Promoting Visibility and Transparency Through Mobile Data Collection

Meagan Douglas
Fri, Feb 13, 2015

McDonald's has come under fire for not providing enough information about its food, the Harvard Business Review reported. Competing quick service restaurant chains such as Chipotle and Shake Shack offer much more transparent food supply chains. People are growing more interested in where their food is coming from. The same is true for anyone in the medical devices or pharmaceutical industries. The government is making mandatory transparency requirements that will involve a lot of work if companies don't begin planning now.

Looking beyond transparency, there is also the question of visibility. When a company has mobile enterprise solutions, its managers can look through data quickly and efficiently without needing to be at a specific place or computer. Data can be shared easily this way. Companies that take advantage of these tools can use data collected through barcode scanner software to create huge databases of information which can be fed into an ERP system for making calculations about product mixes and shipping decisions. Companies can use their data to plan which products to send to which warehouses, far in advance of when something needs to happen.

Using Data Collection Software to Create Transparency
Interest in where products come from is rising in many industries. Not only food companies, but the electronics, software, toy and aerospace sectors are all facing concerns about where products are coming from, according to HBR. Some ground rules for how to succeed in creating the best possible supply chain really involve field data collection software, which can be used to track suppliers and carriers by having someone scan products at the shipping points. Business leaders who use supply chain software will have a much greater advantage when they want to understand how their logistics works versus managers who have spreadsheets that track trucks as they move from place to place.

Supply chain issues are becoming important because many consumer groups are advocating for the dangerous chemical content of plastics to remain under a certain threshold. Managing this skillfully requires a supply chain solution. It is simply impossible to test every product. Instead, the sources must be verified and the carriers watched to see where they deliver their shipments.

Another issue that field service software solves is that of visibility. If a company can't figure out where its products are moving, then it won't be able to make estimations for the future, placing it at a disadvantage.

Preparing for Busy Seasons through Visibility
Many companies have specific months that are busy for them. For example, companies that ship to consumers often face stressful times in the holidays. To reduce this, it is a good idea to plan ahead, according to Supply Chain Brain. To make this happen, a company could use inventory management software and other solutions that actively track the locations of products in the U.S. A business would start by making a map of where products are in the greatest demand during certain times. Doing this, companies can prepare for the future by shipping items ahead of any potential delays.

This also helps when it comes to managing third-party shippers. By tagging items with barcode scanner software, companies can know exactly where things are going and how fast it takes for products to reach their locations. Making deals with the fastest carriers means that companies can start streamlining their shipping process. By doing something like that, a company can begin to offer deals and special incentives to companies, which will enable it to compete with large supply businesses like AmazonSupply.

In the future, companies will increasingly automate their supply chain and warehouse management. Companies will use big data processing techniques in order to figure out best shipping scenarios, and in order to keep up with this, it would help to begin now by investing in data collection software.

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