keys to delivering results and staying ahead of the competition are:
• Understand your market better than anyone else—be knowledgeable of the subtleties and the market-specific challenges as well as opportunities
• Be knowledgeable about the customer— strengths, vulnerabilities and, of course, personalities
• Consistently build a deep, wide, and strong network—a supply chain is only as strong as the weakest link. The ability to provide solutions will often depend on the depth of your network
• Invest in your team—the best way to build a loyal and knowledgeable workforce is to invest in their growth and recognize contributions. At Dachser, we have employees who have worked with us for decades because we continue to offer growth opportunities, starting with right-out-of-college internships.
• Be adaptable and resilient—Working against the tide of change will slow down, if not destroy, the growth of an organization.
6. Do you have any advice for industry veterans or budding entrepreneurs from the Supply Chain space?
Right now, the supply chain space is cluttered with all sorts of “solutions” and “services”. The key to success in this business is to fine-tune what you do well and then do it better than anyone else.
At Dachser, we set ourselves apart by providing the world’s most intelligent logistics solutions while also optimizing the logistic balance sheet for our customers…and we do it better than anyone else.