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How Collaborative Logistics Will Help Companies Create Visibility, Mobility, and Agility

May 14, 2020

New collaborative logistics technology is giving companies real-time data that enables constant communication and a common operational picture. Here’s how.

When companies rely on manual processes along the supply chain, it leads to data silos, inefficiencies, and blind spots. But it doesn’t have to be this way. New collaborative logistics technology is giving companies real-time data that enables constant communication and a common operational picture shared among all parties in the supply chain. The result is smarter, faster decision-making and optimized processes.

Simply put, collaborative logistics technology is game-changing for third-party logistics companies (3PLs), manufacturers, fleet owners, drivers, shippers, and retailers. Coolfire’s logistics technology, in particular, allows companies to use existing data sources to connect teams across the entire supply chain — from drivers to customers — to allow for seamless collaboration.

Collaborative Logistics Technology Provides Visibility, Mobility, and Agility

Collaborative logistics leads to better decision-making and more efficient processes by providing companies with a level of visibility, mobility, and agility that they’d never be able to achieve via manual tracking processes.

First, the technology provides visibility by giving all parties a common operational picture, a real-time view of information put into context so users can get the insights they need at a glance. This operational visibility unchains employees from their desks, allowing them to receive updates from anywhere. This mobility enables employees to work outside of the traditional 9-to-5, which can increase customer service levels for 3PLs.

The result of operational visibility and mobility is agility — fast and informed decision-making. As anyone along the supply chain knows, many factors can cause complications, such as weather, traffic, or even a pandemic. If the process is manual, it’s difficult to make adjustments based on the current scenario, and it can often take days to communicate critical information. But if drivers and warehouses are in continuous communication via collaborative logistics technology, they can make decisions on the fly without causing chaos and confusion among other steps in the supply chain.

For instance, say a customer calls a 3PL to add freight to an already scheduled shipment. The logistics company must know whether there’s space available, whether other items can be moved, and countless other details. If the company relies on manual processes, there’s typically lag time between when a request is made and when the shipment can be handled.

Not so with collaborative logistics technology. The impact on efficiency can be profound. According to McKinsey & Co. research, collaboration technology can increase productivity by as much as 30%.

Group of people discussing collaboration

 

3 Ways Collaborative Logistics Technology Can Transform Operations

As companies look at how collaborative logistics can improve their visibility, mobility, and agility, they can consider the following forward-thinking strategies to boost operational effectiveness:

1. Use collaborative logistics software to validate carrier accountability scores.

In the future, it will become commonplace for logistics companies to use collaborative logistics technology to see who has availability in real time and grade drivers and carriers based on past performance.

Currently, many carriers are concerned about handing over access to their real-time data. The primary fear is that with too much information, 3PLs will have an unfair business advantage. Truck location is one area carriers hesitate to disclose — but an area 3PLs are most interested in. Supply chain stakeholders must find a balance between how much data will improve efficiency without eroding business advantages.

2. Use collaborative logistics software to work more efficiently, even as driver shortages increase. 

Carriers have been struggling with a shortage of drivers for the past 15 years, and the problem may get worse over time. The American Trucking Associations predict that the driver deficit could reach more than 160,000 by 2028. As technology use in the industry increases, many drivers are deterred from the job because they don’t want to feel like they’re constantly being tracked.

This presents a challenge, but it also presents an opportunity. With a driver shortage, companies need new technology to keep the supply chain running smoothly. With fewer drivers available to pick up a load, there’s no room for error. Technology is the only way for logistics companies to know who’s available and where they’re located.

3. Use collaborative logistics software to achieve agility during crisis events.

As we’ve seen with COVID-19, crisis events not only cause widespread economic shifts, but they also create new challenges for logistics companies. While all industries are suffering under the current pandemic, transportation and logistics are reeling.

Companies have had to reprioritize shipping for necessity items and scramble to find places to store loads following the closure of most retailers. Both tasks would be much easier with collaborative logistics software, which can help accurately identify where extra capacity might exist within the supply chain and absorb some of the surplus created by global crisis conditions.

Collaborative logistics technology is the future. The time has come for these companies to say goodbye to tedious manual processes; implement technology-informed strategies; and say hello to new levels of agility, visibility, and mobility.