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Trucks, Trailers & Efficiency – ERP for the wholesale distribution industry

It’s time to take another look at ERP for a specific industry sector using a popular TV show. I’ve already looked at the construction industry via Auf Wiedersehen Pet, professional services by means of The Office and the retail industry from the perspective of Open All Hours.

I’ve shifted position on the sofa, made myself a cuppa and switched channels, so it’s time to look at the wholesale distribution industry. Since this is all about getting goods and products from point A to point B, it seemed obvious to look at a show that highlighted the individuals who do this to the extreme; ‘Ice Road Truckers’.

Death-Defying Wholesale Distribution

A reality TV series featuring truck drivers crossing remote highways, frozen lakes, rivers and swamps in Canada and Alaska was always going to be entertaining. Ice Road Truckers certainly didn’t disappoint, with submerged trucks, frayed nerves and daredevil driving it was an extreme depiction of the lengths that distributors will sometimes go to in order to make a delivery.

It’s fair to say that most wholesale distribution companies aren’t going to go to these lengths, but it does give us the opportunity to show you that ERP software can be just as adventurous in its pursuits of making your wholesale distribution business more efficient.

Is your software solution on thin ice?

In one season, six thousand loads had to be moved up the road within 12 weeks, before the ice melted on the Arctic Ocean. While the scenario is extreme, the parallel is clear; time is of the essence in any business.

A software solution that isn’t pulling its weight is going to slow down ordering processes, which has a knock-on effect in terms of delivery times and ultimately results in dissatisfied customers. An ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics NAV can streamline the ordering processes, leading to improved warehousing and faster deployment to customers.

The drivers in Ice Rod Truckers have to map out their routes meticulously. One false move and they’ll be under the ice, rather than on top of it. A carefully planned layout is just as important in your warehouse, ensuring the fastest route can be taken to pick up stock and meet customer Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

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Keep your eyes on the road

Up-to-date communication is vital to the Ice Truckers. They are delivering supplies to isolated communities that will be cut off once the ice melts. As a result, they need to stay in touch with headquarters, their eventual destination and the other drivers. In the regular world of wholesale distribution you don’t necessarily have to worry about losing contact in a snowstorm, but the ability to stay on top of the latest information is just as important.

Because modern ERP solutions can be accesses on mobile and tablet devices, you’ll have access to real-time information on the volume and location of your goods and materials, wherever you are. Your employees can see accurate information at any given time, allowing them to make more informed decisions.

Rather than manually reordering stock, automating your order processes also allows you to automatically replenish stock when it runs low. This will reduce your inventory costs, minimise wastage and decrease inefficiency.

Keep on trucking

In season 3, volcanic ash caused by an eruption meant that planes weren’t able to deliver their goods, which resulted in the truckers carrying more loads than expected. Erupting volcanoes aside, an integrated ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics NAV can help you to look ahead and plan your processes based on circumstances that might increase your workload.

Better visibility and real-time stock figures mean that you’ll find it easier to anticipate buying trends, improving order processes and response times to customers, as well as improving forecasting and collaboration with suppliers.

When you find the right integrated software solution, especially when it recognises and addresses specific issues for your industry, you’ll start to see genuine benefits like:

  • Understanding the volume of goods and materials, and where they are located
  • Giving individuals access to real-time data across all departments
  • Improved reporting functionality to predict trends and order appropriately
  • Managing warehousing systems to choose the fastest route to pick stock
  • Improved supply chain information
  • Providing reliable information on stock visibility, product performance and product margins
  • Gathering information on suppliers in terms of delivering on time and price
  • Improved customer understanding
  • Functionality to track and time the entire order process
  • Gauge business intelligence by reporting on costs, resources and orders

An ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics NAV allows businesses who distribute goods to manage their inventory and operational data, cutting costs and increasing margins. Don’t be left out in the cold. With the ability to report more accurately, you can improve efficiency and get your business on the road to success.

Written by Mark Blackmore, Head of Telemarketing at ERP Central, part of the QBS Group