To err is human, but to err in the day and age of technology directly results in the loss of business and growth opportunities. The scope of this loss becomes even greater in the context of the logistics industry. Being largely dependent on its human resources, the industry is more prone to slips, lapses, and mistakes. With increasing adoption of technology, however, the industry has been eliminating such logistical bottlenecks and is rapidly making inbound and outbound logistics operations seamless through automation. Enlisted are key defects/inefficiencies prevalent in the logistics industry along with some solutions:
1. Weighing and Dimensioning defects:
Redundant weighing and dimensioning processes are being actively eliminated with the use of advanced static and in-motion weighing and dimensioning systems. Such systems are designed to analyse and assimilate product details despite having a high working speed. This directly increases the productivity of a warehouse as it speeds up operations and increases the throughput significantly. Moreover, such systems are highly accurate and eliminate scaling errors in weighing and dimensioning.
2. Wrong Sorting/Misrouting Defects:
Misrouting is one of the most expensive defects in the logistics industry. On one hand, the company has to bear the brunt of the logistics cost, whereas on the other, its end-user customer experience and service satisfaction is also greatly affected. By minimising human interference in such processes, hi-tech automated sorting systems completely eliminate such mistakes to deliver error-free sorting operations.
3. Manpower Defects:
The nature of operational jobs in logistics entails repetitive tasks, exhaustive operations, and inflexible conditions. These factors directly result in human-related errors and can cause a significant depreciation in quality and productivity, especially as fatigue comes into play towards the end of the shift. Moreover, with a high churn in manpower, training remains a constant challenge.
Bringing automation into the logistics process has a twofold effect. Firstly, it reduces the dependency on human resources by deploying automation solutions which minimise human intervention. Secondly, the same system can be altered to perform a range of operations in almost no time by updating software mode and configurations. This, when compared to the workforce training that usually precedes such functional changes, results in highly flexible and efficient operations. Moreover, the existing workforce can be trained to use automated systems easily through digital media such as videos, tests & mock drills.
4. Route Planning inefficiencies
Today, technology has also reduced the dependency on legacy logistics techniques which were used for route planning in outbound logistics. With advanced navigation and real-time traffic analysis, companies can identify optimum routes in order to make on-time deliveries and attain a higher capacity utilisation. The technological infrastructure is also making it possible to make on-the-fly route amendments and addition of workload to an existing route, something which was not possible with previous techniques.
5. Product Tracking defects:
Track and trace is a key issue in the logistics industry. Scanning barcodes/RFID tags at each nodal point of the network and end of day update of delivery run sheets is passé. Now technology enables real time tracking of delivery vehicles and real time updates of delivery attempts. Moreover, the relevant data is constantly updated on a central server, accessible for analysis. A range of simple and complex algorithms are helping identify deviations and exceptions in the journey of a package. It is also possible to independently track real time location of critical packages through wireless tags.
6. Business Asset Visibility:
Geolocation tracking of delivery van, trucks, and delivery associates with mobile-based applications has made it possible to identify genuine delivery attempts, detect unauthorised route breaches, and unauthorised halts. This tracking of the delivery route also allows companies to disburse fuel reimbursements appropriately. Moreover, through cloud-based telephony solutions, even mobile reimbursements can be restricted to business-relevant calls.
7. Capacity planning:
Automation tools help set up an analytical system that forewarns the management in case of a potential capacity bottleneck. Such tools constantly analyse ongoing inbound and outbound processes and signal an alert well in advance of an imminent bottleneck, thereby facilitating future capacity planning and inventory management.
8. SLA Management:
Service-Level Agreement (SLA) makes a company liable to process package deliveries with a predefined set of conditions. A failure to meet the Service-Level Agreement results in the company having to pay hefty penalties.
Automation technology enables a company to identify such SLA-critical packages at its checkpoints, and ensures quick headways to prevent the breach. A cloud-based Big Data engine detects a potential breach through real-time analytics. This information is passed on to the transactional ERP/WMS. In the next phase, the WMS either isolates this packet for special handling or passes the information to warehouse automation systems for special handling.
9. Billing defects
Transparent and accurate billing is dependent on timely availability of qualitative and accurate data from operations. With much better visibility of weight, dimensions, product, assets, routes, delivery status through real time integrated systems – billing defects have reduced significantly.
(The Writer is the CEO of Falcon Autotech Pvt Ltd)
Note: This article was Originally Published in Cargo Connect , October 2016