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by Heather Mueller
Heather Mueller

5 min read

Unlocking Supply Chain Digital Transformation With Transportation Data Management

December 27, 2018

Heather Mueller
by Heather Mueller


The future holds many opportunities for shippers to modernize their transportation supply chains through digital transformation. Technological capabilities are increasing at an exponential pace, as they push shippers, carriers, and those who offer transportation management solutions towards improvements that boost productivity, reduce cost, and increase speed to market.

Innovation is bringing change across the supply chain, from smart factories where automation, artificial intelligence, and connected machines make manufacturing more efficient to the tracking and tracing of materials and shipments and optimizing complex transportation networks.  Among these industry shaking digital transformations lies a common element: the power of data.

The modern supply chain is incredibly data-rich as information is produced and collected in warehouses, on factory floors, and in vehicles moving products.  The question is, how can shippers leverage the millions of data points generated every day through the movement of goods to make their supply chains more effective, more agile, and further propelled into solutions for the future?

Even more crucial than gaining access to data is understanding and using that information to generate valuable insights and take beneficial action. To remain competitive in 2019, shippers must effectively leverage their data to define actionable strategies that will drive supply chain improvements and help achieve specific business goals.

In the wide scope of supply chain networks, transportation often gets overlooked, however, it is incredibly important. Transportation, which includes fuel and freight, makes up approximately 63 percent of total logistics costs in the supply chain. That is according to research from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, which also found U.S. companies spent a record $1.5 trillion on shipping in 2017, up 6.2 percent from 2016.

Authors of that same report suggested factors including higher fuel prices, tight capacity, and tariffs on imports would drive transportation costs up even further which is exactly what the industry saw in 2018.

The strategy used to move goods to market is such a vital part of a shipper’s supply chain that it is one of the most viable opportunities to transform and improve through digital innovation.

Taking a Holistic Approach to Transportation Data Management

Many providers of transportation and logistics solutions focus on data acquired from the carrier side of the transportation equation. Even more value, however, is found in shippers’ network data, because understanding those networks allows for better matching of freight capacity with where demand is generated.

Gaining visibility and transparency into both shipper and carrier transportation networks is ideal because now you have both the supply and demand sides of the equation.

Breakthrough takes an integrated approach, using transportation data from both their clients, the shippers, and complimentary carrier data sources across North America. With this data, we pair shippers with their most ideal carrier match based on actual freight movements and the supply/demand dynamics surrounding them. This leads to an increase in service, decreased costs, and offers the ability to make network corrections. Ultimately, it means making a plan to have the right truck at the right place and time to match a shipper’s needs based on where carriers naturally have capacity.

Using a data-driven approach greatly reduces the amount of costly supply chain rework required in operations and procurement because shippers work with the right carriers on the front end, rather than sending freight to the spot market when contracts fall through after a bid.

Getting Down to the (Lane Specific) Details

Better data surrounding fuel and freight makes your supply chain more agile. The ability to navigate change is a necessity in a market that is constantly fluctuating based on carriers’ networks and shipper production volume.

While you can make and follow a strategic transportation plan, circumstances and market conditions change daily. Shippers should be able to both manage their strategic plans effectively and respond to the unpredictable including unexpected production delays, volume surges, regulatory uncertainties, natural disasters, and other weather-related issues that disrupt transportation.

That kind of supply chain agility requires comprehensive transportation data management.

It’s easy to see the “big picture” your data provides. You get a bird’s-eye view of your network and can compare yourself to industry peers. Yet, data that delivers actionable insights is found in the details.

Seeing fuel and freight data at the lane level will enable shippers to make the most accurate strategic decisions, and Breakthrough’s Supply Chain team is bringing that level of visibility to our clients’ transportation management strategies.

Supply chain digital transformation and the data visibility challenges that come with it are complex. In a market where tight capacity forces shippers to focus on ensuring their goods are moving to market, digitization may not be a top priority.

But, research from McKinsey indicates companies that aggressively digitize supply chains can expect to boost annual revenue growth by 2.3 percent. That’s why Breakthrough concentrates on developing supply chain solutions for shippers to address challenges in the marketplace today that drive new opportunities in the future. You need a partner that helps you simplify data management and digital transformation.

Find out more about Breakthrough’s solutions, visit our Solutions page or contact Breakthrough today to learn more.

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