The “Amazon effect” disrupted the supply chain long before COVID-19. Amazon made big waves in the industry by setting the customer expectation of two-day, same-day, and free shipping — putting unprecedented pressure on logistics and carriers to meet the challenge. In fact, in a 2019 regulatory filing, Amazon listed “transportation and logistics services” as its direct competition.
Competing with Amazon has never been an easy task — but COVID-19 has made it even harder.
As many struggle through the pandemic, Amazon continues to thrive. For example, it recently announced plans to hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the U.S. Meanwhile, the rest of the transportation and logistics industry is trying to stay afloat. The industry was already facing a delivery driver shortage, and U.S. employers across industries have been cutting jobs at record rates.
Help Your Reduced Teams Work at Max Efficiency With Collaborative Logistics Tools
Amazon’s massive driver hiring initiative makes the driver shortage problem for other transportation and logistics companies even worse. Many are unable to scale to meet the surge, but even if they could expand, there’s less available personnel to move products along non-Amazon supply chains.
There is one line of hope for non-Amazon transportation and logistics companies: As you’re working with diminished human resources, fitting collaborative logistics technology into your workflow can help you use what you do have to its utmost potential.
With the right collaboration tools along the supply chain, logistics and transportation managers can:
1. Inform a fuller common operational picture with real-time data.
Collaboration tools are only beneficial if they’re used to guide operations around a common operational picture, or COP. The first step to creating a guiding COP is to break down the silos that separate data and communication between different departments. Different teams should be able to instantly share data that could better inform the overall COP.
Instant, easily shareable data is key to logistics collaboration in supply chains and can include everything from real-time sensor readings of shipments being delivered to driver status updates and communication with clients. Collaborative logistics technology can help give supply chain managers the complete picture exactly as it unfolds, enabling well-informed decision-making every step of the way.
2. Digitize manual processes for greater agility.
Manual processes, such as playing phone tag to get information, deciphering paper logs, or collecting incident reports, are commonplace in the transportation and logistics industry. But these slow, outdated processes can put cogs in the chain and slow momentum.
Collaboration tools are an essential piece of eliminating manual processes and creating more agile supply chains — especially for companies that are short on drivers and are trying to work as efficiently as possible with the resources they have. Collaborative logistics technology can automate many or all of the manual processes that currently take up the most time and make relevant, real-time data available to all authorized parties.
3. Eliminate uncertainty in the last-mile delivery process.
The last-mile delivery process is widely known as the most challenging part of the supply chain. Unexpected scenarios, such as road closures, extreme weather events, or truck maintenance issues, can throw off the process and postpone delivery with no warning. Without real-time data and updates about both drivers and receivers, supply chain managers are left clueless to the progress along the last-mile process line and unable to efficiently solve problems.
However, with collaborative logistics technology that provides real-time information about last-mile deliveries, managers, drivers, and receivers can all work together to develop agile responses to unexpected events, creating a more efficient delivery process.
The driver shortage has been hurting logistics and transportation for some time, and with Amazon’s recent hiring surge putting even more strain on the market, it’s not likely to improve any time soon. Fortunately, with the help of collaborative logistics tools, companies can operate more efficiently with fully informed COPs, smooth digital processes, and quick last-mile delivery — even with a limited number of human resources.
Clark Wellman is a transportation and logistics expert at Coolfire, a company dedicated to enhancing real-time event awareness, control, and response through collaboration software. Clark draws from his 20 years of experience working in transportation and logistics to help connect teams with a system for real-time collaboration.
The post What Amazon’s Hiring Surge Amid COVID-19 Means for Logistics Professionals appeared first on Global Trade Magazine.
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