We hear it a lot- “real-time data”, “real-time tracking”, “real-time this” and “real-time that”. As generic and buzz-wordy as it sounds, real-time supply chain management is anything but. Here’s what 3PLs mean when they say their services are done in real-time.

It’s the new industry standard

Supply chain management being done in “real-time” means there is visibility into things like inventory, orders, vehicles, people and equipment using real-time information. This kind of transparency is an advantage for both logistics providers and their customers.

Anymore, a 3PL’s commitment to optimizing their technology is a necessity (we talked about that, here). Optimized, automated operations use real-time information that enhance the supply chain process. Things like mobile track & trace devices or RFID (barcode scanning) that collect moment-by-moment data are examples of real-time solutions to reliable communication in supply chain management.

The real-time benefits are clear

Transparency… get it? The use of real-time data is improving the supply chain experience for both logistics providers and consumers. The benefits are widespread:

In-the-moment updates: Real-time, baby! Traffic just got bad, or maybe a storm’s a brewin’. Real-time information allows for real-time adjustments when there are sudden delays.

Forecasting: Following market trends is vital in logistics planning. Since consumer trends are always changing (remember when people actually left the comfort of their home on Black Friday?), real-time data allows companies to understand patterns that effect their supply chain.

Support: Forecasting also provides insight into the needs of a company’s operations, both internally and externally. As trends change, real-time data helps providers make adjustments to their workflow, like employee and contractor support, or on-hand equipment and supplies.

Customer online visibility: Real-time information, on deliveries and warehousing for example, is key to a good customer experience. Using technology and software that gathers and shares in-the-moment delivery tracking or inventory counts enhance 3PL-customer relationships.

Self-reflection: Messes are inevitable. You learn from a young age that it’s easiest to clean up as you make the mess. Real-time data brings to light operational messes so that a company can clean them up as they move forward. Snags in the supply chain cause a headache-inducing domino effect. In addition to everyday obstacles, a company’s long-term inefficiencies can surface and data can be a guide to their solutions.

And it’s only getting better

As is all of technology, real-time capabilities are quickly advancing. Logistics providers have access to intelligence that wildly improves the logistics network.

For example, Universal Product Code (UPC) and Radio-Frequency Identification, or RFID, are prime supply chain tracking tools. Sensor technology (think barcodes) is collecting innovative data that can be used in real-time and in turn, supply chains are positively impacted. Logistics providers have access to particular variables that effect operations. Anticipating things like current temperature, humidity and even light levels fosters copacetic supply chain operations. These variables are game-changing for companies shipping environmentally sensitive products, like food or pharmaceuticals.

Things change quickly and frequently in the supply chain. In cargo trucking, for instance, transport schedules are subject to real-world obstacles (sorry if I caused you a flashback to this morning’s commute). Access to what’s happening in real-time is the difference between on-time and late. And the importance of on-time reaches far beyond your Chewy box delivery. Folks in the supply chain work knowing that their efficiency can be the causal difference between a pharmacy receiving a patient’s medications on time or not.

Keeping up with real-time changes means that real-time information is key to having efficient, timely and accurate operations.


Real-time technology is an exciting part of the industry’s innovations. RTD Logistics runs on optimized software and uses real-time data to keep things on track. Real-time connectivity throughout our operations is what allows us to give our customers an exceptional supply chain experience.

Visit RTDLogistics.com, or click here, to learn more about how we’re in the business of having the right product at the right place, at the right time and in the right condition.