One of the key issues of 2014 for logistics will be compliance. As many businesses extend their reach across the globe to an increasing number of countries with many different sets of regulations, it will be vital to monitor levels of compliance across all these transactions. In order to achieve this, supply chain transparency will need to be optimised, so that all possible risks are minimised, including those involving intellectual property and environmental compliance.
For example, many countries outside the EU have very strict plant health regulations. Any wooden packaging material such as pallets entering these countries must not pose any risk of pests or diseases. This means that heat treated (HT) or ISPM-15 exempt pallets must be used for all shipments, and that all HT pallets must have been treated by a company that adheres to ISPM guidelines. Such details of your logistics activity need to be closely monitored to ensure full compliance.
One way to do this is to use a fully integrated Transportation Management System. These systems have become more sophisticated and responsive with each passing year, so that supply chain events and transportation planning can now be synchronised even more efficiently than ever before. Companies using these systems can ensure that supply and demand will work more in harmony in 2014.
Data collection will become more important than ever in 2014. Global supply chains will produce large amounts of data at every step of the way, and harnessing and analysing this will mean processes will become more efficient. Managing this data effectively will mean costs can be contained, capacity can be optimised, and risk can be managed.
Logistics processes will become more centralised, so that all decision making involving business planning, carrier selection and vendor collaboration can operate from one core point. This way the whole logistics lifecycle from one end to another can be streamlined, routing delays can be reduced, improper documentation can be prevented, and inventory flexibility can be increased. Inevitably this will create significant savings in both cash flow and carbon emissions, which can only be beneficial!
Another trend for 2014 will be the increased importance and usage of cloud-based data. In order to stay competitive in today’s quickly changing business environment, data needs to be accessible and updateable from any location at any time. Companies may not be able to constantly manage this at all times in-house, so there will be an increased need for Supply Chain Analysts.
They can identify any hotspots for potential risks or pitfalls before they happen, share data instantly with any department that needs it, and continuously interpret the data flow as it happens. It’s not just about optimising current performance. This kind of analysis will also mean that more innovations in logistics will occur more frequently in 2014, which is good news for the industry as a whole.
John Shawyer is the Director of Associated Pallets