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Tech is the answer for modern logistics and supply chain challenges


Supply chains and logistics are the backbones of the modern economy. But -- things are changing, and fast. As The Wall Street Journal has even noted, the “on-demand economy” is reshaping the firm and even society at a global level. Customers often have a requirement of shorter delivery time, and e-commerce is booming. If you work within logistics, then, you often have this challenge: you need to be more efficient and more productive at a time when your supply chains are becoming more and more complicated. It’s not easy, but technology can help. Digital transformation and automation play in majorly here. Let’s take a look at some of the major trends in the space and how innovative uses of technology and software development are helping leaders in logistics and supply chain meet their biggest challenges.

Warehouse execution system (WES) software

Today, orders are smaller, order-to-delivery cycles are shorter, and distribution centers are busier. As a result, they require highly dynamic, real-time workflows. Distribution center leaders are thus investing in automation to help them make the transformation to “wave-less” or “order-streaming” — where workflow is planned as orders are received. WES is the underlying platform that ensures automation technologies and labor are synchronized and optimized in real time within the distribution center and outside systems. It’s important to see WES at play in warehouses because the traditional way of technologically organizing a distribution center, doesn’t work as well with automation. It does a good job on inventory management, but it lacks real-time visibility into what’s happening. WES is better towards this end.

Our expertise in logistics: 40 locations worldwide, 4,200+ employees

KNAPP AG develops and markets automation technology and software solutions for logistics and production facilities. The company serves the core areas of healthcare, textiles and fashion, trade, e-commerce and omnichannel retail, food retail, and production.

Using our Team Extension Model, we developed a system backend that is modular and extendable as required by a particular project and is powered by Java EE, EJB and Oracle database. The system keeps track of the stock lifecycle from entering the warehouse to dispatching stock to the customer. It communicates with several other subsystems like systems used by operators and systems that are managing hardware components within the warehouse.

Real-time data and real-time visibility

This is an increasing trend in the supply chain and logistics world. It’s actually the key to efficiently scaling both individual businesses and the supply chain at large. With real-time data, employees are more empowered and more productive. Potential problems can be anticipated and converted into customer service opportunities. Inefficiencies can be more readily identified and remedied. And customers can easily know where their goods are, which increases customer satisfaction and builds longer-lasting, quality customer relationships.

Last-mile delivery

Last-mile delivery is the movement of goods from a delivery hub to the final destination, usually via truck. (Although, in the next 10-20 years, we may see drones doing some of this for lighter-weight items.) There is expected to be a 36% increase in delivery vehicles across the top 100 cities globally by 2030. This holiday season (2019), it’s believed about 1.5 million packages were delivered every day in New York City, for example. One positive trend in last-mile delivery is that more providers are using electric vehicles as of 2020, which is good because last-mile is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Less-than-truckload shipping

LTL is the transportation of relatively small freight. That industry had a bad year in 2015 but has rebounded, although growth is slow in the last 2-3 years. The market around LTL is shifting, and we’re increasingly seeing intelligent automation both in the processing of packages and, eventually, the trucks themselves. Overall, 2020 is expected to be a stable economic year for LTL.

Why do you need outsourced software development for logistics and supply chain?

Because it’s moving too quickly. When we worked with KNAPP in the example above, their internal hiring strategy at the time was to find people who would stay at least five years -- in logistics, that’s a huge amount of different waves and trends across a half-decade. It’s hard to find that kind of sticky institutional knowledge in today’s economy, so it’s better to outsource a team with expertise in multiple areas and coding languages, as well as specific expertise in logistics.

But how do you know what you need in an outsourced team? What factors should you be looking for? We created a checklist to look through and determine the best outsourced software development team for your business needs.

You can get it right here:

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