To the lay person it might look like the paper and forest products-industry is on its last legs. Newspapers are going digital or out of business, more and more people keep their reading library on a Kindle, and we’re seeing fewer and fewer flyers making their way through our post boxes. And yes, the rapid digitalization of the ‘print’ media has certainly affected the sector, but that’s only part of the story.
According to McKinsey and Company, the paper and forest-products industry is getting bigger. The demand for packaging, fueled by e-commerce, is growing across the globe as is the need for pulp-based hygiene products. This change has greatly impacted the way companies in this industry operate and has driven many to restructure their facilities and processes.
And while these changes have led to new challenges, they’ve also uncovered plenty of opportunities, especially within transportation.
There’s a big difference between creating a pre-defined number of newspapers every day, and responding to fluctuating demand for online deliveries. That’s simplifying the change, but you get the idea: the industry is dealing with a very new type of end-consumer. The short-term turbulence caused by this change has meant many production plants need to be adapted, while different grades of product are created in new locations.
The transportation challenge here is linked to visibility. Knowing where products are, where they’re needed and planning ahead based on limited knowledge. In this case, freight procurement and load tendering tools are the industry’s best friend. They enable spot freight rate bidding to support ad-hoc transportation needs. Pair with live tracking solutions and you’re already a step ahead of most businesses.
In many cases, the cargo being hauled by these carriers is relatively low value and many of the opportunities for cost optimization lie within the production and transportation processes themselves. In that context, many companies are looking at slot booking. It’s a vital touchpoint for warehouses, carriers and shippers and businesses which optimize their loading and unloading gain a huge competitive advantage.
A dock appointment booking platform provides the real-time visibility needed to cut waiting times and costs at docks, silos and transfer terminals. In terms of cost, avoiding congestion and not having trucks waiting around is a real saver, not to mention the time and money that can be recouped by automating the process. And let’s not forget increased customer satisfaction rates.
The paper and packaging industry is not alone in having to change its business model as a result of digitalization. However, it can take solace in the fact that digitalization offers many opportunities for optimization and improvement – both from a strategic and operational perspective. Better data and visibility leads to better planning potential, and reduces the frustrations of every day work life by automating tedious tasks.
The one element that will not change is the ability of leading companies to continuously improve and adapt their transportation by leveraging the latest technology to stay ahead of the competition.