Over the last few years, manufacturers, retailers, and logistics companies have had to find ways to remain efficient in a swiftly changing economic environment. Prior to the onset of the pandemic and the extreme supply chain disruptions that followed, it was common for organizations to focus heavily on the efficiency of their last-mile fulfillment strategy — which comes as no surprise, seeing that this is what ultimately drives consumer satisfaction. However, after years of focusing on the last mile, many major players, such as Amazon, have nearly mastered the space. Two-day shipments to customers are now common, and the reverse logistics process has also been streamlined. At a time when every new efficiency can add up to big time and cost savings, optimizing middle-mile logistics will set up the supply chain for long-term success.
What is the Middle-Mile Logistics and Why is it Important?
Middle-mile logistics involves the transportation of goods between two facilities — for example, from the manufacturer to the retailer or fulfillment center. Companies are looking at ways to modernize this process — or to recreate it from scratch — to better tailor their middle-mile approach to the shifting needs of the current market.
Sam’s Club, the wholesale retailer, recently announced that their Dallas-Fort Worth area locations will now receive middle-mile deliveries of paper goods via self-driving trucks in an effort to streamline the process. The company and their partners expect that the replacement of traditional tractor trailers with self-driving trucks will allow for a more flexible logistics network while speeding up delivery times and the flow of goods, as well as lowering costs. Autonomous trucks allow for more product to be moved throughout the supply chain while remaining efficient and economical. Additionally, to go hand in hand with automated trucks, companies looking to streamline middle-mile logistics may also consider enhancing their optimized route planning — which enables them continually find the most cost-effective and efficient routes to get shipments from the manufacturer to the retailer or fulfillment center.
For companies that may not be large enough to invest heavily in their own middle-mile logistics, partnering with a third-party supplier to assist in optimizing the process is an option. Many enterprises have partnered with iGPS for their pooled plastic pallets, which incorporate RFID tracking and, because of their consistent dimensions, flow through automated supply chain equipment with ease.
Another important aspect in optimizing a company’s middle-mile logistics is enhancing visibility throughout the entire process. Having improved visibility into the workings of middle-mile logistics allows a company to track shipments from the manufacturer to the retailer and ensure they are delivered in a timely manner. This level of visibility is important as businesses work to optimize logistics. It allows them to track what is working in their favor and what may be working against them and make the necessary changes to allow products to flow smoothly.
Among the many lessons learned during this era of supply chain disruption is that middle-mile logistics processes may need fine-tuning. By taking the necessary steps to optimize, organizations can help unsnarl the supply chain and keep it moving.
Companies committed to improving their middle-mile logistics use iGPS plastic pallets for all their shipping needs. Our lightweight, recyclable plastic pallets help provide middle-mile visibility and lower your Total Cost of Business. For more information, contact us at 1-866-557-0047, email a specialist at [email protected], or visit our contact page.