Introducing aThingz: A Logistics as a Service (LaaS) Provider that is providing an end to end Total Logistics Management Solution

Over the past three articles we have

  • outlined the importance of logistics management, especially with respect to cost management, supply management, and risk management
  • outlined the major steps in logistics planning and execution
  • outlined the major modules/solutions that are currently used
  • outlined the major problems with using separate systems for each major step

… and come to the conclusion that while this methodology and modular system worked good in its day, it’s no longer good enough for logistics management in the modern world where natural disasters are a regular occurrence, global pandemics are a reality, global instability and globalization chaos is the norm, and the chances of a large company not experiencing at least one major disruption a year is now essentially zero.

The solution a global organization needs to not only survive, but thrive, is a Total Logistics Management Solution (TLMS) that covers the end-to-end process from order planning through final delivery, payment, financial analysis, and, most importantly, closed loop feedback to improve the planning versus actuals over time.

Today we’re going to introduce you to a vendor that is creating this new generation of TLMS solutions: aThingz. Founded in 2015 to solve the global logistics challenges that other vendors were not addressing, aThingz has built a modular, composable microservices-based, total logistics management solution that can bought as an end-to-end management solution, or on a microservice-based activation format, meant to fill in the gaps between existing organizational solutions. Regardless of how little, or how much, is adopted by an organization, the platform will ensure that all of the solutions are properly integrated, data is pushed and pulled automatically as needed upon changes and updates, re-calculations across the platform (be it pure aThingz or an aThingz powered hybrid platform) are done automatically on updates and changes, and the loop closed to allow for learning from, and improvement in, plan vs. actuals over time.

Billing itself as Logistics-as-a-Service [LaaS], aThingz has a composable micro-services stack that allows it to address through software any or all of the following requirements (that the client needs addressed) while also providing services to manage the logistics planning needs required by the client (if the client wants a [strong] managed logistics offering):

Process Governance
it is a process, and you need to get it right, and process governance must address

  • transformation planning (upon implementation, New Product Introduction [NPI], etc.)
  • change management
  • iterative process improvement
  • process & regulatory compliance
  • performance and financial governance
  • operational governance

Network Master Data Management
as good, synched, data is key for process implementation, and this includes

  • classification, standardization, cleansing, rationalization and enrichment
  • ongoing quality management
  • metrics and improvement
  • rules management

Supply Chain Resilience
which encompasses a lot of the impacted functions (Inventory Management, Finance, Risk Management, Procurement, etc.) and includes

  • supply and demand sensing
  • shipment monitoring and traceability
  • risk factor / risk event detection and monitoring

Forward Looking Logistics Planning
(versus traditional in-week logistics management) which includes, and which can be done on a weekly basis up to a year in advance with real-time recalculation on changes in projections, assignments, etc.:

  • order forecasting and management
  • packaging management and optimization
  • carrier volume forecasting
  • quote and rate management for carriers
  • logistics / transportation planning
  • network optimization
  • (what-if) scenario planning
  • plan communication
  • cost savings identification and tracking; i.e. the ability to track forecast vs. plan vs. (initial invoice) vs. actuals by week by carrier by order over time

For clients wanting pre-packaged solutions, they have pre-composed stacks for:

  • Demand Forecasting
  • Logistics Spend Visibility
  • Logistics (Network) Sourcing Intelligence
  • (Autonomous) Logistics Planning
  • Real-Time Transportation Visibility
  • Supply Chain Resilience

But the power of the solution shines in its end-to-end integration of their six, integrated, modules of:


Their primary data management platform that allows an organization to work on a common set of validated and managed data across all stakeholders of each process and manages the rules for error detection and correction and data cleansing and enrichment to ensure that decisions are highly reliable due to higher quality. Manages the key attributes that influence the processes for the higher quality outcomes, namely, the routes, lanes, suppliers, plants, parts, packaging, docks, contracted rates, carrier, and material records and that reviews, corrects, and augments details as needed.


Their logistics closed-loop planning, scheduling, and management solution that you can use to plan and manage rolling forecasts with detailed requirements. The solution provides flexibility in the planning horizon (e.g. 10, 20, 40 weeks) based on the organization’s needs. (Compare this to many classical solutions that might struggle to do more than few weeks out, or limit the organization to one planning horizon, which was difficult for the platform to manage when a change in week one requires rolling, compounding, changes and recalculations through the progressive weeks.) In addition, carrier forecasts and manifests are created during the planning process and are continuously updated in real time for each period based on product mix changes as well.

This module also has built in analytics and (cost saving) opportunity dashboards, transit time performance insights (to optimize inventory planning), actual truck/container (cube) utilization, and shipment (frequency) analysis dashboards. One of the great things about the planning capability is that it projects down to the container/truck by lane by week and identifies high and low variances to make sure that the buyer contracts a carrier that can increase (and decrease) capacity as needed. Another great thing about the planning capability is that the forecasting component can calculate optimal packing based on packaging options and even show you how to maximize container utilization with a 3-D visualization of the packing plan (boxes onto pallets into containers). Probably the greatest thing about this planning capability is that it walks you through the creation of the forecast to the realization of the operational (logistics) plan in a step by step process and ensures that the plan that is ultimately approved is complete, as accurate as possible, and distributed to the right people at the right time (as it forces the user through the forecast, validation thereof, operational plan draft, and operational plan review by key stakeholders, and only then does it allow approval and distribution).


Their spend management and visibility solution allows a buyer to track and compare logistics financial performance — forecasts vs plans vs invoices vs actuals to see how accurate the forecasts end up being, how close the plans end up being, how the costs are tracking, and if performance is improving over time. In addition to highlighting variances to plan and budget, their solution provides diagnostic insights and helps the organization predict future spend.


Their supply chain AI platform that ties it all together; that monitors, learns, corrects, and reports on the overall supply chain. On the main screen, a user sees an overall summary of the extent of their global and domestic supply chain — routes, lanes, suppliers, plants, parts, and costs; as well as high level insights into equipment, parts, packaging, plants, ports, and overall data quality – and they can drill into any area in which they need more details.


Their shipment visibility and supply chain resilience application that allows an organization to query the last reported location of any shipment at any time and all of the details associated with that shipment, track inventory in real time, and any red flags based on levels, criticality, and delays.


Simple, fast and powerful integrations that handle a variety of data formats and file types including (rest) APIs, EDI, Excel Spreadsheets, CSV and more. Pre-built integrations and formats are available. The integration capability allows a user to manage the data streams and data files they use to define their network, suppliers, products, demands, etc., especially if they are using an ERP/MRP that doesn’t allow for API/direct integration and only supports integration by way of file exports (and imports).

With these six modules, or an appropriate subset thereof, integrated with any existing logistics modules the organization may already have, the organization will be able to

  • import demand history and initial demand forecasts
  • adjust the demand forecasts to a (rolling) order plan (40+ weeks out)
  • identify the optimal packaging, and palletization scheme
  • determine the viable shipping lanes and required (multi-modal) methods
  • collect the quotes from potential carriers
  • select the carriers
  • optimize the allocations among the appropriate carriers and plan the transport
  • communicate the plan and track the shipments
  • provide accurate costing and required cash flow forecasting

… and do so in an integrated logical, fashion that allows a buyer to holistically manage the end-to-end logistics planning and execution process in a single Total Logistics Management Solution (TLMS). Moreover, they will be able to manage their end-to-end logistics process in a solution that is continuously monitoring, suggesting, correcting, and presenting optimizations in the plans it presents for you, allowing you to go from large double-digit variances in your plan vs. actuals to low single digits over time. Taking 10% – 15% out of logistics costs through an integrated, holistic, methodology is significant, especially if logistics and inventory management collectively represents 30% to 40% of the total cost of goods sold.

So if you do not have a TLMS managing your global logistics network, we recommend that you check out aThingz at your first opportunity. The capability may impress you but, more importantly, they may be able to take 10% off your logistics spend and 3% to 5% off of your total organizational spend in a relatively short time-frame, and that’s worth it.