A Case for Automating Inbound Logistics

Written by: Marilynn Leonard, New Business Development Executive for Xpertek Contact 

Rising freight costs globally and container shortages have disrupted supply chains across most industries.

Reasons for the rising cost of logistics

There are a number of reasons behind these sharp rises but the one at the front of all of our minds is the Covid-19 pandemic. With rising oil costs due to slowed oil production and the halt to manufacturing in 2021 we are now faced with a backlog on the delivery of goods. The aviation restrictions added to the pressure on ocean shipping for the delivery of goods.

Spilt shipments have also increased the price of delivery. The more shipments involved in processing an order, the higher the shipping costs.

Other factors which have contributed to these rising costs are large carriers and freight forwarders increasing prices to cover costs which causes a ripple effect across all carriers and freight forwarders.

What can be done to counter these costs?

While some of the reasons mentioned above are beyond our control, there are changes that can be made to increase efficiency and counter these rising costs.

One of the answers lies in digital transformation. Digital transformation involves rethinking how a business uses technology, people and processes to deliver value to its customers.

A client of ours, Tarsus, had started their digital transformation pre-Covid, however the pandemic fast tracked their journey and according to Gary Pickford, the Chief Commercial Officer at Tarsus Distribution, “What Covid taught us is to let go and embrace the change.”

For Tarsus, capturing a large shipment comprising several invoices and many stock items could take several hours pre-digitization. This same size shipment now takes minutes with zero errors.

Inbound Logistics Automation

Let’s be honest, data capture day in and day out is not fulfilling for anyone. Then there are the errors that creep in due to finger trouble, which once again delays the completion of the shipment capture. Could these data capture staff be better deployed elsewhere in the business to actually add real value to the customer and the business?

Do you have stats on the number of shipments processed in a period, where the bottlenecks are and how best to improve the process? When volumes return to normal and better, do you need to add headcount and what will this add to the cost of doing business? This is a cost within your control.

With these issues in mind, we have developed an inbound shipping automation solution.

Typical inbound shipping process

The typical inbound shipping process requires documents to be received from suppliers / vendors and freight forwarders. These are waybills, invoices, bills of lading. The information in these documents needs to be compared to what was in the purchase order (PO) to ensure that quantity, price and product are correct.

In some instances a rate of exchange (ROE) has to be captured by finance and then all this data, once verified, gets captured into a company ERP system. Clearing documents are also created for each freight forwarder which then have to be submitted to the South African Revenue Services (SARS).

How our solution address the challenges

Our technology extracts the relevant data from these source documents, compares it automatically to the PO data in the company ERP. If all data matches the process flows directly to finance to capture a ROE and the data then gets captured via an API into the ERP. Instead of hours, this process has now taken a minute or two.

Exceptions are sent via workflow to a user to investigate and rectify before being captured via API into the ERP.

We have several vendor invoices pre-configured and they include physical and virtual goods. Some of the vendors we have configured include: Acer, APC, Asus, Dell, Dell EMC, Epson, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, Kingston, Kaspersky, Sophos, Ivanti, Vector, Zagg.

In addition, we have freight forwarders’ sea and air waybills and bills of lading pre-configured. Bidvest International Logistics, DB Schenker, DHL, DSV, Kuehne and Nagel, Hapag Lloyd to name a few.

These pre-configurations save on implementation time and increase the projects return on investment.

Return on Investment

If a company processes 2,000 physical shipments monthly, we can reduce manual efforts by the equivalent of 4 full time employees.

Start a conversation

If you are still pushing paper it’s to time reconsider and look to digital transformation. Using a combination of workflow, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, we help businesses automate processes, save money and serve clients better.

To start a conversation please email us at contact@xpertek.co.za. We look forward to hearing from you.