This is the fourth post of a 5-part series on driving operational efficiencies in fuels, lubricants and chemicals distribution, based on our 15 years of work in the logistics industry.
Real-Time Inventory Control and Visibility
Real-time inventory control reduces theft, increases delivery efficiency, and ensures product integrity.
Imagine a grocery store without barcodes. It’s not hard to visualize problems with accurate checkouts and inventory control without barcodes.
In the 70’s and early 80’s, before barcodes were ubiquitous, grocery store managers had to closely monitor checkout lanes. Otherwise, cashiers could easily ring up expensive items like filet mignon for just $1 per pound. Some were honest mistakes, but other times, cashiers did it intentionally for their friends.
Barcodes don’t completely stop theft and inventory control issues, but they certainly make significant improvements while providing other benefits such as real-time inventory visibility.
Sending a truck out without barcode scanning is like running a grocery store without barcodes.
Mobile App for Bulk Delivery: Enhanced Inventory Control
A mobile app for bulk delivery provides the same controls for grocery stores with barcode scanning.
When using a mobile app for bulk product delivery instead of paper tickets, drivers can get:
- Compartment loading
- Automatic truck/trailer inventory tracking
- Real-time visibility to all trucks’ inventory
- 3-way matches to prevent cross fills
- Non-delivery tracking such as flushes
Mobile apps help drivers load by compartment, showing the pre-trip compartment inventory. As drivers make deliveries, compartment inventory is automatically updated and available in real-time to dispatchers.
Using 3-way matches with barcodes, drivers can easily verify that the selected product matches the scanned compartment (or tote) and tank. This process reduces the chance of contaminated deliveries and provides an electronic audit for the driver to show exactly what steps they took ensuring they scanned the compartment and tank to confirm the correct product.
Real-Time Inventory Visibility
Mobile apps with real-time inventory visibility can’t prevent theft, but they can monitor inventory, inform you of any misappropriation, and discourage bad behavior — just like a security camera watching a cash register.
Real-time inventory visibility can prevent theft of up to $100k/year from one driver alone. Tracking hose flushes and loaded vs. delivered variances, as well as verifying tanks to prevent over delivery can conservatively identify variances of 5 gal/day. At $10/gal, that is $300/week. Without a mobile app, who knows how much you are losing on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
Maintaining product integrity can save thousands of dollars per year. With one issue/year/truck you would save $5k/incident from remediation costs, assuming there are no legal costs related to the customer discovering this problem.
Manufacturers such as ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron are increasing their focus on product integrity. They expect distributors to have tools and processes in place to avoid contamination and provide driver delivery actions.
The Fourth Step to Best-in-Class Bulk Logistics: Inventory Control & Visibility
Implementing inventory control and visibility is the fourth step to best-in-class bulk logistics. Inventory control and visibility enables the other components in our 5-part series to drive logistics efficiency and customer service.
- Part 1: Route optimization – better routes, centralized dispatch
- Part 2: Driver delivery app – paperless, route compliance, driver efficiency, consistent workflows
- Part 3: Tank forecasting – order generation for ALL tanks (monitored and non-monitored)
- Part 4: Inventory control and visibility – track truck inventory, prevent cross fills
- Part 5: Customer service – email advanced ship notifications, proof of delivery, driver on the way
To improve your delivery efficiency, you need tools to make data-driven logistics decisions.