Three ways to tackle 'scary' supply chains

A recent report indicates that stolen, damaged or lost cargo worldwide costs companies around $23 billion per year.

These risks damage goods and impact the cost of assets sold, increasing operating expenses, causing lost sales and competitive displacement, and most importantly, disappointing customers and damaging the brand name.

Some of the major risks of the supply chain include theft, property damage and slow shipments, to name a few. Theft of high value assets presents safety risks and expensive recovery, and tampered-with assets can be costly due to damage. Furthermore, various incidents can cause raised insurance rates and lost credibility. Environmental scenarios can also delay or lose shipments, costing shelf space, money and reputation.

The supply chain doesn’t have to be this scary and risky, and companies can take steps to mitigate their logistics risks:

1. Using sensors for global visibility. Sensors can expedite the recovery of stolen goods and increase visibility into movement and shipment. The ability to track a shipment of assets from end-to-end is crucial when looking to determine the ETA of the items. Additionally, end-to-end coverage can identify roadblocks a shipment may face, potentially causing reroutes. This is especially important in high-crime areas.

Sensors can also help provide visibility into the state of a shipment. The state might refer to the temperature, humidity, etc. which can have a detrimental impact on the value of the shipment at its end point. For example, if the humidity in a shipment of aspirin is exposed to excessive moisture or humidity, it can become toxic - providing no value and a harmful outcome if not monitored.

2. Making use of data. Machines and sensors now generate more data worldwide than PCs. Many organisations store this vast amount of information but are unable to tap into the powerful supply chain intelligence it offers. As many executives do not double as data scientists, it is important to find a solution for your company that can turn this data into actionable information.

3. Predictive analytics. Predictive analytics take the ability to make use of data a step further. Companies can use the collected data to forecast future outcomes, prevent operational disruptions, and improve supply chain performance. With this sort of intelligence, a company can change a shipment's route to avoid a weather pattern that may cause delays.

☛ Andy Souders is senior vice president for products and strategy at Savi

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