3 Essential Components of Supply Chain Visibility During Transportation

3 Essential Components of Supply Chain Visibility During Transportation


Logistics and transportation managers face an incredibly complex challenge securing assets in motion in the supply chain. To successfully manage delays, losses, and other risks, you need visibility.

In general, visibility during transportation refers to the ability to see where your assets are so you can make decisions about what to do next. You also need to understand the status of the shipment itself: has a product or part been compromised by high temperatures or humidity? Has it been subject to physical shocks? Do you need to expedite a replacement order, re-plan a production run, or manage your customers’ expectations? Having sufficient visibility during transportation helps you answer these questions.

How Do You Define Perfect Visibility in the Supply Chain

There are a million factors that can affect the delivery of even a single shipment, but the most essential components are the location, condition, and handling of assets. These details are critical to troubleshooting delays and managing risk, because other contextual details are only useful in relation to the physical location of your shipments. You could be tracking real-time data about every potential storm or traffic jam along the route, but without knowing the physical location of your assets you can’t do anything with this other information.

For example, if there’s been an earthquake along your supply chain, you need to know whether any of your assets were actually passing through that area at the time and how they might be affected. If you can see that a shipment is stranded in a damaged distribution center or being diverted to another facility, you can manage the impact of any delays. If you don’t know where your assets are, you have to locate them before you can do anything to resolve the situation.

3 Things You Need for Complete Supply Chain Visibility

From an asset security perspective, visibility in the supply chain is about knowing when any event occurs that could affect your production, distribution, or other operations.

It’s impossible to have this picture without 3 essential details:

1.      Location – This is the baseline of asset monitoring, but you need granular detail. Tracking a pallet may not be adequate, because losing just one carton from a shipment can be damaging if it contains valuable intellectual property or critical manufacturing inputs. You need visibility at the carton level are so you can tell if shipments are being separated—and so you can track misplaced or stolen goods.

 2.      Condition - Environmental factors such as temperature and humidity can have a major impact on your assets. Say you have a product that needs to be packaged in a heat-sensitive casing for its intended use. The casing itself might be inexpensive, but what if you have a multi-million-dollar assembly line that can’t run without it? If those materials were left outside on the tarmac at a Shanghai airport in the middle of summer—you need to know, so you can allocate those resources to another project, or arrange an expedited replacement order.

3.      Handling – The physical handling of your assets is just as critical as the environmental conditions. A shipment of electronic components or mechanical parts could easily be damaged by mishandling in a distribution center or from shocks during loading or unloading at a dock or airport. If your assets may be compromised, you need to know this as early as possible so you can take action to mitigate risk and potential losses.

Greater Visibility Is Critical to the Next Wave of Supply Chain Optimization

The supply chain itself has become more of a strategic focus for virtually every industry over the last 20-30 years as business has become more global. Today there are countless supply chains interwoven in an elaborate system of worldwide production and distribution. As a result, companies have invested a lot of time into optimizing their supply chains. At this point, the low-hanging fruit has been picked. For many companies, further improvement requires greater levels of visibility.

Intelyt’s global asset monitoring solution provides the granular visibility companies need to understand the status of items in the supply chain, at every single point along the way. We’ll alert you right away if a part was supposed to ship, but didn’t—or if an asset is being corrupted by heat and moisture—or if one of the prototypes for your new, top-of-the-line product has been separated from the others during shipment. This level of granular visibility will be essential to the next wave of supply chain optimization.