Andrei Radchenko 29.09.2022 22 min read

Top 8 solutions to address supply chain visibility issues

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Previously, we discussed the importance of supply chain visibility and briefly mentioned solutions that help to improve transparency and data exchange in supply chains. This article digs deeper into the top software, platforms, and services helping companies to improve supply chain processes and overcome the visibility issue.

Given that the needs of companies looking for better visibility might vary from case to case, we advise you to consider this list as a guideline helping you and your team navigate your own research and evaluation process. Also, it's important to mention that we do not endorse one vendor over another nor list solutions in a specific order from the best to the worst or vice-versa.

FourKites

FourKites is a global supply chain visibility platform trusted by world-leading brands such as Coca-Cola, Walmart, Dow, and many more. The company's main goal is to support freight and logistics management processes by providing transportation (multi-modal coverage), yard, ocean, and inbound visibility. With those elements incorporated together, platform users can enable end-to-end visibility in their supply chains. In 2022, FourKites was featured as a leader in the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for real-time transportation visibility platforms

FourKites combines real-time data and powerful machine learning to help companies digitize their supply chains. The accuracy of visibility data is ensured by a large global network of supply chain data, many carriers connected to it, and seamless collaboration across the network.

To make it easy to connect the solution with customers' core business systems, the company provides out-of-the-box integration for certain TMS, ERP, etc. However, if your system is not part of the list, you might need to build the integration in-house. This might be critical for many, as in-house integrations always lead to additional investments and possible risks.

The FourKites platform is a kind of Swiss knife visibility solution allowing users to unlock improvements across their business, from better customer service and OTIF (on time in full) compliance to improved planning and better stakeholder collaboration.

The platform is recommended for these industries:
Food & Beverage, Retail, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Pharmaceuticals, Manufacturing, Chemical, Oil & Gas, 3PL & 4PL

Learn more about FourKites: https://www.fourkites.com/

project44

project44 is another real-time transportation visibility platform featured as an industry leader in the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™

The platform delivers visibility for the full shipment lifecycle for all modes of transportation, extended visibility (Yard, Supplier, Order and Inventory, Condition monitoring), and workflow automation capabilities. With all those features, companies can improve operational efficiency and supply chain management.

Relying on the platform, users can expect:

  • Collaborations with the deepest network of connected shippers, logistics providers and carriers across all modes of transportation connected to the project44 ecosystem
  • Native integrations with industry-leading platforms like Oracle Transportation Management and SAP LBN, IoT devices and apps
  • The most accurate data and ETAs for shipments across all modes of transportation
  • Over 760 ELD and telematics integrations,
  • Unique Data as a Service (DaaS) model enabling companies to build modern tracking capabilities and shipment automation programs.

All these make project44 one of the world's leading visibility platforms for shippers and logistics service providers.

Looking at customers of the platform, we can see global brands like Amazon, Walgreens, P&G, Starbucks, Unilever, Bosch, ExxonMobil, Uber Freight, and many more. They all chose P44 to optimize their supply chain operations.

project44 is the undisputed leader in real-time visibility that provides its customers with vital shipment information, helps automate inefficient manual processes and transforms the delivery experience. Thus, improved operations, on-time delivery, inventory management, and customer experience are what project44 users can expect by relying on the platform.

The platform is recommended for Consumer Goods, Food and Beverage, Retail, Manufacturing, and Life Science.

More information about the platform: https://www.project44.com/

Shippeo

Shippeo is a globally recognized provider of real-time multi-modal transportation visibility. The company helps major shippers and logistics service providers leverage live transportation data to deliver exceptional customer service and achieve operational excellence.

Instant access to real-time delivery tracking, automation of inefficient manual processes, and unmatched ETA accuracy is what the Shippeo platform brings to the table. Shippeo provides tracking visibility for all modes of transportation.

The platform can collect accurate real-time data from leading TMS, Telematics, AIS, Parcel APIs, and IoT devices to surface that in the platform of clients' choice, ensuring predictive visibility for the most complex supply chains.

Global market-leading companies like Coca-Cola HBC, Carrefour, Schneider Electric, Total, Faurecia, Saint-Gobain, and Eckes Granini, rely on Shippeo to improve customer satisfaction, achieve operational excellence, and boost productivity through better visibility in their supply chains visibility.

The platform is recommended for these industries: Automotive, Building materials, Consumer goods, Food & Beverage, Manufacturing, Oil, Gas & Chemicals, Retail

For more details, please visit https://www.shippeo.com/

Infor Nexus

Infor Nexus provides end-to-end supply chain orchestration through a solution designed for enterprise-level organizations operating across a wide range of industries, including Chemicals, Oil & Gas, Utilities, Industrial Machinery & Equipment.

As the world's only -single-instance business network, Infor Nexus allows many of the world's most complex supply chains to drive efficiency and agility by optimizing the flow of goods, information, and capital from source to delivery to pay. Specifically, Infor Nexus' solutions help organizations improve on-time delivery and customer service, reduce the cost of operations and improve business partner relationships through eliminating data silos internally and with suppliers, business partners, and customers.

Key applications include supply management, procure-to-pay automation, global transportation management, supply chain finance, and supply chain visibility.

The solution is hosted in the cloud for remote accessibility over the web.

With such opportunities, Infor Nexus users can improve their business and respond to any fluctuations.

For more details, please visit https://www.infor.com/

e2open Logistics Suite / TMS platform

e2open allows planning and executing the movement of goods anywhere in the world with the agility and resiliency to respond rapidly to changes.

The company offers a single platform providing incomparable planning, booking, shipping, and real-time track and trace capabilities across all transport modes (ocean, air, rail, road, and parcel). With its help, organizations can access an extensive global carrier network and enjoy centralized and standardized processes to manage every aspect of their business, including transportation planning, optimization, booking, shipment tracking, and payments.

"One Platform for Everything" approach allows for removing silos and establishing process consistency through cross-functional, cross-enterprise, and cross-ecosystem integration. This results in multiplied efficiencies and increased supply chain visibility.

All in all, e2open provides innovative solutions with the breadth to meet your immediate visibility needs and the depth to grow with your organization.

Companies operating in these industries can benefit from the solution:

  • Consumer (Apparel and Footwear, Consumer Packaged Goods, Food and Beverage)
  • Retail (Logistics And Transportation, Logistics Service Providers, Ocean Carriers, Over-the-Road Carriers
  • Manufacturing And Industrial (Aerospace and Defense, Automotive, Industrial Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Pharmaceutical)
  • Technology And Electronics (High Tech, Semiconductor Manufacturing, Telecom Operators)

Relying on E2open, you can unlock the potential of your supply chain and take its performance to the next level.

More details at https://www.e2open.com/

Descartes MacroPoint

Descartes MacroPoint is a global freight visibility platform and carrier capacity network for logistics-intensive businesses. The platform was built to provide end-to-end visibility through every stage of the transportation journey. The real-time data Descartes MacroPoint allows users to view, analyze, predict, and communicate the status of any shipment in real time using multi-modal visibility, predictive analytics, and an automated communication platform enabling "Manage by Exception" capabilities.

The solution is cloud-based and integrated with a wide range of TMS platforms. It can also automate and accelerate the carrier sourcing process with AI-driven capacity matching.

Complete visibility and control at every step of the supply chain are what Descartes MacroPoint solution offers.

Descartes provides solutions for these industries:
Transportation & Logistics, Oil, Gas & Chemical, Manufacturing, Food & Beverage, Medical & Pharmaceutical, Consumer Goods, Retail.

For more details, please visit https://www.macropoint.com/

Gravity supply chain solutions

Gravity is an end-to-end software solution helping to optimize supply chain operations, mitigate risks, and control costs. Designed to connect all stakeholders from the first to the last mile, Gravity delivers the control and visibility you need by bringing every element of your production and shipping journey into one place. Whether you need sourcing products, managing your orders, or tracking your deliveries, Gravity gives you the power of control.

The solution implies integrations with your existing ERP system. The company offers pre-built integrations for all major platforms and file formats to facilitate integration. You will need to develop custom integrations in-house if you use a system or data format not supported by Gravity.

Relying on Gravity, your business can unlock the following:

  • Closer collaboration and more transparent communication with vendors.
  • Accurate tracking through multi-modal visibility and predictive ETAs for goods.
  • Effective planning and management of your orders and deliveries.
  • Streamlined business operations, .eg, auto-generation of documents like Commercial Invoices and Packing Lists.

Industries that can benefit from Gravity supply chain solution: Automotive, Fashion, Retail

More details at https://gravitysupplychain.com/

Youredi

Youredi is the leading provider of fully managed data integration services and solutions for logistics and the global supply chain.

Although the company is not a visibility provider per se, it is well-known within the domain as a provider of data connectivity solutions ensuring end-to-end visibility for the most complex supply chains.

World-leading brands such as Alibaba, Inditex, TradeLens, and Handy are a few companies that already rely on Youredi as a data connectivity vendor to satisfy their b2b integration needs.

The power of Youredi's proprietary integration platform, combined with an extensive network of partners and an ecosystem of ready-made integrations with leading TMS and carriers from all modes of transport (Ocean, Air, Road, and Rail), allows the company to provide solutions efficiently covering all significant steps of the execution and visibility process - from booking requests to transport documents, or from sailing schedules, and tracking events to invoices. This guarantees end-to-end visibility for all its clients.

Youredi's solutions are iPaaS-based and are provided as a fully managed service. While iPaaS element guarantees solutions' flexibility (you can decide yourself on a solution functionality by adding data connectivity use cases you or your trading partners really need), a fully managed approach implies all the work — from a solution design to its implementation and maintenance — will be done by Youredi's team.

Another benefit of this combo is that you need not deal with one more interface or dispersed system to get data vital for your business. Instead, the data will be delivered directly to your primary business/IT system in real-time in a format convenient for your operations with no need to invest in a piece of software, platform subscription, or a team of integration experts.

This way, Youredi's customers receive solutions designed to fully match their integration needs and are guaranteed a smooth and seamless data exchange throughout the entire supply chain.

Youredi provides tailored solutions for Manufacturing/ Exporting companies, companies operating in the Retail and Wholesale domain, Logistics service providers (LSP), Carriers, and many more.

Learn more: https://www.youredi.com/


Now, when you understand what benefits you can expect from the above solutions, it is time to look at their cons.

Whichever option you choose for your business, you will get improved visibility in your supply chain. However, the question is, to what extent? As a clear understanding of additional efforts and investments needed to get full end-to-end visibility is crucial, we could not skip an overview of the most common drawbacks visibility platforms and software might have.

The main issue is the lack of customization and flexibility. Often, platforms offer a number of out-of-the-box dashboards /reports/ use cases you can leverage. And they are not 100 percent what you need. Some of the solutions imply a sort of customization, but most likely, those will allow rather small adjustments than deep solution tailoring. Thus, be prepared to get quite a rigid product that cannot be customized as much as your business needs. Also, remember that, in such a case, achieving 100 percent of your goals and needs in terms of improved supply chain visibility might require having more than one solution in your IT/visibility stack.

Another issue is that visibility solutions are typically focused on transportation or execution visibility. Or, if it is claimed to cover both, it will most likely be efficient for one mode of transportation only. Meaning if you are looking for multi-modal end-to-end visibility, you again need to have more than one solution in your set-up.

And last but not least is the quality and reliability of data you can expect. As a rule, vendors try to provide as much information as possible. So, they source information from various systems, often helped by web scraping, which is an ok-ish approach, but direct connectivity with stakeholders is much more reliable and guarantees real-time data updates. Plus, due to different data formats in use, to combine the data and make it universally digestible for all platform users, vendors tend to partially provide data via its API or even populate missing parts of a message with zero values. Such messages can cause a system error. Thus, it is vital to know in advance with which data formats solution works and which it doesn't.

If you wonder why these issues exist, the answer is simple. While lack of customization and rigidness results from vendors' attempt to be a universal solution for the market ("needs to be relevant for the masses"), a narrow focus on niche use cases, or better to say, a vendor's specialty and data quality issue, results from vendor's limited technical capabilities and skills.

These issues are common for most visibility platforms existing on the market today, so some of the listed above are no exceptions. Since it might be critical for your case, always ask a vendor for all the details before signing a contract. Otherwise, be prepared that sooner or later, some issues will arise. To be 100 percent sure that the solution will match your goals fully, you better shift your attention towards solution providers such as Youredi.

If you have any questions or need more information on end-to-end visibility solutions Youredi offers, you can contact the company at talktous@youredi.com. Alternatively, you can schedule a demo session with Youredi's integration experts to get a 20 min deep dive into Youredi iPaaS and Fully Managed Solutions designed to help supply chain and global logistics domain. 

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Andrei Radchenko

Product Marketing Manager, Youredi

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