While holdouts may still exist that manage their supply chains using spreadsheets and Post-It notes, most shippers and third-party logistics (3PL) providers have accepted the inevitability of the digital supply chain and taken steps to become a part of it. The Internet of Things (IoT) has increased visibility at every point in the supply chain, making it easier than ever before to gather copious amounts of data about suppliers, shipments, orders, deliveries, and anything else that seems relevant.
Using a 3PL to Make Data-Driven Choices
The ever-growing pool of information generated by the IoT has commonly become known as Big Data. This data isn’t very useful by itself and may actually be overwhelming for many shippers—but that’s where 3PL’s come in. 3PL’s leverage their technology and in-house expertise to organize, analyze, and put to use the large amounts of data constantly flowing in from the supply chain.
Thorough analysis of this information can facilitate data-driven decision making that has a direct positive impact on the bottom line. Much of the value offered from proper data analysis stems from visibility into downstream and upstream processes. With this visibility, your 3PL can help you:
- Identify problems. It’s possible that you have issues in your supply chain you don’t even know about. For example, a regular touchpoint for your shipment, such as a particular port or crossdocking location, might consistently cause delays—but without proper visibility you wouldn’t even be aware of it. By identifying recurring problems like this, you can reroute shipments to remedy the issue.
- Drive efficiencies. Most supply chains have a lot of moving parts, so it’s easy to miss inefficiencies if you aren’t looking for them. Analyzing data from logistics functions can identify myriad areas for improvement in processes ranging from vehicle routing to inventory management to distribution and fulfillment. Breaking down silos and making small improvements across your total operation can have a substantial impact on the efficiency of your supply chain. Your 3PL can help you accomplish this.
- Benchmark carriers and suppliers. A supply chain is only as good as its weakest link. Monitoring the performance of key suppliers, carriers, and other vendors can help shippers identify supply chain partners that may be negatively impacting their operation in some way. For example, a carrier that is consistently late with deliveries or a warehousing provider that frequently damages products ultimately reflects badly on your business and your brand.
- Mitigate risks. Having a wealth of information at your disposal ultimately helps you plan for the worst. When a business is unprepared, a supply chain disruption can have a domino effect up and down the supply chain and severely impact operations. Your 3PL can analyze data from past disruptions and pair it with real-time data about your suppliers and lanes to not only identify risks, but help you create plans to mitigate them.
In addition to the data gathered by your business, your 3PL also has its own technologies and requisite pool of data to draw from that extends far beyond he boundaries of a single supply chain. As your 3PL manages and gathers data from warehousing, transportation, and other logistics functions for its full client base, they will undoubtedly identify larger market trends and risks along the way. This information can then be shared with the 3PL’s partners to provide a competitive edge.
Make Better Decisions With Phoenix Logistics
Phoenix Logistics provides our partners with our state-of-the-art Warehouse Management System (WMS), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), transportation and distribution management, and much more. We can help you to analyze your data, make informed decisions, and create a realistic plan to optimize your supply chain.
For more information on our comprehensive suite of logistics services, please contact us today.