Mobile Solutions and the Promise of Real Time Supply ChainsJuly 26, 2012
Today’s retailers rely on a wealth of information about where products exist within their supply chains, and they use that data to achieve efficiencies and cost-savings. For truckers and fleet operators, this means being able to provide real time data about the products they’re moving through a complicated supply chain. Fortunately, it’s never been easier, though there are still a few challenges facing shippers.
OBC—An expensive proposition
The potential for real time feedback used to mean installing an expensive cab-mounted, onboard computer, which could run close to $5,000 per unit. The cost for that technology outpriced many small and mid-size carriers, who couldn’t justify the expense against its anticipated savings. The fleets that added them, though, soon had a wealth of information about their trucks and the movement of goods, and they began to use that information to achieve efficiencies within their supply chains.
Mobility reduces the cost of supply chain management
Advances in mobile technology have enabled truckers and fleet operators to take advantage of this same technology at a much lower cost. Xata Turnpike, for instance, provides a full suite of fleet optimization tools on a mobile device, at the cost of $30 to $50 per month. These mobile devices “have placed supply chain mobility on the radar screen of more shippers,” says Dwight Klappich, research vice president for Gartner. “In the past, the PepsiCos and Coca-Colas of the world were the only companies that could justify the cost of such solutions. The guy with five trucks was left out of the loop. Thanks to reduced device price points, that’s no longer the case.”
Visibility all along the supply chain
And shippers are paying attention to the advantages provided by increased visibility in their supply chain, extending from the manufacturer all the way through to the point of sale. Drew Nathanson, director of research operations for VDC Research, says “When companies receive actionable intelligence on precise product location in the supply chain, they can leverage that information internally and use it to gain operational efficiencies, streamline their operations, and reduce costs.”
In a very real sense, shippers can’t afford to not take advantage of this technology, which often recovers its own costs within a few months.
Mobile development trends and real time supply chain logistics
As mobile networks improve and device-cost continues to decline, truckers and fleet operators will have greater access to these mobile apps that help connect the many players in a complicated supply chain. Finding ways to overcome the “siloing” of information remains a challenge for many organizations, but the tools are available and easier to implement than ever before.
Another trend reshaping supply chain logistics is the emergence of a reliable M2M network. Also referred to as the “internet of things,” M2M integrates mobile devices within a larger network that’s able to process data and make adjustments on its own. Continued development of cloud-based solutions and RFID technology will allow for much greater detail about the products moving through increasingly responsive supply chains, and help shippers achieve efficiencies and cost-savings as a result.
On August 13, 2012, Xata became XRS Corporation. Learn about our new name and new direction.