As companies increasingly trade with multiple partners around the world they are seeking more efficient, cost-effective and flexible supply-chain solutions.
For many, technology can vastly improve their operations, says Frédéric Serra,
business solutions and supply chain manager in the technology department of SDV
“Successful management of information is becoming critical to the
supply chain,” Serra says.
“It allows companies to reduce costs by consolidating
flows and makes them more reactive and analytical.”
From the more established
services such as tracking, reporting and warehouse management to the provision
of key performance indicators and electronic exchanges, logistics and
transportation providers are offering broader technological solutions to boost
the supply chain.
For example, SDV tracks more than 800 shipments a month for
a large aeronautical group, offering reactivity and decision-making 24 hours a
day for critical spare parts. It combines real-time information from operations,
carriers and local customs departments.
Reporting provides companies with
customized analytical information through a consolidated view of their
supply-chain activities while measuring the performance of parties involved. It
also offers exception management for large activities as well as process
controls for complex activities, allowing for better planning and
Order management, where the freight forwarder more deeply
integrates its client’s supply chain, is another high-growth area. By using
their worldwide network and proximity to vendors, providers can ensure the
quantity, quality and timeliness of their clients’ purchase orders while
offering cost savings through consolidation. Over the past three years, SDV, for
example, has developed order management and consolidation platforms for some of
the world’s largest groups in industries ranging from textiles to luxury goods
and oil and gas. These platforms span purchasing and supply policies, such as
the choice of incoterms, and processes with vendors.
allows clients to integrate logistics and transportation providers’ systems into
their own computer networks so speeding up the exchange of information and
reducing data entry as well as the potential for errors. “We can receive booking
instructions and purchase orders and send back the status of shipments using
international electronic data interchange standards or the client’s own format,”
Integrated systems are proving especially popular. SDV expects
to have around 100 integrated clients by the end of this year compared to just
eight back in 2007.
In the future, Serra expects logistics and transportation
providers to further integrate the supply chain by assuming responsibility for
entire logistics systems and making decisions on behalf of their clients. These
decisions, based on instructions received electronically combined with
consolidated data, can also include optimized scenarios that include real-time
constraints. For example, the tool could decide to ship goods by air instead of
sea taking into account the cost and time of transport.
Serra thinks the role
of freight forwarders could eventually evolve to full control of the logistics
budget with specific targets to reduce costs, noting that SDV is talking to one
aeronautical client about offering such a service. “Clients want freight
forwarders to use technological tools to identify and react to problems on their
behalf,” he says. SDV expects to have its own global decision-making tools
online by the end of next year.
“Complete integration is the way forward for
large clients,” Serra adds. “Technology allows us to manage the complexity of
the supply chain as well as the decision-making process.”