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Supply Chain 6 min read

The magic word that bolsters supply chains: visibility

The magic word that bolsters supply chains: visibility

Automated supply chain tools can increase end-to-end visibility. Gone are the days of "What happened to our supply chain?"

The job of a logistics planner is to create, and then maintain, extremely efficient pickup, transit, and delivery schedules amidst a myriad of potentially changing situations.

Unfortunately, even within the best supply chain designs, managers are left with little to no visibility of their shipments once they leave their facilities and are en route to the final endpoint.

For example, look at how global supply lines were disrupted at the beginning of COVID-19, laying bare the need for insight and clarity in the logistics sector.


COVID has shown how fragmented and therefore fragile the global supply chain is. What COVID has not shown is the location of containers that went lost or were stopped at borders. This is because, until now, the supply chain has been check-point based. Assets get checked at specific points... eg ports, customs or factories and then disappear... until the next check point. What happens in between is completely unknown... It does not need to be that way. With accurate and real-time location technology, you can track assets all along the supply chain.  — Erminio Di Paola, HERE Vice President, Transport and Logistics Applications


During COVID, shipments arriving on time at closed ports, borders or retail outlets incurred great costs for the receivers and middlemen. Then, after six or more weeks of global shutdowns and travel restrictions, goods arrived late — or even worse not at all — resulting in great financial loss and effort to close the gap.

So, what can companies do in the future to increase their security? How can they prepare for an unforeseeable future full of moving parts?

Gaining end-to-end visibility, via automation and digitization, can strengthen supply chains and help guarantee efficiency.

Let's take a look at the role that location technology plays in making supply chains more transparent.


Kobo360, a leading African global logistics platform, recorded more than 31,527 deliveries across the entire continent during COVID-19. The company's CEO Obi Ozor told Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany's international broadcaster, that companies spend seven to fourteen percent of revenues on logistics.


Revealing the unknowns

If you're sending a package from one side of a city to another, the best time of day might be around 1pm when traffic is lighter, rather than during rush hour. But if you're in a location following imposed curfews, traffic might be denser during the day than usual. With automated supply chain tools, like HERE Supply Chain Optimization, you can accurately predict and compare transit times, helping to save time, labor and money.

But traffic is only one of the hiccups a logistics manager might face. Let's review a few more:

Troubleshooting the supply chain

Supply chains are vulnerable to a plethora of delays and cost-inducing scenarios. Here a few of the most common:
Just-in-time manufacturing: lowers the costs related to storing large quantities of goods including space and labor associated with managing stock but can also quickly create shortages
Rigidity and centralized production: in times of conflict, companies can't identify or transfer order volumes to alternative suppliers. This practice is directly linked to the concentration of supply in dedicated production zones, eg Asia's fabric industry
Manual processes: if a problem occurs, managers and distributors are digging through a paper trail, which can take days (or weeks), racking up labor costs and likely increasing delays. Making changes to orders, quantity, location or shifting to a different supplier is also difficult


An obstruction in the supply chain can be caused by anything from weather, traffic and shortages to a world-wide pandemic like COVID-19. Without real-time tracking and automated logistic tools that make shipping and receiving more transparent, pinpoint the exact location of a blockage or risk, and enable trucks to re-route themselves around bottlenecks supply chain managers could get stuck in the mire.


Not to mention the amount of daily transactions that are often still managed manually (from the factory to truck to the road to arrival) make supply chains susceptible to slow updates, unaccountable movements, missed scans and human errors.

"Combining many of its solutions — HERE's positioning, tracking and routing, indoor and outdoor [positioning], HERE Technologies created a custom solution for Crave InfoTech. [The company's goal was to] optimize the movements of over 100 forklifts operating in a four-football-stadium-sized warehouse... With HERE's flexible approach, Crave InfoTech can now offer its clients full visibility into the entire supply chain." — Erminio Di Paola, HERE Vice President, Transport and Logistics Applications


With ever-increasing demand and therefore complexity, managers can no longer afford to rely on a general sense, they need detail-rich location data to keep track of what happens between point A and B, and C and D, and E...

Powered by real-time and historic data, HERE Supply Chain Optimization takes the guesswork out of logistics forecasting. With location-enabled tools, conflicts like severe weather, shortages of capacity and road maintenance can be discovered and corrected long before they create a problem.

Jasmine Reimer

Jasmine Reimer

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