Optimisation of transport operations aiming to synchronise goods flows to improve the efficiency of journeys

What is transport flow synchronisation ?

Transport flow synchronisation aims to optimise the transport of goods throughout the value chain.

Its main objective is to remove all breakpoints which may affect product production and distribution. All links in the chain are affected by transport flow synchronisation.

Upstream of production, it is about coordinating the different stages in the transport of raw materials to meet just-in-time supply needs. When it comes to the downstream supply chain, transport flow synchronisation looks to avoid stockouts at distribution sites, and to guarantee the best delivery times to achieve customer satisfaction.

Both upstream and downstream, transport flow synchronisation is particularly important when supplies are subject to just-in-time or synchronous flows.

In terms of distribution, transport flow synchronisation is also a way to overlap deliveries with the management of goods returns. This aspect of transport flow synchronisation is a strategic point in e-commerce which tends to increase goods returns.

The characteristics of transport flow synchronisation

The question of upstream and downstream flows is essential to have a fluid and effective production and distribution chain. This explains why transport flow synchronisation is a recurring problem in logistics flow optimisation projects.

With good transport flow synchronisation, delivery times can be reduced and stocks limited, which is a measure of profitability.

However, goods transport flow synchronisation requires 360° real-time visibility of transport operations at all levels of the chain.

Examples and application

Upstream and downstream supply flow synchronisation

Digitalisation plays an essential role in transport flow synchronisation. It allows flows to be managed optimally to achieve the best efficiency.

To synchronise goods flows, operators use transport flow management platforms and road control towers which fulfil several functions:

  • the collection and consolidation of information shared by operators in the chain related to the transport of goods ;
  • the planning and tracking of transport operations in real time to react to risks and bottlenecks quickly ;
  • the reporting of operations with a view to their invoicing and an analysis to consider any optimisations.

Flow synchronisation and return management

Reverse logistics refers to all activities implemented to ensure the return of goods.

This involves managing the flows of returned goods:

  • due to lack of sales: unsold newspapers and books, outdated items, items left over from promotions, end of season lines, etc ;
  • following order errors ;
  • due to a recall of defective products ;
  • for the recovery of equipment that is obsolete, at the end of its life, etc

Goods may be returned:

  • on the initiative of customers for an exchange, a repair or a refund ;
  • at the request of a company for resale, reuse as is the case for returnable packaging such as pallets or containers, even disposed of or recycled as part of the treatment of production waste, etc.

Goods transport flow synchronisation is useful for:

  • effectively managing and coordinating the frequency of deliveries and returns ;
  • managing logistics costs related to returns ;
  • limiting CO2 emissions by making use of the return journey.