SAG_Twitter_MEME_Prepare_Aug16_Text.jpgHomework is an (unwelcome) part of the average six-year-old American kid’s summer vacation. On the last day of school they are given a pile of work that is intended to keep their memories fresh, and keep them up to speed with learning, until they start again in September.

My six-year-old son was given “word work,” in other words sentence structure and grammar exercises. He spent the school year doing these same exercises which were used to teach him new concepts and the summer work was put in place to ensure he remembered all that he learned. .

My son said: “Why are we doing what we learned already?  We need to know what we need to know for next year and then do that.”

He has a point and it made me think of logistics. If you try to fix last year’s supply chain and logistics problems without understanding what potential problems are looming on the horizon, you will not be prepared for the future.

Changing capacity is a single basic example.  FTR’s Shippers Condition Index is showing a decline in shippers’ leverage and preparing for this challenge while increasing supply chain responsiveness could be an interesting conundrum.   Transporters will be pressing rate increases but shippers that are the most efficient and flexible with transporters, and can prove this, will be shippers of choice - at lower rates than their peers. 

Smart logistics is about being smarter than you were last year. It focuses on making logistics operations more precise by understanding position, ETA and synchronizing multiple assets with each other.  It makes wait times at facilities non-existent and ensures transportation assets and distribution facilities operate efficiently based on what is occurring now, understanding what is likely to occur in the future and directing action to ensure efficiency, such as automatically notifying a WMS and the yard check worker when a trailer is 30 minutes out for dock scheduling.

There are so many new tools at our fingertips today to help manage our assets - the Internet of Things being one of the most influential – there is no excuse for unexplained delays. And if you couple the IoT with continuous streaming analytics and prediction, logistics and supply chain managers can understand what is happening with their asset from the time it leaves until it is delivered. They can also know when they need to manage an exception and when they can focus their precious time elsewhere.  

Like my son said: “If summer school works stays this boring, I will never know what I need to know for next year.”

In a supply chain the same principle holds; if it stays the same all the time you will never be ready for the future. Nor will you be prepared for heading off the competition.

 

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