Logistics and Transportation are sort of the nerve center of business. In this age of industry 4.0, it is only natural for this sector to be undergoing digital transformation. In today’s competitive market environment, if you are unable to deliver customer orders quickly, they will swiftly take their business elsewhere. Customer is the king. More importantly, today’s customer base is highly knowledgeable and aware. When a buyer decides on a product or service from you, it should be known that they have done their homework with regards to your business and standing in the marketplace. Customers today, more often than not, will read the reviews for your product or service before buying. How quickly and efficiently you cater to customer demand will determine your future business and longevity. You need to fulfill customer orders on time, and transport goods quickly. That means making your transportation and logistics channels efficient. Flexibility and transparency in order delivery and order management are other critical requirements for successful customer order fulfillment. Customer needs and preferences change and evolve all the time. A customer may decide to cancel, return, replace an order, or change delivery location. Your logistics network must be visible and transparent to accommodate such changes and act quickly to meet customer expectations.
A lot of the requirements for seamless transportation of goods from the inventory floor to the buyer can be met with technology. Technology is an enabler, and when it comes to logistics, a critical component of end-to-end fulfillment. Many forward-looking companies are investing in advanced technologies including RFID to track package movements, warehouse automation including AR/VR assisted bots, global positioning tracking systems (GPS), and even embedded sensors that scan the entire movement of goods from the shop floor to the end customer. These industry 4.0 technologies create a responsive logistics chain by accumulating and sending back data on the movement of goods to a centralized monitoring system. Connectivity is another critical requirement for the success of the transportation sector. Data dictates most business processes, and the flow of data is essential for the movements of goods from the inventory to the customer — for instance, the receipt and processing of a customer order begins by accessing the sales order form, including performing data entry to get all the form details into a company spreadsheet, validating those details, checking inventory stock for availability of the items mentioned in the order, and preparing for transport and delivery of those items to the customer. Shipping and transportation may include verifying the packing slip, bill of lading, delivery note, or other freight documents for the secure and speedy delivery of customer orders. The timely movement and processing of important business documents is necessary to transport and deliver orders to the customer on time.
“...Customer is still king. More importantly, today’s customer base is highly knowledgeable and aware. When a buyer decides to purchase a product or service from you, it should be known that they have done their homework with regards to your business and standing in the marketplace. Customers today, more often than not, will read the reviews for your product or service before buying. How quickly and efficiently you cater to customer demand will determine your future business and longevity. You need to fulfill customer orders on time, and transport goods quickly. That means making your transportation and logistics channels efficient...”
Transport documents are critical to the functioning of the logistics chain and must therefore be prepared and processed at the earliest for the timely delivery of goods to customers. A bill of lading document, for instance contains all the necessary shipment details a carrier service needs to swiftly and securely transport the product to the customer. Important details like the name and address of the consignor and consignee; the items list including the quantity of each item; the date for the delivery of the goods; terms and conditions including conditions in case of loss or damage; insurance claims terms, etc. must be correctly captured, validated, and verified as part of the transportation process. Documentation includes data entry, data validation, and approval of documents. Barring these steps, it is not possible to move onto the next stages in the transportation and logistics process.
Intelligent automation technology helps create a platform for consolidating all data on the movement of an order, and provides a common channel through which all data on a product delivery journey flows.
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Automating the logistics chain using intelligent automation is a good way to enable optimal data flows and ensure connectivity at every stage of the transportation process. Intelligent automation is an advanced automation technology that combines cognitive technologies like AI and machine learning with robotic process automation. Additionally, the technology is also embedded with digital transformation solutions like intelligent data capture and OCR recognition software that are needed to handle the complex document processing work in logistics. Capturing data from transaction documents like bills of lading and packing slips, which support the transportation process, is difficult. Usually, these are high volume processes that include a lot of data entry and document handling work. Manual effort is error-prone and costly. A wrong data entry or missing validation can begin to affect the entire document processing chain, resulting in rework and reprocessing of the transaction document, and added costs. By automating routine, repetitive processes along the logistics chain, intelligent automation helps companies maximize efficiency of their workforce by enabling them to take up more problem-solving tasks. Intelligent process automation helps companies build new efficiencies along heavy document-based processes. The technology can be leveraged to automate those tasks that are most likely to slow down the transport of goods from the factory to the consumer. The manual processing of transport documents like the freight bill, free on board paperwork, bill of lading, etc. is time-consuming and error-prone. The movement of goods is accompanied by these documents, and the approval of each type of document is a signal for the movement of the product to the next stage in the logistics chain. The amount of paperwork varies with every product and shipment.
Intelligent automation brings visibility, transparency, and connectivity along the logistics chain, making it possible for companies to deliver goods to the right recipients efficiencity and quickly.