UPS enhances supply chain management offering
Distribution specialist UPS has enhanced its global air freight forwarding product, UPS Supplier Management, introducing UPS Order WatchSM, a cloud-based technology platform which offers customers more efficient collaboration with international suppliers and better management of their inbound supply chain.
The new enhanced service features added capabilities to enable greater accuracy and timeliness of overseas vendor bookings; improved processing and management of suppliers; automated exception management; near real-time shipment status and detailed line-level visibility of in-transit inventory; improved internal operational processes; facilitation of purchase order (PO) consolidation and optimised shipping plans.
The enhancements are now available to current customers, and the revised platform will be available to new customers starting in early 2013.
"Companies are beginning to look to the cloud for opportunities to improve supply chain collaboration and reduce operational inefficiencies," said Tom Boike, vice president of supplier management at UPS.
"Through scalable cloud-based supply chain management technologies such as UPS Order Watch, companies are not only able to streamline management of vendors, but also manage all of their inbound shipments via a single platform.."
According to Boike, the new platform can provide opportunities to consolidate ocean freight shipments and improve container usage to realise cost savings, which is increasingly important as COOs are looking for ways to mitigate ocean transportation costs following the ocean carrier rate increases in 2012.
In an online statement released last week, UPS claimed thats the improved vendor booking system will dispatch system-generated exception alerts to help ensure vendor adherence to customer requirements and provide an online system for approvals, facilitating PO-specific communication between vendor and customer.
SEE RECENT STORIES FROM THE WDM CONTENT NETWORK:
The improvements to the Supplier Management service will eliminate time-consuming email communication and also reduce the need for additional record keeping by the customer.
Enhanced monitoring of vendor bookings against purchase order details and ship windows can further increase customer control, enabling intervention in early or late shipments or improper order quantities. Once an order is placed, PO-level shipment planning and execution capabilities enable visibility and control from order creation through shipment delivery, providing customers with a virtual on-hand inventory view of incoming orders and merchandise.
According to UPS, the Order Watch platform also facilitates improvements to inbound supply chain visibility by enabling a "single version of the truth" due to the entire value chain community, from ocean carriers to trucking companies, being linked to the host network as opposed to the common method in place today of electronic data interchange, or EDI, file exchanges.
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, going beyond more traditional applications of the technology in single-route movement of goods from A-B. Exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its broader experimentation in new autonomy solutions, Fed-Ex says, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, Vice President, Advanced Technology and Innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.