Five tips for managing your logistics more effectively
The more steps there are in your logistics plan, the more efficient your entire process needs to be. If several different materials need to be supplied to a certain location at different times, your supply chain not only needs to be efficient, but also able to quickly respond to problems as they arise. The larger your operation, the more difficult this becomes, and the more prepared your business needs to be. To help your supply chain run as smoothly as possible, here’s our top five tips for effectively managing your logistics.
1. Take the time to make a solid plan
Efficient logistics is all in the planning. The less decisions that need to be made off the cuff during the transportation process, the better. And, while a solid plan can never cover every extenuating circumstance, it will keep ad hoc choices to a minimum. A good logistics manager will therefore make sure to plan well ahead in order to eliminate any delays in the supply chain as best they can.
2. Always have a contingency plan
No matter how fool proof you think your logistics plan is, it’s impossible to prepare for every possible eventuality. A good logistics manager therefore knows their job is far from done after their plan has been made, as they need to follow the supply chain at every point and put out fires whenever they crop up. To do this effectively, you should have contingencies for every element of your logistics plan. You should also know when to stick it out with your original plan and when to switch to your backup — something that can only come with experience.
3. Hire a logistics manager with strong interpersonal skills
When your logistics plans go awry, it’s crucial that the person tasked with sorting out the mess has great interpersonal skills. This is because they’ll not only have to re-arrange things with the employees within your business, potentially making life more awkward for them, but also occasionally have to find a last-minute logistics supplier to fill in.
If your logistics manager is good with people and has a solid network of industry contacts, he’ll be well-equipped to get your business out of any logistics problems. Whether someone within your business fits this profile or you need to look outside of the company, finding the right person for this position is a part of effective logistics management.
4. Automate your systems wherever you can
In the digital age, there are a number of ways you can automate the logistics process, including tracking and monitoring each delivery. These systems take the guesswork out of planning your supply chain by reporting the raw data without bias. Ensuring your business is better informed by using fleet and inventory management software will allow you to refine your processes around the factors that impact your bottom line the most.
5. Learn from your mistakes
Depending on the size of your company, poor logistics management can cost your company up to hundreds of thousands of pounds each year. Perhaps the most important thing you can do when optimising your supply chain is to learn from your mistakes. Regularly sit down as a team and openly discuss the mistakes you’ve made in the past, focussing on what systems you’re going to put in place to ensure they don’t happen again.
Keep these tips in mind and your supply chain is sure to be as effective as possible, potentially saving your company thousands of pounds each year.
Peter Hunt is Managing Director at logistics specialists OSE European.
Follow @SupplyChainD on Twitter.
DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID
Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.
This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go.
With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”.
Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats.
In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.
“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”.
How Do We Sustain Immunisation?
By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”.
Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared.
Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.