The lack of collaboration among supply chain partners is one of the most significant challenges in the transport logistics industry. Studies state that missing visibility and lack of transparency result in a decrease of productivity, hindering business processes. This leads to information loss that causes delays, errors, and inefficiencies, resulting in costs that negatively impact the complete supply chain.

Best practices in supply chain collaboration employ different strategies to overcome specific challenges and show how partners in the supply chain collaborate in a multitude of ways.

  • Subcontracting and tendering are helpful to book cost-efficient capacities with forwarders or carriers through seamless B2B communication, assuring customer satisfaction and transport cost optimization.
  • Track & trace capabilities are employed to improve collaboration in shipment monitoring and tracking. It allows for real-time positioning of goods in the supply chain, improving risk identification and mitigation. This enables proactive measures to reduce shipment delays.
  • Collaboration processes for shipment dock management are employed to streamline operations, reduce waiting times and congestion, and thus reduce transportation costs.
  • In the invoice management process, Collaboration in the invoice management process improves process efficiency and invoice and dispute management process times, which means less waiting for money.

Addressing the challenges around transport logistics and freight collaboration is essential to ensure a smooth and efficient operation of the supply chain. This requires an orchestrated effort to invest in digital technologies, establish clear communication channels and guidelines, and streamline processes to reduce delays and increase efficiency. Until recently, tools to implement the above-mentioned process were standalone, mostly cloud-based solutions, developed for one specific purpose. Although these tools can work well, mostly they do not fit in the overall IT-strategy roadmaps.

SAP has developed a network solution that is able to cover all the required collaboration processes within a single platform that seamlessly integrates into the overall SAP landscape. As such, it fits well within the overall strategy of companies within the SAP ecosystem. As a benefit, tons of companies across all industries are already onboarded to the network for all freight collaboration processes.

SAP Business Network

The SAP Business Network is a cloud-based platform that offers comprehensive solutions for various challenges around collaborative logistics and transportation processes.

Overview SAP Business Network Capabilities
Picture 1: Overview SAP Business Network Capabilities

When taking a closer look at the Business Network for Logistics, it distinguishes between three focus areas: freight collaboration, global track & trace, and material traceability.

Freight Collaboration provides optimized logistics collaboration, improved operational responsiveness, and real-time market insights.

  • Jointly manage logistics transactions.
  • Exchange documents and receive insights into process steps performed by others.
  • Adapt to fit partners’ integration capabilities: web interaction / APIs.
  • Natively integrate with backend systems.
  • Use 3rd party logistics networks as a lever.

Global Track & Trace allows transparency into order fulfillment, shipment tracking, and other custom scenarios.

  • Track business process progress and goods in-transit.
  • Deliver tailored insights to business users.
  • Notify stakeholders of exceptions and status updates.
  • Trigger follow-up transactions based on pre-defined rules.
  • Link with real-time shipment progress information from connected visibility providers.

Material Traceability links provenance captured with up- and down-stream analysis.

  • Enable data sharing across an n-tier supplier network to improve end-to-end visibility.
  • Support multi-component provenance.
  • Alert supply chain partners of any product issues.
  • Integrate with backend systems.

SAP Business Network for Logistics – Freight Collaboration

Collaboration options with SAP BN4L - Freight Collaboration
Picture 2: Collaboration options with SAP BN4L – Freight Collaboration

The key benefit of SAP Business Network for Logistics Freight Collaboration (SAP BN4L – FC) is its ability to improve collaboration between shippers and forwarders.

It provides a single, centralized platform for all parties to exchange information and documents, eliminating the need for manual processes for transportation planning, execution, and invoice management. Hence, it helps to drive process efficiency while simultaneously reducing the risk of errors and delays.

Moreover, SAP BN4L – FC offers robust subcontracting and tendering processes as well as track & trace capabilities, allowing shippers and carriers to monitor shipment status in real-time. This enables higher visibility and control over the movement of goods, reducing the risk of lost or damaged shipments and enabling faster response times in case of delays or issues.

SAP BN4L – FC also offers digitalization of gate and dock operations. The platform enables electronic documentation, check-ins and check-outs, and digital seals. This reduces the need for manual processes and streamlines operations. The gain is a lower risk of errors, delays, and increased costs while improving efficiency.

Finally, the platform offers automated settlement and dispute management capabilities, enabling the faster and more efficient processing of billing disputes, freight damage claims, and payment processing. This reduces the time and effort required for settlement and dispute management and enables more streamlined and efficient operations.

Camelot offers comprehensive services to implement SAP BN4L capabilities and benefit from collaborative processes. Visit our website to learn more about SAP BN4L: SAP BNL Freight Collaboration – Camelot ITLab (camelot-itlab.com)

We would like to thank Kenny Moonen, Vipul Honrao and Peter Maag for their valuable contribution to this article.

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