Logistics is a key part of the supply chain management processes. It deals with efficient and timely movement of goods between a consumer and a supplier. Moving goods from one location to another which may be half-way around the world.
According to Wikipedia, Inbound logistics moves unfinished goods, materials, parts from suppliers to manufacturing or assembly plants or retail stores. Outbound logistics moves the final product from the manufacturer to the consumer.
According to Statista, the US logistics industry will be $1.2 Trillion by 2025. The trucking industry has the biggest share, at around $730Bn.
There is a constant focus on efficiency and timeliness in logistics. Forcing logistics players to innovate their processes. From having robots doing sorting in warehouse to using drones for delivery, the field is seeing a great deal of innovation. Logistics companies are also constantly simplifying and improving their processes.
The pandemic posed challenges to the industry disrupting the supply chain. Key challenges post pandemic are a shortage of labour and increasing fuel prices. Fluctuating demand and stress on capacity utilization are challenges too. A priority for the industry is reducing transportation costs by optimizing routes. Also, scheduling incoming orders to maximize capacity utilization are priorities.
Intelligent automation is helping logistics companies tap into newer value sources.
Intelligent automation refers to automating business processes using sophisticated software. Such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Computer Vision, Chat bots and artificial intelligence & machine learning. Depending on the needs of the specific use case, one or more of these software are used.
Top 5 intelligent logistics Automation use cases are -
Use case #1 Automate response to logistics RFQs and Processing Orders
Speed to quote and ability to process and schedule orders can be big differentiators for logistics operators. Logistics operators have to respond to client requests fairly quickly. Having a bot respond to RFQs (Request for Quote) can make quotation process 24x7. This can help improve timely quotation, increasing chances of winning the RFQ.
Similarly, speed is key once a customer raises an order or a request for delivery. The request has to be entered into the logistics operators system to schedule delivery. Automation can help automate order entry and scheduling of delivery. Automated entry can improve customer experience.
Use Case #2 Deliver a better Customer Service to logistics customers
Customer Service teams answer questions on delivery status, location of consignment and likely time of delivery. Responding to customer queries instantly needs ability to pull information from various sources. In most organizations, such information can be spread across a host of systems. Resulting in customer service not having upto the minute access to these information. Automation can help pull this information across systems quickly and update customers.
Intelligent automation can also help customer service agents become more productive. It can help automate their tasks by bridging gaps between disparate IT systems. Allowing customer service agents to focus on the conversation with the customer.
Use Case #3 Pick best 3rd party transportation offer and Optimize Route & Fuel Cost
Intelligent automation can help better source capacity from 3rd party companies. Choosing the right transporter based on a wide variety of data points.
It can also save fuel cost by recommending right route. Balancing cost of taking the route based on time and money. It can help transporters improve capacity utilization. Analyzing and dynamically allocating orders to be transported on a particular route.
Use Case #4 Optimize Logistics Command Center Operations
Command Center (CC) tracks vehicle movement and ensures that delivery target and operating SLAs are met. The command center team plans, reviews and approves fuelling requests. For cold chain operations, the CC team tracks temperature of the vehicle as well.
Intelligent automation can help create trips, track trips, flag route and temperature deviations. It can make the command center operations much more efficient.
Use Case #5 Digitize logistics documents in transit
As consignments move across cities and countries, a variety of documents move with it. For example, bill of lading like Air Way Bill (AWB). A delivery note or a receipt may also be needed. Computer vision can help automate and digitize handling these documents. Cutting down collection time by allowing invoices to be raised immediately upon delivery.
Logistics companies can increase revenues and improve P&L using intelligent automation
In summary, Logistics companies can address skill shortages by augmenting manual labour with digital labour. They can increase commercial effectiveness using an automated RFQ process. They can improve route planning and optimize costs of operations. They can digitize and simplify document handling processes. All using the power of intelligent automation.
At Senzcraft, we are working with logistics companies for all of these use cases. We are using our products wrkMate, for digital labour and DoquMate, for document processing use cases. Helping logistics companies improve their P&L and increase revenues.