Transportation

The Importance of International Transportation Visibility in a Global Pandemic

Visibility has been the major topic of Supply Chain professionals for the past 20 years. In the time of Covid-19, it is proving to be critical.

Ned Blinick

March 20, 2020

Visibility has been the major topic of Supply Chain professionals for the past 20 years. In a time of normalcy, it is important, in the time of Covid-19, it is proving to be critical.

Where is my product?

That is a question that anyone involved in the global supply chain is asking...sometimes hysterically. Having inbound product level visibility is crucial to ensuring that the demand side of the organization can operate smoothly. Without inbound international transportation, product level visibility organizations are flying blind - or, they are at a minimum, severely visually impaired. Under normal circumstances, visibility is a “nice to have”. In the time of Covid-19, supply-side visibility may very well prove to be a saving capability.

Covid-19 wreaks havoc with global supply chains.

I just got off a call from the Director of Supply Chain with a retailer who is experiencing major angst because many of their products are directly or indirectly sourced overseas. The vast majority of these supply-side shipments come in through the port of Long Beach/LA. His team is being inundated with calls from his internal organization asking, or demanding, to know where their products are and when they will be available. To say that he is scrambling would be an understatement. His direct international supply chain is outsourced to a global 3PL. His indirect supply chain is sourced through 3rd party importers who sell them on a DDP basis. He is calling his 3PL asking for clarity and only gets partial answers - if he even gets through to them at all. Good luck with his 3rd party suppliers. In both instances, he does not have immediate product visibility and can’t give timely responses to those who depend on the information to run their silos (distribution, trade compliance, sales, marketing, finance, etc).This is not a unique case.

The need for import visibility in a time of crisis.

In the past 20 years, supply chains have been threatened and rocked with crises. From SARS, MERS, and Ebola, to the Japanese tsunami in 2011 and the financial crisis of 2008, supply chains have been challenged. But never have we experienced the extent of disruption that Covid-19 is wreaking on every aspect of the supply chain. Because Covid-19 is so pervasive, every organization that has a global supply chain is reeling from lack of visibility into demand and supply. To compound their problems without supply-side product level visibility they are massively overwhelmed.What Covid-19 has demonstrated is that the impact on the demand side is immediate. Not too many surprises there. However, the impact on the supply side is more long-term. And this means that companies might be in an existential situation if they have poor visibility into:

  • supplier’ capacity constraints and PO commitments and their ability to fulfill orders,
  • carriers ability to transport goods,
  • In-transit product allocation,
  • customs and PGA status,
  • deliveries - to DC, manufacturing facilities, and customers

3rdwave iTMS provides total supply-side visibility.

If these scenarios resonate with you, you might want to consider 3rdwave iTMS. 3rdwave iTMS is an international transportation solution that provides total product visibility from Purchase Order to Final Delivery. It provides immediate visibility to product status at Suppliers (POs), In-Transit (Transportation), at Customs (CPB, PGAs), at the Pier, On-Delivery, through to final delivery.When we say immediate product level visibility, we mean you can see and access the status of a product’s position, and the associated product detail, across the entire global supply chain from your computer screen, tablet, or smartphone. No more scrambling for “where’s my product?” answers or supporting documents.3rdwave iTMS delivers real high-definition visibility. It provides complete execution capability that transforms transportation into a real control center in the organization. 3rdwave iTMS provides you with visibility into your product across your global transportation network so that you can better manage your supply chain, reduce supply chain risk exposure, respond more accurately and more quickly.If you would like to see how 3rdwave can help lighten the load of Covid-19 on your supply chain, click here to book a demo.