"Last-mile delivery problems hampering the pace of COVID vaccine rollout" is just one of the headlines that have been popping up in the last weeks across industry publications and wider media. Here is what we have learned at Zyllem TMS over the years of digitizing and optimizing medical distribution across South East Asia. Full visibility (live tracking) and fully digitized process In any part of the world, gaining immediate visibility can be tricky. It is an even more prevalent problem in Asia where manual processes still prevail, and transportation digitization is only starting. Let's take documentation as an example. Even in medical distribution, paperwork is a norm — multiple forms must be printed and collected by the drivers together with the shipments, and then signed by customers during the delivery process. The documents are only returned to the dispatching base at the end of the day, sometimes even the day after. Moving all this to a digital form not only provides immediate visibility to every stakeholder, it also prevents mistakes from happening. When there is a precious cargo, the ability to track the vehicle live gives peace of mind and an opportunity to step in immediately if an issue arises. Condition monitoring (via digitization) We have all heard about extremely low temperatures the vaccines have to be distributed at. Connecting IoT devices is the first step to address this need. But unless these devices are incorporated into a digitized process and the data is married to each execution steps, it will be difficult to prevent or even identify problems on time. Well documented and digitized touch points / handover processes and the ability to manage multiple stakeholders (managing complexity) There are too many parties involved in a distribution process and you can't simply take any of them out. Even the simplest process has a shipper, warehouse team, dispatcher, driver, and a customer. At many other instances, cross-dock and stop over facilities, multiple transportation providers or at least vehicles and drivers and even transportation modes are a daily reality. How can we manage it? The only answer is a solid SOP and fully digitized process where each step and touch point are visible as they happen. Immediate incident alerts and visibility What if something goes wrong? The reality in the logistics world is that no matter how well you plan and prepare, something always goes wrong — there are just too many factors involved, many of them out of our control (weather, traffic, etc.). The next best thing to preventing the incidents in the first place is immediate visibility and alerting the right parties which allows for recover processes to be activated immediately. Performance reporting At the end of the day, you want to know how well you have done — 'Is there any systemic problem across my distribution network?' There might be weather or traffic issues, problem with a specific providers or even drivers, long waiting time at a delivery site, etc. All these can only be picked up and dealt with via in depth analysis of all the capture data.
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