05 November 2019
Elastic logistics. If
you’re in the supply chain industry, it’s likely that you’ve heard the sector’s
latest buzzword, but what exactly does it mean?
Like the elastic band
it is named after, elastic logistics can quickly stretch and contract the flow
of goods through a supply chain in order to adapt to demand. As any business
with a supply chain will be aware, demand for all kinds of products is subject
to huge swings and fluctuations these days, triggered by anything from a change
in the weather to a new social media trend.
Elastic logistics is
driven by predicting and pre-empting these peaks and troughs, enabling a
business to run a lean and efficient supply chain that meets demand as
accurately as possible, even at times of economic uncertainty.
Elastic logistics in the supply chain
Holding the perfect amount of stock has always been a challenge for supply chain
organisations. Too limited an inventory and there’s no extra stock through
which to capitalise on surges in demand, while too large an inventory risks
leaving you with excess stock that’s hard to shift and ends up as a financial
The idea behind
elastic logistics is an agile and responsive inventory and logistical
infrastructure that adjusts to reflect live demand at any given point in time.
This working approach is made possible by operational data direct from the warehouse floor, gathered, collated and analysed over time in
order to forecast fluctuations in demand before they happen.
Increasing flexibility and resiliency
like Amazon have raised the bar for all logistics companies, and consumers have
come to expect 24/7 online stock availability and lightning-fast delivery. Done
well though, elastic logistics enables a business of any size to flex to meet and
more importantly, exceed, customer expectations in these areas. This is
achieved by helping to ensure that there is always enough inventory to fulfil
extra orders. After all, stockouts cost a business more than just missed sales
– consumers disappointed to find their chosen item out of stock will likely
shop elsewhere next time.
At the same time,
elastic logistics allows an organisation to build up supply chain resiliency;
an ability to withstand changeable market conditions and economic shifts. While
it’s not currently possible to predict external factors like these, adopting
elastic logistics gives a business the best chance of being prepared for even
the most unpredictable market event.
How rugged mobile devices fit in
To make an elastic
logistics operational model possible, a business needs to be able to foresee
changes in demand ahead of time. For this, you need data. Data on inventory
replenishment, frequency of orders, sales performance – in fact, a record of
activity from every point in the supply chain. With this, a business can start
to identify the factors that contribute to ebbs and flows in demand, revealed
by data patterns and trends.
Rugged mobile devices
are essential for gathering this information. Handheld computers, rugged truck mounts and rugged in-vehicle devices – all built to be robust enough to survive
harsh and demanding warehouse environments – log operational information down
to the last scan, giving your teams indispensable digital support on the
warehouse floor and your business a way to gather key performance data.
In addition to a wealth of other business benefits, digitising your supply chain management
through rugged mobile devices creates a continuous stream of data your
organisation can use to implement an efficient, cost-saving elastic logistics
approach. To find out more, get in touch with our friendly team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - PETER MARSH
Peter joined TouchStar (formally Belgravium) in a sales manager role in 2001. Prior to joining the company, Peter held Partner and National Sales Manager roles within the parcel and logistics industries.
In 2011 Peter was promoted to Sales Director and is now actively involved in promoting the value of TouchStar’s Rugged Mobile Computing solutions to the warehouse, logistics, manufacturing and field service industries. When not involved in the business, Peter is a keen and enthusiastic football and cricket fan.