In modern supply chain management, enterprises ought to be capable of managing the growing demand by opting to optimize the supply chain operations accordingly by virtue of automation, clearly in a bid to achieve a lethal edge over the competitors struggling in the similar business. This also becomes imperative as data shows that e-commerce purchases are on the rise around the world and as sales grow, returns do so inevitably in more or less similar proportion, though a small percentage. Now, in the present age that is bathed in high-end technology, the potential of robotics is being manipulated in such supply chain based operations, what is commonly referred to as RPA (Robotic Process Automation) with the inherent objective of managing increased number of freight when sales are all time higher or during peak festive season.
Not surprisingly, such a scenario makes it mandatory for those managing the supply chain, to look for new ways and to develop better familiarity with technology while thinking about dealing with increased demand in hot season marked by high number of sales. Now, the power of RPA can easily be unlocked to manage such growing need. Similarly, supply chain enterprises also need to assess the new operational automated methods and efficiency arising out of it and the range of benefits and eventual profitability it unfolds to such businesses.
High Peak Season Brings Forth Some Challenges:
The clamour for automation in supply chain industry has been brewing for many years, especially to attain the capability to handle drastic shift in demand and so much of research and innovation has taken place, but the experts believe the present year is the time, when coveted and much awaited automation is all set to unfold to the prowess and capability of supply chain businesses.
Pushing the case on shore, DC Velocity, maintains that despite the pandemic, we should still expect the peak season to be full of excitement, similar to early BC (before corona) years. Further, greater number of consumers is expected to be even greater this time with more click-falls taking place instead of foot-falls due to strict measures for social distancing in many cities across the world. Certainly, due to immense boom taken place in e-commerce, peak season planning needs to be re-thought, re-planned and re-scripted too.
Now, we are pushed to the question as to what challenges are associated when we deal in a peak season which is more intense than we expected earlier?
Challenges are many and with a broad range, to answer, such as limited capacity, informing about the status of the shipment in quick time to those waiting at the other side with payment due, unexpected delays, to meet the rejections and so many more. From their end, consumers are likely to demand answers from shippers, the scenario which could again put profit making in dark. Hence, the demand of such a time is to devise an all-round strategy, truly automated and which could take care of all the possible hurdles that are likely to fall in the way of smooth operations as the holiday season approaches. In the words of experts, one should consider bringing-in the maximum number of operations within the automation purview and such automated processes should function accurately.
Conventionally, robots were (and still are) put into service to carry forth inventory and for packaging but with RPAs now with us, powered by AI and Machine Learning, the software embedded thereby, transportation management systems (TMS) are boosted to function more efficiently while other recording systems can also be integrated for best decision making. Looking further, we find the terse summation given by Deloitte about the refinement in capabilities as well as crucial business edge when RPAs are roped in and about their swift machine-discourse with other systems present in the TMS framework.
“RPA tools are best suited for processes with repeatable, predictable interactions with IT applications. These processes typically lack the scale or value to warrant automation via core systems transformation or if core systems transformation is not due to be implemented soon. RPA tools can improve the efficiency of these processes and the effectiveness of service without changing the underlying systems.
RPA software “robots” perform routine business processes by mimicking the way that people interact with applications through a user interface and following simple rules to make decisions. Entire end-to-end processes can be performed by software robots with very little human interaction, typically to manage exceptions”.
Not surprisingly, when the capacity to ship more freight is challenged, automation comes into frame and takes care of management while giving TMS users enough time to attend to customers and time consumed by redundant aspects is minimized.
Accuracy, Efficiency And Speed In Freight Management Calls For Automation In logistics:
RPAs are mostly put in areas, where processes and activities are deeply repetitive and on the heels of premium technologies of AI and Deep Learning, robots manage the functions on their own, however, intervention by humans can be required at some points simply to point robots in the right direction.
In other words, supply chain can be best managed when one-off requests are received and instead of putting the status inquiries through multiple channels where humans comes into play at different points, and the latter step comprising human approach can completely be surpassed and wiped off.
As an example, suppose some customer has keyed-in an email and asks for a quote for some freight to be delivered just a few days before some mega event, say Black Friday.
In a traditional process path, the rep of logistics agency would check email and would further check customer’s detail and address in TMS and would then select the most suitable freight alternative among many listed thereby and would finally inform the customer in return email following which, customer’s response will be awaited. But with RPAs, such can be programmed in tandem with TMS to fetch this info, produce a quote and to update this info in customer’s TMS and also to put the shipment into the booking log tentatively. Clearly, human-rep’s role is sidelined while tech enabled alacrity in operations is there, when a transition in demand takes place, no matter what resources are available with us.