THE logistics industry is geared to quickly hire operational skills like pickers, packers and drivers, based on seasonal scalability, but in a highly competitive environment, this isn’t enough to ensure business profitability and happy customers.
In Namibia, a shortage of specialised skills that operate the technology, optimising the distribution of goods to customers, is threatening even the best efforts at scaling up operational capability.
Technological advances have significantly eased the pain traditionally associated with outsourcing skills considered core to the success of a business, but having the right technology available is only one part of the solution.
While technology typically manages customer orders throughout the supply chain – whether it is for large quantities of car parts or one pair of shoes – it is the team of humans operating the logistics technology that need to provide insight into the supply chain functions.
Some of these insights include route planning that optimises service levels and reduce costs, determining driver schedules, according to labour regulations, and manages breakdowns, route deviations and other exceptions that can result in costly redeliveries.
Due to the increased pressure of customer expectations, brought on by developments in e-commerce, changes to customer ordering patterns and a move to centralised distribution services, businesses are finding themselves in need of both operational and consulting services that analyse and optimise their networks.
These include advice where to base production and distribution centres and warehouses, and the most optimal way to service customers, taking business constraints and customer service levels into account.
It is becoming more popular to share the responsibility of strategic decisions and the resulting outcomes, as well as the daily operational management of these systems, with specialist service providers, specifically trained to operate and generate insights from supply chain software.
The solution to this strategic requirement lies in a so-called “control tower”.
A control tower serves as a structure to manage the human resources – whether in-house, outsourced or in a combined model – dedicated to managing the strategic optimisation, routing and route execution software.
A control tower offers a depth of skills that can handle unforeseen circumstances, as quickly as they arise. This negates the need for a business to employ fulltime resources for skills that might only be required on a part-time or ad hoc basis.
Although the outsourcing of these specialised services, through control towers, has grown significantly over the last few years, many businesses struggle to understand how someone outside their organisation could potentially provide better insights into their business than fulltime resources can. A control tower operator is less likely to get distracted by operational details and inherited inefficiencies, as their decisions and advice is primarily based on data generated by technology and best practice. A managed service has a lot of smaller benefits: the control tower can look at strategic considerations like the number and types of vehicles needed, whether a sales or nominated delivery day driven distribution model is needed, and advice on balancing and optimising operations, based on customer service requirements.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015