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Companies dealing with logistics are facing enormous challenges these days. The number of sales orders to be fulfilled has rapidly increased through omnichannel, and traffic congestion – especially in urban areas – make punctual delivery difficult. Furthermore, international freight transport is expected to quadruple by 2050, per OECD’s 2015 International Transport Forum report on Global Trade, so complexity will continue to grow. This will lead to major volatility and, in many cases, disruptions and deviation from original logistics plans.

From the very beginning, the logistics ecosystem has had many players and moving parts. Products are handled and transferred between suppliers, manufacturers, distribution centers, retailers, and customers. But many companies today are struggling with poor visibility into their own, as well as their business partners’, operations, and inter-organizational collaborations with mostly independent business partners often result in insufficient communication between the parties involved. This can lead to bottlenecks and idle times causing delays, and the lack of transparency throughout goods movement prevents optimal infrastructure usage.

Companies must implement special measures to make sure they deliver the right product at the right time to the right location and at the right cost in this complex ecosystem. Internet of Things technologies can help. They can enable linking the physical flow with the information flow, providing new insights and ensuring advanced collaboration.

As can be read in this blog post, a number of solutions and technologies already exist that specifically help optimize internal logistics operations. But what else can be done to improve the overall ecosystem? And how can organizations outside of logistics contribute to the ecosystem optimization?

SAP is transforming logistics

SAP Networked Logistics Hub is a business network where all parties involved in hub-related transportation can easily onboard themselves and benefit from the transparency and communication methods provided, whether they have a direct business relationship or not. The solution allows the monitoring of geo-location truck transports, leveraging geo fences for both automatic and manual notifications and providing insight to all involved parties based on role-specific user access.

By sending automatic or manual notifications to approaching or departing trucks passing a geo fence, drivers can be better informed about relevant incidents, such as closed bridges or traffic congestion. Site and terminal operators can be informed of approaching trucks so they can better plan appropriate follow-up activities. Simultaneously, it is possible to dispatch routes in a more accurate and educated fashion, as logistics service providers are supported by more advanced analytics.

These improvements can result in on-time delivery, increased customer satisfaction, and higher competitiveness.

Meeting the logistical needs of a variety of companies

SAP Networked Logistics Hub is relevant for companies operating one or more logistics hubs that seek ways to leverage Internet of Things capabilities in their digital transformation. It allows them to:

  • Connect with their business partner ecosystem for improved real-time transparency
  • Optimize inbound, outbound, and internal hub traffic for increased goods throughput
  • Improve efficiency
  • Reduce waiting times, which eventually leads to increased infrastructure and asset utilization

Furthermore, the solution supports easy onboarding and usage with fast time to value and a low TCO for both SAP- as well as non-SAP customers.

Fast-moving consumer products companies can use SAP Networked Logistics Hub to benefit from real-time alerts of late shipments for proactive resolution that would help them optimize logistics processes at production sites and distribution centers, leading to further reduced logistics costs, reduced carbon footprint, and increased service quality and transparency.

Postal companies can supplement their existing operations control centers, allowing them to track truck shipment progress across the complete supply chain in real time.

Chemical companies can benefit from the congestion-free, continuous flow of trucks to loading stations for optimized warehouse and loading processes, ensuring fulfilment according to advanced service levels.

With new capabilities provided as part of the latest release of this SAP HANA Cloud Platform-based offering, logistics companies are now more equipped than ever to manage inbound, outbound, and internal hub operations.

Find additional details on this offering on SAP Solution Explorer, and check out www.sap.com/iot to learn more about SAP solutions for the Internet of Things.

(Co-authored by Sarah Weber)

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