INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES IN LOGISTIC
In recent years, new logistics technologies based on information technology, without which it is difficult to carry out the activities of any enterprise, have been developing rapidly.
Any production enterprise is an open system, which is connected by material and information flows with suppliers, consumers, freight forwarders and transport organizations. Such connections, determine some failures in the implementation of activities by each of the participants in the overall system of cooperation (partnership). Therefore, information support of logistics management is one of the most important and relevant areas. Thanks to the successful management of information flows it is possible to reduce warehousing (better inventory management, coordination of actions of the supplier and the consumer, replacement of warehousing of finished products by warehousing of semi-finished products or raw materials), as well as due to information exchange it is also possible to accelerate transportation (coordination of all links in the transport chain).
At the heart of the material flow management process is the processing of information circulating in logistics systems. A prerequisite for the coordinated work of all parts of the logistics chain is the presence of information systems, which, like the central nervous system, are able to quickly and economically bring the right signal to the right point at the right time. One of the most important conditions for the successful functioning of production as a whole is the existence of such an information system, which would allow to tie together all activities (supply, production, transport, warehousing, distribution, etc.) and manage them based on the principles of the unified whole.
Information technologies in logistics
The use of computer technology and modern software can significantly improve the speed and quality of management decisions. The current state of logistics and its development has largely been shaped by the rapid logistics custom software development services. Implementation of most logistics concepts (systems) such as SDP, JIT, DDT, and others would not be possible without using fast computers, local area networks, telecommunication systems, and information software.
A variety of information flows circulating within and between the elements of the logistics system, the logistics system and the external environment form a kind of logistics information system, which can be defined as an interactive structure consisting of personnel, equipment and procedures (technologies), united by related information used by logistics management for planning, regulation, control and analysis of the logistics system functioning.
If the information system involves automated information processing, the technical support includes computer equipment and means of communication between computers.
The widespread penetration of logistics into the sphere of production management owes much to the computerization of material flow management. The computer has become an everyday tool for workers in a wide variety of specialties, and they have learned how to use it. Computer software allows every workplace to solve complex information processing problems. This ability of microprocessor technology makes it possible to approach the management of material flows from a system position, ensuring the processing and interchange of large volumes of information between the various participants in the logistics process.
When implementing the logistics functions at the enterprise, the main directions of the work program are drawn up:
technical means for performing the program task are determined;
compose the requirements for the qualitative characteristics and determine the necessary amount of financial and labor resources;
definition of the basic methods of formation of program tasks;
selection of the organizational form for the implementation of program tasks;
drawing up a network model for the implementation of stages and activities;
development of a system of evaluation criteria and motivation of actions;
organization of control, accounting and evaluation of work progress.
Logic system in production is effective only when conditions are created for its integration into current production and commercial processes. This problem is solved by creating the information basis corresponding to a given type of production and its volume, and other characteristics of the production structure of enterprises. This also includes "up-to-date overviews" of funds (availability of actual and planned orders, maintenance of production main and intermediate warehouses) and deadlines (deliveries, processing, waiting, downtime, compliance with deadlines). To collect this data, the production system across the enterprise has "sensors and measuring tools" that monitor the volume and timing of current processes.
Nowadays, technologies of paperless information exchange between partners are spreading widely. Instead of numerous documents accompanying the cargo (especially in international traffic), information is transmitted via communication channels (Internet) synchronously with the cargo, containing all the necessary product characteristics and details for each item that is sent. With this system, at all sections of the route at any time you can get comprehensive information about the cargo and on the basis of this make management decisions. The logistics system makes it possible for the shipper to access files reflecting the status of transport services and transport load.
Automatic document exchange is possible between producers of goods and large stores, including the exchange of waybills and transport offices when goods are sent directly from the producer to the customer. With paperless information exchange technology, the customer can directly place purchase orders.
Electronic data interchange is a process that allows computers to communicate between companies, to transact through global and local area networks that directly organize the interaction between the computers of different companies. To realize these capabilities, companies enter into standard exchange protocols and contracts between themselves.
2. Creation of logistics information technology
A significant element of any logistics technology is a subsystem that ensures the flow and processing of information, which, when examined closely, itself unfolds into a complex information system consisting of various subsystems. Like any other system, an information system must consist of orderly interconnected elements and possess a certain set of integrative qualities. Information systems can be decomposed into constituent elements in different ways. Most commonly, information systems are divided into two subsystems: functional and supporting.
A functional subsystem consists of a set of problems that are solved, grouped on the basis of goal generality. The supporting subsystem, in turn, includes the following elements:
technical support, i.e. a set of technical means ensuring the processing and transfer of information flows;
information support, which includes various directories, classifiers, codifiers, means of formalized data description;
mathematical support, i.e. a set of methods for solving functional tasks. Logistics information systems, as a rule, are automated logistics process management systems. Therefore, the mathematical support in logistics information systems is a set of programs and a set of programming tools that provide the solution of problems of managing the material flows, processing texts, obtaining reference data and the functioning of technical means.
The organization of links between elements in logistics information systems can differ significantly from the organization of traditional information systems. This is due to the fact that in logistics, information systems should ensure comprehensive integration of all elements of the management of material flow, their prompt and reliable interaction.
Computer technology is also used in some parts of the logistics chain to manage and control complex technical processes. In the field of economic control, on the contrary, the role of regulator (decision-making prerogative) is left to man, and computing technology provides him with the necessary information. For the management and control of operational logistic processes, an important role is an on-line dialogue with the computer, which allows minimizing the regulator's reaction time. Periodic batch data processing is often sufficient for economic control.
Due to miniaturization and cheapening of computing equipment, its decentralization, i.e., bringing it closer to workplaces, becomes possible. Decentralization of the computer allows to significantly reduce the volume of data transfer. A number of data on logistics processes can be processed autonomously directly in a given unit, for example, in a warehouse. The basic idea of creating decentralized databases is the ability to make decisions on the spot with the information connectivity of all decentralized units.
Mutual communication of computing equipment within the enterprise or between several closely located parts of the enterprise (e.g., in the same city) is implemented, as a rule, a stationary line designed only for this purpose. In the case of mobile equipment and on-board computers, some part of the communication line route is wireless. Computers and subscriber points are connected in so-called local networks.
A limiting factor for the use of computers in recent years is the complexity of creating software. Therefore, it is usually sought, on the one hand, to rationalize and increase the productivity of programmers, on the other hand, to create packages of application programs of broad application, suitable for different (especially personal) computers and relatively easily adaptable to the specific conditions of the user.
Experts estimate that logistics information systems account for 10-20% of all logistics costs. Hardware prices in the world are decreasing rapidly; the ratio of computer performance to its price is growing. It should be borne in mind that computing systems are not a universal cure for poorly managed operations. In addition, the uncontrolled use of new information technologies easily leads to a spillover of excessive information and, as a result, increases the cost of data processing with no noticeable effect on the enterprise. Lack of efficiency of information systems may also have other causes: for example, organizational barriers between divisions of an enterprise, low quality (according to the criteria of "fidelity" and "relevance") of data, unpreparedness of enterprise divisions to implement the system.
2.1 Types of information technology in logistics
Information technology in logistics can be created in order to manage the flow of materials at the level of an individual enterprise, and can contribute to the organization of logistics processes in a region, country, or even a group of countries.
At the level of the individual enterprise information systems, in turn, are divided into three groups :
Logistics information systems, included in the discharge groups, are distinguished by both functional and providing subsystems. Functional subsystems differ in the composition of the tasks to be solved. Providing subsystems can differ in all their elements, i.e. technical, information and mathematical support. Let's dwell in more detail on the specifics of individual information systems.
Planning information systems. These systems are created at an administrative level of management and serve to make long-term strategic decisions. Among the solved tasks may be the following: creation and optimization of the links of logistics chain; management of conditionally constant, i.e. little changed, data; production planning; general management of stocks; management of reserves and other tasks.
Dispositive information systems. These systems are created at the level of warehouse or shop management and are used to ensure the smooth operation of logical systems. The following tasks may be solved here: detailed inventory management (storage locations); disposal of intra-warehouse (or intravostok) transport; selection of goods by orders and their picking; accounting of outgoing goods and other tasks.
Executive information systems. They are created at the level of administrative or operational control. Processing of information in these systems is performed at a rate, determined by the speed of its receipt in a computer. This is a so called real-time mode of operation that allows to get necessary information about cargo traffic at the current moment in time and timely give appropriate administrative and control actions on the control object. These systems can solve a variety of tasks related to the control of material flows, operational control of production servicing, facilities management, etc.
Creating a multi-level automated control systems of material flows is associated with significant costs, mainly in the custom web development company, which, on the one hand, should provide a multifunctional system, and on the other - a high degree of integration. In this regard, the creation of automated control systems in the field of logistics should investigate the possibility of using relatively inexpensive standard software with its adaptation to local conditions.
Quite sophisticated software packages are currently being created. However, they are not applicable in all types of information systems. This depends on the level of standardization of the problems solved in materials management.
The highest level of standardization when solving tasks in the planned information systems, which allows one to adapt here with the least difficulty the standard software in the dispositive information systems, the possibility to adapt a standard program package is lower, this is caused by several reasons, for example: the production process at enterprises is formed historically and is difficult to change essentially in the name of standardization; the structure of the processed data varies considerably at different users.
In the executive information systems at the operational level of management, the individual software is adopted most often.
The highest level of standardization when solving tasks in the planned information systems, which allows to adapt standard software here with the least difficulty. In dispositive information systems, the possibility of adapting a standard software package is lower. This is caused by a number of reasons, for example:
The production process in enterprises has developed historically and is difficult to change substantially in the name of standardization;
the structure of the processed data varies considerably from one user to another.
In executive information systems at the operational control level, custom software is most often used.
The main role in the entire architecture of logistics systems is played by dispositive systems, which define the requirements for the corresponding executive systems.
2.2 Principles of construction and operation of logistics information systems
In accordance with the principles of the systems approach, any system must first be studied in its relationship with the external environment, and then within its structure. This principle, the principle of sequential progression through the stages of system creation, must also be observed in the design of logistics information systems.
From the perspective of the system approach, there are three levels in the logistics processes. The first level - the workplace in which the logistics operation with the material flow, i.e. moving, unloading, packaging, etc., a cargo unit, part or any other element of the material flow. The second level - the site, shop, warehouse, where the processes of transportation of goods, placed workplaces.
The third level - the system of transport and movement as a whole, covering a chain of events, the beginning of which can be taken at the time of shipment of raw materials supplier. This chain ends with the arrival of finished products to the final consumption.
The planning information systems solve the problems linking the logistics system with the aggregate material flow. In this case, end-to-end planning in the chain "sales - production - supply" is carried out, which allows you to create an effective system of organization of production, built on the requirements of the market, with the issuance of the necessary requirements to the system of material and technical support of the enterprise. These planning systems as if "tie" the logistics system into the external environment, into the aggregate material flow.
Dispositive and executive systems detail the planned plans and ensure their implementation at individual production sites, warehouses, as well as at specific workplaces.
In accordance with the concept of logistics, information systems belonging to different groups are integrated into a single information system. A distinction is made between vertical and horizontal integration.
Vertical integration is the connection between the planning, dispositive and executive systems through vertical information flows.
Horizontal integration is the connection between separate complexes of tasks in dispositive and executive systems through horizontal information flows.
In general, the advantages of integrated information systems are as follows:
the speed of information exchange increases;
the number of errors in accounting is reduced;
the amount of unproductive, "paper" work is reduced;
disparate information blocks are combined.
When building computer-based logistics information systems, certain principles must be observed.
Principle of using hardware and software modules. A hardware module is understood as a unified functional unit of radio electronic equipment, made as an independent product. Software module can be considered as a unified, to some extent independent, software element that performs a certain function in the general software. Observance of the principle of using software and hardware modules will allow:
Ensure compatibility of computing hardware and software at different levels of management;
increase the efficiency of the logistics information systems operation;
to reduce their cost;
accelerate their construction.
The principle of the possibility of stage-by-stage creation of the system. Logistics information systems built on the basis of a computer, as well as other automated control systems, are constantly developing systems. This means that when designing them, it is necessary to provide the possibility of constantly increasing the number of automation objects, the possibility of expanding the composition of functions implemented by the information system and the number of tasks to be solved. It should be borne in mind that the determination of the stages of system creation, i.e. the choice of priority tasks, has a great influence on the subsequent development of the logistics information system and on the efficiency of its functioning.
The principle of clearly establishing the junction points. "At the junction, the material and information flow crosses the boundaries of authority and responsibility of individual departments of the enterprise or across the boundaries of independent organizations. Ensuring the smooth overcoming of the junctions is one of the important tasks of logistics."
The principle of flexibility of the system in terms of the specific requirements of a particular application.
The principle of acceptability of the system for the user of the human-machine dialogue.
Strategic planning of the information system includes the following steps:
Determination of the business units to be included in the integrated information system (also from a perspective);
rough draft of the functional areas of the information system and the relationship between them;
definition of objects important for the enterprise (customers, suppliers of materials, parts, etc.) and their representation in the information system (this is the most complex task of strategic planning, which is closely related to the previous step)
determination of the possibility of using the functional areas of the system in various departments of the enterprise and evaluation of the expected effect;
establishment of rules for the architecture and technical implementation of subsystems and connecting links, which are created in-house;
establishment of common, function-independent rules and formats for data transfer between functional areas of the information system;
establishing parameters for computing (hardware, operating system, data management system, hierarchical levels of the computer, technical methods of transmission);
development of the implementation project (priorities, deadlines, etc.).
The strategic general plan is created over several months. It is necessary to update it annually, taking into account new experience in the implementation of individual projects, changes in the market environment and further development of information technology.
The formation of a small team of IT specialists and user departments is recommended for the creation of the strategic master plan. The decisive prerequisite for the successful work of such a group is the support of the company management; they formulate the goals and control the progress of the work.
The combination of a strategic overall planning of the information system with a situational action makes it possible to decide on individual projects flexibly and according to the needs of the individual departments, but without isolated, uncoordinated individual decisions.
The construction and operation of the logistics system is based on the following most essential conceptual provisions:
The implementation of the principle of the system approach, which manifests itself primarily in the integration and clear interaction of all elements of the logistics system. This principle is reflected in the development and implementation of a unified technological process of production and transport system, in the transition from the design of individual types of equipment, to the creation of integrated production and storage and production and transport systems. The system approach opens up new possibilities for reduction of duration and optimization of production cycle, increase of productivity in all links of logistic system and their harmonious development especially during storage, warehousing, transportation and reloading processes;
Individualization of the requirements for technological and lifting - transport equipment and industrial products, i.e. rejection of universality in favor of a fuller conformity of the equipment to specific conditions;
humanization of technological processes, taking into account the creation of modern working conditions, the exclusion of adverse effects on the environment;
taking into account the totality of costs throughout the logistics chain with a focus on the market;
Development of services at a modern level, ensuring flexibility, reliability, high quality.
Typically, a logistics system operates in a highly uncertain, stochastic environment - the market conditions, transportation characterized by random processes. Therefore, the ability to adapt is an indispensable property of a logistics system in the context of their action. High reliability and stability is one of the fundamental principles of its functioning. Conflicts at the junctions between different types of transport can be eliminated by creating inter-branch automated systems to ensure the sustainability of the transport system.
Reliable planning of sales and distribution production is of paramount importance for the sustainability of the system, with preference given to strategic planning over operational planning. In order to achieve high reliability of such planning, it is necessary to study the behavior of the external environment and, above all, the market, to identify possible situations and to obtain strategic answers to the questions arising in this connection.
3 PROBLEMS IN THE CREATION OF LOGISTICS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
In recent years, so-called new logistics technologies based on informatics have been developing rapidly. Information systems occupy a central position in these technologies. The development of logistics in the developed countries is driven, not least, by the need for manufacturers to react quickly to changing market conditions, and to adapt in a short time to changing situations.
The central idea of logistics is the planning, management and control of business activities, all material and informational flows associated with these activities. Information systems in logistics imply quick and adequate response to market demands, monitoring of delivery time, optimization of functions in delivery and supply chains, etc.
But here, too, there are difficulties and problems in creating information systems in the enterprise. One of the first problems is the lack of information gathering at enterprises. Basically, the information is not accurate, not operational and not successive. Often companies fail because of untimely or unreliable information received.
What to say in our country such problems lead simply to chaos in the economy. Also poorly developed communication networks in terms of structure and technical level for the information systems serving computers and the lack of information exchange between suppliers-producers and buyers-consumers become the next problem in creating well-established logistics information systems.
What can be done about it? You can create sectoral and internal production centers, which will manage simultaneously information and material flows in the enterprise. It is also possible to create a logistics information system in the area of cargo preparation for transportation using electronic shipping documents in domestic and direct international traffic (we will talk about this later and in more detail). And also to establish logistical interaction between suppliers and buyers of transport and production, to create flexible management methods with a focus on saving resources and energy costs.
The next problem in creating a logistics information system is the lack of technical support at enterprises. This is the lack of computers that would collect, store and transform information, as well as facilitate the management process itself. After all, it is due to the increasing speed and efficiency of response to control data more profitable to maintain a computerized system of communication in economic and production structures.
Also essential is the problem in the field of foreign economic activity of the enterprise, in overcoming the customs barriers, and especially for the states which are in close proximity to each other and which almost every day have communications.
In order to facilitate attitudes in this area it is necessary to introduce a unified cross-national communication information system. It will be designed to transmit information about material flows and control their movement.
This information system will unite the communication systems of many countries and in this connection it will reduce the time of cargo stay at the border stations and related costs. This system should be constantly open to users in terms of data exchange and a common language should be created to use this system as a unified language.
The system would have an independent communication network, and this network would not be dependent on other government information systems. Also it should provide round the clock exchange of information between users and develop with the increase of information flows and the number of subscribers.
With information provision of all enterprises it will be possible to replace some paper documents - electronic analogues, which allows to synchronize the movement of material and information flows, as well as reduce costs in the preparation of paper documents.
In some cases, unnecessary legal complications arise. But in order to implement all this it is necessary to follow advanced technologies, such as: communication channels built using lasers, light guides, space communication means and the like, and since it's all very, very expensive, it also becomes a significant problem for many enterprises.
The basic concept of building a logistics system is based on the principle of clear interaction and coordination of functional elements. In this case, these may include the objects of production and consumption of products, the volume of its supplies (in transit and through warehouses), the availability and need for storage capacity for its storage, the amount of required capital investment, etc.
In this approach, the logistics system integrates the functions of production, supply and sales, i.e. the system by the principle of construction appears to be macro-logistic. Such a system globally solves the following main issues: production of products, development of a general concept of commodity movement, the choice of rational material flows, determining the volume of stocks, the amount of required storage capacity for their storage, the need for their expansion or new construction, the required amount of capital investment, both to increase production and to expand storage space.
Undoubtedly, the use of information logistics has enabled effective communication between the participants in the management process, although it has entailed some problems, such as the lack of data acquisition and processing, the problem of operations research in the management of material and information flows, the problem of supply management, etc. In order to manage information flow and organize electronic data transfer between enterprises, it is necessary, first of all, to achieve compatibility of hardware and software.
Widespread penetration of logistics in the sphere of economy to a significant extent is due to the computerization of material flow management. The ability of microprocessor technology to solve complex issues on information processing, allows the processing and mutual exchange of large amounts of information between the various participants in the logistics process.
Information infrastructure, created both within individual production units and in the entire firm as a whole on the basis of modern, rapidly operating computers, appropriate software, turns information from an auxiliary factor into an independent productive force, capable of significantly and in a short time to increase productivity and minimize production costs.
Thus, we can draw the following conclusions: the use of information logistics systems has made it possible to establish effective communication between participants in the management process, although it has entailed some problems, such as the lack of information collection at the enterprise, technical support in enterprises, etc.
Currently, these problems are being addressed, as the role of information support for logistics management is increasing day by day, acquiring a massive scale, thereby accelerating the process of formation of information technology in logistics.
As for automated systems specifically, of course, we cannot do without them if we want to accelerate and facilitate communication between partners along logistics chains, because every movement of materials is associated with the transfer of information.