Manual supply chain management is becoming too laborious and ineffective due to increasing data volumes, so more and more companies are opting for supply chain automation. According to SAPinsider's 2022 report, 51% of companies are automating logistics processes to improve the resiliency of their supply chains, while 46% are implementing automation to increase the supply chain’s agility.
Implementing custom logistics software is one of the most effective ways to streamline logistics operations. This article provides an overview of four types of logistics software solutions to automate supply chain management.
1. Inventory management software
Inventory management is one of supply chain management's most critical yet challenging aspects. Accurately tracking the quantity and location of raw materials, finished products, and items required for maintenance and repairs, companies ensure the continuity of operations and, consequently, provide quality services to customers.
Equipped with the following features, inventory management systems (IMS) can help companies maintain optimal inventory levels, avoid stockout, and reduce inventory costs with less human involvement:
Automated inventory tracking
Since each new item receives an SKU when added to an inventory management system, an IMS can track SKUs of goods and help companies quickly detect surplus or shortage at any storage point.
Companies can also enable more efficient real-time inventory tracking by tagging each item with a unique RFID tag and setting up reader devices across the facilities. These devices can read hundreds of tags simultaneously and send the collected data to the IMS to automatically update items' locations and conditions.
Automated demand forecasting
Forecasting is an essential aspect of inventory management because it helps companies prevent overstock and stockout. For more accurate forecasting, companies need to analyze data from multiple sources, such as sales history, market trends, and customer preferences, which can be very labor- and time-consuming to do manually.
Additionally, equipping their IMS with automated demand forecasting features allows companies to accelerate this task while improving the accuracy and efficiency of forecasts. For example, a company can deploy machine learning models to detect patterns in data sets and make precise forecasts, helping logistics specialists plan inventory more accurately.
Automated inventory replenishment
Companies can go even further towards inventory management automation by developing an IMS with eSourcing and eProcurement capabilities. This way, an IMS system can automatically create and send purchase orders to suppliers if a particular inventory item is running short.
2. Warehouse management software
Unlike IMS, which focuses on controlling inventory levels across an entire organization, a warehouse management system (WMS) helps track the location and movement of goods across different warehouses. By implementing a WMS system tailored to their workflows, companies can speed up activities like item receiving, packaging, and dispatching and improve warehouse performance.
In addition, WMS allows synchronizing data between multiple warehouses, which can be critical for a growing or distributed business. For instance, due to synchronization, companies can implement concepts such as smart order routing. Smart order routing helps automatically determine the best available warehouse for fulfilling this or that particular order.
3. Fleet management software
Effectively managing and ensuring the safety of a fleet of vehicles is challenging for many companies, especially those running a global logistics business, when cars are geographically distributed.
Here, implementing a fleet management system can be helpful, because a system can collect telemetry data in real-time (for example, vehicle location, speed, fuel consumption, etc.) and ensure fleet and supply chain transparency.
Additionally, fleet management software can include AI and ML analytics features to analyze vehicle operation and condition data and help logistics managers create preventive maintenance schedules.
4. Freight management software
Freight management is another aspect of logistics that can be optimized and automated via technology implementation. As a result of this transformation, organizations can deliver goods much faster and at a lower cost.
In particular, organizations can develop a freight management system with automated container tracking. Such software can collect data from automatic identification systems (AIS) used on ships to identify the current location of the cargo and transmit it to corporate logistics managers in real-time.
In addition, companies can integrate automatic booking functionality to find and book available carriers that offer the best prices, which makes the transportation process more cost-effective.
Additionally, such a freight management system can help manage documents and compliance throughout the transportation process with a feature for automating document verification, including houseway bills (HAWB) or master airway bills (MAWB), which helps ensure compliance with official customs regulations.
By developing and implementing custom logistics software, companies can automate multiple supply chain management aspects and make it more efficient. Inventory, warehouse, fleet, and freight management systems are the most useful solutions in this regard.
To move further towards streamlined supply chain management, companies can also adopt project management tools with in-built automation capabilities. For instance, finance requests templates provided by Workast help sourcing, procurement, and accounting teams operate more productively due to easier request generation and management.
With automated software solutions, companies can make their supply chains more agile and resilient while cutting logistics management costs due to optimization. Decision-makers can also turn to third-party logistics technology experts to help adopt automation properly and avoid disruptions in a company’s operations.