A view of the transport of goods, from their shipment to the place of final delivery

What is flow visibility for transport and logistics ?

In an environment where just-in-time supply has become the norm, flow traceability for transport and logistics and the visibility it provides is one of the major challenges of the supply chain these days.

Having good visibility of flows of goods allows for the optimisation of logistics and transport operations and rapid intervention in case of problems.

The characteristics of flow visibility

Real-time visibility of transport and logistics operations allows for:

  • a reduction in operational and environmental costs thanks to optimised resource management ;
  • better communication between the different parties involved and more rapid observance of anomalies ;
  • problems to be solved more effectively and reactively by improving decision-making through better consideration and anticipation of risks ;
  • the end customer to be informed quickly to achieve greater customer satisfaction thanks to a superior service quality.

Examples and application

The visibility of goods flows is based on the tracking of transport and logistics operations. These days, this flow traceability is greatly facilitated by digitalisation. Professionals use various digital tools to achieve real-time extended visibility of transport and logistics operations.

Visibility of logistics flows in warehouses

In warehouses, logistics managers usually use a Warehouse Management System (WMS). This software is used to manage all operations required to manage the warehouse and its resources: supply, inventory, stock management, order preparation, shipments, etc.

Transport flow visibility

The WMS can be used with various tools to track transport flows for managing the transport of goods:

  • the Transport Management System (TMS) is a piece of software for managing transport operations and is used to plan tasks based on resources and to optimise flow management ;
  • control towers similar to organisations in place at airports are tools for managing centralised transport operations which provide a real-time 360° view of the entire logistics chain ;
  • track and trace solutions connected to the TMS allow shippers to track goods in real time and receive alerts in case of delay. Some solutions allow the tracking of goods on a specific mode of transport while others provide extended visibility of all the different modes of transport used multimodally.

The transport of food products requires the introduction of tracking and full traceability of the products transported (fresh or frozen products). Real-time visibility is also essential for the transport of dangerous goods (health products, medicines, dangerous waste, flammable materials, etc).

Flow visibility in figures

Regulatory framework

For the transport of food products:

  • European regulation (EC) 178/2002 requires all food business operators to ensure upstream and downstream traceability of foodstuffs.
  • for foodstuffs of animal origin, reference should be made to the decree of 21 December 2009 concerning relevant sanitary rules, and EC regulation no. 853/2004.
  • other foodstuffs of non-animal origin are governed by the decree of 8 October 2013 and EC regulation no. 852/2004.

For the transport of dangerous materials:

  • Directive 2008/68/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council;
  • decree of 29 May 2009 on the transport of dangerous goods by road (known as the "TMD decree");
  • decree no. 84-810 of 30 August 1984;
  • article L. 5331-2 of the Transport Code;
  • law no. 2003-699 of 30 July 2003.