Manufacturing and distribution supply chains target efficiency to reduce costs

Leaner supply chains are on every shipper's list of New Year's resolutions. Tools such as delivery routing and scheduling software, or load consolidation with mode optimization software, can make the transportation process more cost efficient for many shippers. But software is not the only technology that can help businesses keep their spending down throughout an uncertain 2013.

Shipping efficiencies key for today's businesses
According to a recent survey conducted by DC Velocity, 42 percent of survey respondents are planning to consolidate more shipments into fewer truckloads, while 36 percent are trying to make different arrangements with their carriers. These are just a few of the cost-cutting efforts that firms can make to trim their transportation spend.  

A majority of respondents to the survey were from the manufacturing and distribution sectors - 31 percent and 26 percent, respectively - areas that are highly sensitive in a volatile economy. Thirty-two percent said they were making arrangements to cut back on express shipments and 31 percent of respondents were going to look into automating work processes. Re-engineering supply chain processes, especially in transportation planning and execution, can be major focus areas for cost-reduction opportunities.

"Despite their relatively bearish view of the economy at large, respondents nonetheless expect to maintain - or even increase - their spending on logistics-related services and products in 2013," said DC Velocity. "Forty-one percent said their spending on logistics services and material handling equipment would be on par with 2012 levels, while 40 percent expect to spend more."

Mobile and social can also lead to savings
Modern supply chain practitioners are also embracing the benefits posed by social media and mobile devices. These tools can improve how the firm conducts its processes and operations. A recent guest post for Logistics Viewpoints written by Travis Parsons, chief technology officer of Cloud Logistics, outlined why these recent technological innovations could help firms cut costs in their supply chain through improved communications and visibility.

By integrating the use of mobile devices, businesses can improve communication and trading partner collaboration tenfold. Parsons discussed how one of the true advantages of employee-owned devices is that it makes them accessible to the company even when out of the office. Additionally, wireless smart devices can be constantly connected to the company infrastructure. The advent of cloud-based software deployments has made it easier than ever for professionals to securely access the virtual business infrastructure at any time.

Social media sites are another way communication can be improved along the entire supply chain. According to Parsons, connecting with suppliers and distributors in real time can help everyone keep updated on the status of shipments. Mobile devices can also be used to log into social media sites for quicker access to these informal communication channels.