In the current environment, supply chain management can be a complex and challenging process with no shortage of factors to disrupt the flow of freight. And while it’s virtually impossible to plan for all factors, there are ways to create visibility and flexibility with active freight — namely, shipment tracking.
Real-time visibility on the location and status of shipments goes a long way in helping logistics managers navigate a host of unexpected supply chain struggles. Whether it’s rerouting product, avoiding downstream delays, or simply knowing where products are in the chain of custody, shipment tracking is essential in the modern era of supply chain pitfalls.
Where is your freight?
Shipment tracking provides real-time visibility into two critical variables: location and status. With this information at their fingertips, logistics managers can make informed decisions to optimize supply chain performance — and even reduce costs. Here’s how:
- Real-time visibility: Information allows logistics managers to monitor the progress of shipments and adjust when needed, often in time to avoid bigger problems downstream.
- Inventory management: Shipment tracking helps improve inventory management by showing logistics managers where products are and when they’re expected to arrive. This information allows for inventory controls to reduce stockouts.
- Customer service: Shipment tracking provides real-time visibility for managers to proactively communicate with stakeholders downstream about an order’s status and potential delays.
- Enhanced decision-making: With access to real-time shipment and contextual supply chain data, managers can identify trends, optimize processes, and make strategic decisions to drive their businesses forward.
Create visibility in transit
While shipment tracking is invaluable, it’s effective only if you have the right technology. It starts with a next-gen transportation management system (TMS) serving as the central repository for logistics oversight and operational decision-making. Through a TMS, managers can track shipments, optimize routes, and make informed decisions to keep their supply chain running smoothly.
Beyond a TMS are the technologies responsible for generating the data aggregated into a central command center. This includes GPS tracking and telematics devices installed on trucks and intermodal containers to provide real-time location and status updates. Electronic data interchange (EDI) and application programming interfaces (APIs) are also instrumental in enabling information exchange between different systems to improve supply chain visibility.
Use data to your advantage
What are your biggest supply chain disruptors today? They are likely familiar because of their recurring nature. The good news is, if you know them, you can solve them. It’s a matter of pinpointing the data you need to proactively address them, including:
- Delayed deliveries
- Lost shipments
- Inaccurate inventory management
- Poor communication
- High transportation costs
The more data you have across the chain of custody, the easier it is to trace the root causes of service failures back to their catalysts. Once you do, ask yourself a simple question: What could have prevented this in the first place? This is the data you need.
Visibility offers insight
The key component is visibility. Being able to see where freight is in relation to not only its destination but also any emergent problems is essential to acting accordingly. Whether in pursuit of cost optimization, avoidance of a bottleneck, or simply staying on top of freight ops, it’s all possible through shipment tracking.