4flow offers 4flow vista®, the integrated standard software for supply chain design and transportation planning. The focus is on reducing total supply chain costs

Our end-to-end planning approach spans from the optimization of network structures for the long-term to the optimization of transportation capacities for the short-term. Planning results can also be integrated into operational transportation management systems.

4flow vista® is modular and can be deployed across different areas:

Network optimization
Strategic transportation planning
Tactical transportation planning
Operational transportation optimization
Integrated transportation management system

Our software displays all relevant modes of transportation for global supply chains and multimodal shipments. It allows the planning and managing of inbound and outbound networks as well as transportation between plants. Material and empties flows can be evaluated. Overall supply chain networks costs is the main focus during analysis and optimization. Modules can be applied individually or as a whole, using a common database.  4flow vista® is global and can be deployed in any industry.

The advantages of 4flow vista® at a glance

Planning and active management with 4flow vista® leads to a significant and sustainable reduction in supply chain and transportation costs:

  • Loads and networks can be easily visualized, evaluated and optimized.
  • Network and transportation planning is standardized, and enables continuous optimization from the strategic to operational level.
  • The supply chain and transportation network is always up-to-date and transparent.
  • Using integrated transportation management, service providers, shippers and recipients are all involved and status is clear from processing to settlement.

Technology and support

Whether as a stand-alone installation, client-server architecture, or software as a service (SaaS), 4flow vista® can be operated flexibly. Integration into an organization’s system landscape can be via standard interfaces, or open interfaces that support different formats such as CSV, XML or EDI. Connections to SAP systems are also possible.

4flow also provides implementation services, including training, project introductions, and continuous ongoing, run-time support.

4flow vista® has received multiple accolades including the elogistics award and the Green Supply Chain Award.  Our software solution has also earned us spots among the Supply & Demand Chain Executive 100 and the list of Cool Vendors in Supply Chain Management from Gartner.
 

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Network optimization

With the 4flow vista® optimization module, supply chain networks can be thoroughly analyzed and evaluated. The focus is on reducing total cost, taking inventories and service times into account.

Realistic modeling of the physical network provides transparency about existing processes and structures. Possible scenarios are generated based on this, after which the network is automatically optimized for total cost and the results are then stored in separate scenarios. Restrictions such as load capacity can easily be included and different levels of detail, such as different internal location costs, can be integrated into the evaluation.

4flow vista network optimization
4flow vista® enables the creation of the optimal structure for a supply, production or distribution network

Using scenarios, a company’s optimal network structure is determined. Typical characteristics include:

  • Level, quantity and placement of sites, such as warehouses in existing networks or in Greenfield planning
  • Cost and service oriented assignment of plants, stores or warehouses
  • Allocation of parts or articles to locations and material flows
  • Evaluation of alternative suppliers or alternative delivery processes, such as sourcing process (considering total landed cost or cost to serve)
  • Reduction of warehousing costs or optimization of service times

Strategic transportation planning

The 4flow vista® strategic transportation planning module displays the current transportation network, displays cost and performance indicators, and identifies possible areas.

Based on past or future requirements, transportation structures and concepts can be planned. Transportation costs are determined on the basis of a logistics service provider’s relevant tariff structures. Taken into account are restrictions such as minimum frequency and conflicting objectives such as inventories or container costs versus transportation costs.

Strategic transportation planning with 4flow vista
4flow vista® supports with identifying optimal transportation concepts

Strategic transportation planning enables optimal transportation structures to be identified. Typical examples might include:

  • Defining cost-effective transportation concepts to be implemented in a supply chain network, such as a milk run
  • Identifying bundling potential, for example at transshipment points and cross-docks, or by combining material and empties 
  • Creating a budget for transportation costs or identifying planned transportation costs for products and models
  • Preparing and supporting transportation tenders and selecting logistics service providers
  • Identifying optimal transportation structures, taking new products, suppliers or markets into account

Tactical transportation planning

 With the 4flow vista® tactical transportation planning module, you can continuously adjust and optimize utilization and costs in a transportation network.

Using current and future requirements, transportation concepts determined during strategic planning can be replanned and adapted for upcoming shipments. Various improvements are achieved, such as optimized transportation utilization owing to adapted transportation frequency or cost-optimized tariff and service provider selection owing to a new transportation concept. The optimization considers and integrates all transport relations of a network in order to identify matching bundling synergies.

Tactical transportation planning supports the rolling determination of cost-optimized transportation concepts. Among the typical advantages:

  • Transportation concepts and routes can be routinely replanned over several weeks or months, allowing standard or alternative concepts to be defined.
  • New transport relations or suppliers and customers can be integrated into existing transportation networks on short notice, and a cost-optimal transportation concept will be determined accordingly.
  • Cost-effective concepts, such as cross-location bundling of shipments, are considered. 
  • Delivery frequencies and quantities for material and empties can be used to restrict or increase the level of freedom in the optimization.
  • A preview for shipments and corresponding capacities required can be created.

Operational transportation optimization

With the 4flow vista® operational transportation optimization module, shipments can be replanned on short notice in order to eliminate inefficiencies.

Optimal transportation concepts identified during tactical transportation planning can be further broken down in operational transportation planning, in terms of exact delivery days and time slots. On the basis of daily shipment volumes, it is possible to determine whether the detailed concept will still be efficient for shipments the next day, or whether an alternative route or different transportation concept would be more cost-effective. The load can be optimized manually by a transportation manager or automatically by the system.

Operational transportation optimization enables the optimal loading of upcoming shipments. Advantages include:  

  • Avoidance of underutilized transportation equipment
  • Use of suitable logistics service providers and low-cost tariffs
  • Consideration of short-term changes in volume or ad-hoc requirements
  • Application of coordinated routes and tariffs or service providers from tactical planning
  • Calculation of utilization considering stackability of containers
  • Load formed either manually or automatically
  • Possibility to pass optimally formed loads over to transportation execution (execution system)

Integrated transportation management system

For the universal optimization and execution of shipments, 4flow offers its integrated transportation management system (iTMS). As an end-to-end solution, it supports all relevant processes from planning and optimization to operational assignment, execution, management and invoicing of shipments. As operational components, module parts are provided by our partners.

With an integrated transportation management system, costs can be reduced and shipments can be planned efficiently and controlled actively:

  • Continuous transportation optimization is made possible through integrated planning from the strategic to operational level.
  • Shippers and logistics service providers are integrated in a single platform.
  • Shipment status is tracked, from pickup to delivery, over several transportation routes.
  • Exceptions and deviations that occur in transportation execution are documented and tracked.
  • Freight cost management supports the handling of complaints, invoicing and crediting processes.
  • Reports and performance and key cost performance indicators for the transportation network are available.
  • All modules from planning to execution are based on one uniform database.
  • Availability as software-as-a service allows for quick implementation.