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Big Data and data management: Process optimization in logistics

by Editorial Office

Supply chains are not only becoming more complex, but also more digital: Sensors, IoT, telematics or automated systems are capturing more and more aspects of logistics processes. With Big Data, an exponentially growing flood of data from various sources is generated and analyzed every day, but it is often too large or too fast-moving for conventional data processing tools. The solution is efficient data management that helps companies capture, organize, store and manage all relevant information. We explain how companies can benefit from Big Data and data management and why it is important to continuously train employees in data literacy. 

Big Data in logistics: Using information from multiple sources

Big Data is about the collection, aggregation and analysis of large amounts of data in order to achieve certain business objectives. The ability to collect, process and interpret information from multiple sources in real time provides companies with an unprecedented understanding of not only their own business operations, but also customer needs.

In order to generate actual economic added value from the wealth of information collected, it is necessary to evaluate it using powerful IT systems and analysis processes. But which data is really relevant for the respective company? Generally, it is essential to define clear parameters for the data quality, as well as to determine targeted questions that are to be answered by it. Among others, the following areas present new approaches for improving the process chain:

  • Sales and demand planning: Big Data and the exchange of relevant information across companies enable improved sales forecasting in the respective markets – and thus more precise demand planning.
  • Warehouse management: The more transparent the supply chain, the easier it is to reduce inventories and avoid out-of-stock situations. By linking RFID and position data, routes can also be optimized, and warehouse capacities can be used more efficiently with the help of warehousing solutions.
  • Intelligent route planning and transport management: All data on vehicle locations, orders, loads, required resources and traffic obstacles at a glance: With the help of Big Data, logistics managers can plan their transports more efficiently. Intelligent routes also mean less fuel consumption and a reduction in CO2 emissions.
  • Just-in-time delivery: The estimated time of arrival of a truck can be predicted relatively accurately with the help of traffic, weather, and telematics data. This enables improved time window management and avoids long waiting times for drivers on site.
  • Traceability through IoT: Serialized barcodes, 2D codes or RFID tags can be used to clearly identify individual items or components. Big Data solutions ensure that products can be traced along the entire supply chain virtually at the touch of a button.
  • Sustainability: Big Data can not only be a driver for process efficiency and cost advantages, but can also help to meet the increasing requirements for climate and environmental protection through new legal regulations such as the Supply Chain Act or the new EU directive CSRD. Companies that reduce their resource and energy consumption through intelligent SCM can sustainably strengthen their reputation.

Big Data and Data Management – a promising symbiosis

In a data-driven world, intelligent data management is becoming a strategic advantage for companies to cope with Big Data and exploit the full potential of data analysis. By intelligently organizing and maintaining information, managers can gain valuable insights, forecast trends, uncover discrepancies and optimize business processes.

Even minor supply chain disruptions can quickly develop into full-blown problems. That’s why it is advisable for companies to rely on real-time monitoring to identify risks early on and take targeted countermeasures: Regular automated plausibility checks uncover weak points and provide information about potential disruptive factors. Data management as a digital supply chain solution replaces manual, error-prone processes and increases the protection of sensitive content.

The benefits of data management in logistics:

  • Real-time information enables better planning and coordination of supply chain activities.
  • Costs along the supply chain can be better monitored and optimized.
  • Reliable and up-to-date data form the basis for informed decisions.
  • A holistic view of the individual process steps improves supply chain performance.
  • Proactive risk management reveals weak points at an early stage.
  • Data analysis and feedback lead to a customer-oriented focus.
  • Confidential information is protected.

Big Data and data management form a profitable symbiosis: For data management to work, it needs numerous and, above all, up-to-date data sets. And in order to benefit from the insights gained from Big Data, the information must in turn be accessible and maintained.

Challenge of digitization: Focus on data competence

However, data-based decision-making can also lead to damages if incorrect and incomplete data is included in the analysis. Therefore, it is of great importance that employees have sound knowledge in data use and management and are the last instance to review the results before decisions are made or measures are initiated. Regular training helps to ensure that those responsible not only consolidate their knowledge, but also keep it up to date in view of the constant technological developments.

In terms of data competence, there is still significant potential for optimization at most companies: As the 18th Hermes Barometer shows, a large proportion of the logistics managers surveyed are aware of the importance of digital technologies. However, only about one in two sees, for example, an increase in transparency through data sharing and smart data management as a significant instrument for strengthening the supply chain. Logistics experts such as Hermes International support the provision of digital offerings and accompany companies on their digital transformation journey. In a continuous process of further development, Hermes International is also making itself even more technologically future-proof in order to raise its supply chain solutions to a new level.

Conclusion: Big Data and data management increase competitive advantage

The future of supply chains is digital: Big Data can be used to analyze immense data sets, while intelligent data management ensures that this data is maintained in a reliable and targeted manner. Working with real-time data is increasingly becoming a success-critical factor for companies: Therefore, they are well advised to further focus their strategic orientation on the optimization potential of data transparency and data analysis in order to be able to position themselves competitively in the global market.

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