Three Ways Data Is Enabling Smarter Transportation Management – DHL Supply Chain

Transportation is evolving rapidly, thanks to supply chain technology powered by data and analytics. Digitization is driving big changes that can help meet the pace of change.

The rise of e-commerce continues to drive greater expectations around speed, agility, and visibility. Transportation and warehousing providers have been forced to evolve rapidly to keep pace with increasingly high service-level demands—from manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. Supply chain technology—powered by data and analytics—is enabling that evolution.

Ensuring Consistency and Quality

Within the last few years alone, technology has propelled the industry beyond simple track-and-trace data into a whole new world of supply chain visibility. Now, customers not only track their packages through transport, they can receive text or email alerts along the way. The same data can indicate that the delivery is within a mile of its destination, allowing receiving facility managers to plan ahead and eliminate surprises.

This greater visibility has implications beyond on-time deliveries. This data will ultimately lead to companies being able to carry less inventory, because they will know with greater certainty where their products are located and exactly when they are needed. This could lead to significant cost savings over time.

Enabling Efficiency and Productivity

Fleet management systems are also playing a large role in driving greater transportation efficiency. Systems communicate with vehicles on a constant basis, gathering data about how long a vehicle has been on the road, where it is headed, and which route is the most efficient. These systems reduce idle driver time, optimize fuel efficiency, enhance safety, and reduce paperwork while also providing the warehouse with greater flexibility and real-time responses to unplanned events.

Digital freight marketplaces are also enabling companies to think beyond today’s shipment by providing greater transparency in the trucking industry. All these insights can help drive lower operating costs without sacrificing service.

Saving the Roads

Finally, data will coordinate with other technologies to play a role in one of the most exciting developments in transportation: platooning. Platooning links three or four trucks for trips on long stretches of interstate highways. A driver is required for the lead vehicle, and the remaining trucks follow on a digital tether, a short distance apart. The lead vehicle controls the speed, direction, and braking of all vehicles, which respond with near-zero reaction time.

Platooning is likely to be a game changer for transportation, saving driver labor costs, increasing road safety, and providing environmental benefits.

Sharing the Cost of Technology

Carriers and 3PLs are working together today to leverage these and other technologies to drive greater efficiency and cost savings across the supply chain without compromising service levels. 3PLs have proven experience leveraging emerging technologies and can often help organizations quickly take advantage of what’s available (and on the near horizon) at a scalable cost.

To learn more about how digitization is driving changes in transportation, go to the DHL research report The Logistics Transport Evolution: The Road Ahead or visit

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