In logistics, a control tower is a cloud-based solution used to proactively manage supply chains using artificial intelligence, machine learning and other advanced technologies. It collects and coordinates relevant data from all aspects of an operation to give a 24/7 panoramic overview of the supply chain. Benefits of a control tower include end-to-end supply chain visibility, performance optimization, increased efficiency, lower costs and minimized disruptions.

A freight service provider is a company that specializes in the shipping and transportation of cargo from one place to another on behalf of the shipper. Providers may focus on international shipping or domestic shipping, and may utilize various modes of transportation including land, rail, water or air. A freight service provider often owns their vehicles and ensures shipments are safe, on time and in compliance with relevant regulations.

Just-in-case is a type of proactive inventory management strategy aimed at keeping products on hand in case there’s a surge in demand. This supply chain strategy minimizes the possibility that a business will run out of an item and allows the business to stay competitive and meet future needs. The benefits of this strategy include increased agility and efficiency in responding to sudden spikes in demand.

Reverse logistics is a type of supply chain management that moves goods in an atypical direction — from customers back to the sellers or manufacturers. Reasons for reverse logistics are often related to returns, repairs, replacements, resales or recycling. Examples include a customer returning a purchased item that they are not happy with or someone shipping back a product or product container for recycling purposes. Often, the goal of reverse logistics is to either regain value from the product or dispose of it.

See also: Circular Supply Chain

Service parts logistics, also known as spare parts logistics, focuses on supporting the life of a product after it has been sold to a customer. Simply put, it’s a way to manage spare parts and ensure they’re readily available in hopes of avoiding production delays or supply chain disruptions. If a component within a product fails, service parts logistics is the process that oversees the smooth and timely delivery of spare parts to resolve the issue.

Shared dedicated transportation is a shipping solution that combines the freight from multiple shippers into one truckload — it’s like carpooling for your freight. Shippers turn to this option when they want a consistent and cost-effective solution to less-than-truckload, parcel or expedited shipments. Benefits of this include a reduction in miles and fuel costs, a solution to driver shortages, and the ability to utilize a more sustainable delivery option.

Spot market is a one-time shipping price based on the market quoted in real time. It reflects shipping prices that exist right now — how much it costs to ship cargo if you were to ship it on the spot. Many things affect spot market rates including the current market, supply and demand, the weight of the shipment, and the distance the cargo needs to go. At times, securing truck capacity via the spot market makes sense. However, this type of freight transportation is typically expensive.

White glove logistics refers to a delivery service that provides additional assistance and attention to detail upon initial delivery. Standard shipping typically involves getting something from point A to point B. However, white glove services go beyond that and include tasks such as unpacking, restocking or setting up products. In so doing, the delivery driver often interacts face-to-face with customers while doing their job. White glove logistics services are frequently seen within the food and beverage industry to ensure the freshness and rapid replenishment of food and drink items.

Freight brokerage occurs when a freight broker works as an intermediary between a shipper and a carrier to find the shipping space needed to move cargo. Freight brokerages can work as an important strategic partner for shippers and carriers, matching available trucking capacity with freight even when capacity is tight. Brokerage benefits also include the flexibility it provides shippers to ship cargo as needed, only paying for the amount of cargo being shipped.

What Is Kitting?

Kitting is the light assembly and preparation of units, such as components, parts or tools, ahead of production or shipment. It is especially helpful when a company has a variety of products that are usually purchased together. As an example, a warehouse may package several surgical instruments together into one bag for delivery instead of delivering one bag of scalpels, one bag of scissors, etc., so that upon delivery, surgical kits are already assembled and ready to use. This adds value for the customer while also streamlining and optimizing the fulfillment process.

What Is Zero Inventory?

Zero inventory is the strategy of holding little to no inventory on-hand, instead aiming to obtain products as needed. Related to and often used interchangeably with just-in-time inventory, zero inventory strategies allow for space to be utilized in more meaningful ways instead of for inventory storage. If a company has a reliable supply chain, they may choose not to store extra product on-hand and instead use a zero-inventory strategy to obtain goods or supplies as they are needed.

A yard management system (YMS) is a system or solution software used to monitor and manage the real-time movements within the warehouse yard, tracking where trailers are as they move or are parked for later processing. Often, a YMS will be used alongside a warehouse management system (WMS) and/or a transportation management system (TMS) to allow for faster and even more accurate tracking of trailers and inventory while also providing increased visibility into both workforce and warehouse operations.

A what-if scenario is the analysis of fictional situations to best determine how altering elements will impact the overall outcome. On a strategic level, shippers can model what-if scenarios to see how altering elements, such as a change in suppliers, customer acquisition or increasing the number of cross-docks, will impact costs and transportation before implementing them. When designing what-if scenarios, factoring in the effects the changes would have on all aspects of an operation, can help shape both short- and long-term decisions.

Warehouse location refers to the specific spot, such as a shelf or a bin, where a product is located within the four walls of a warehouse. Location impacts the efficiency and timeliness of picking by letting warehouse workers know the exact location of an item. When designing a warehouse, data can be assessed so that the product most often picked is placed in the most efficient spot. As products change and demand for products changes, the inventory layout can be updated to ensure continued efficiency.

What Is Warehousing?

Warehousing is the utilization of a warehouse to store and process products. Warehousing is important for businesses that manage inventory as having a central location or locations for product storage helps to keep things organized and manageable, while also allowing for efficiency and productivity in operations. Warehousing is an important part of the supply chain and effects everything from inventory slotting to on-time customer delivery. If the operations within a warehouse are ineffective, the entire supply chain may be immobilized through lack of product or delays.

What Is a Warehouse?

A warehouse is a storage place for products that, if designed well, increases business efficiency. Inventory stored within the four walls of a warehouse is organized or slotted to ensure products are in the right place at the right time, making picking or pulling goods for distribution a much easier and efficient process. Warehouse design is the foundation of an efficient supply chain, and warehouses can be privately owned, shared between multiple clients or rented out from a third party.

What Is a Value Chain?

Value chain refers to the chain of activities a company performs to add value to a product or service. In a supply chain, this could include a series of activities from inventory arrival at the warehouse through the shipment and delivery of a product to the hands of the end customer, business or store. Once a value chain is established, a value chain analysis should be performed on a routine basis to ensure efficiency or identify opportunities for improvement.

What Is Visibility?

Visibility is the ability to track and monitor the status and location of parts, components and products as they move along through the supply chain from origin to destination. Within the logistics supply chain, visibility is very important as it underpins excellent customer service and enables companies to drive cost out of supply chains by, for example, anticipating and avoiding operational disruptions. Technology is a critical piece of maintaining visibility, with tools such as transportation management systems and artificial intelligence being frequently used.

Value-added services refer to the addition of something that is not required to a product or service that may add additional value, determined by the difference between the cost to make a product and the revenue it brings in. Value-added services within supply chain logistics could include specialized or customized administrative or physical services such as kitting, bundling, re-branding, customization, re-packaging, returns management or work-order processing These additional services are a way of maintaining the business of valued clients.

Value chain analysis refers to the evaluation of current value chain activities, such as logistics, operations and infrastructure, to ensure efficiency or to identify opportunities for improvement. Performing this type of analysis provides the opportunity for businesses to consider how each step of the chain adds or subtracts value from the final product or service, while also identifying gaps and areas to make improvements, eliminate waste, and meet or exceed customer satisfaction.