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Rugged Tablets Can Help Save Money in Supply Chain: Part II

In our previous article, we introduced some first steps you can take to optimize your supply chain. We noted that improvements are made possible in today’s working environment by adopting transportation management software and rugged tablets that provide on-the-scene data collection and communications, any time, from anywhere.

ruggedized windows tablet pc supply chain warehouseIt’s that real-time visibility that puts a wealth of detailed information at your fingertips, putting you in the driver’s seat to make strategic changes that will save you money and produce other efficiencies.

Moving beyond benchmarking.

Establishing a baseline of cost-vs.-function data and KPIs to measure future progress allows you to implement additional supply chain modifications and accurately assess their value. Introducing these changes can take time and effort, and some won’t be a good fit for your organization

Consider opportunities such as these to refine how you order and how you use your routing guide:

Routing guide enforcement.

Like loading trucks to capacity, using your routing guide to its fullest is a relatively easy way to capture additional savings. Why create a tool you aren’t going to use? Automation provided by your TMS and ruggedized tablets can help assure your guide is actually used, and used properly.

Order optimization.

How your products are organized for shipping can greatly affect costs. Again, your TMS and rugged tablets work together to support:

• Mode selection – a system that automatically picks the best choice, using your routing guide, helps if your products, classes and/or break points vary considerably.

• Consolidation – combining shipments going from and to the same place in the same time frame can be especially beneficial if you have consistent customers and many low-charge or small LTL shipments.

• Multi-stop truckload – if your LTL shipments are large, between 5000 and 20,000 pounds or a quarter to three-quarters of the load volume, you can reduce costs for both recurring or variable deliveries.

• Pool points or cross-docking – it may seem counter-intuitive, but if you have a lot of large shipments going to a smaller geographic area, moving products first to a central location where they can be sorted efficiently enables you to use less costly local or regional carriers.

rugged tablet barcode scanner warehousingNetwork modeling is the toughest to introduce but can generate the broadest results.
If you’ve exhausted easier-to-implement options, you can try working more closely with carriers to gain efficiencies through continuous moves or tours that focus on routing. Typically, though, these solutions are hard to implement and often don’t offer enough savings to make them worth the effort.

Network modeling, on the other hand, is considered the ultimate in supply chain optimization, particularly for larger and more complex operations. Since network modeling itself is a complex solution, implementation can be time-consuming and difficult. But with your TMS and rugged tablets in place, you’ll have the detailed data required to perform this comprehensive, ongoing assessment of your supply chain operations and reap significant savings.

Using your benchmarks as a guide and adopting some of these techniques enables you to collaborate better with your trading partners. But remember that although everyone is anxious to reduce costs, what benefits you most might not be as financially beneficial for your transportation partner. Working together is good, but it has to work for everyone to be successful in the long run.

Your ultimate goal is ensuring swift, sure and least-cost deliveries. The data you can gather using your rugged Windows tablet PCs and TMS will enable you to think and act more strategically about logistics. Contemplating new approaches can help you identify gaps in your current logistics, determine your most pressing needs and identify the strongest opportunities for optimizing your supply chain.

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