Automation is not a new supply chain buzzword. According to Matt Leonard of Supply Chain Dive, approximately one-third of supply chain professionals are actively involved in the use of supply chain automation technologies. However, the use of supply chain automation consultancy services is increasing. Such increases allude to a growing demand for automation, but again, it comes with a caveat. Poor use of automation can lead to higher costs. To maximize ROI, supply chain leaders need to know a few things about how a TMS can automate processes and allow logistics providers and shippers to leverage resources more effectively.
Where Do Companies Go Wrong With Automation?
The problems with automation in the supply chain often derive from a limited data pool and siloed systems. In fact, the problems with poorly connected systems and automation can cost well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to Supply Chain Dive, Asos experienced such a problem in 2019:
Supply Chain Automation Must Include the TMS
As reported by Supply Chain Game Changer, “The benefits of an automated Transportation Management System solution are clear. The electronic, and automatic, communication that a TMS solution will facilitate will dramatically improve your productivity, speed, service levels and visibility. But to many companies the prospect of change can be overwhelming. Some employees may see a loss of control when they can’t do things manually.
How to Maximize Use of Automation With a TMS
Finding the right way to balance automation and the use of a TMS is not always clear. Fortunately, you can increase your TMS ROI by following these steps:
- Consider the scalability needs of your operations—using a cloud-based TMS that grows with your business.
- Take advantage of connected sensors—the IoT—to track and capture data across your full supply chain.
- Connect the TMS to your suppliers and partners through API and EDI integrations.
- Reduce the workload of managing exceptions and freight processes, including freight settlement, with the use of robotics process automation (RPA).
- Conduct a complete ROI analysis to determine opportunities for automation and review costs of TMS use.
- Measure success by tracking KPIs and encouraging continuous improvement throughout supply chain automation deployments and use cases.
- Leverage third-party expertise to help with the creation of freight rate indices, and consider the use of third-party generated freight rate indices in making shipping decisions.
- Review available robotics options, including automated sort and retrieval systems or smart conveyors, to streamline operations.