The movement of goods in and out of warehouses, distribution centers and final outlets like retail chains form an integral part of supply chain management. With the gradual demise of ‘just-in-case’ inventory management and the arrival of the ‘just-in-time’ inventory concept, logistics operations have become critical, and form the backbone of production and distribution operations.
The function of logistics is to provide auxiliary service along the value chain of a product, by transporting the product to different locations for value addition, storage and final consumption. This function assumes significance in light of companies moving their manufacturing locations across different parts of the world for competitive cost advantages. Furthermore, the concept of modular manufacturing and assembly at different locations has forced a strategic role upon logistics to deliver the goods in time.
The function of transporting goods is provided by transportation companies who have extensive fleets consisting of trucks, ships and planes. The ownership of oil tankers and other container carriers, and airplanes in the tourism and courier industries, involves huge costs. The fleet is owned by the companies who manufacture the goods, or is rented out by transportation companies.
Asset management for fleet owners means effective utilization of the fleet, maintenance of the fleet and prolonging the life of the fleet. Maintenance management software packages help achieve these goals. Since fleets are mobile assets, the computerized maintenance system is mostly networked through base stations and mobile stations like hand-held digital assistants and palmtops. Advanced technologies like RFID help pinpoint the location of assets for on-the-road maintenance.
The fleet MMS provides features like data management of the fleet, including fuel entry, the running of miles and crew details. It provides regular features, like scheduling preventive maintenance and crew shifts. The fleet MMS links to the financial parameters by allowing the entry of billing and payment of bills for fuel or on-the-road repairs.