The modern supply chain is a complex web of a multitude of interconnected nodes that are transforming with each day. Supply chain professionals need to understand not just who their suppliers are and where they are located but, they need to know exactly where all the suppliers physically exist and the relationships between them and other external factors. The sooner we know how a particular node can be affected, the more time there is to find an alternative so production and distribution operations do go grind to a halt. Using geography and spatial analytics provides the insight needed to understand, even predict potential impacts around the world at any point in time.
This allows for visualisation of the entire chain and allows companies the ability to understand the potential impacts of events that happen every day (weather, political, economic). With this knowledge, the business can assess and resolve problematic issues immediately, such as the impacts to plants, suppliers, shipments, stores, customers or other important nodes. Hence not only reacting to problems but planning and building smarter and more resilient supply and delivery networks.
Business relies heavily on these networks need to continuously optimise the supply chain to ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible, delivering the best possible goods and services, whilst minimising costs.
Location Intelligence integrates smoothly with technological advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the internet of things, promising to push the boundaries and transform the supply chain and logistics industry. These tools can help the business to uncover challenges in the context of geographic data that would otherwise go undetected, and this help to streamline operations and optimise business operations.
Some of the more common applications of Location Intelligence across the supply chain network are:
- Fleet management – Using location tracking technologies, fleet managers can gain greater insight into operations, real-time traffic and road conditions, to better manage their vehicles for efficiency. Coupled with customizable desktop and mobile solutions that integrate techniques such as re-routing in near-real-time, the entire supply and delivery chain can be optimised for smooth business operations;
- Optimisation of first-mile networks: Delays in loading times or unexpected delays at refuelling stations, can cause challenges in first-mile deliveries, which in turn lead to the disastrous last-mile rushes. Location intelligence can deliver accurate insights into the availability and distribution of crucial first-mile nodal points and near real-time location tracking mobile apps can help businesses optimise this part of the supply chain.
- Streamlining last-mile delivery – Food delivery services and courier companies, need to transport products from distribution centres to customers on time and economically. Location Intelligence is fast evolving in the last-mile delivery services. Through predictive alerts, real-time traffic and accident data and high-resolution aerial imagery, fleet managers can plan efficient delivery routings based on travel time, fuel costs, road conditions, traffic hotspots, and thus optimizing their business model.
- Identification of new nodes: We are producing more data than we have ever done at any other time in known history, and some of this data has a geographic component or tag. This can be used to identify potentially closer or cheaper suppliers of goods and services, as well as new clients, through demand mapping to add to the existing network.
- Identification, and optimisations of the Network: Supply chain managers need to identify the most efficient routes, as well as mapping out the performance of warehouses and other nodes across the network
The COVID-19 pandemic has shocked the traditional supply chain networks from the raw products, to the intermediate nodes, to the final customer, and these require new approaches to ensure the return of investments even in these hard times. Through location intelligence and analytics, businesses can ensure the competitive edge by monitoring and optimisation of the supply chain nodes, lead-times, delays, deviations, and take quick and profitable data-centric decisions.