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Guide to supply chain visibility software

End-to-end supply chain visibility can make a huge contribution to the overall success of your transport logistics strategy. Real-time fleet management, shipment tracking, and asset monitoring are just some of the advantages offered by supply chain visibility software and hardware.

With so many supply chain visibility tools on the market, though, identifying the right ones for your needs can get tricky. That’s why we’ve created this guide, which includes insights on:

  • What supply chain visibility software is
  • Why supply chain visibility platforms are important
  • Which solutions do what

When you finish this article, you’ll have a good idea of which tools may work for your organization.

What is supply chain visibility software?

Supply chain visibility software is a tool that provides insights into the entire supply chain process. It enables real-time tracking of products, from raw materials to final delivery. This software helps companies manage inventory, forecast demand, and identify potential disruptions. It can also assist with transportation, warehouse management, and supplier relationships. 

These insights enhance decision-making, improve efficiency, and increase customer satisfaction. As a result, supply chain visibility software is crucial for successful supply chain management.

Example of how visibility software works

Let’s look at how a freight broker or carrier might use supply chain visibility software.

Assume a freight brokerage or carrier company is responsible for moving goods from a manufacturer to a retailer in the U.S. They use supply chain visibility software to manage and monitor the process.

When a shipment request comes in, the software checks the current transport capacity. It identifies the most efficient route and appropriate mode of transport, considering factors like cost, transit time, and environmental impact.

The software then schedules the shipment and provides the details to the parties involved. It shares estimated departure and arrival times, route details, and any other necessary information.

As the goods move from the manufacturer to the retailer, the software tracks the shipment in real-time. It provides regular updates on the shipment’s location and status, using technologies like GPS and RFID.

If a disruption occurs, like bad weather or traffic congestion, the software immediately alerts the logistics provider. It helps them quickly devise and implement a contingency plan, minimizing delays.

Upon arrival, the software confirms successful delivery and updates the inventory status of the retailer. It also compiles a performance report for the completed shipment, aiding future planning and improvement.

This example illustrates how supply chain visibility software can significantly improve efficiency, reliability, and customer satisfaction for a freight transport provider.

Why logistics visibility is important

Logistics visibility is vital for efficient and effective supply chain management. It enables real-time tracking of goods during transportation. This means businesses can accurately estimate arrival times, enhancing customer satisfaction.

Visibility also allows quick response to disruptions. If there’s a delay, alternate arrangements can be made to minimize impact. It helps manage risks and maintain reliability. Furthermore, visibility leads to improved decision making. Businesses can identify inefficiencies in their logistics processes and make necessary adjustments. This results in cost savings and improved service levels.

In short, logistics visibility boosts efficiency, customer satisfaction, and profitability. It’s an essential aspect of modern supply chain management.

Types of supply chain visibility solutions you should consider

Supply chain visibility software can be categorized based on their primary functions, though keep in mind that many systems blend elements of these categories together. Here are some key types:

  1. Transportation management systems (TMS): This software manages the transportation segment of a supply chain. It covers shipping, tracking, and carrier selection, providing visibility into shipments.
  2. Warehouse management systems (WMS): This software handles warehouse operations. It includes inventory management, picking and packing processes, and storage optimization, giving insight into inventory and operations.
  3. Inventory management systems (IMS): IMS tracks product levels, sales, orders, and deliveries. It provides real-time visibility into stock levels at various points in the supply chain.
  4. Supply chain planning (SCP) systems: These systems enable future demand forecasting and supply chain planning. They provide visibility into future supply and demand needs.
  5. Demand planning systems: These help predict future customer demand using historical data and market trends. They provide visibility into potential future demand fluctuations.
  6. Supplier relationship management (SRM) systems: SRM software manages interactions with suppliers. It offers visibility into supplier performance and risk.
  7. Real-time location systems (RTLS): RTLS is often used with other supply chain software to provide real-time asset tracking within a defined space, such as a warehouse.
  8. IoT and blockchain-based supply chain systems: These modern technologies enable real-time tracking of goods and transactions across the supply chain for enhanced visibility.
  9. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems: While not strictly a supply chain visibility tool, ERPs often include modules for various supply chain aspects, integrating data across the organization for increased visibility.
  10. Risk management software: This software identifies, assesses, and mitigates supply chain risks. It provides visibility into potential disruptions and vulnerabilities.

Remember that successful supply chain visibility often involves integrating multiple types of software to cover all aspects of the supply chain, from suppliers to end-customers.

Find the best supply chain visibility software for your business

Real-time visibility solutions are crucial to the success of any company involved in shipping logistics. Whether you’re a manufacturer, carrier or broker, it would be unwise to forgo all the advantages of a supply chain visibility platform. Continue researching your options, and you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your specific needs and budget.

Read more in our “Supply chain visibility essentials” article hub


What is supply chain visibility?

Supply chain visibility refers to the transparency in the supply chain process. It’s about having real-time insights into the location and status of products, from raw materials to final delivery. This visibility is crucial for managing inventory, predicting demand, identifying disruptions, and making informed decisions.

What is RTTVP?

RTTVP stands for real-time transportation visibility platforms. These are systems that provide real-time information about the location and status of shipments during transportation. By offering accurate delivery estimations and immediate notifications of disruptions, RTTVP enhances efficiency and customer service in logistics operations.

What is the best TMS?

The best transportation management system (TMS) depends on your specific needs, because each system has its own unique features and strengths. Check out this list of top TMSs in categories like “best for small- to mid-sized carriers,” “best for efficiency,” etc.

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