The Essential Technology Toolkit for Logistics Companies

Business.com / Technology Solutions / Last Modified: September 12, 2017
Photo credit: Don Pablo/Shutterstock

These tools can help logistics companies collect and leverage data by streamlining the process.

Logistics companies today are driven by business intelligence (BI) and optimization. The competition is tough, and there's constant pressure to do more with less. Modern logistics companies can best leverage BI – and streamline overall operations – by implementing several key technologies and tools that integrate seamlessly to facilitate automatic data collection and analysis and optimize processes.

With the myriad technology tools and software solutions available, knowing what types of tools are essential for a fully optimized logistics operation can be confusing at best. Here's a look at the essential technology stack for modern logistics companies.

Asset tracking and inventory management software

Logistics companies are focused on facilitating the smooth flow of goods and services through the supply chain. Tracking those assets efficiently, using a combination of barcodes, QR codes, and technology such as RFID tags coupled with asset tracking software, is the foundation of any successful logistics operation.

Logistics companies rely on inventory management software to monitor stock levels, both for goods that move through the supply chain and for in-house inventory, such as spare parts, that are necessary to keep high-value assets in working order.

Another useful component of inventory management and asset tracking software for logistics companies is transportation management, which enables companies to ensure that products can reach distribution centers, retail operations or end consumers on time. Choose a solution that incorporates all of these elements – asset tracking, inventory management and transportation management – for a fully integrated operation.

Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS)

It's not only the goods that move through the supply chain that should be monitored but also a logistics company's proprietary fixed and movable assets such as equipment and machinery. Being able to monitor the location of high-value assets that move from location to location is valuable, but those assets also require regular preventative maintenance.

That's where CMMS software comes in. These solutions can schedule and monitor maintenance activities to provide cost and reporting history as well as other information. Staying on top of maintenance aids in compliance but also directly impacts the bottom line by extending the usable life of your most expensive assets.

Workforce management and scheduling software

Tracking the flow of products is crucial, but there's a human element involved in producing, packaging, shipping and transporting those products through the supply chain. Workforce management and scheduling software is the key to optimizing your workforce as efficiently as you optimize your inventory.

These solutions enable you to schedule staff and coordinate transport routes in the most efficient way possible, which speeds the delivery of goods and reduces the manual labor required to get products from point to point throughout the supply chain. By fully optimizing your workforce, you'll improve the bottom line while also enhancing customer service for both partners and end consumers.

Accounting tools

Accounting tools are a must for any business, but particularly for logistics companies. With large volumes of moving parts, labor costs, maintenance costs and inventory costs to manage, manual accounting methods simply can't keep up with the fast pace of modern logistics.

Choose an accounting solution that can aid in automating some accounting practices (such as calculating inventory costs and forecasting) that also integrates seamlessly with your inventory management and asset tracking software and offers functionality such as freight and transportation accounting. With integrated solutions, you get a clearer picture of your organization's health and can generate comprehensive reports with ease to keep key stakeholders on the same page.

Analytics tools

The tools discussed above help logistics companies to optimize every operational process, but they also generate a lot of data. Big data in raw form is only as useful as the actionable insights that can be gained from the data – and that's where supply chain analytics software comes in.

Supply chain analytics software delivers visibility across the entire fulfillment process and aids in improving operational performance. Analytics tools make it possible to identify the most profitable products, pinpoint production problems and implement prompt actions to mitigate those issues before they create bottlenecks, analyze suppliers and costs, lower costs and increase margins by optimizing procurement spending, and more.

Choose a supply chain analytics solution that's capable of integrating data from myriad sources and offers robust filtering capabilities to help you drill down into the metrics that matter, recognize and respond to trends, and forecast with greater accuracy.

Modern logistics companies face stiff competition and must constantly strive to achieve more with fewer resources and in less time. As a driving force in the global supply chain, logistics companies must keep pace with technology advancements to compete in today's challenging environment. Arming your organization with an essential technology toolkit will provide greater visibility into every operational process – and that's the key to optimizing efficiency throughout your organization.

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