Third-party logistics provider (3PL) is a company that provides outsourced logistics services to other organizations. In the past years, activities of logistics have increased and particularly outsourcing services to 3PL providers. However, recently, these providers have highly been challenged by new disruptive digital technologies and business strategies/models. For instance, platforms such as Uber Carriage and Cargomatic enable real-time, cost-effective, on-demand transport arrangements to the other business logistics services, which brings great competitiveness to this industry. This article will present five software that every transporter and 3PL company should employ to stay competitive, cost-effective and ensure on-time delivery.
1. Transportation Management System (TMS)
Transportation Management System is a software that helps 3PL companies to manage its logistics effectively; it helps in tracking and organizing the movements of the materials and products. A Transportation Management System also helps in effective management of shipping units, transportation mode selection, freight bill auditing, outbound and inbound shipment scheduling, payment and processing of loss and damage claims etc.
Some of the advantages and basic functions of a transportation management system are shipment routing optimization and shipment load planning, shipment tracking, routing guide, execution management and carrier communication, business intelligence and reporting, freight bill audit & payment, appointment scheduling, claims management, returns management, etc. TMS provides 3PL companies with the opportunity to look back and analyze past decisions through data storage capabilities.
Traditionally, 3PL companies use calls, spreadsheets, messages and email to cater to their various transportation components; all these might be costing them a huge amount of money annually. A great TMS like Abivin vRoute can give insight through reports, dashboards, charts and other features that enable better decision making and lead to cost savings.
Additionally, most TMS solutions can be accessed through cloud technology. With few barriers to entry, ease-of-use and modest upfront costs, cloud-based applications are generally available and fast becoming the standard across different industries.
2. Route Optimization Software
Route optimization software helps in boosting operational efficiency through solving the Vehicle Routing Problem and adequate route scheduling. When a new order is received, the vehicle route planning schedule is sourced in real-time to reallocate mobile fleet resources to optimize operating efficiency, deliver priority service to the most profitable accounts and routes, and also maintain overall customer service objectives. It helps companies and organizations to reduce operating costs, which can reduce total route distances and average miles between stops.
It is also essential to analyze delivery days and frequency to optimize the best route for the transporters: the main aim is to spread the amount of work over the specific period of time, and cluster by day to create well-organized route plans while sustaining consumers and stock constraints (Liu, Luo & Zhao, 2019). Currently, KOSPA Logistics Myanmar is using Abivin vRoute, which includes GPS tracking, visibility providing to manufacturers, trail tracking, routing plans and dispatch, etc. The software is designed to assist companies to operate, plan the most efficient delivery route and track the physical location of their fleets besides the other benefits they are getting from the software.
3. Warehouse Management System (WMS)
Warehouse Management System enables 3PL companies to take control of their diversified range of product and stock items, as well as monitor the operations of goods and materials moving in and out of the depot. Monitoring inventory well can prevent wasted costs and time as small business owners spend 30% more operating excess inventory. Yours can be an optimal one if you invest in a compatible WMS that can fulfill the special requirements of a 3PL.
Finding a suitable WMS for 3PL companies is no easy task. However, there are some general features that you should look for. First is the ability to manage customers, vendors, stocks and inventory replenishment through diverse selling channels, billing, invoicing and full order fulfillment. The second is start-to-end tracking: the software follows inventory from the initial order to the final delivery. The third is the ability to execute the real-time workflow and productivity metrics, access real-time inventory visibility.
4. Order Fulfilment Software
The Order Fulfillment Software (OFS) helps a business to process more orders quicker and faster. This is achieved by linking purchase data; inventory and sales simplify workflows to emphasize more on the company's growth of resources. With pack and ship capabilities, efficient pick and eliminating errors, a business can focus on better financial investing activities. OFS helps to describe, plan and get reports on the company’s order fulfillment activities and improve them as required and manage and track inventory on-hand, warehousing of products, ongoing contracts with a supplier, etc. OFS like Brightpearl uses to deliver goods to its customers, print and process, picking, packing and shipping at the consumers' doorstep have been made easy by this software usage (Woolery, 2018).
5. Business Intelligence Software
Business Intelligence Software can be a real-time tool that helps meet daily workloads and deadlines. Instead of clients encountering unexpected challenges, analytics can help 3PLs predict incoming orders and forecast priorities for workload balancing. 3PL companies should leverage business intelligence to forecast near-term and mid-term operational requirements to ensure necessary resources are available (Reichert, 2018). These predictions need to be as accurate as possible. In particular, it is imperative to accurately prognosticate the quantity and timing of demand for long-lead items, such as building space and equipment configuration. Currently, SAP Company is using one of the best Business Intelligence Software, “SAP Lumira”, with which a customer can experience faster and finest business transaction.
Every logistics company needs software for effective transport management covering everything from planning, order entry, transportation management and warehouse management, Implementing the above-mentioned 5 software can make the logistics processes smoother and more efficient.
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4.Reichert, J. (2018). Business Intelligence Helps 3PL Supply Chains Gain a Competitive Edge.
5.Woolery. (2018). Benefits of easy and fast order fulfillment and shipping.