- Published: 24 Jul 2017
The logistics industry depends on shipments arriving on-time. Delivering too late, or sometimes too early, is unacceptable. Communication is key when comes to making a delivery. To communicate effectively, however, you need up-to-date and correct information. In the supply chain, you cannot tell your customer that you don’t know where their shipment is.
What is visibility?
Visibility in the supply chain means that a shipment’s location is known by one or all parties involved in the transportation of a product. You can do this in many ways, such as using a TMS that will allow the customer to visually see where their product is in real-time.
The problem with visibility
It is oddly satisfying to see exactly where your shipment is. However, this doesn’t mean that it will arrive when it should. While the map you’re looking at shows that your shipment is in the same province or state, it may be caught in traffic. In this case, visibility is a novelty rather than it being completely useful since you wouldn’t be watching the location of the shipment long enough to realize that it is caught in traffic. You would check the location and go back to working.
What is predictability?
Predictability is, essentially, the habit of delivering at approximately the same time, every time. Regarding the supply chain, predictability can be synonymous with trust. It is the trust that a shipment will be delivered when it is said it will be delivered, based on previous performance.
The problem with predictability
You get bored? There really isn’t much of a problem with being predictable, unless the shipment is predictably late. And even then it isn’t too bad, since you could stop using the 3PL knowing that the late delivery wasn’t a rarity but common.
Which is better?
Ideally, you’d want both visibility and predictability. However, if you had to choose one, you’d go with predictability over visibility.
Predictably on-time deliveries make it so visibility isn’t necessary – although visibility is nice to have. Predictably late deliveries make it so you can make a decision to stop using the 3PL.
With both visibility and predictability, you could use visibility to check up on your predictable 3PL’s carrier to make sure that the delivery is where it usually is. If not, you could then take the steps necessary to check with the 3PL about the status of the shipment and whether it will be delivered at the time previously agreed upon.
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