Why Visibility Across Carrier Networks Is Key to Remaining Agile through Uncertainty

  2020 04 07 Visibility Across Networks BL

The supply chain is made up of various intertwined, but independent pieces that must work together like a well-oiled machine. When part of the system breaks down or encounters a delay, the entire process – including the customer experience – is impacted. During times of disruption or uncertainty, the effects of delays or miscommunication are even greater. 

In the face of disruptive events, such as COVID-19, every piece of the supply chain is doing their best to remain agile. Frictionless collaboration and communication are more important than ever, yet with complex supply chain networks, information is often siloed, delayed, and difficult to get ahold of. Even if supply chains have the process in place to shift plans quickly, many are unable to make informed decisions without timely and high-fidelity data. 

To obtain this comprehensive view into the entire process, allowing supply chains to increase agility and accelerate decision-making, shippers are finding value in advanced visibility. The real challenge for shippers and LSPs is connecting to all of their carriers to get visibility on the transportation of the goods. 

Why a Scalable Network is Important for Transportation Agility

Paige Cox, SVP and Head of Digital Supply Chain Networks Development at SAP, and Jett McCandless, CEO of project44, have noticed that shippers and LSPs are struggling to connect to their carrier networks. project44 and SAP Logistics Business Network (LBN) have both been built around the idea that the network is at the foundation of smarter and more agile transportation and logistics decisions. 

Supply chain is complex with many business partners involved to ensure that product is delivered efficiently and on time. These parties are all intertwined, and many work in-turn themselves with subcontractors. This layered visibility is becoming increasingly challenging,” said Cox.

Without the ability to rapidly connect to a large global and multimodal network, shippers can’t make effective decisions with the data they have. 

Shippers can’t solve real business challenges without a complete view across their supply chain processes and business partners, including their carriers. If you only have pockets of intelligence for fragmented segments, you can’t stitch that insight together or provide supply chain control to customers. If the customer wants to know where their order is, how it will impact their inventory, or production, they won’t be able to know that. Insight is meaningless if action cannot be taken,” said Cox.

Supply Chain Collaboration is Necessary to Drive Results

While many supply chains realize they need to address this issue and find better ways to connect to their networks, it can’t be solved in a bubble. Shippers need to collaborate with their LSPs, carriers, and other partners to streamline collaboration and data sharing in order to take action based on high-fidelity data.

Until now, trade and regulations haven’t seen major changes for decades. Supply chains are now rethinking their supply networks. And when they do this, it’s not enough to do this within a company. They need to reach out and connect to their ecosystems. The insight is only as good as the quality of the data and the end to end business process can only be achieved if all parties are in one platform to collaborate and form a true partnership.

To build data sharing relationships that deliver actionable insight and allow supply chains to be agile, shippers and 3PLs need access to an extensive carrier network,” said McCandless. They need the ability to automate the carrier onboarding process and they need the ability to trust that their visibility provider will enable them to gain coverage across their network.”

In addition to a large network, shippers need to be able to access visibility across their carriers quickly to accelerate time to value. This is why project44 offers a carrier coverage SLA, which guarantees that 90% of a shipper’s contracted truckload carriers in North America and Europe will be live within 30 days of starting implementation. This ensures shippers have the access to the actionable insight they need right away.

A Scalable Approach to Visibility Across Carriers

Shippers have wasted a lot of time and money trying to find the best approach for connecting to their carriers, such as one-to-one integrations, yet they struggle to maintain real-time connections across their entire network. 

One-to-one connections are expensive to set up and difficult to maintain, troubleshoot and monitor long-term, leading to a wide range of problems,” said McCandless. By nature, these methods are asynchronous. There’s a lot of batched and intermittent data being transmitted, which causes decisions to be based on incomplete and outdated information. In a volatile environment, that’s a very dangerous approach.”

With more scalable approaches, shippers can have faster and easier access to visibility transportation visibility data across their network—ultimately increasing time to value and ROI. For example, using APIs allows visibility providers to build one-to-many connections, providing a more efficient way to connect to carriers.

To enable shippers to optimize their supply chain and maintain resilience in an evolving global landscape, SAP has partnered with project44 to allow their customers to gain high-fidelity data from p44’s global and multimodal carrier network. 

The SAP Logistics Business Network brings together all the partners and parties in one place to orchestrate collaboration across modes. The Logistics Business Network helps enable shippers to break up siloed processes, improve efficiency, and reduce costs by providing a single source for stakeholders to manage logistics transactions and gain transparency across the complete value chain. 

Because the logistics space is very fragmented, most visibility vendors are focused on specific modes and regions. We chose to partner with project44 because our customer-base needed a visibility partner that focused on all modes and geographies to bring the end-to-end view together,” said Cox.

Through this native integration, SAP and project44 are able to offer unprecedented network collaboration to global supply chains. To recognize the partnership’s impact for customers, SAP awarded project44 with their 2020 Pinnacle Award, naming p44 the Cloud Integration Partner of the Year.

By leveraging project44 and SAP Logistics Business Network, retailers, manufacturers and distributors can improve collaboration and agility across their supply chain,” said McCandless. The reality is that organizations cannot successfully adapt to the ever-changing supply chain landscape without visibility across their entire end-to-end network. Together our solutions provide greater flexibility and strength by delivering access to the largest global carrier network and the only application to fully automate carrier onboarding.” 

Whether we are facing disease, trade wars, recessions, natural disasters, border issues, or some other yet unidentified disruption, supply chains still need to roll on. During these times of uncertainty, shippers must react quickly to develop a feasible, forward-looking plan to best navigate disruption. To do so, you must get real-time insights into the extended supply chain and be able to collaborate efficiently to mitigate risks as soon as they arise. 

With the power to combine visibility from carriers about shipment status with the order information, shippers can understand the significance and impact of deviations to the plan, allowing supply chains to respond quickly to the constantly changing conditions in tight collaboration with business partners.

Find out how SAP and project44 are helping supply chains remain agile.