If timeliness matters to your supply chain — and we’re betting that now, more than ever, it does — you can’t afford to ignore opportunities to optimize your inbound supply processes and logistics. Refining your inbound supply processes will help avoid slow shipping times, errors in process, and deterioration of products, while also improving decision-making, strengthening resilience, and offering increased value for everyone in the supply chain.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at four key ways you can begin to optimize your inbound supply processes.
#1 Employ or strengthen yard management technology
Yard management is the final frontier of digital transformation for many logistics operations, and to optimize your inbound supply processes, you must extend your visibility into this critical point of transition by bringing that data into the fold with a digital yard management system (YMS) or other yard management technology.
YMS is software that oversees the movement of trucks and trailers in the yard of a manufacturing facility, warehouse, or distribution center, eliminating the need for manual yard checks. With features like intelligent parking assignments, radio-frequency identification (RFID), real-time location solutions (RTLS), local sensor data, and virtual inventory reporting, a YMS can improve warehouse efficiency and customer service while reducing inventory transportation costs.
Because supply chain efficiency is a critical differentiator for many businesses in 2020, particularly e-commerce companies, optimizing and digitizing yard management is key. And that digitization is crucial for another reason: It minimizes or eliminates person-to-person contact in the yard, keeping staff safer during the pandemic and reducing their health risks.
#2 Find ways to automate reallocation of inbound material
Things in this industry change hour by hour, and day by day, so your systems should do the same. The technology you utilize for your inbound supply processes should be able to dynamically adapt without staff having to constantly connect with upstream partners and suppliers to make adjustments to accommodate every little change.
The right technology can leverage autonomous agents to reroute the flow of material between different destinations fluidly to make sure inventory is always where you need it most.
By planning and executing these “milk runs” in which you automatically and regularly replenish materials or parts according to real-time data, you autonomously match demand and supply, reducing the risk of shortages.
#3 Streamline your receiving processes
As much as you can, you should leverage your warehouse management system (WMS) or similar technology to streamline receiving and optimize your inbound supply processes. When your WMS drives an effective receiving process, the likelihood of errors significantly decreases.
In fact, according to Supply Chain Junction, your WMS can boost your capacity to manage any receiving eventuality, whether unplanned, unlabeled, sent with an Advanced Shipping Notice, or blind.
For example, maximize and digitize dock appointment scheduling: By distributing the responsibility for scheduling warehouse deliveries or pickups to carriers and suppliers, all supply chain partners are involved in the process and have visibility into requested, scheduled and rescheduled dock appointments. You’ll minimize overtime, maximize productivity, and be better able to track carrier and supplier delivery performance.
Automated appointment scheduling means less errors and tedium than manual appointment scheduling processes, while optimizing receiving operations for inbound shipments and helping coordinate outbound pickups — keeping things from getting “clogged up” in the warehouse.
#4 Don’t neglect the benefits of effective cross-docking
Effective cross-docking can save you huge amounts of time and effort, so scrutinizing your performance in this area allows you to find more opportunities to improve the efficiency of your inbound supply processes.
Cross-docking facilities serve as junctions for inbound and outbound modes of transport, reducing the need for handling and warehouse storage. Unlike transloading, cross-docking allows for the quick staging and transfer of freight from one truck to another, often without the need for unpacking or re-palletizing when used in conjunction with advanced logistics management software, Internet of Things technology and smart containers.
When you simplify the in-and-out process this way, inventory is shipped more efficiently and effectively, saving you time and labor, and delivering more value to the end customer.
Every part of your supply chain is critical, certainly, but for many businesses, inbound supply processes can represent a critical opportunity for optimization. Now is the time to analyze where your organization can refine inbound supply processes and logistics to maintain your advantage in an increasingly competitive landscape.
Contact GlobeCon if you need a partner at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to help you strategically manage and successfully move your products out of the port and onto their final destination.