Information technology is the brains behind every shipping operation, and systems need to work flawlessly, especially during the peak holiday shipping season. Having a robust IT system built to handle shippers’ and consumers’ demands takes work. ITS Logistics spends months testing, upgrading and challenging its supply chain technology to ensure it will work seamlessly even on the busiest of days.

 

ITS focuses on its logistics technology well ahead of the peak shipping season, which can start as early as August for some customers as they work to move products to retail locations. “We’re not building anything new during the peak season,” said Rick Ross, corporate IT director for ITS Logistics.

 

The process starts earlier in the year with ITS evaluating and inspecting all its hardware and ordering new components. “Then we start testing the systems, so we know how they will handle the volume of traffic that will be coming through,” Ross said. “We make sure we have system alerts in place, that they’re functioning and that they’re displaying the right status and the network traffic.”

 

 

 

 

“Then we start testing the systems, so we know how they will handle the volume of traffic that will be coming through,” Ross said. “We make sure we have system alerts in place, that they’re functioning and that they’re displaying the right status and the network traffic.”

 

 

 

 

From there, the IT team starts making a list of any server resources ITS needs to increase, which it always does due to increases in traffic and additional functionality needed. “All the new security requirements take a lot of resources,” he said.

 

That also means ITS has to increase internet network connections to its buildings. This year, the company will be doubling all of its connections. “After all of that is done and we’ve increased those individual resources, we start spinning up additional resources with other companies in the cloud, called clusters. Those help us distribute the workload to different data centers across the country. If one city has an outage, it doesn’t take us out,” Ross said, adding that ITS can also rely on those additional resources if there is an unexpected surge. “When demand increases, the clusters are dynamic, and we increase at virtually any scale within minutes.”

 

As part of its preparations, ITS also conducts stress-testing. “We’ll test our supply chain technology systems with the customer, and they’ll try to place the number of orders they receive on a peak day. Then we’ll know if all of our systems can handle it,” Ross said.

 

November and December are spent tracking any complications or issues that arise during the season. “Those are evaluated during January to determine what we are going to do to build out the system for the following August,” Ross said, explaining that problems that do arise are typically process problems in communicating with customers or different systems communicating with each other.

 

Because accurate data is so essential to shippers’ decision-making, it is critical for IT systems to communicate quickly, especially regarding available inventory. “The systems need to know if the product is on the dock or if it is already put away and available or if some of it showed up damaged and we can’t do anything with it,” Ross said.

 

 

 

 

Because accurate data is so essential to shippers’ decision-making, it is critical for IT systems to communicate quickly, especially regarding available inventory. “The systems need to know if the product is on the dock or if it is already put away and available or if some of it showed up damaged and we can’t do anything with it,” Ross said.

 

 

 

 

Supply chain technology also extends to the pick-and-pack, audit and pack-out systems, which have been broken into silos so labor can scale up as needed. “We staff up with temporary personnel we can train in a matter of minutes to do audits or pack-outs. They don’t have to do the entire process from pick and pack to pack-out,” said Kasia Wenker, director of supply chain solutions for ITS Logistics. “That allows us to be flexible on volume and staffing.”

 

As orders come in, the system knows where every picker is. “They scan a cart they are attached to, and they start walking on the floor to pick,” Ross said. “As orders come in, they go to the picker that is closest to that in their area. At any point, the picker can turn in, and then they go to the audit station. They take those orders and pass it over to packing, and the pack-out team will move it down the line for dunnage and labeling.”

 

Logistics providers must be able to scale up quickly because shippers never know when a hot new item or demand might pop. ITS has seen this in the past when a game went viral, Beyonce wore a specific pair of socks, and Dutchess Catherine wrapped her baby in a particular blanket. “In the social media environment today, one TikTok video can blow out an item in a matter of days. I think that is what is driving a lot of vulnerability in the market, but it is also why we have to be able to spin up resources in each area as quickly as possible.”

 

Consumers expect data and updates on their packages, which means ITS also has to manage tracking information. “After we purchase a label, we have the tracking info, and that goes back into our system, then out to the consumer,” Ross said. “All of that information has to be tracked at every step of the process.”

 

The right IT systems and logistics technology solutions are critical in today’s supply chain environment. “IT is no longer a nice-to-have condition. It is a necessary condition,” Wenker said. “Everyone will tell you they can open the box, pick the thing, and put it in a box, but it really is about the systems and scalability the provider has in place to track and communicate at every level.”

 

 

 

 

“IT is no longer a nice-to-have condition. It is a necessary condition,” Wenker said. “Everyone will tell you they can open the box, pick the thing, and put it in a box, but it really is about the systems and scalability the provider has in place to track and communicate at every level.”

 

 

 

 

To learn more about the ITS IT capabilities in fulfillment, distribution and warehouse services, and how we can help your business scale and successfully navigate peak season, contact us today.

ITS Logistics corporate director of IT Rick Ross

Rick Ross, Corporate Director of IT

ITS Logistics director of distribution sales Kasia Wenker

Kasia Wenker, Director of Supply Chain Solutions

Contact us at (775) 353-5160 or fill out a contact form to see how we can help today!

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