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If you work in logistics, you know all about the piles of paperwork that accumulate with any shipment. And with all that paper come the inevitable slowdowns when a document is missing or damaged, and has to be re-created. Supply chain slowdowns are a hot topic, and paperwork is part of the problem.

According to an analysis by IBM and shipping giant Maersk, nearly 200 documents were generated for a single shipment of flowers from Kenya to the Netherlands. Each document – bills of lading, Statements of Fact, and an array of certificates – represents a potential bottleneck in the smooth flow of shipments. In an industry where timeliness matters (and really, are there any industries in which time isn’t of the essence?), paper documents are a threat to business.

Digitized documents are now beginning to reduce the mountain of paper that accompanies shipments. One test of logistics digitalization, including digitized documents, reduced the usual 2-week border clearance to one day – an extraordinary improvement.

The logistics sector isn’t the only one seizing the opportunity for more efficient paper management. Government agencies, healthcare, public safety, and the legal system are all benefiting from document imaging, or digitization – converting paper documents to digital ones. Digitization creates “smart documents:” a database of secure, searchable digital documents accessible from anywhere.

Digitization speeds up operations in two ways:

  • The correct digital version of any paperwork can be located and retrieved with electronic speed. No more long delays spent digging through files or archives.
  • A document’s digital version is securely stored. It doesn’t disappear under a desk, or get damaged by insects, or become illegible due to a spilled cup of coffee.

Digitization has other benefits besides operational speed and efficiency. It reduces the need for storage space, as it eliminates the needs for numerous filing cabinets. It is accessible from anywhere, whether an employee is on another floor in a building, or working from home. It cuts down on physical paper usage and the associated business and environmental costs.

But if time is critical to your business, document digitization is guaranteed to save time in retrieving documents, and in preserving documents safely for future use. With digitization, your ship will certainly come in.

 

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