As consumer pressure grows product order visibility, the challenge to find a reliable, IoT-based, supply chain solution may seem daunting. But Alex Crane-Robinson Vice President, Sales and Marketing, EMEA, CalAmp, offers the inside track on picking a perfect supply chain visibility partner:
When implementing an IoT-based solution to fill gaps in supply chain visibility, there are a few important factors to keep in mind:
- Track Record – the market for cargo theft and supply chain visibility is at least 10 years in the making; deal with a company that can provide strong and relevant references. Make sure that the technology is mature and robust, yet provides the advanced capabilities you need for real-time tracking and analytics.
- Knowledge of Supply Chain – many companies that serve the supply chain visibility market with tracking technology and services are just that – technology oriented. The science of providing visibility must be complemented with the art of process and known means to assure success.
- Stability/Reliability – work with a company that assures continuity and security in business practice, both financially and in innovation of their services.
- Ruggedness – look for products that can thrive in the environments that the cargo will be exposed to without losing connectivity or running out of battery power.
- Cost – although the value of continuous real time visibility can be measured and quantified, it needs to be at a cost that proves a valuable ROI. Knowledge of all the cost elements – program management, tracking device acquisition and ongoing service cost – needs to be factored into implementation.
- Comprehensive Information Service – thorough vetting of the visualization, alerting and report capabilities and options along with the content that is available is a necessity. Once implemented, a real-time tracking program becomes an integral part of the overall program. The stakeholders, supply chain execs, CIOs, security and even sales and marketing, should weigh in on the selection process.
- Service Flexibility – having only one way to accomplish all of the above is a red flag. In selecting and qualifying a potential partner, look for options that tailor the solution to meet your organization’s needs. Can you choose either purchasing or a managed service? If program management is not convenient, does the prospective partner offer turnkey services? Is 24/7 monitoring an available option? The questions for qualification should be listed in an RFP or outreach qualification process with each potential candidate.
It’s true, the shipping industry is changing fast, but don’t despair; solutions and technologies are out there to help companies remain competitive. With IoT and fleet tracking, it’s now possible to track less than truckload and last mile shipments in real time from before departure to the final delivery point, even when they are in the hands of a 3PL company. For companies working hard to carve out a business in this challenging and specialized marketplace, choosing a reputable, robust and reliable solution is a must.