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Thoughts on Visibility in the Supply Chain

by | IntelliTrans | Mar 10, 2020 | Visibility


Supply chain visibility. Everyone in the transportation and logistics industry needs it. But there are many degrees of visibility in the marketplace. In-transit visibility, which is what is most commonly discussed and shows where goods are along the route from origin to destination, is only part of the picture.


What happens pre-transit? What's happening at the facility - are they ready to load your freight? Just because a railcar or truck has arrived and is ready to be loaded, it doesn't mean that the facility has the dock space to actually load it. When there is dock space available - how long did it actually take to load? And after the loading, what are the extra steps necessary before it leaves? For railcars, it could mean inspections, for trucks it might mean tarping for weather.  Many of these questions exist at the destination facility as well.

Another visibility aspect that is often overlooked is inventory visibility. How much product does my customer have, and how faster are they using it.  What is the status of inventory at the production location - Is it loaded onto a railcar or truck and then set aside, waiting for an order? Do you have certainty on the availability of that inventory – has it been assigned to an order already?  Is it really there, or just a reflection of data management issues?  If it sits too long on either side of transit will additional costs be incurred?

And finally, consider potential route visibility as well. Based on a railcar’s weight, it might be too heavy to travel certain routes. Knowing which routes are possible and which are not based on weight or other factors is another overlooked aspect of visibility.


It really does all boil down to getting the most complete, timely and accurate data that you can in order to execute flawlessly & perform continuous improvements in your supply chain. Without it - you're only getting a small slice of the big picture.