Monthly Archives: February 2017

Supply Chains Staying the Course in 2017

The overall outlook for supply chains in 2017 is quite rosy, but let’s identify some specific areas where the industry could or should be headed this year.

Staying the Course

First and foremost, I suspect that we won’t see any significant technological breakthroughs or paradigm shifts in 2017 that will disrupt current best practices in the supply chain. Instead, I’m certain that we’ll see a steady stream of developments that continue to improve existing efficiencies or reduce costs, in addition to a widespread push for vendors to demonstrate added value.

Consumer demands continue to drive technology adoption

E-commerce and the omni-channel experience will continue to capture buyer mindshare over more traditional brick-and-mortar retail models, which are suffering from over-capacity. We can expect long-term customer loyalty to be driven by the so-called unified experience or continuity of experience. Vendors able to consistently deliver perfect shipments will be able to capitalize on this trend. For companies in supply chain logistics, this will require ever-tighter carrier relationships and technologies, which will eventually include the emergence of autonomous commercial freight deliveries. These companies are also likely to deploy GPS-enabled tools that provide up-to-the-minute information about freight location, en route conditions (like temperature), and arrival time estimates.

3PL vendors benefit

These trends may help 3rd Party Logistics (3PL) providers gain significant market share, but may also force some industry consolidation. One differentiating factor will be analytics, and how data can be used to capture pick, pack and ship costs. There is a cost associated with managing warehousing and logistics internally versus outsourcing, so the ability of a company to evaluate the overhead for storing and retrieving inventory efficiently and accurately will remain key in delivering shipments profitably.

Hype, with a grain of salt

While autonomous vehicles and drones are certainly breakthrough technologies, numerous barriers need to be overcome before these become mainstream. These include regulations around safety (or perceived danger) and privacy, as they attempt to coexist with traditional modes of transportation. It is my view that the use of drones for shipping will be confined to very short-range hovers or stops based on battery limitations, FAA altitude restrictions, drone pilot certification and autonomous flight technologies, and clearances limited to line-of-sight flying.

Whatever 2017 brings, it is shaping up to be a busy, productive year in the world of logistics and supply chains. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

About the author

Eric Allais, President and CEO of Washington-based PathGuide Technologies, Inc., has over 30 years of experience in marketing, product management and sector analysis in the automated data collection industry, including warehouse management practices in wholesale distribution.

Customer Spotlight: Red-L Distributors

Customer Spotlight

Red-L Distributors has built its business by providing customers with quality products, great product selection, added value, and personal service. Based near Edmonton in Alberta, the company has been supplying Canada’s oilfield, agricultural, transportation, construction, mining, and forestry industries since 1961. Today the company offers a diversified range of products from hydraulic, industrial, and high pressure hoses and fittings to lubricants, bowie pumps, and diesel engine oil, all from its 12 locations in Alberta and British Columbia.

Why Latitude?

Red-L first implemented PathGuide’s Latitude WMS in 2007 for its advanced features and compatibility with their ERP system. As it rolled out Latitude WMS, the company was able to transform its warehouse into a cleaner, safer and much more efficient workplace by reorganizing its operations and taking full advantage of the enhanced layout and workflow. Following this successful deployment, in 2011 Red-L began using Latitude’s Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) functionality to help its clients efficiently maintain stock levels and independently manage replenishment orders. Red-L had found traditional forms of vendor-managed inventory replenishment problematic because they were generally slow and prone to human error, resulting in increased travel time for Red-L’s sales team and lengthy replenishment cycles.

VMI orders are processed by Latitude and imported directly into Red-L’s ERP. The process is not only very efficient, it also saves a significant amount of time and reduces the likelihood of input errors. This has given Red-L a competitive advantage, and greatly reduced the burden on Red-L’s clients. In fact, 40 of Red-L’s clients now use VMI to handle product replenishment, averaging an 80 percent improvement in turnaround times.

More Information

To learn more about Red-L, visit their website at: http://www.redl.com/. More information about Latitude WMS can be found here: http://www.pathguide.com/Solutions.aspx.