Despite industry-wide improvements in process management, those involved in logistics and supply chain operations continue to face a plethora of challenges. Companies that have already adopted mobile technology – typically a ruggedized tablet PC – understand the critical role these tools play in linking new processes with the people who need them.
Incorporating a rugged tablet PC throughout the supply chain not only puts solutions right at people’s fingertips, it can open the door to new opportunities otherwise out of reach. Companies that aren’t now using tablets may find that technological disadvantage is the biggest challenge they’ll face this year.
Let’s see what’s on the horizon and how tablets can help you meet these challenges.
Regulations aren’t going away, but the smartest managers are using tablets to collect required data in real time. They’re learning from the data and using it to increase driver productivity, enhance training, etc. It’s the proverbial lemons-to-lemonade scenario.
Fuel and other transportation costs remain high, and the need to reduce costs remains critical for competitiveness and survival. An increasing number of companies are offering tiered pricing based on delivery needs. Customers who aren’t in a hurry can pay less for slower service, whereas those who require overnight delivery can be charged a premium price.
This also enables companies to generate additional revenue via enhanced delivery services such as at-the-door electronic signature and payment capture. A ruggedized tablet PC makes it all possible, with real-time, tailored routing and scheduling and integrated communications and imaging.
Resurgence of rail traffic
Trains are making a comeback, thanks to improved infrastructure and better equipment. Service is faster and more dependable, making the use of boxcars a significantly more attractive option, especially in the face of ongoing truck and driver shortages.
Ruggedized tablet PCs with RFID are invaluable for quickly tracking inventories in packages up to shipping containers, essentially the same thing as a boxcar. With real-time visibility, trains offer the same levels of security, traceability, etc. as other modes of transportation.
Panama Canal expansion should be completed in just two years. It will undoubtedly create opportunities for mid-America ports that could change logistics planning and timing for goods moving into and out of the US. Ruggedized tablet PCs are global by nature, designed to take location changes in stride. More widespread use of them is already helping improve visibility into international supply chains.
Outsourcing is a proven way to assure service levels and quality but control costs, because it’s scalable. Increasing use of logistics service providers (LSPs) can help cost-conscious companies remain agile, and a ruggedized tablet PC ensures you and your LSP are always coordinated.
DIY freight billing
Will freight bill audit and payment firms become as obsolete as the rotary dial phone? Transportation management software with freight bill payment and broad use of tablet PCs to handle payment transactions enable companies to bypass the old way of doing things. Freight billing companies could disappear if they can’t find new ways to make themselves indispensable.
More of the same
You’ve probably noticed your “old favorites” haven’t gone away, either. Challenges such as driver deficits, related hours of service issues as well as uncertain trucking capacity, volatile fuel costs and rising and more complex customer demands remain front-and-center.
Real-time visibility and detailed tracking and management continue to be the solution. Ruggedized tablets enable you to implement new processes and realize the highest value from them, preparing you to address any challenge with better planning, forecasting, budgeting and decision-making.
How will you use a ruggedized tablet PC to overcome your challenges this year?