Fleet maintenance, fuel and other overhead expenditures can potentially cripple a distributor's bottom line. To offset costs and improve workflows, new logistics software offerings capable of automating routes and schedules has the potential to vastly improve the shipping industry.
According to James Stevenson, a logistics industry expert featured in Logistics Viewpoints, features like route optimization and automation create an optimized manifest that provides the most efficient configuration of a route that increases productivity, puts less wear on vehicles and ultimately improves deliveries to clients. The return on investment from automated logistics software tools come in various forms, including fewer miles traveled, reduced fuel consumption, optimization of delivery loads and dramatically reduced route planning.
"In our experience, automated route plans average 10 to 25 percent fewer trucks, drivers and hours," said Stevenson. "Companies typically realize 8 to 15 percent reductions in total distribution costs or 8 to 20 percent reductions in miles and hours for service fleets.
Other research reinforces the importance of advanced supply chain software and its potential to improve the quality of manufacturing and distribution operations. According to a report released by Constellation Research, companies using supply chain software reported strong returns on investment, which has helped fuel demand among independent suppliers and distributors toward greater adoption. As sourcing becomes more widespread throughout the world, new logistical solutions are needed more than ever in order to effectively respond to global demand.
"These days, even small and mid-size businesses have global supply chains and complex offshore manufacturing relationships," said Frank Scavo of Constellation Research.
A time may soon come when advanced features like voice recognition software will expedite the distribution process to the point that inventory managers will be able to interact with centralized data systems and their vast amounts of information to make informed decisions through conversational input alone. In the meantime, a host of new advances in supply chain management technology already has the potential to improve today's distribution center substantially.