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Big Data And Your Carrier Profile

Posted by Land Link on Jan 23, 2019 5:36:57 PM

Our industry is solidly in the realm of "Big Data". Big data is like any other data except there are massive amounts of it available from which your transportation providers estimate your overall value as a customer. Data analytics and predictive analysis have become the leading indicators of a company's future business levels. If your organization is not utilizing these tools to predict future needs you may be leaving leveraging power at the bargaining table.

Data Analytics And Predictive Analysis

Data Analytics is not overly complicated. It is the science of interpreting historical data to predict some future utilization. This can be applied to expected manufacturing level, raw materials needs, inventory, and shipping. The application of this data is known as predictive analysis. Predicting the future needs of a company based on historical data coupled with expected future analytics such as increased sales volume or raw materials expense. The critical components of this science are the accuracy of the initial data input and the accurate category of data. Garbage in will give you garbage out and unnecessary data will compromise the utility of your output. So if you want to predict future operating costs be sure to include only financially relevant data. If you want more of a
CRM analysis, be sure to input customer specific data. Be certain of what data you want at the end before you begin.

Maximizing Your Profile Data

Other people have your data as well and are utilizing it to their full advantage. Your vendors and suppliers all have your historical data. Be assured they are using data analytics and predictive analysis to maximize their position every year. Your organization needs to be armed with a similar ordinance to leverage your position. For our purposes, we'll concentrate on your carrier profile data. The volume of data available here can be daunting, especially if you imagine collecting it all in real time. That’s why your first step should be figuring out what question you want to answer. Do you want to understand how winter weather affected your holiday shipping last year? Do you think you can make transit more efficient? Further, big data draws links between all aspects of your supply chain from your supplier to your inventory on hand, to your warehouses to your customers. This information can remind you when it’s time to order more replacement inventory because your stock is running low. It can reveal not only which of your vendors missed shipments, but also which manufacturers’ products got the best customer reviews.

A data analyst looks at information with a totally different perspective than a supply chain manager. Reviewing numbers or other types of information if you’re working with big data, can reveal inefficiencies you’d never noticed. It can identify inefficiencies in routings and contractual agreements that may be renegotiated. The million dollar question is how are you going to get this done within your organization on a timely basis. Clearly, it would take years and the establishment of Data Analytic department to compile and manage this data in house. The rate at which our industry has adopted data analytics simply won't allow you that much time. Not initially anyway and it may be cost prohibitive in the long term. The obvious answer is to outsource your data analytics. As far as your carrier profile is concerned Land Link Traffic Systems has been utilizing data analytics for years. Long ago the founder of Land-Link Traffic Systems Inc. stressed the following. “What does not get measured, does not get fixed”. It would be difficult if not impossible for any rational person to repudiate this thought-provoking statement and important underlying principle of business. Yet, many companies to do just that. Most companies, in fact, do not have the proper measurements and KPIs in place necessary to drive intelligent business decisions and to serve as support to the policies that are relied upon to drive day to day business activities. Visit us today for specific information on our data analytics approach.

Author
Michael Gaughan
Technology Officer
Land Link Traffic Systems

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Topics: Big Data, Industry Trends

Update: Automation in the Supply Chain

Posted by Land Link on Nov 29, 2018 9:18:34 AM

We have long anticipated the introduction of robotics into the supply chain. We have predicted the potential of such technology to help businesses keep pace with distribution challenges and consumer demand for convenience and variety. However, while robotics technology has now arrived in many sectors of life, it is yet to truly revolutionize the logistics environment.

You might expect these updates to come quarterly or perhaps more spread out. The rate of technological advancements in the supply chain industry is coming fast having profoundly far-reaching results. These supply chain evolutions have a significant effect on the Gross National Product, which is an estimate of total value of all the final products and services turned out in a given period by the means of production owned by a country's residents. The national and regional manufacturing statistics are also affected by the efficiency within which supply chains operate. Finally, supply chain technology plays a significant role in national and international military operation. The next time you're concerned about your next Amazon shipment consider these, largely unconsidered, daily challenges by supply chain professionals.

Driver-less Trucks

While today’s trucks generally operate only up to eight or nine hours a day because drivers are required to rest, automation has the possibility to double or triple productivity by having the wheels rolling nearly around the clock without an active driver needed at all times.

Many analysts project that trucks with empty cabs and a computer at the wheel will travel on U.S. highways in as little as two years with no escort or safety driver in sight now that the Trump administration has signaled its willingness to let tractor-trailers to become truly driver-less. The U.S. Department of Transportation last month announced that it will "no longer assume" that the driver of a commercial truck is human, and the agency will even adopt the definitions of driver and operator to recognize that such terms do not refer exclusively to a human, but may, in fact, include an automated system. The release of the new guidelines will almost certainly accelerate the testing process and ramp up the competition between companies that have logged tens of thousands of miles in testing to prepare truly driver-less trucks for the open road. With the legislation last month, the Department of Transportation sent a strong signal that it plans to take a hands-off approach to regulate driverless trucks; one the agency also indicated it plans to make official through a formal rule-making process that will almost certainly pre-empt any state measures, such as those in California that prohibit driver-less trucks altogether. The Trump administration has made it very clear that when it comes to commerce in this country the attitude is "Laissez Faire"; a Latin phrase to suggest that issues of commerce be decided by those it affects. That seems to be the perceived interstate and international logistics environment; that there is a political commitment from U.S. DOT to help facilitate interstate commercial trucking and that the agency will be able to pre-empt state laws when necessary. There is, understandably, concern from the public and environmental and safety advocates regarding the seemingly unimpeded progress of driver-less trucks. I'm not sure I want 80,000 # of the truck behind me doing 80 MPH with no one at the wheel. The acceptance will come but it will be slow and undoubtedly at a financial and personal cost.

Automation and Robotics in the Warehouse

It seems clear that it is not a matter of “if” but “when” robots will be working in our parcel sorting hubs, distribution centers, and delivery vans. With an improved price/performance ratio, the adoption of robotic solutions is likely to intensify over the next five years. The business leaders of the future need to understand this technology, look on it as an opportunity rather than a threat, and start planning for the day when it provides a viable solution to ever-growing pressures on the supply chain. Having a strong understanding and appreciation of computer programming, I have argued that robotic and automation applications have a significant benefit to not only the supply chain process but any industry that demonstrates the need for personnel to execute basic and repetitive operations. These tasks are perfectly suited for robots. And with the introduction of Artificial Intelligence, the robots can measurably improve upon their performance over time. They learn the task and are programmed to do it faster once the steps in the task have been mastered...but not before. AI concentrates on 100% accuracy before increasing the speed of operations. I've tried to share this philosophy with my golfing partners who like to play from the blue tees without ever shooting par from the white tees.

What to Expect

Looking ahead, supply chain leaders should prepare their processes and infrastructure to embrace new technology and its ability to harness more data than ever before. While we have seen great progress in this area, the development of regulatory framework around robotics in the workplace and in ‘public’ spaces, rather than behind the scenes, will be the main factor to determine how quickly and to what degree robots and automation are incorporated into logistics.

The successful businesses of the future will be those which are able to adapt to the accelerated change in sourcing, production, and distribution that we are seeing today, and are agile and flexible enough to take advantage of new technologies. To ensure your company is in the race and not on the porch contact us today for a no-obligation review of your current Supply Chain protocols.

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Topics: Big Data, Technology

Meeting Supply Chain Expectations

Posted by Land Link on Oct 25, 2018 2:52:50 PM

With the rise of Amazon, Uber, and home IoT products, consumer expectations for real-time visibility and connectivity have never been higher. These trends are morphing over from the consumer industry to the B2B sector. Consumers’ experiences are now driving their professional expectations, and this is driving modernization across every industry, perhaps none more so than supply chain. Today manufacturers are investing in digital supply chain technologies that enable total visibility, from end to end. With global IoT tracking and big data analytics, 3 PL's will become a valuable resource which can rise to the challenge of today’s heightened consumer expectations, delivering an experience on par with and even surpassing the consumer and B2B expectations.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Big Data, Logistics News

How Technology is Affecting Retail

Posted by Land Link on Oct 11, 2018 9:30:55 AM

When it comes to technology in the retail consumer market Wal-Mart is among the lead dogs. When it comes to imaginative, if not bizarre ideas, they may be the lead dog. A Walmart patent application for a biometric feedback shopping cart handle was recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, CBInsights reports. The cart handles could track the heart rates, body temperatures and stress levels of customers, possibly averting serious health issues in the stores.

Although I have no doubt Wal-Mart is sincere in safeguarding the general health of its shoppers you've got to ask yourself, what is the real motivation here. What data are they looking to farm? Will the cart sensors measure an interest level in a particular item?. Perhaps feedback on sales promotions. It has to be linked to business. Plain and simple. Why else do it? If so, it doesn't make them the bad guy. It does make sense to integrate customer purchasing habits to their general health. It's good practice to keep the golden geese healthy. Whatever the motivation for this creative approach to shopper habits it's going to have some effect on supply chain management. Logistics professionals are going to need to educate themselves on the new technologies and prepare their practices accordingly. After all, some of this stuff just may yield some unanticipated affects on supply and demand.

Whether the retailer ultimately implements such a costly system companywide is an open question. The patent application says the data would not be linked to specific shoppers. "It is noted that the biometric data and the cart movement data collected during the use of the shopping cart is not tied or otherwise linked to the identity of the individual customer," the company said in its patent application. But this does raise the question of whether this technology might prove too creepy or invasive for customers already concerned about privacy.

Robots In The Aisles

Lowes is testing robots to act as customer service liaisons to aid in customers' searches for whatever they may have visited the store for. I like the idea. I usually have problems finding an educated individual to help me. The upside is the robots will tell you exactly where to find what you're looking for. The downside is the robot lacks the extensive experience that a lot of the Lowes and Home Depot employees have. It's common for semi-retired contractors to work at the major home repair retail outlets and have extensive experience that they're more than willing to share with the novice plumber or whatever your project. The robot will, however, email or text a link to info from a Google search or a YouTube video to help with your project. "LoweBot", as the robot is called, will add a layer of support to amplify the trusted advice of Lowe’s employees as it helps customers with simple questions, enabling more time for employees to focus on delivering project expertise and personalized service. Having the ability to scan inventory and capture real-time data with LoweBot will also help detect patterns or gaps that will ultimately influence business decisions. From a supply chain perspective, robotic customer service applications may not affect the supply chain planning a great deal since the inventory data pretty much starts at the register it's still pretty cool. A much better use of retail technology than the universally despised "self-checkout" kiosk. Someone someday is gonna take one of those out with a large caliber armament. I'm sure of it.

High Supply Chain Efficiency

The present-day customer tends to have a ‘buy-now’ mindset and expects a faultless service through the entire life-cycle of the order. An annual study published in the Future of Retail 2016, shares that in recent times customers expect seamless and quick shipping, delivery, exchanges, and returns from e-commerce firms. Consequently, retailers need to focus on improving their customers’ shopping experience rather than merely increasing their customer base.
Retail technology is helping e-retailers improve their supply chain and logistics using the lean methodology to streamline these processes and eliminate inefficient operations.

A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste. To accomplish this, lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments to customers. Supply chain practices such as cross docking, direct delivery to stores, real-time delivery, third-party logistics, and cross-functional integration are playing a major role in making the business processes more efficient. Logistics and Omnichannel order orchestration offer retailers data on real-time orders, inventory visibility, order aggregation and fulfillment, and customer service, enabling them to optimize their supply chain systems.

Cross-Channel Purchases

According to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper 2016, 38% of all purchases are made through multiple channels. Technology and social media are central to Omnichannel shopping. Shoppers are conducting online product research using mobile applications and going through social media ratings, online customer reviews, brand promotion videos, and product photographs submitted by other users. Consequently, shoppers use multiple channels to make a decision, selecting the products and services with fluidity. In order to ensure consistent profits, e-commerce retailers must improve their digital presence across a variety of channels.

Retail technology is revolutionizing online shopping by enabling businesses to adopt innovative ways to engage their customers. Keeping up with this tech will separate the leaders from the laggards. Stay informed on these and many other technology applications that are right around the corner. To stay informed subscribe to our blog www.Land-Link.com. As always, if you have any questions on how today's technology will affect your supply chain please contact one of our Logistics professionals. 

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Topics: Big Data, Industry Trends

The Digital Supply Chain Defined

Posted by Land Link on Aug 15, 2018 4:25:36 PM

This article is yet another dose of enlightenment on our technology series to keep our clients informed on the pace and direction of supply chain industry standards. Previously we have discussed the importance and applications of Blockchain technologies and IoT (the Internet of Things) in logistics and supply chain management. These technologies are transforming the way we do business. To stay up to date and competitive we must stay informed. The issue is most of this stuff is so new and so dynamically changing that keeping up is a challenge for most of us from the old school way we’ve been managing transportation for decades. We have some catching up to do in a hurry.

Digital Supply Chain Defined

I always insist my readers have a firm understanding of our discussion topic. To that end; A Digital Supply chain is defined as A digital supply chain is a supply chain whose foundation is built on Web-enabled capabilities. Many supply chains use a mix of paper-based and IT-enabled processes. A true digital supply chain goes far beyond this hybrid model to fully capitalize on connectivity, system integration and the information-producing capabilities of "smart" components.

Digital Supply Chain 101

Ultimately, virtually every aspect of business will be transformed through the vertical integration of research and development, manufacturing, marketing and sales, and other internal operations, and new business models based on today’s advances. In effect, we are evolving toward the complete digital ecosystem. If you recall from our blogs on Blockchain technology and IoT. The common thread of these and other emerging technologies in the web-based component which allows for inter-connectivity and sharing of real-time information. The days of fax transitions and telephone calls are all but extinct. Email may survive but will likely be phased out in favor of peer to peer communication. Peer to peer communication is a direct connection between users operating on a shared platform bypassing the delay of email or analog communication.

What To Expect

So, the race is on. Companies across industries are already investing heavily to develop their own versions of the DSC. According to a recent PwC study on the rise of Industry 4.0, a third of the more than 2,000 respondents say their companies have started to digitize their supply chains, and fully 72 percent expect to have done so five years from now.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Big Data, Technology

The White House Is Getting Aggressive to Answer the Call for More Qualified Truck Drivers

Posted by Land Link on Jul 18, 2018 11:14:58 AM

Department of Transportation will launch a pilot program to permit 18-to-20-year-olds who possess the U.S. military equivalent of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate large trucks in interstate commerce. The Trucking industry has been struggling to meet driver demand for the last 20 years.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Transportation News, Big Data

How Retailers Plan to Meet Increasing Delivery Demands of Consumers

Posted by Land Link on Jul 3, 2018 4:19:20 PM

There seems to be no end to the demand for nearly instant delivery gratification of today's consumer. Interestingly, price doesn't seem to water down their desire to have what they ordered on their doorstep as soon as possible. In response, retailers are betting big on delivery services to drop off packages faster. Current delivery services are pretty much maxed out on capacity. Just last week Amazon announce it would form its own fleet of delivery vans, in addition to their existing fleet of trucks and planes, that would be operated by independent contractors to compliment, and eventually replace, current transportation providers.

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Topics: Shipping News, Industry Trends, Big Data

A Glimpse into the Future of Transportation

Posted by Land Link on Jun 13, 2018 9:29:43 AM

There are several developing factors refining the world of freight transportation as we currently know it. Technology in the form of ELDs is forcing fleet managers to become more scientific in the management of their assets. The apparently insatiable appetite for immediate gratification from the millennials will force carriers to improve speed to market. This will likely put pressure on trucking companies to better integrate their small parcel and LTL operations so local distribution centers can concentrate on meeting on time final mile deliveries. Data engineering will be at the forefront of everything that goes on in supply chains. Data engineering, according to Dr. Michael Watson of Northwestern University, is "the art and science of blending data from multiple sources, automatically cleaning and filtering the data, and transforming the data to be useful for analysis."  You may have heard the term "Big Data" referring to the volumes of pertinent data accumulated from various sources along the supply chain. This big data will be the source of information in the data engineering process. Another term you've likely heard is IoT or The Internet of Things. The IoT is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with advanced electronics capable of exchanging data with a central computer over the internet.  

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Topics: Big Data, Industry Trends, Maximizing Routing Efficiencies, Transportation News

Technology and Big Data: What Shippers and Logistics Professionals Need to Know

Posted by Land Link on May 23, 2018 12:16:36 PM

Perhaps more than most other industries shippers and logistics companies seem to be late to the table when it comes to implementing technology. I know some carriers who operated without a website well in to the 90's. This tardiness to implement that technology which everyone else has adopted may eventually lead to their economic demise. The ability to provide big data driven information and the ability to protect that data have become a critical requirement. Some companies are finding themselves unqualified to bid on contracts if they cannot provide the data and technology required by customers.

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Topics: Big Data, Industry Trends, Logistics News

Keys to Transitioning to A Digital Supply Chain

Posted by Land Link on May 16, 2018 3:03:16 PM

According to industry experts the biggest weapon a company must have to outperform its competitors over the next 3 years is the Digital Supply Chain. The DSC will dramatically improve revenue and reduce costs while delighting customers. There is little disagreement among logistics professionals that this is the direction supply chain technology is moving. The sheer magnitude of data involved in logistics transactions simply requires digitization for the effective management of the information and efficient operations. So, if we're all in agreement regarding the direction of our industry now is the time for shippers and transportation providers to implement the necessary protocols and personnel to be adequately prepared for the transition to digital based logistics technology. Let's examine the theory behind the DSC and what needs to be done to make the transition.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Supply Chain Management, Big Data