Upstream logistics : a key factor for operational excellence

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How to improve upstream logistics?

While the tools placed at the service of downstream logistics, and particularly the “last kilometer”, currently take the lion’s share of supply chain investment, the problem of upstream logistics, which is every bit as vital and complex, also has at its disposal numerous levers for finding optimal solutions that are often still too little known.

E-commerce and omnichannel solutions have highlighted the importance for both manufacturers and distributors of the logistical dimension of their operations. While the progress made is undeniable and downstream delivery is now given much more attention, upstream logistics, which focus on suppliers, still continues to be neglected by many shippers and even by many logistical experts. Left to the suppliers and the carriers who assist them, upstream logistics is often viewed as a burdensome necessity, while skillful control of incoming flows is a key factor in operational excellence.

Faced with a mass of uncertain situations and ineffective organizational structures upstream, it is on the unloading docks of the destination warehouses that the disastrous consequences of badly controlled logistics are most keenly felt. Fortunately, the right tools and best practices are today available to make it possible to control upstream flows, without needing to change the commercial balance linking buyers, suppliers and carriers in order to do so.

The advent of digital technology, combined with the determination of a handful of decision-makers to take the situation in hand, have led to the emergence of two key factors for optimization with a view to ensuring better logistics at the upstream end of the supply chain.

Collaboration is the key factor for a successful upstream supply chain

Collaboration. This is one of the key factors for ensuring successful upstream logistics. This seems perfectly logical, given that controlling upstream flows involves effective communication with your suppliers and their carriers, first and foremost so as to understand what their priorities are, but also, and more importantly, in order to put in place organizational systems that can give you firm guarantees. Safety regulations for drivers and vehicles, operational guidelines for sub-contractors, the possibility of anticipating a shortage of carriers: these are just some of the factors that will enable you to forge a closer relationship with your partners so as to ensure a perfect understanding of the constraints weighing on each stakeholder.

This collaborative approach takes the form of various tools, including dedicated digital platforms. The Join2ship solution, developed by DDS Logistics staff, stands out for giving the end customer the means to organize its collaboration with its suppliers more easily. It thus creates the possibility of communicating almost instantly with your own ecosystem and that of your suppliers while sharing information and documents in an economical and efficient manner.

This collaboration not only allows for the coordinated organization of collection schedules for the supplier and of delivery schedules for the customer, but also provides the transport process with greater visibility and the ability to react in the case of unforeseen developments. The organization of meeting schedules is thus updated according to the visibility provided by carriers’ reports.

Digital technology, a prime factor in logistical efficiency

While even today it has still to become firmly established in the culture and habits of the major players in the upstream supply chain, this collaborative approach is made henceforth greatly easier by the digitization of tools and processes to assist the needs of logistics and transportation.

Digital platforms such as Join2ship thus give users greater organizational capabilities and a clearer insight into their incoming deliveries via an effective scheduling service, a real-time tracking functionality and alerts in the event of an incident or a late or early delivery. In a bid to provide customers with an improved array of services, new features have been built into the platform.

By means of mobile applications, in SaaS mode, the digital tools aiding the optimization of logistics and transport systems are an essential method for improving your logistical and transport operations as a whole.

Optimized upstream logistics for a better quality of service

Introduced many years ago in the automotive industry and perfectly controlled by the sector’s car manufacturers and parts manufacturers, the collaborative approach to upstream logistics has proved its worth. Now is the time to take our inspiration from this model and to apply it in all sectors.

Why? Quite simply because this makes it possible to achieve the quality of service that the customer has the right to expect. Improving the productivity of reception operations, reducing stoppages, tackling production chain problems, greater store visibility: firm control of upstream logistics makes it possible to increase the availability of the products required for the production and marketing of the consumer goods that are so important to the end customer.

Today, thanks to an increased awareness of the importance of service, manufacturers and distributors are also starting to think like customers with regard to their own suppliers. This legitimate expectation and the vital importance of quality of service have converged upstream and henceforth need to be carefully controlled to ensure maximum optimization.