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Why supply chain management should become collaborative

Logistics chains need early information for better planning

Today, value chains are often globally networked. Their trouble-free functioning is ensured by meticulous supply chain management, which controls the cooperation of many different areas. Its most important resource is a continuous and unhindered flow of information. However, supply chain management is not yet truly collaborative, as most companies first want to optimize their own supply chain.

Supply chain managers have the task of controlling logistics. They are oriented towards the goal of saving resources through just-in-time and just-in-sequence processes. For this purpose, they organize the cooperation with suppliers and optimize the procurement of their companies. For their planning, they use systems that implement their strategies. However, many do not take advantage of the collaborative possibilities offered by the software. This is because they have not yet linked the flow of information from their process across company boundaries.


Collaborative? Supply chain management ends at the company border

The main task of supply chain management is to prepare production through procurement. For this to succeed, disruptions must not occur during transport, or they must be known early enough so that planning can still be successfully adjusted. To ensure this, many companies use systems that improve the flow of information. This includes, for example, time slot management or the use of mobile apps. Both solutions are designed to ensure that planned processes can be carried out as stably as possible. For example, the automotive industry has established a communication standard that provides for regular position reports from approaching trucks. Collaboration across company boundaries does not take place here. Although freight forwarders do not work exclusively for a single company, and delays thus spread from loading point to loading point.


Early information improves planning

If supply chain managers do not only learn about deviations while their own transport order is already running, they gain the chance to adjust complex planning in time. To make this possible, they need early information that they receive from the processes of other companies. In addition, they require the possibility to intervene in the running process. Mobile workflow management systems are particularly suitable for this:

  • They record the order status in real time.
  • They transmit vehicle position, speed and direction of travel.
  • They determine the estimated time of arrival (ETA) from the destination, route and traffic data.
  • They enable communication with the truck driver.
  • They are suitable for release processes and for authentication.
  • They display information and instructions for action.
  • They can automatically pass information to connected systems.

In the combination of online platform and mobile app, the solutions offer the opportunity to closely monitor complex logistics processes and to change their course. With these features, they improve the control options of supply chain managers and create the basis for cross-company overall coordination of complex logistics chains.


Transparency makes supply chain management collaborative

Taken on its own, mobile workflow management improves the efficiency of companies' logistics processes. Combined with a comprehensive database, it allows further coordination across company boundaries. However, this only becomes possible when companies develop a willingness to be transparent and pass on information about process disruptions anonymously. Then the systems allow process alternatives to be developed in good time and to be sent via mobile apps to the drivers carrying out the work. The decisive factor for this complex control is the realization of what further potential it opens up.


Effective supply chain management must become collaborative

Collaboration and transparency open up new management options. When supply chain management becomes collaborative, it creates the opportunity to coordinate complex value chains as a whole. Through the associated options, companies gain further-reaching efficiency potential for their logistics.

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