More than 24 million twenty-foot equivalent containers (TEUs) are circulating the world at any given moment. It is no wonder then that even the smallest issue can have enormous ripple effects delaying shipments around the world for hours, days, or even weeks at a time.

As trade activity continues to thrive in Asia, even the smallest issue can have drastic ripple effects, delaying shipments across the region for hours, days or even weeks at time.

Within this complex supply chain of Intra-Asia logistics, freight forwarding companies are working hard to help their customers mitigate and manage these delays. Described by the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association (FIATA) as the “architects of transport” – these ‘architects’ shoulder the difficult responsibility of transporting customers goods – handling their logistics so their customers can focus on other parts of their business.

As such, it is imperative that each step in the movement of goods is simplified and visible, giving freight forwarders ease of mind, with the knowledge of exactly where their shipment is, along every step of its journey.


Why is Visibility important to Freight Forwarders?

According to a recent study from the American Trucking Association, 75% of shippers reported that visibility is a top priority in their supply chain. The crux of this result is reflective of the fact that gaps in visibility generate greater risk for freight forwarders to encounter delays and bottlenecks down the line.

Even the most seemingly robust supply chain is never quite immune from delays. Rail shipments, which normally account for one week of transit time, often face average delay times of almost 27 hours – adding a full additional day to the entire shipment process. Paired with supply chain visibility, these types of delays will inevitably lead to huge additional costs for freight forwarders.

As the Shipping and Freight Resource reports, “Customers today require authentic and visual data to see how their products are moving, identify bottlenecks in their supply chain, and correct for where avoidable costs like demurrage, detention, and storage are being incurred.”

Disruptions can occur in numerous ways, be it weather, human error, congestion, gaps in communication, or any number of other factors. These invariably result in demurrage and detention costs which have to be borne by the freight forwarding company. But no matter the reason for the original disruption, a lack of visibility will almost certainly serve to complicate the matter further.


Building resilience through better visibility

Disruptions in supply chains will never truly go away. The networks are far too complex, with too many different touchpoints for everything to always be in perfect harmony. However, by taking the steps to build true end-to-end visibility across their networks, freight forwarders can certainly help mitigate these challenges to a considerable extent.

This is clearly seen in the research as well, with an Accenture study of 30 leading supply chain executives from earlier this year highlighting a clear correlation between visibility and supply chain resilience. The study found that better end-to-end visibility was directly linked to lower impact on revenue, higher profitability, and steadier share price performance – even when dealing with logistical instability.

In our current times of political and economic unrest, disruptions are to be expected. But the right tools will help companies brace for them and be in a stronger position to overcome them as and when they may arise.

Greater visibility for an essential competitive edge

For freight forwarders in Asia Pacific, while it might seem like a huge undertaking to start building these visibility capabilities within their systems, there’s a very good chance that opportunities to do so are already within reach with their existing suppliers.

However, adopting the right visibility tools at the right time can prove to be even more valuable in the long run. This is where the right logistics integrator comes into play, and it all starts with harnessing available data in the right way.

The first thing it enables is better communication, by fostering stronger connections between stakeholders across the entire network, which in turn helps to expedite movement through various touchpoints within the Asia-Pacific region.

With real-time data exchange, it also becomes considerably easier to reroute shipments, whether by ocean, land or air. This automatically gives freight forwarders a noticeable edge within a competitive and dynamic region, as their transitions across different transportation modes are more seamless and worry-free.

Furthermore, no matter where the cargo needs to be delivered, easier movements contribute to shorter lead times. In the long run, this serves to greatly build trust both with immediate customers as well as end consumers in different regional markets.

Future-proof freight forwarders understand the value that a provider of visibility services and tools will allow them to offer the best possible experience for their customer. The freight forwarders that choose to invest in visibility will ultimately increase their resilience in unstable times and begin to see business gains in both the immediate and the long-term future.

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