International Logistics and supply chain management >>>
The essence of international logistics is to integrate all the steps necessary to move goods from supplier to manufacturer to customer. This means that a logistics system has to deal with an often disparate set of agents and activities – carriers, warehouses, export regulations, import regulations, customs agents, freight forwarders and so on each of which must be accessed individually by the logistics manager. The goals are multidimensional and include cost minimization increased levels of service improved communication among customers or suppliers and increased flexibility in terms of delivery and response time. The ability of firms to achieve these goals has been limited until recently because existing communications ad knowledge links did not bring together all of the players in the process. The advent of information technology (IT) has allowed communication with the participants in real time via a single connection point.
Integrated software application systems like NextLinx in conjunction with the Internet have enabled large companies such as Cisco Systems to manage their imports and exports more efficiently. Such software capabilities also afford companies such as UPS, FedEx, and DHL the means to integrate their core services with other service providers to offer a fully integrated logistics system to customers.
When a computer manufacturer has to coordinate supply chain that reaches into China, Malaysia, Mexico and Portugal software such as that provided by NextLinx, Descartes and others is used to fully automate its supply chain systems. Trucks, ships, trains and planes cannot be made to travel much faster than they presently do, thus any additional speed has to come from better logistics management. An automated supply chain system can cut the time needed for deliveries from the Far east to warehouses in the United Kingdom from months to just 25days.
For companies not wishing to maintain a fully automated supply chain system in house 3PL providers or integrators such as UPS Logistics Group can process and store all inventory and then ship it within two hours to the precise plant location where it is needed. They can also handle such tasks as customs clearance and return and repair of certain merchandise manufacturers can shift their supply chain structures much more rapidly and with less pain than is the case with vertically integrated operations.
By providing inventory management, order fulfillment and collection integrators can assist e-commerce customers to more quickly enter new markets without having to invest in warehousing and distribution centers. The scramble is on to be able to fulfill orders that come from anywhere in the world without having to set up significant operations in such markets. The less onerous the process of moving products across a particular border, the easier it becomes for manufacturers to set up where it makes sense for business. Speed is perhaps the most essential goal for any manufacture looking to develop a 21st century supply chain.
Before the terrorist attack on New York’s World Trade center (9 /11) international marketers had to contend with myriad details of exporting. Most companies had internal systems to manage documentations customs, shipping and other activities necessary to comply with cross border marketing. Security referred to prevention of theft or pilferage. After 9 /11 home land security added a crucial step in logistics management – vigilance at each point in the export / import process. With more than 23 million sea, truck and rail containers entering the United states each year guarding against the possibility that shipping will be used as conduit into the United states for terrorists weapons is critical. The Cargo and Container Security Initiative (CSI) is one of the US government’s first efforts to enhance post 9/11 security.