How to improve supply chain efficiency

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    Supply chain efficiency is crucial to success in today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving business environment. The maritime industry is no exception, as effective supply chain management encompasses all the activities involved in the flow of goods and services from procurement, to delivery to the customer. 

    This blog will outline three practical steps to increasing supply chain efficiency in the maritime industry: enhancing supply chain visibility, automating processes to reduce operational costs, and regularly optimizing the supply chain. By following these steps, you can achieve greater supply chain efficiency, which will result in reduced costs and the ability to respond better to changing business needs.

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    How can supply chain efficiency help your business? 

    Supply chain efficiency in the maritime industry refers to the effectiveness in producing, distributing, and delivering goods and services to end customers by shipping goods at sea. 

    Improving supply chain efficiency can have numerous benefits for your business, including:

    • Cost savings: by streamlining processes and increasing productivity, you can reduce costs and increase profit margins.
    • Improved customer satisfaction: a more efficient supply chain can result in faster delivery times, better product quality, and increased reliability, leading to happier customers.
    • Increased competitiveness: help your business stay ahead of its competitors by allowing key personnel to respond more quickly to changing market conditions and customer demands.
    • Better risk management: reduce exposure to risks such as stock shortages, supply chain disruptions, and delivery failures.
    • Increased agility: an efficient supply chain can allow your business to quickly adapt to changes in the market and respond to new opportunities, helping your business to remain competitive.

    Here are three practical steps you can take…

    Step 1: Enhance supply chain visibility

    Effective supply chain management starts with digitizing your supply chain management. Driven by intelligent workflows, it can help you be more agile, flexible, and resilient. As stated by IBM, “Workflows with embedded predictive intelligence can drive dynamic customer experiences, preventative product and service maintenance, and real-time inventory and delivery status. Deeper insights can also reveal potential supply chain risks, helping Chief Supply Chain Officers build greater resilience. Today’s leaders are focused on building resilient workflows powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.”

    Recommended features to have as part of your visibility solution: 

    • Integration with existing systems: a solution with an API that can integrate with various shipping systems and databases to gather data on shipping activities and provide a comprehensive view of your supply chain.
    • Accurate ETAs: real-time data to accurately track your ocean freight and containers allows you to make informed decisions and take proactive measures in the event of delays or disruptions.
    • Enhanced decision-making: with this real-time data, you can make informed decisions on inventory management, route optimization, and contingency planning.
    • Reduced costs: with accurate ETAs, you can avoid fees and penalties like detention and demurrage, and reduce invoice volume processing times and costs.

    “As AI is evolving rapidly… business operations, in particular supply chain management, will benefit significantly from this technology,” according to the World Economic Forum

    Step 2: Automate your supply chain processes and reduce operational costs

    Finding ways to automate your supply chain processes is one of the best ways to improve supply chain efficiency and will help save money in the long run. This automation involves leveraging technology to efficiently manage, streamline and optimize supply chain operations without the need for human input or involvement. 

    Automating time-consuming tasks, from order processing to automated shipping, doesn’t necessarily replace the need for human effort, but it allows you to reallocate tasks, focusing more on customer service and increasing productivity.

    Manual tracking and data entry is time-consuming and prone to human error. As noted in VentureBeat, “Because machine learning (ML) enables artificial intelligence (AI) to ‘learn’ from each action it performs, the capacity to automate processes increases substantially over time. This means that not only are workflows less dependent on human labor, but they are more accurate and reliable than the product of human work. Human error is a simple fact of life. People get tired. They make mistakes. They have physical and cognitive limitations. AI, however, never tires.” 

    Automated container tracking provides real-time data updates with full visualization of the exact current container location on an interactive map and full details of the entire route. Integrating a solution that uses AI for the most accurate container tracking and to analyze shipping data, identifies potential issues before they become problems enabling you to make informed decisions, reduce supply chain disruptions, and improve overall supply chain efficiency.

    We explain how container tracking works in more detail in our recent guide, “Advanced Maritime AI™ technology uses deep learning and machine learning models that generate real-time ETA predictions for the entire global fleet of container vessels. It continuously calculates congestion levels at all container ports, providing the most accurate container ETAs. With a Maritime AI™ solution, you can track your shipments in real-time and receive the most updated vessel information.”

    The benefits of AI-powered container tracking include real-time visibility – a must with today’s supply chain complexities, enhanced operational efficiency and reduced costs, optimized inventory management, and increased customer satisfaction. 

    Automation can lead to an agile supply chain that is better equipped to respond to changing business needs. Companies can better manage their logistics operations, minimize risks, and increase competitiveness in the global marketplace.

    Step 3: Optimize your supply chain regularly to remain efficient

    Optimize the ocean leg of your supply chain and remain efficient by following these steps:

    • Assess performance: regularly measure the performance of your ocean shipping operations to identify areas that need improvement and prioritize optimization efforts.
    • Identify bottlenecks: use data analysis to identify bottlenecks in your ocean shipping operations, such as slow-moving cargo, transportation delays, port congestion, or inefficiencies in your processes.
    • Evaluate solutions: evaluate potential solutions to the problems you’ve identified in your shipping operations, considering factors such as cost, feasibility, and impact on your operations.
    • Continuously improve operations: regularly analyze your processes to see where you need to improve and repeat the optimization process regularly to ensure that your ocean shipping operations remain efficient over time.

    Effective supply chain management is key to improving supply chain efficiency. By implementing proven supply chain management techniques, businesses can make informed decisions that impact the entire supply chain, from sourcing to delivery. 

    By adopting a holistic approach to supply chain management, such as Windward Ocean Freight Visibility, you can identify opportunities for improvement, implement change, and continuously monitor the results. Whether you are a freight forwarder, importer, or exporter, supply chain improvement can significantly benefit your bottom line and help you stay ahead of the competition.

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