If logistics service providers want to improve cooperation with their customers and partners, the most efficient way is to digitalize their business processes. It starts with the visualization in a process map, continues with the optimization and modelling of new structures, and reaches its goal in a continuous end-to-end process digitalization with solutions for the automation of many work steps.
Accepting orders, scheduling tours, loading consignments: Logistics chains consist of many individual tasks. Their sequence creates an overall process: the storage or transport of goods. It is controlled by the exchange of information that describes the work steps and responsible parties as well as the required output. Their digitalization requires process recording as a basis. Therefore, the entire process must first be visualized in a process map:
- What tasks need to be completed for the overall process?
- Which actors are involved?
- What work steps do they carry out?
- What information do they need for this?
- Which information channels do they use?
- How much time do they need for a completed process?
With these cornerstones, companies create the basis for optimizing processes through process digitalization and subsequent automation.
Optimization accompanies process digitalization
A process map visualizes existing processes. For process optimization, it clarifies superfluous work steps and points to the challenges. For example, it shows how many commercial employees of a freight forwarder are involved in the organization of transports. Furthermore, the visualization also reveals the possibilities for improvement through digital guidance, information processing and process control. In addition, process digitalization enables the standardization of workflows as well as the digital documentation of completed tasks. Thus, the prerequisites exist for the automation of processes. For example, in the scheduling and loading of transports, when forwarding orders are placed digitally, consignment lists are transmitted electronically and tours and loading lists are created automatically. Digital information transfer also enables significant time savings and greater efficiency in process control, for example via a digitalized platform. Loading and unloading can be prepared, position data can be transmitted, arrival times can be calculated, and driver notifications can be carried out automatically.
Workflow management: Modelling and description of processes
Those who want to use opportunities and improvement potentials through process digitalization must make process optimization effective through new requirements and specifications. With targeted workflow management, concrete process steps are described along new target processes and their specifications and goals. Also, responsibilities of employees are determined, and the required output is defined. In mobile processes, for example loading and unloading or the delivery of consignments, decentralized technologies such as apps take over data recording, information forwarding and documentation along the supply chains. This means that loading lists can be changed until immediately before departure, pick-up routes can be supplemented with additional stops en route, and delivery receipts can be transmitted in real time. In this way, forwarders can issue transport invoices earlier and shippers can also invoice their customers sooner for their products. The automatic documentation of the individual work steps combined with digital archiving and document management also create transparency about the execution and progress.
Process digitalization as the key to efficiency
Automation, mobile data recording and information exchange in real time ensure greater efficiency and more effective control of logistics. These advantages can only unfold through complete process digitalization. This way, workflows change proceedings and make process optimizations effective. Important improvements for the future of the industry.