Supply chains have come a long way since the old days when a radio set and a trusted service provider were all that companies could rely on to monitor their shipments. These days, analytics drive supply chain decisions and prevent product waste.
Boston Consulting Group estimates that businesses could realize benefits of $26 trillion through 2030 by adopting more sustainable practices in their supply chains. It’s safe to say that reducing waste and preserving product integrity, along with increasing efficiency in other areas, are top supply chain priorities.
At the center of the analytics revolution that has transformed the supply chain is a relatively humble piece of tech. Data loggers don’t hog headlines, but they ensure that analytics platforms receive data regularly and predictably.
Here’s how data loggers power supply chain analytics.
Better Route Mapping
On the surface, the most efficient route between two locations would be the shortest one. The shortest route gets the product where it needs to be on time. There is also a lesser probability of something unexpected if transit times are short.
However, in the modern world, with its complex geopolitical structures and varied regulations, route mapping isn’t as simple as drawing the shortest line between two places. Geopolitical events could render previously stable routes unusable and place greater strain on shippers since their resources need to be in place for longer.
Regulations are also a significant hurdle since every country has different inspection and taxation processes. A shipment might enter a port on time, but it’s of no use if stuck in the customs shed for multiple days as inspections are being carried out.
Data loggers monitor the condition of goods, and over time, analytics platforms can identify locations that create shipping delays and product damage. By mapping trends in product conditions and correlating them to the routes they were shipped along, logistics companies can choose better routes that increase their bottom line.
Food supply chains account for over 40% of total product waste in North America. It isn’t just food supply chains, either – products that rely on cold chain storage also suffer from inefficiencies throughout their supply chains.
Reducing waste is the easiest way of building sustainability into supply chains and is the most visible marker of efficiency. The condition monitoring data provided by data loggers is central to this. Data loggers track and transmit everything from temperature, humidity, shock, and even light to data centers.
Crucially, some data loggers allow logistics company employees to easily capture and transmit information logs using nothing but smartphones. They also enable support for real-time monitoring of products during shipping and storage. Coupled with the ease with which data can be captured and transmitted, issues can be spotted quickly and mitigated before products are damaged beyond repair.
It isn’t just shipping managers who receive real-time alerts. Drivers can also be alerted if their storage conditions are exceeding acceptable thresholds. This feature is critical since en route conditions might push a product beyond an acceptable storage threshold.
Reduced waste also improves every supply chain participant’s bottom line since there isn’t a double cost of manufacturing and shipping to contend with.
Better Vendor Evaluation
There are often many participants in a supply chain. Manufacturers rely on a whole host of vendors to deliver raw material and transport their finished goods. Shippers rely on individual truckers or networks of subcontracted fleet operators to physically deliver goods to their final destinations.
Coordinating all of these participants’ activities is a tough task. Choosing the wrong partner can prove to be catastrophic and might lead to monetary and brand damages. Every manufacturer and shipper runs vendor evaluation programs, and by providing transparency, data loggers are an important piece of the puzzle.
Vendors are judged by the trends inherent in the condition of the goods they delivered. Companies can not only spot the best performers, but they can also isolate the condition under which those vendors perform best.
By providing a wide variety of condition-related data to logistics companies, data loggers facilitate improved vendor evaluation programs that increase sustainability and keep costs efficient.
Accurate Audit Trail Creation
Insurance is a key component of supply chain logistics. Goods are always insured for damages to ensure the consumer doesn’t suffer the consequences of damaged products. However, margins are notoriously thin in the supply chain.
As a result, insurance is a significant cost that companies must project accurately. Delivering damaged goods sets off a chain of fact-finding measures to determine who was at fault. The findings of such investigations have significant consequences.
Increased insurance premiums can wipe out slender profit margins. The presence of an audit trail that logs condition-related data is critical. Using these logs, investigators can determine whether, for example, the product was damaged en route or if the damage was induced by improper storage at a warehouse facility.
Better Products and Greater Sustainability
The supply chain is one of the most critical business functions in our world. Thanks to the rapid improvement in technology, companies and consumers can rely on fresh and safe products being delivered to them. Data loggers might not capture headlines, but they’re a critical part of the supply chain analytics infrastructure.