By Byron Davis, August 3, 2021
Transportation Modeling: How to Plan Your Way Around Any Obstacle, Including the Next Great Pandemic
Before 2020, few could have imagined a global pandemic bouncing gas prices to unforeseen lows, the stock market into violent throws, and worldwide lockdowns sending people home in masks until who knows when. That’s what happens when you don’t have a crystal ball to foresee the future. Life goes on and we all take some hits, right?
Well, maybe not. A few smart operators had imagined it and practiced set plays to deal with it well in advance. Were they any smarter than the rest of us? Maybe, maybe not. They did have the modeling tools to test a variety of one-off events and configure workable contingencies for a time such as this.
We know this as master implementers of supply chain software, including leading-edge transportation management systems (TMS), because we have installed solutions that facilitate smart business planning. In our experience, it doesn’t take a lot to master a plan before challenges arise – provided you have a few fundamental building blocks in place.
- Standardized Procedures make turning on a dime possible. When plans go awry, having set business rules for processing, shipping, and delivering ensures consistent outcomes and promotes maximum speed and agility. If you have teams arrayed in separate locations marching to the beat of different drummers, you will not be able to respond swiftly when calamity strikes, much less when a peak season hits off-peak, and your resources get stretched to the limits. Align processes and procedures uniformly across the organization and operations naturally optimize end-to-end, scaling to meet whatever situation arises.
- End-to-End Visibility enables a control-tower view of your operations, strengthening your ability to…well…control. Which is exactly what you need to do when the tables get turned. This means unifying your disparate systems – warehouse, labor, transportation, back-office, and third-party systems – to create a connected view of your supply chain. Only then will you be able to spot problems and opportunities as they arise, consolidate routes and optimize loads on the fly, and track performance in real-time for better business decisions. Why wait for a catastrophe to do this?
- Intelligent Transportation Modeling makes it all come together. When processes work as predicted and the data is true from all corners of the enterprise, a modern transportation management system will allow you to plan, execute, and manage your freight in a steady-state environment with confidence. A comprehensive modeling capability will allow you to run “what if” scenarios, enabling you to measure the impact of changes in your operating environment, spot potential efficiencies, cut mileage, determine the impact of adding distribution centers, rebalancing your common carrier to private fleet allocation, and reduce your carbon footprint. You can use it to test run shortages, outages, breakdowns, lockdowns, and slowdowns, analyzing your knowledge base against near real-time data to streamline future logistics. What’s more, you can use it to perform full transportation network analyses in a tactical, practical manner so that when anomalies arise, you’ll be cognizant of the best course of action in advance.
With the above three pillars in place, business resilience happens. Critical decisions become less critical because the service and cost trade-offs have been analyzed in context beforehand. Your operations are harmonized. Your view is true. The competitive advantage is yours. What’s not to like about that?
Now, imagine if you had all of this going for you before 2020. Maybe you did. But if you didn’t, we invite you to connect with us for a free demonstration of transportation modeling in action. It costs you nothing to explore and too much to ignore.