How African supply chains can optimize their logistics operations

Although African supply chains play a key role in the continentโ€™s economy, logistics connects everything. In this article, we will explore how organizations can optimize their logistics operations for effectiveness.

The logistics and transportation industry on the continent is estimated to have a market share north of 500 billion dollars. Very few industries on the continent come close to this, highlighting how critical logistics and transportation are to the continent.

Although critical, not many businesses or supply chains take the time to optimize it, which leads to delays, errors, poor rate of fulfilment, and other issues. Ultimately, the customer is affected.

 

So, how can African supply chains optimize their logistics operations?

Optimizing the logistics operations for supply chains or businesses is not an isolated issue. Many times, it entails different departments working together for the overall good.

Here are some strategies that will help.

 

1. Utilize technology for operations

Technology makes all the difference. It is often lauded as the lifeline of modern supply chain management. Considering the results, it is hard to argue with that. Technology can also do the same thing in logistics.

From order processing to tracking and maintenance, there is no shortage of areas where the application of technology can greatly impact the supply chain. Technology speeds up the entire process and helps eliminate errors. These can help transform any supply chain management.

Utilizing technology to optimise logistics operations will also involve data gathering, analysis, and monitoring. This will help to find areas needing improvement.

2. Real-time tracking and visibility

The application of technology also facilitates this. Real-time tracking is the ability to access information about logistics operations instantly at any time. Implementing real-time tracking and visibility will ensure every stakeholder is in tune with the logistics operation.

Certain tech solutions, such as blockchain and the Internet of Things, make all these possible. However, real-time tracking or something similar can be achieved traditionally. It is just a much cumbersome process.

3. Route optimization

Route optimization is analysing all possible routes and developing the best solution for transporting goods and services. It doesnโ€™t have to be a complicated process, which is where technology comes in.

With technology, routes can be analyzed instantly and provide information for the driver. However, these applications or platforms can make mistakes because of the poor infrastructure.ย 

To make the most of it in Africa, these businesses can and should hire drivers with an excellent knowledge of the landscape.

4. Communication

Just as communication is critical to the survival of any relationship, it can take a supply chain from obscurity to the global stage. Many parties are involved in the logistics business, and the effective flow of information between them helps make the operation much more seamless.

First, ensure you have the right infrastructures in place and then focus on training your team on their importance and how to use both.

5. Outsourcing

This is the practice of handing over the entire or parts of the logistic operations to external stakeholders, usually referred to as 3PL or 4PL. Outsourcing is perfect for supply chains or logistics to leverage the value of experts, and they can also learn from them.

This way, these businesses get to enjoy the outcome of the operation without much of the hassle. It also allows them to focus on other core functions for the effectiveness of the entire supply chain.

6. Inventory Management

Your inventory management system is another major indicator of the success of your logistics operations. Your inventory management determines how efficient order fulfilment will be, which indicates the operation’s lead time.

There are three primary inventory management models: push, pull, and just-in-time. The nature of the product, demand, and industry will determine their application. However, monitoring them and ensuring they are working for the supply chain and logistics operation is wise.

 

Why must African supply chains make it a priority?

There is no shortage of reasons why African supply chains must optimize their logistics operations.

 

๐Ÿญ. ๐—–๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป: Logistics connects any business or supply chain to the consumer. The more optimized it is, the better chance African businesses have of satisfying their customers.

๐Ÿฎ. ๐—Ÿ๐—ผ๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐˜€๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€: The cost of transportation and logistics in Africa can be astronomical. Unique issues impact us differently, including poor road infrastructure, the high cost of petroleum products, security issues, etc. Optimization makes the mitigation of these risks or challenges better possible. It will also cost the supply chain less.

๐Ÿฏ. ๐—ฅ๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ธ ๐—บ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป: There are risks that trail logistics operations, including vehicle breakdowns, loss of goods or damage, and so many others. An optimized logistics operation will ensure these are mitigated, and the operation can proceed seamlessly.

๐Ÿฐ. ๐—œ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ด๐—ต๐—ฝ๐˜‚๐˜๐˜€: An optimized logistics operations empower the business to do more and serve more customers, leading to increased throughputs. This will increase the business’s profitability and make it more successful.

 

Factors to consider when optimizing logistics operations

There are certain factors African supply chains and businesses have to consider when seeking to optimize their logistics operations.

๐Ÿญ. ๐—ง๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป: Technology is an essential pillar in optimizing logistics. However, its integration with the existing system must be taken seriously. Otherwise, it will result in a lot of wasted effort. The tech may be good, but it becomes ineffective when it doesn’t work well with the existing system.

๐Ÿฎ. ๐—Ÿ๐—ผ๐—ด๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐˜€ ๐—น๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€: As we mentioned, African businesses have certain limitations across the board. Some of them face more dire limitations than others. All these must be part of the consideration when trying to optimize the logistics and transportation process.

๐Ÿฏ. ๐—–๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐˜€: Your customers are the ultimate logistics and supply chain operations factor. Their demands should guide the entire optimization process. If the logistics situation is optimized for speed when the customers just want fewer errors with their delivery, the entire process will count for nothing.

๐Ÿฐ. ๐—ก๐—ฎ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜: The product could be perishable or non-perishable. It could be delicate or very strong. Whatever the case, the logistics system must consider the product’s preservation and safe delivery to its customers.

 

FAQ’s on How African supply chains can optimize their logistics operations

๐—ค๐Ÿญ: ๐—›๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—”๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—น๐˜† ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐˜‚๐˜๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜‡๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฎ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—น๐˜†๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐˜€ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ด๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐˜๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ถ๐˜‡๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป?

Data analytics facilitates trend identification, process optimization, and well-informed decision-making. Optimizing logistics processes through the use of data analytics leads to improved resource allocation, planning, and overall efficiency.

๐—ค๐Ÿฎ: ๐—ช๐—ต๐˜† ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ผ๐˜†๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—”๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—น๐˜† ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐˜๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ถ๐˜‡๐—ฒ ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ด๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€?

Employee training improves proficiency in order processing, inventory management, and other logistics tasks. Improved overall efficiency and more seamless operations are facilitated by well-trained personnel.

๐—ค๐Ÿฏ: ๐—ช๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฑ ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—น๐˜† ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—”๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ด๐˜‚๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ถ๐—ฟ ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ด๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐˜€ ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€?

Some of the steps include using environmentally friendly products, maximizing transportation to cut emissions, and incorporating sustainable practices into regular logistical operations.

 

Conclusion

There is a need for African businesses and supply chains to optimize their logistics operations, primarily because customer demands are constantly changing, and the competition is not sitting still. The strategies highlighted here will be of great help to them.