Good logistics managers need sophisticated information systems to track and manage their material as it moves from factory to retail shelves. Increasing complexity and volume make information systems absolutely vital. There are many specialized software programs that help logistics workers know where their products are and when they are expected to arrive. Supply Chain Management Supply chain management is the hallmark of logistics. It allows the manager to know exactly where his material is, when it will arrive and how it will get there. Both large and small software companies offer these systems. SAP, one of the world’s largest software manufacturers, makes a system that offers advanced tracking features, customization and compatibility with many other systems. It also allows long term supply chain planning. Transportation Management Trucking and shipping freight forwarders manage hundreds or thousands of shipments a day, using sophisticated software to keep track of all these loads. In the past, they needed a small army of human dispatchers to manage these shipments. However, most of the work can now be done electronically. The software keeps track of the shipments so the drivers know where to go and what to ship, just by checking the system online. Mapping Software Mapping software provides detailed images and instructions of the directions need to deliver a shipment. Global Positioning System (GPS) software allows drivers to see their routes and position in real time. In addition, many software systems can dynamically update routes based on the level of traffic or road conditions. This can save the drivers tremendous amounts of time making their deliveries. 3PL Systems Third Party Logistics (3PL) allow transportation or logistics services to outsource management of the delivery, especially if there are multiple modes of transportation involved. Third party logistics has the advantage of monitoring the load from production to end delivery. There are several systems that allow for monitoring of the entire process, including warehousing, shipping, and communication with the factory and buyer, as well as a host of other features.
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