The vastly different circumstances the logistics sector finds itself in since the beginning of the year has placed risk mitigation firmly under the spotlight. For many logistics operations, whether in-house or third-party, it has provided a major wake-up call and left them wondering how best to prepare for the uncertainties ahead. While the COVID pandemic was virtually impossible to predict, risk in general can be planned for to ensure the impact of unexpected disruption can be minimised or avoided.
As transport planning has become more complicated, so to have associated risks and operational vulnerabilities grown exponentially. So, if there is one learning to be taken from the extraordinary circumstances faced this year, it is that logistics operations must become more resilient and agile to be prepared for any future events.
MEETING CUSTOMER DEMAND
There is unprecedented pressure to meet changing customer needs in the most efficient manner possible, all while factoring in an ever-expanding number of variables and considerations. The lockdown and subsequent easing of restriction has exacerbated the situation for logistics operations, with wildly fluctuating demands forcing them to scale up and down transport resources like never before.
Whatever the post COVID world looks like, logistics operations are going to have to be agile enough to adapt quickly to any customer-driven changes. Those that have thrived since lockdown have been nimble and moved at speed to both meet and create demand. For example, we have seen many businesses adopting a direct-to-consumer model for the first time, but without flexible technology systems in place it is almost impossible to meet transport needs in an affordable manner. As such, switching from fixed to dynamic routes has proved to be an effective way of coping with rapidly shifting circumstances.
TAKING A CONNECTED APPROACH
The COVID crisis may act as a tipping point in the move to digital connectivity between different areas of the supply chain that previously did not exist. By having connected technology in place, every activity can interact with one another in real-time. This added transport and fulfilment visibility means that if you make a change in any one part, that change can be supported across the full end-to-end solution. This convergence of technology — encompassing planning, execution and reporting — offers huge advantages by accessing critical data via a single system.
The proliferation of telematics and IoT technology within the marketplace in recent years has created opportunities for integrated solutions that support better managed deliveries, improved planned versus actual monitoring, and informed decision making. By removing the operational silos that often exist between planners, transport offices, warehouse teams and drivers, it is possible to take complete control.
TARGETING CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
Having a culture of learning within an organisation has been essential for navigating through the COVID pandemic and beyond. By capturing learnings and constantly feeding this back into the ongoing response, ensures that a logistics operation is best prepared for the challenges ahead. Typically, when a crisis does strike, everything tends to unfold quickly, so having a rapid escalation process and highly responsive systems are a must.
By taking advantage of transport planning software that allows a logistics operation to plan, do, review and then act, it is possible to introduce continuous improvement processes into the business. This provides the tools and data needed to analyse operational performance, identify improvement opportunities, understand the impact of potential improvements, and ultimately implement change that makes a positive difference.
MODELLING FOR THE FUTURE
When planning ahead, timely and relevant business and operational intelligence is fundamental to making complex decisions. Using this insight to ask the right questions and conduct the right analysis – backed by what-if scenarios and business modelling – provides the opportunity to develop a resilient strategy that mitigates risk and maintains business continuity, without surrendering profitability.
With COVID front and centre of everyone’s mind, those that have invested in transport planning software that allows them to model various scenarios and analyse data are well positioned to deal quickly with changing requirements. By understanding the impact of any change they may be considering or are forced to make, it is possible to make informed decisions with complete confidence they these choices are sustainable.
Paragon from Aptean has invested heavily in developing routing and scheduling solutions that help predict potential risk and develop effective mitigation strategies. This is enabling logistics operations to understand their vulnerabilities and protect against the risk of disruption from future events. To learn more, contact us today.
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