According to a Q4 2020 survey of firms with revenues in excess of U.S. $1B, the four most significant consequences of supply chain disruptions over the previous three years were: 1) damage to brand reputation, 2) increased cost of operations, 3) delayed cash flows, and 4) customer complaints, with each answer reported by 30% or more of respondents.
These responses were from a time when companies were still dealing with the first wave of pandemic repercussions, and of course, companies have had to learn a lot since then and make adjustments to their strategies. However, the survey responses show how the pandemic was, in many ways, a wake-up call. Since 2020, shippers have learned the importance of building supply chains that are resilient in the face of unexpected challenges.
To prevent future disruptions to supply chains, shippers now recognize they must fully understand the root causes — in other words, the issues they can target for increasing resiliency. If they know how to address them, they can preventatively build themselves up stronger.
Understanding the Root Causes of Supply Chain Slowdowns
Supply chain issues arise when unexpected events occur and expose vulnerabilities within the system. There might not be difficulties when things are running smoothly. However, black swan events, which bring significant impacts, are becoming more frequent. As a result, it has become important to take proactive measures addressing vulnerabilities to prepare for future challenges.
Three common root causes behind supply chain disruptions and slowdowns include:
1. Fragmented information and lack of real-time visibility
One source of vulnerability comes from fragmented data. Supply chains involve multiple parties, including suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, each with their own systems and databases. This fragmentation makes it difficult for shippers to get a comprehensive view of the supply chain, leading to a lack of real-time visibility. Unless they have up-to-date and accurate information on everything from inventory levels and production schedules to transportation statuses and market trends, companies can struggle to make informed decisions and manage their supply chain operations effectively. This can result in delays, stockouts, and inefficiencies throughout the chain.
2. Inefficiencies in communication and coordination
Another cause of issues stems from inefficiencies in communication and coordination, which companies need to ensure smooth operations. However, communication gaps and inadequate processes can lead to slowdowns and other problems. For example, if adjustments must be made for a given shipment based on the current state of the market and these details are “lost in translation” between systems, it undermines the ability to detect these market trends in the first place. To address these issues, companies must establish clear lines of communication with technology for streamlining and sharing data with supply chain partners.
3. Delays at intermodal exchange points
Intermodal exchange points, such as ports, airports, and rail terminals, bring a significant potential for inefficiency. Although these exchange points serve as crucial points of intersection between different modes of transport, there are often gaps in shipment visibility. When shippers are unaware of problems of inefficiencies or congestion, for example, they cannot take steps to mitigate this risk. Any shipments held up at these points disrupt the flow of the supply chain. Fortunately, companies can leverage technology to span this gap for more efficient handling and tracking of shipments.
With Shippers Paying a High Price for Supply Chain Disruptions, The Transportation Industry Turns to Intermodal Container Tracking
To mitigate these challenges, shippers are increasingly turning to intermodal container tracking as a solution, tracking the movement of containers to their next mode of transport after leaving the ocean vessel. Shippers can gain complete intermodal container visibility from a single platform by using a specialized technology solution, like VIZION API, to collect, analyze, and share data related to container location and event status.
This means no more switching between systems when a container has left the sight of one system. Shippers can view the entire journey end-to-end and ensure there are no oversights when the container changes hands. Seamless tracking ensures that containers are handled efficiently and reduces the chance of problems impacting the entire supply chain.
With VIZION, shippers can access accurate information at any given moment, allowing them to proactively address potential issues, like delays or route changes. Important data can also be shared with partners for greater collaboration and supply chain efficiency. Shippers can minimize costs associated with storage, demurrage, and fines by reducing delays and ensuring efficient operations. At the same time, optimized route planning and resource allocation may present opportunities for cost savings and reduced carbon emissions.
Leverage Complete Visibility from Ocean to Rail with VIZION
As shippers work to avoid repeat supply chain disruptions, intermodal container tracking has emerged as a vital tool for mitigating risks and improving operational resilience. VIZION provides the ability to seamlessly track containers across different modes of transport. Coupled with VIZION’s real-time data and sharing, this helps shippers and freight forwarders increase their operational efficiency, cost savings, and customer satisfaction.
To learn more about intermodal container tracking by VIZION, reach out to us today to book a demo.