The Future of 3PL and Mobile Technology

Mobile technology is changing the world of business. Today's workers are more untethered and on the go than ever, working on smartphones and tablets from airports, hotels, coffee shops—anywhere they happen to be. In an industry that's all about managing the supply and distribution of materials and goods, it's no surprise that mobile technology is becoming the go-to tool for efficiency and economy for third party logistics providers.

History of Mobile and Logistics

Surprisingly, mobile technology showed up in logistics and supply chain management long before smartphones and tablets hit the scene. The earliest mobile technology use occurred in the warehouse where small, rugged, hand-held computers and bar code scanners were used to manage inventory. Today's mobile warehouse technology has advanced to include RFID applications, "smart" mobile printers, and picking and packing applications.

Mobile technology moved into transportation, as well, with GPS applications identifying traffic jams and suggesting alternate routes, providing accurate ETAs for deliveries, and capturing signatures and other delivery data as required. Mobile devices helped track driver hours of service and facilitated text communication between drivers, dispatchers, and customers.

The Smartphone Era

As smartphones became nearly ubiquitous, the focus of mobile technology shifted to app development that could be used with the devices most workers used every day. Enterprise logistics and supply chain management solutions were created that allowed employees at every process point to have real-time anywhere, anytime access to information such as shipping and tracking data and transportation management reports from their smartphones or tablets .

This was a welcome development, especially for 3PL providers looking to reinforce their relationships with shipper clients. Smartphone apps allowed clients to get rate quotes, trace and track shipments, and get notifications and alerts on their mobile devices.

The Future of Mobile Technology and 3PL Providers

A recent report by IDC Manufacturing Insights entitled "Perspective: Use of Mobility Tools in the 3PL Industry," suggested that emerging mobile strategies will drive efficiency in the supply chain and provide value added services throughout the supply chain. The relationship between mobile and the 3PL provider balances the interests of its customers, its customers' customers, and the needs of its own employees and organization. Where mobile technology shines, however, is in the level of access and information it makes available to every party throughout the supply chain continuum. For example, the future of enterprise mobile 3PL solutions include:

  • Analytics dashboards designed for mobile devices.
  • Notifications and alerts via SMS or other format directly to a mobile device.
  • Real-time shipment tracking and tracing.
  • Real-time geolocation monitoring capability for inventory in transit.
  • Mobile access to essential documentation.
  • Mobile access to information and processes within the customer relationship management tool.

These new mobile tools will enable increased collaboration between the 3PL provider and its clients, but also between the 3PL provider and its shippers to increase efficiencies in the transportation process. These tools increase transparency and advance cooperation between all entities in the supply chain.

Advances in mobile technology are changing the relationship between 3PL providers, clients, and shippers, in ways that benefit them all. At The Apparel Logistics Group, our continual investment in technologies can help your apparel company increase efficiencies in the supply chain. Contact us for a free logistics consultation today.

Posted: 5/18/2015 5:15:09 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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