Focus on your software solutions in the New Year
Written by Jo Love
Flexibility and scalability will be the main appeal for companies choosing supply chain software in the new year. Whether a business is looking for vehicle scheduling/tracking, supply chain modelling, package design or load planning software; the ‘total cost’ (including future requirements, third party development and cost of ownership) should be taken into account. Managers will opt for solutions that give users the power to adapt them to their needs using minimal budget.
According to industry expert Graham Carter of AutoLogic Systems, the issue with many solutions is that you pay for a one-off application on an inflexible platform.
“As your needs grow, significant costs are incurred to develop that software, make it available and add further features. Customers are telling us that they don’t want software that requires complex programming for adding functionality or that they can’t deploy easily to users,” he said.
As a result, supply chain businesses should search for software on a broader range of platforms that offer the flexibility for the user to adapt the solution to changing requirements. While the software will become more sophisticated, the ease of use and the ability to modify should be greatly simplified.
Package design and load planning software in 2013
Carter predicts a move towards web-based solutions when it comes to package design, pallet optimisation and load planning software, which allows multiple users across a range of devices, as opposed to software that sits on an internal network or PC.
“We are seeing a real shift towards the use of tablets in the workplace; software needs to be just as effective on a tablet as it does on a traditional desktop,” he said. These systems can allow a company to share the benefits with their supply chain. Suppliers are able to access the database with a private log-in and produce their own pallet plans and package designs - whilst always adhering to their customer’s packaging specifications. This provides peace of mind and control for the customer, who is able to view all the data in one place while reducing cost and administration throughout the supply chain," he explained.
Companies will benefit from a slide up the complexity scale when it comes to load planning in 2013; without a more difficult user interface. Software will have additional capability to handle more complex objects and shapes, which will make it easier to plan transportation for irregularly shaped products. The New Year will open up package design and load planning with the subsequent reduced transport costs to many more sectors.
Vehicle routing and tracking in 2013
Companies looking for vehicle routing software will be able to compare planned versus actual driver and vehicle progress against their routes in real time, using interfaces on a range of mobile devices and which will enable clients to access the information remotely.
While existing software can interface with many devices, new Android applications have been developed that can link with tracking software to ensure a flexible and scalable solution that offers outstanding value over the alternatives.
Carter said: “New software records data such as location, customer signatures and time of delivery, so that transport management, customer services or even the end customer are able to view selected live data and check progress on specific orders.
“Automated notifications to customers such as confirmation of delivery and expected arrival times can also be setup in some applications.
The advantage of this flexible approach is that it is simple for businesses to make the application bespoke to their needs, for example by customising forms within the application. This immediately saves the significant costs often involved in 3rd party development and as a result fully integrated systems will come within reach of companies that previously assumed it was too costly, time consuming or complex to implement.
Modelling software in 2013
The ability for a company to clearly prove the effectiveness of their products and services can be crucial when it comes to winning new business. This is now extremely accessible and easy to do through the use of the latest modelling software and 2013 will see an even greater step forward in model development speed and the quality of the graphics available.
Companies can highlight how their systems would improve performance and work more efficiently than their competition – all through accurate models supported with professional 3D graphics.
Manufacturers and warehouse system providers can put together highly accurate 4D models of their customers’ product moving around their facility or warehouse in accelerated or real time. Companies are now realising that connecting these models to warehouse systems or PLC software to test the proposed control is no longer a pipe dream and customers will increasingly insist on it. For companies providing warehousing, manufacturing, airport baggage systems or any other system requiring complex control, their customers will increasingly insist on thorough testing against an accurate and detailed model before the system is installed. The applications are endless and the impact is outstanding. In 2013 the development time will be faster than ever and we will see even more companies benefitting from these advances.
About AutoLogic Systems Ltd
AutoLogic Systems Ltd is as a leading provider of products and services to the supply chain industry. The company offers a unique range of specialist software for eliminating waste and improving efficiency; with services including materials handling simulation, package design and load optimization and vehicle scheduling and tracking amongst many others The company offers a range of the services listed above.
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.