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Logistics chain: Offer better service in a networked way

Sharing information with all stakeholders improves planning and communication

Logistics chains are continuously linked – from the consignor to the recipient. What works well physically, often shows deficits in planning and communication. The participants often receive little status data during transports.

Supply chain managers desire comprehensive information on the progress of each individual transport step for their logistics chains. The more often the status is recorded, the better planners can adjust to it. The prerequisite for this is to share the data with all those involved in the transport chain. This is achieved if:

  • Interfaces exist between all relevant systems
  • all parties have access to the same data
  • continuous status updates are shared in real time.

To improve the flow of information in the logistics chain, all parties benefit from the use of mobile apps that collect and transmit data throughout the process.


What is a logistics chain?

By definition, the logistics chain includes all steps of a transport – from the procurement of raw materials and precursors to the delivery of the final product at recipient. In practice, however, the section of the value chain between producer and user is almost always the most relevant. Typical steps in it are shipping and pickup at source, transshipment and transport. Smaller batches are handled one more time. While data collection at the interfaces has been common for decades, the transport routes themselves have only been included in the tracking for a few years. Mobile apps that run on smartphones, tablets and vehicle-specific devices, which can transmit a vehicle's GPS location, have supported this development.


Customer service as an important perspective

Inspired by customer service in shipping to private recipients, service-oriented information has also found its way into the logistics chains of companies. In particular, the recipients are concerned with their planning options for follow-up processes. To assess these, the estimated time of arrival (ETA) is increasingly used as an essential planning information. For this purpose, the vehicle position, the planned distance, and the estimated travel time are used for a forecast. More advanced systems can also incorporate the driver's work schedule into the calculations. These are also updated at regular intervals and shared with all stakeholders.


Real-time communication informs at an early state

If all stakeholders have access to the same data, they receive status updates simultaneously and in real time. With the necessary interfaces, information is also available across companies and across service providers. Without asking, they know what progress the transport has already made, and can coordinate the planning of their processes. This creates the option to align the transport chain according to recipient’s needs. The shipper also benefits from the improved flow of information along the logistics chain. With the proof of delivery (POD) returned via mobile apps in real time, they can bill much earlier than if they depend on the physical return of a signed paper document.


Continuous information along the logistics chain

Real-time status information from mobile processes also links the logistics chain digitally. With this data, the planning possibilities of the participants improve, and different transport chains are increasingly linked to a closed value chain. Mobile apps fill the information gaps between the interfaces and enable precise forecasting.

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