Modern-day supply-chain magic

Modern-day supply-chain magic

One might not think of comparing The Wizard of Oz to supply chain management, but the similarities are actually astounding. JACO DE KLERK takes a look at how the two wonderlands are intertwined and what the sector can take from the parallels.
In The Wizard of Oz, the movie based on the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, a young girl by the name of Dorothy Gale must follow a road of yellow bricks to get back home. This marks the first similarity: it’s important to follow the route products take in supply chain management until they get “home” if the integrity of the chain is to be ensured and efficiencies enhanced.

Supply chain management (SCM) can be defined in many ways, but one fundamental concept remains true: every product that reaches the consumer is the result of the combined effort of multiple organisations that make up the supply chain. Companies have traditionally only focused on their own activities rather than those of the entire chain, but awareness of what happens along the full road traveled allows problems to be foreseen and opportunities identified.

And herein lies another parallel. Dorothy, along with her entire house, was transported to the Land of Oz by a tornado – the whole building landing on the road of yellow bricks that would ultimately lead her home. Similarly, one needs to be on the right path to ensure product delivery even during economic storms.

Supply chain activities cover everything from product development to sourcing, production, logistics and warehousing, as well as the information systems needed to coordinate these activities.

One product that can enhance and streamline things while providing numerous other benefits is the ePod (electronic proof of delivery) from supply chain and logistics service provider Cargo Carriers.

In fact, Cargo Carriers itself shares similarities with our fictional story. Dorothy must follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City in order to find the Wizard of Oz, who everyone in the story says will be able to help her return home.

The integrated service the hand-held ePod provides is supplied by the wizards at Cargo Carriers – its technology division, to be precise. Each piece of technology can be likened to those yellow bricks. And here’s another parallel: in her quest to get to see the Wizard, Dorothy is helped by various companions. It’s the same for Cargo Carriers, which is accompanied by a couple of companies to provide its ePod services. Dorothy’s helpers include a Scarecrow and the Tin Man, with the former lacking a brain and the latter a heart. They join in the mission so they can ask the Wizard for their missing organs.

In reality, Cargo Carriers partnered with eFleet and MTN to open the continent to remote fleet and delivery control. It would seem an insult to compare these companies to characters that are without vital organs, but both the Scarecrow and the Tin Man demonstrate that they actually already possess the relevant properties. The Scarecrow had several good ideas along the way, while the Tin Man is kind and sympathetic.

All organs aside, the fully integrated web-based ePod enables total visibility across the supply chain for fleet managers and subscribed customers. And as the saying goes, “home is where the heart is” – but safety and security lie in knowing where your assets are. The ePod enables just this through its near-real-time online tracking, and cuts debtor delays by transmitting signed proof of delivery the moment goods are received.

This makes the verification of orders and times of deliveries possible – improving management control of drivers and thus fuel consumption. The system eliminates the need for a paper trail, which saves money and has a positive impact on the environment. It also ensures that fewer goods are lost in transit, and reduces both debtor queries and debtor days outstanding.

The ePod is customisable and scalable, using the latest mobile technology from both eFleet and MTN. It gives fleet managers the opportunity to control their vehicles, fuel consumption, staff, containers and trailers. This is done through the provision of real-time details about driver positions, routes, shipment progress and driver tasks – ensuring that every yellow brick needed for smooth delivery is in place.

A dedicated website enables subscribed customers to view live updates on the progress of goods, while SMS notifications keep all parties updated of where those valuable assets lie.

The ePod fully automates delivery operations, customer service reporting and billing – improving service levels, streamlining administration and presenting all involved with documentation of the entire supply process.

Working with subsidiary company CargoWare, Cargo Carriers is able to provide its services to clients from here to Ethiopia, showing that the world is truly becoming a global village. This is made possible through the VSat sea cables that are providing even greater bandwidth to the continent.

“Having adapted technology that has been successful in the courier industry, we are now in a position to improve turnaround times and speed up invoicing, helping our clients to get their cash flows up and reduce their working capital,” says McIlwraith.

He adds that the product also improves productivity through enhanced vehicle utilisation, since a simple call ahead by fleet managers can prepare load recipients for final delivery. Keeping everyone along the yellow brick road informed naturally allows supply chain activities to flow better.

Dorothy found her way to the Emerald City and, by clicking her heels three times in ruby slippers provided by Glinda, The Good Witch, finally got to go home. In supply chain management, the magic lies in clicking onto technologies such as the ePod to bring it all home.

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