Every company has, is, or will be going through the process of digitalization. Oh. Wait. Is it digitalization or digitizing? Asking a few colleagues delivered different views on the use of these two words. Mmhhh. We ended up using digitalization. The business world has been aiming for a paperless office or trail for quite some years. We think that digitization limits itself to just scanning a document into a digital format.
So. What’s so special about digitalization, and what are the key benefits in a logistics environment?
- Data will boost your process (and cash flow)
- Quality and consistency of data.
- Traceability of data (also in how far back you can track an item)
- Speed and accessibility of data
How data will boost your process
CMR’s/Bills of Lading sometimes can take weeks to get to the person’s office needing to approve them. Often the payment of the logistics service provider depends on producing the document. Digital (scanned) documents travel fast and can trigger an earlier payment and earlier response if anything goes wrong. Imagine all information is gathered digital, real-time presented to the office to approve them, and so are your damages.
Quality and consistency of data.
Think of the flow of information between a warehouse and the office: endless loading lists, inbound inspections, and damage reports. To ensure an error-free, quick, and consistent exchange of information, most logistics service providers have installed WMS or TMS or have adopted some form of digitization to walk away from a continuous exchange of paperwork.
To create a realistic and true analysis or report, the measurements of variables in a data set must be the same. With the steady increase in the volume of goods and specific customer requirements, the need for a faster and smoother information flow has never been so strong. By structured data collection, it can be ensured that almost nothing can be missed or forgotten, which means that the chances for human error drastically decrease.
Traceability of data
The number of hours spent turning paper and photos into a comprehensive file is unprecedented. Imagine the level of errors or mistakes made in this process, one digit misspelled, and no one will ever find the correct file again.
How often has it happened that a damage claim received a year later, or 2 or even 3 years later? Will it be possible to find that claim file? How long will it take to find it?
Storing files and photos, archiving endless boxes of closed files in basements, behind your desk, or even a paid outside storage. Fortunately, there are low-cost cloud-based storage options, and the endless stacks of paper are almost gone.
Traceability of data is vital to any structured operations' success, whether it is to find evidence of damage or to find a reference of a previous project about to relaunch.
Accessibility and speed of data
Business communication relied heavily on paper, whether reporting or negotiation contracts. Imagine receiving hundreds of bills of lading, original and copies, having to print all of them, check and put them away in a file most likely never to be seen again. Sounds familiar?
With the scanning option, people starting scanning and still do, hundreds of pages and emailing them. Less pressure on the networks, but still a paper result in the end.
Automatization of digital documentation such as cargo docs, invoices, etc. has risen, giving room for little to no personal involvement. Digitally created notifications can be sent as soon as a product is dispatched or ready, for example. So sharing.
We see that implementing a paperless trail concept is much stronger when it comes to inter-company communication. However, inside a Logistics company, the paper is many times still the king. Take a close look at every process within a warehouse or a terminal. How does one cross-check what needs to be loaded or arriving now in a container that needs to be striped? How are the goods inspected? How are damages recorded and notified?
If any of the above sounds familiar to you, you can start gradually phase in digital solutions into your operational process. So start sharing your Proof of Condition. Be transparent in your part of the supply chain. Remove the risk of errors, improve the flow of timely and qualitative data, and improve your business’s transparency, accuracy, and speed.