Supply chain risks come in all shapes and sizes – natural disasters, political and economic, cybersecurity, financial status of supply chain partners and more. Although no shipper can fully insulate themselves from risks, mitigating the risk is important. Take for example the congestion in Bangladesh’s major seaport, Chittagong. Low draft and broken ship-to-shore gantry cranes has nearly doubled the average time ships spend in port. As a result, there are delays in shipments.
As we move into peak season, the period historically from August through mid-October, it is important for shippers to stay abreast of shipments to ensure on-time delivery. As such, agility and visibility are two important ingredients necessary for this happen.
The ability to move quickly and easily is vital in today’s environment, often to meet shorter and shorter delivery windows. While upfront demand planning and booking of freight is often done with few, if any, disruptions, there can be those snags or unexpected occurrences that pop up and results in readjusting a supply chain process to meet the needs of customers. How quickly a shipper is to respond such events is dictated by how agile his supply chain is.
Take for example the congestion at Chittagong. For shippers that are affected, alternative solutions need to be weighed. For example, the use of airfreight may be in order or perhaps waiving any fees or surcharges. Rerouting to another port is certainly another alternative. Regardless, the ability to creatively think outside of the box as well as to collaborate with supply chain partners in a timely manner is critical to keep goods moving.
To achieve a timely response, visibility in movement of goods and throughout all components of supply chains is critical. Gaining visibility into processes allows shippers to identify bottlenecks, or weak links. However, according to Geodis’ 2017 Supply Chain Worldwide survey, only 6% of firms indicated they had achieved this aim. The low figure may be due to the fact that 70% of the survey’s respondents noted their supply chain is either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ complex.
Indeed, the complexity of supply chains is due to their global nature often reaching far and wide encompassing emerging markets such as Africa and Latin America and varying levels of suppliers. The more complex a supply chain is, the ability to peel back these levels of suppliers to better understand who they are, their financial status, quality assurance and the time it takes to complete projects is critical. One slip can have a domino effect across the entire chain.
The Role of Technology
Technology is playing an ever increasing role in managing supply chains and mitigating risks. Specifically, the visibility in which technology offers allows shippers to properly assess how to best move cargo where it needs to be when delays occur. Perhaps a change of transportation mode is needed, no problem with tools such as PLS’ GPM. It can provide both the visibility and options by transportation mode when determining last minute cargo changes.
PLS has been around for over 15 years and provides expertise that surpasses all others. The company is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on software solutions for rate and allocation management. PLS’s GPM solution can be integrated into any transportation management system (TMS) as well as CRM solutions, such as SalesForce.
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A variety of tech options are available however, not all are equal and what to use will depend on business requirements and strategy.
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