Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Nov-Dec 2014 Contents 48
COMPANIES CAN BENEFIT
BY THINKING MOBILE
AND THINKING BIG.
Most logistics businesses have dabbled
with mobility in the warehouse, but
this is only the tip of the iceberg. By
applying mobility across information systems
and across the wider workplace, companies
have the opportunity to achieve significant
additional benefits, including lower operating
costs and productivity improvements.
Just as mobility has brought tremendous
change to the consumer experience, the ability
to capture and view real-time data from almost
any location is revolutionising the transport and
logistics industry. Organisations are mobilising
their systems and equipping staff so that they
can remove manual and paper-based process-
es, speed the capture of data and share infor-
mation faster. At the same time, these compa-
nies are discovering new-found business agility.
Wireless and mobile capabilities within the
warehouse are far from new. For much of the
past decade, radio frequency (802.11 wireless)
systems have been used to enable faster, more
accurate picking, cut down on dispatch times,
and improve inventory management. Scanning
is also relatively common in transport systems.
Companies are using tracking applications to
save hundreds of thousands of dollars in pallet
costs and even the local post office has removed
paper records from its proof of delivery process.
What is changing now, however, is the extent
to which mobile functionality is being used within
logistics operations. Rather than being considered
a useful tool for one or two stand-alone applica-
tions, logistics companies are mobilising a wide
range of business processes along with most, if
not all, of their ERP and other core information
systems. Mobility has become an expected part of
everyday business activity and a competitive tool
in any end-to-end supply chain system.
The holistic approach
Electronic proof of delivery, paperless
warehousing, and fatigue management are
perhaps the most commonly encountered
mobility practices within the field of transport
and logistics. However, there are many other
powerful mobile tools that can help improve
operational and organisational efficiency.
The task of pallet management, for example,
is made much easier with the assistance of PDA
devices and a simple software addition to the proof
of delivery. Together, the software and hardware
allow drivers to capture real-time information as
they deliver, retrieve or exchange pallets.
Manifesting is another activity that becomes
far more efficient and far more accurate when
using mobility tools. Armed with a PDA, logistics
operators can 'build' each load onto vehicles by
scanning the freight at item level, enabling them
to build the manifest on the fly. An accurate
manifest is then automatically created in the
back-end of the database or application.
Scanning freight at item level during depot-
to-depot movement ensures real-time visibility
of freight and reduces the incidence of 'lost'
or hard-to-locate items. This alone simple
measure can save a lot of time within the
depot by removing the need for manual audits.
However, on those occasions when a depot
audit is required, the use of PDA for item-level
scanning combined with good audit software
functionality speeds activity and accuracy
by alerting the operator to exceptions such
as cartons, pallets or other commodities that
shouldn't be present.
In all these uses, the key to successful mobility
is integration of the functionality with an organ-
isation's core ERP, so that the data is captured
once and becomes immediately available.
shared across all systems as necessary.
When changes are communicated instantly,
clients and partners can be kept better informed,
and managers and staff can be assured that
they are making decisions based on accurate,
up to date information. With real-time informa-
tion, planning improves across the supply chain
and waste is reduced. These are all factors that
are becoming more important as organisations
adopt more frequent delivery cycles, such as the
'guaranteed next day' deliveries now commonly
offered by consumer web sites.
The opportunity for innovation
Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum report,
Outlook on the Logistics and Supply Chain Industry
2013, noted that global trade now exceeds US$20
trillion before stating: "Logistics is a critical service
without which global supply chains would not be
viable. The lower the costs and the greater the
quality of services provided by logistics companies,
the better off customers and consumers." The
report went on to add: "Logistics is a key part of
the 'plumbing' of the global trading system. The
efficiency of logistics-related industries has a major
influence on investment decisions of companies
large and small, and thus affects the extent and
location of job creation around the world."
Innovation in processes and technologies has
been central to the logistics industry's growth
and it will be crucial to the industry's future as
we learn to deal with emerging challenges such
as increasing regulation over carbon emissions.
Whether at the industry or individual company
level, right now one of the biggest innovations
and, therefore, opportunities in logistics is the
mobilisation of systems and processes.
Robert Frandsen is managing director of
InfoMotion. For more information call 1300
674 994 or visit www.infomotion.com.au.
THERE'S A LOT TO
GAIN FROM MOBILITY
"Whether at the industry or individual company
level, right now one of the biggest innovations and
... opportunities in logistics is the mobilisation of
systems and processes."
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS --- NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2014
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