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Leveraging Digital Technology to Create a More Resilient Supply Chain

supply chain

Leveraging Digital Technology to Create a More Resilient Supply Chain

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the flow of goods across the globe, from raw materials to finished products. The pandemic has raised awareness of the importance of truck drivers, delivery drivers and warehouse workers who have kept products moving in this challenging environment. The economic ramifications have forced companies and industries to reevaluate their supply chains.

Additionally, the pandemic has vividly illustrated that today’s highly interlinked, international supply chains have more potential points of failure and less flexibility for absorbing delays and disruptions than business leaders may have realized.

To build more resilient and flexible supply chains, companies may consider several options, including bringing some critical activities closer to home, setting up backup suppliers to reduce exposure to any single supplier/country, or refining their inventory strategies. Of course, any such alteration will affect logistics and transportation.

Having the right combination of technology, expertise, people, and solutions in place is critical as companies revisit their supply chain strategies. Fortunately, leveraging supply chain technology can improve end-to-end visibility, resiliency, and efficiency within your supplier networks.

Advances in digital technology and automation are driving the continued evolution of supply chains. Some of the most impactful technologies can be grouped into three buckets:

Automation

-Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
-Configurable workflows

 

Digitization

-Artificial intelligence
-Machine learning
-Cloud computing

 

Big data

-Internet of Things

 

Companies in many industries currently employ these technologies. GlobalTranz uses these technology advances to enable and support our people.  We have used RPA to streamline many rote, operational tasks and allow our workforce to tackle more strategic, higher-value activities, particularly those which build relationships with our customers, suppliers, and partners. RPA creates a software robot leveraging a specific set of rules to automate tasks, such as document retrieval, inter-system data entry, approval processes, and gathering track and trace data. Unlike traditional custom-developed solutions, RPA can be continuously modified in a more real-time approach – especially important as the number of data sources and the sheer amount of data continues to increase.

By contextualizing data and reviewing daily processes, businesses can make complex and time-consuming processes more efficient. For example, when using RPA to gather track and trace data, you can be assured that the information is the most recent and accurate.

Before building bots to automate the collection of track-and-trace information, GlobalTranz devoted nearly 139 days’ worth of time annually, per person, to this task. Automation has enabled people to spend more time with customers and partners helping them devise strategies to address challenges brought on by COVID-19 and create a more resilient supply chain.

As companies look ahead to the economic recovery, it is imperative that they obtain greater visibility into their own facilities, their direct suppliers, and logistics partners. The crisis demonstrates the need for resiliency and accurate, real-time information that can help businesses make better-informed decisions and mitigate the costs of supply chain disruptions.

Obtaining accurate, real-time information to mitigate complexity and create resiliency requires a more digitized approach. Disruptive risks require investment in additional supply chain resilience even though the gains and the return on investment may not be immediate.

Successful organizational change, much like social change, can be influenced by the people and capabilities around us – including both stakeholders within your business and your supply chain partners – as well as how internal data and external intelligence are leveraged to make better business decisions.

How Technology can Improve your Logistics Operations

Like most other industries, the logistics industry faces a gradual transformation towards adapting to the internet age. The advent of new technologies invalidates age-old approaches and processes, creating the need for modernization. And with the logistics industry being as massive as it is, it’s understandable that it can be notably lucrative. Between risk mitigation and automation, there are many ways in which adaptive technology can benefit this $4 trillion industry. With that said, let us explore just how technology can improve your logistics operation.

The significance of efficiency

Before delving into specifics, it is vital to note the undisputed value of efficiency in the logistics industry.

As mentioned before, this 4$ trillion industry is massive, and its interconnectivity with other industries is apparent. Thus, efficient logistics operations can yield considerable productivity gains across the board. Not only can they provide a competitive advantage, but they can also guarantee better overall operation cohesion. Logistics software can greatly enhance one’s control and oversight of supply chains, increasing response times to potential disruptions. After all, customers of all industries value a swift delivery of goods and services, as well as quality customer support. Such software can augment all of those aspects, ensuring that potential challenges are easier to overcome.

Shipment Tracking Systems and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

A technology that has already caught on, albeit to varying degrees, is shipment tracking. As customers would previously be unaware of their order’s status, shipment tracking systems have rectified this somewhat. With 24/7 access to shipment status information, customers can rest assured that their order is indeed underway. Some tracking systems even offer additional information and shipment notifications for additional insights and convenience. This solution can indeed improve your logistics too, no less than customer experience. Constant monitoring can save your time and money, as well as unclog your customer service channels.

Likewise, on the front of cargo management, RFID technology has also seen use in recent years. In essence, RFID tags or sensors allow companies to keep track of their inventory. Both labor-saving and cost-effective, RFID tags are often used in distribution warehouses as a means of monitoring containers. Such industries as the apparel industry are also using RFID technology for tracking purposes, with very notable success. Should you be contemplating how technology can improve your logistics operation, RFID solutions could be a reasonable step to take.

Automation and robotics

On the subject of warehouse optimization, then, technology has provided another asset; automation. Naturally, automation can yield many benefits to many industries, but logistics is unquestionably one of them. From increased performance to reduced labor costs, automation is undoubtedly a valuable asset.

Automation offers to improve operational efficiency in machines, and has already seen effective use in such trade hubs as Holland’s Port of Rotterdam. Namely, its use of fully-automated terminals allows it to reap the aforementioned benefits in terms of unloading cargo. It’s estimated that this approach increases overall productivity by as much as 30 percent – a very notable net benefit.

Similarly, robots have facilitated the rapid growth of online sales across many industries. While they are quite dissimilar from automation in many regards, they too can automate operations and thus decrease labor costs. Most notably, as far as e-commerce is concerned, Amazon has been innovative in this front. Its use of Kiva robots has reduced the company’s expenses by as much as 20 percent. A notable feat, enough so that other companies also seek to employ robots in their warehouses.

Drones and autonomous vehicles

In much the same way as automation and robotics, technology has provided logistics companies with drones and autonomous vehicles. Similar in function, both can be fine examples of how technology can improve your logistics operation.

Drones have seen surges in functionality in recent times, elevated from a niche solution to one with potentially global applications. This development was understandably followed by an array of eager high-profile adopters, such as UPS. A potential innovation in terms of product delivery indeed, drones can expand delivery options to both urban and rural areas. More fortunately still, their nature allows them to also improve logistics, by removing the factor of human error.

Likewise, autonomous vehicles can offer similar convenience. In part due to relatively lower regulations and easier testing, self-driving vehicles have been an accessible technological advancement for many logistics operations. Of course, it’s notable that this technology is currently mostly limited to warehouse management, such as autonomous forklifts and trucks. However, with rapid advancements, it may not be long before autonomous trucks can traverse the world’s highways. Both in their current and potential future forms, autonomous vehicles can quite possibly be a massive asset to any company.

Conclusion

As technology makes rapid strides, one can realistically expect vast logistics optimization potential. From warehouse management and monitoring to shipment tracking and delivery, the possibilities seem endless. When contemplating how technology can improve your logistics operation, both the present and the future hold much promise. And as supply chains expand and grow, it will be vital to adapt to such technologies to remain competitive.

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James Clarkson is a freelance web designer and author. He often writes analyses of the shipping and moving industries, and of the SEO needs of both. He’s a frequent writer for Verified Movers, as well as other companies.

technology

Competitors Link Arms and Embrace Technology’s Promise

Overcapacity. Low freight rates. Security problems. Data inadequacies. Stringent environmental regulations. When it comes to moving containerized freight around the globe, third-party logistics companies (3PLs) have a lot to deal with.

However, like a guardian angel, blockchain has arrived to solve all these issues and more for the 3PL industry, which stands to save billions of dollars annually through increased efficiency, improved processes and a digital transformation.

Blockchain technology, while still in its innovative infancy, has “a lot of potential” to facilitate trade, according to a report by Christine McDaniel, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, Hanna C. Norberg, the founder of Trade Economista and the university that was released in May.

In “Can Blockchain Technology Facilitate International Trade?” McDaniel and Norberg explored blockchain technology’s usefulness in easing trade finance, improving customs procedures and tracking the provenance of goods. Their conclusion: “Adaptability, interoperability, and a policy environment that welcomes experimentation will be essential if the U.S. economy is to realize the potential benefits of blockchain technology across the international trade landscape.”

They also point out that numerous private- and public-sector efforts are underway to explore the benefits of blockchain technology. Financial institutions are experimenting with blockchain to increase access and decrease trade-finance costs.

The shipping industry is working with those along the supply chain and with customs officials to see how a distributed digital ledger can facilitate the transparent movement of goods across borders and seas. Companies and retailers are exploring ways to track their own supply chains so they can communicate tracking and origin information to consumers who increasingly demand such information.

Among those that are all-in with blockchain is Blockshipping, a Danish concern that was launched in May 2018 with a goal of developing the world’s first freight container registry. The startup claims its blockchain-based Global Shared Container Platform, which provides a real-time registry of 27 million containers, could save the industry $5.7 billion annually. For that to work, parties across the industry must apply sensors to all containers.

The same month that Blockshipping announced its arrival, global shipping giants CMA CGM and the Mediterranean Shipping Co. joined TradeLens, the blockchain-based digital shipping platform developed three years ago by A.P. Moller-Maersk and IBM. TradeLens is an open and neutral blockchain platform that promotes an efficient, transparent and secure exchange of information to improve collaboration between different stakeholders within the supply chain.

Ironically, CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd had criticized the workings of TradeLens in 2018, stating that for a blockchain-based platform to succeed within the industry, it would need to have a common standard. With CMA CGM and MSC now having joined TradeLens, the platform accounts for shipping data of over half the number of container lines that sail across international waters.

Surgere is a North Canton, Ohio-based digital supply chain and packaging specialist whose clients include Nissan and CEVA Logistics. In June, Surgere announced it had joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (Bita), a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based organization with nearly 500 members in more than 25 countries that collectively generate more than $1 trillion annually. The alliance helps develop industry standards, encourage the use of new solutions and educate its members who are mostly drawn from the freight, transportation and logistics sectors.

“Blockchain enables instant visibility of inventory transactions, captured by Surgere’s extremely accurate RFID solutions, which can be immediately and collectively processed throughout the supply chain,” said Rusty Coleman, Surgere’s vice-president of Digital Transformation, in the Bita announcement. “That visibility can remove artificially created demand patterns and make visible smooth and continuous demand for tier [suppliers] near real-time.”

Representatives from NBSF Railway, Daimler, Delta, J.B. Hunt, FedEx, Transplace and UPS are on the Bita board of directors, whose Standards Council chairman is Dale Chrystie, FedEx’s business strategist and blockchain fellow. “This is not a process improvement initiative; this is a breakthrough discussion,” Chrystie said from the stage of the Blockchain Revolution Global conference in Toronto on April 25. “This is a different way to think about how global clearance looks in the future.”

The notion that competitors are joining hands when it comes to the promise of blockchain was demonstrated by the fact that the FedEx executive was joined by Eugene Laney, head of international government affairs for DHL USA and Mahesh Sahasranaman, principal architect at UPS Supply Chain Solutions, in a discussion with Don Tapscott, executive chairman of the Blockchain Research Institute. Each agreed there is a common interest in embracing uniform standards for blockchain and getting governments on board with the technology.

“This is an issue that must be looked at with a global viewpoint,” Chrystie said. “These dots are going to connect. The question is how are you going to accelerate that process.”

Here is a deeper dive into ways blockchain can revolutionize the industry, according to the “Can Blockchain Technology Facilitate International Trade?” report from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.

Trade and Finance

Blockchain could reduce the expense and time required to facilitate trade that depends on third-party lending or insurance. Such trade accounts for about 80 percent of global trade. This reduction of expense and time will be especially important for small and medium-sized enterprises that may face restrictions to accessing credit or for firms in countries with less developed finance markets.

Customs Procedures

The technology could reduce costs associated with obtaining import and export licenses, creating and verifying the accuracy of cargo and shipping documents, and making customs declarations. Blockchain could make a positive contribution to expediting customs procedures. The total impact of those procedures on global trade volumes and economic output is estimated to be greater than that of tariffs.

Tracking the Origin of Goods

Blockchain could improve how producers and retailers manage their supply chains by providing real-time information on the movement and origin of goods. Blockchain designed for trade should disallow anonymity. If such a design were to be widely adopted, it might improve detection of illicit trade flows and help deter illegitimate efforts to circumvent trade rules. A design without anonymity could aid customs and law enforcement while easing the flow of legitimate trade.

The Breakbulk, RoRo and Heavy Lift Industries Gear Up for AntwerpXL 2019

Thousands of industry professionals will gather at the Antwerp Expo in the Port of Antwerp next week when AntwerpXL 2019, the highly-anticipated inaugural event for the breakbulk, RoRo and heavy lift industries, opens its doors. The event, which takes place from 7-9 May 2019, will attract the sector’s top industry names, who recognise the unrivalled business, networking and knowledge sharing opportunities the show has to offer. 

Exhibitors on Show

Over 100 companies, including major names such as Boeckmans, Wallenius Wilhelmsen (WW), Fast Lines Belgium and MSC Belgium, will use the event’s platform to showcase market-leading products and services, launch new technologies and make major announcements to a captive international audience.

WW Solutions will highlight its global terminal network and demonstrate its terminal handling capacities for breakbulk cargo, including storage, loading and discharge capabilities via rail, barge, RoRo and LoLo. Also on show, WW Ocean will highlight its deep-sea solutions for breakbulk and project cargo; a fleet of 120 vessels, all able to accommodate cargo stretching up to 6.5 metres tall and weighing up to 400 tonnes.

Both Central Oceans and Rollit CARGO will demonstrate a complete range of services offered to facilitate the transport of oversized, complicated and project related cargoes. Atlas Shipping Services is also exhibiting at the event, along with its three business partners, United Cargo Management, Vision Log – Centaurea Group and Peter Rathmann & Co. GmbH. All four organisations will demonstrate how they handle projects, heavy lift shipments, breakbulk and full charters in different types of machineries. In addition, Caribbean Line & Soreidom will showcase its expertise in logistics and the transport of dry-bulk products, project cargo, heavy-lift and transports for exporters and industrial companies.

Furthermore, MSC Belgium will showcase the results of its recent investment into project cargo and RoRo shipments. The world leading container shipping company now owns two large ConRo vessels as part of its fleet. At AntwerpXL, it will discuss how these vessels, which are more environmentally friendly than others operating between Antwerp and West Africa, have a ramp capacity of 350 tonnes and a deck height of up to six metres.

AntwerpXL will also host a range of entirely service-led industry organisations, including a new legal flat monthly service from LMA Legal, whereby clients can obtain legal advice on any matter related to their daily breakbulk business. 

An Engaging Conference Programme

The highly-anticipated conference programme will provide a cutting-edge educational agenda. Over 40 major names will deliver in-depth presentations, Q&A sessions and debates on the Main Deck Stage, covering innovation, digitisation and lessons from disruptors in the breakbulk, maritime and project cargo industry.  

Bob Delbecque, an internationally-renowned company energiser and business coach, will open the conference with his keynote, ‘A vision of the future’. The presentation will investigate the main drivers of the breakbulk industry, their likely impacts, and what changes the sector could be looking at across international markets.

Day two begins with a keynote session from Paul Birch, Owner of Visionjuice and former Head of Business Planning at British Airways, on developing an adaptable business which thrives on innovation. On the same day, Stephanie Hare, an analyst, strategist and broadcaster in technology, politics and world business, will chair a panel discussion about the impact of trade wars on different parts of the supply chain, and on the challenges and opportunities presented to the industry by Brexit. 

AntwerpXL will also focus on NextGen when it hosts a discussion on how the industry will adapt to new market conditions and new technologies. Chaired by Sue Terpilowski OBE, Managing Director, Image Line Communications, and President, WISTA UK, and Chair, Maritime UK’s Women’s Taskforce, the working lunch session will explore new ways of thinking, working and collaborating for those starting a career in the industry, the conclusions of which will be presented in a session afterwards.

The conference will gather the most innovative and forward-thinking minds in the breakbulk industry, all of whom will be sharing knowledge, best practices and ideas.

A Gathering of Thought-Leaders

Numerous networking opportunities will be on offer at AntwerpXL. Key industry figureheads will be amongst those keen to make new connections and learn from the brightest industry minds.

The event kicks off with a port tour starting at 1pm on Tuesday 7 May. Attendees of this free-to-join experience will see and learn about the port’s multipurpose terminals, Kieldrecht Lock, Deurganckdok, Zuidnatie, Churchill Dock and the Antwerp Railhouse.

AntwerpXL’s Welcome Reception at the Antwerp Expo marks the official launch of the show and gives guests the opportunity to meet the industry-leading organisations exhibiting their latest innovations and developments at the event.

On Wednesday 8 May, Bart Timperman, the Chief Editor at Flows Magazine, will moderate a breakfast seminar, where thought-leaders will discuss the question, ‘Breakbulk in Flanders: Crucial or Marginal?.’ Invaluable industry insights from those who believe breakbulk remains an important engine of volumes and employment, and those who believe it is doomed to become a marginal activity on the fringes of the shipping landscape, will be shared.

As the sun goes down, guests can enjoy the official AntwerpXL Networking Party, hosted at the historic Felix Archive. Visitors will raise a toast to the event and enjoy an evening relaxing with colleagues before heading to Den Engels in the Square to continue the party.

AntwerpXL Connect is the official one-to-one networking platform for this year’s event. The online service provides users with the opportunity to set up meetings with suppliers and prospects and manage their schedule during the event. Meetings will take place onsite in the AntwerpXL Connect Lounge.

The Networking Lounge, VIP Lounge and Antwerp Business Point, on the show floor, are also areas where visitors can congregate and meet with industry peers.

Fueling Innovation

Sponsored by Bulkchain by NxtPort, the Innovation Start-up Zone will feature some of the industry most groundbreaking new companies and showcase the innovative new technologies and products they have developed.

Along with a range of demos, two panel debates exploring the future of the industry will be delivered by leading industry experts. Cees-Willem Koorneef, Director at Port XL Antwerp, and Dominic Sun, Director of Trade Development, Port of Houston, will host each session on bringing a new customer experience to the industry on each day of the show.

Mark Rimmer, StocExpo & Tank Storage Portfolio Divisional Director, comments: “We are thrilled to see so many industry leading organisations recognising the opportunities available at AntwerpXL. There is no better place for companies to exhibit their products and services in front of industry peers, discuss the latest industry trends and demonstrate the value they can provide in order to support the future needs of customers and their global commitments.” 

AntwerpXL takes place on 7-9 May 2019 at the Antwerp Expo in the Port of Antwerp in Belgium. For more information on visiting the exhibition, booking as a delegate for the conference or exhibiting, please visit https://www.easyfairs.com/antwerp-xl-2019/    

About AntwerpXL

AntwerpXL is a new three-day exhibition and conference for the breakbulk, maritime, and project cargo industry, hosted by the Port of Antwerp. Industry leaders from across the supply chain will meet to discover, innovate, and connect at Antwerp Expo, Belgium, from the 7th to the 9th of May 2019.

Freight forwarders, cargo owners, and equipment handlers, as well as terminal operators, EPCs, manufacturers, and project owners will attend to network and learn from the experts.

AntwerpXL – shaping the future of breakbulk.

www.antwerpxl.com  

About Easyfairs

Easyfairs enables communities to “visit the future” at must-attend events that anticipate their needs and present solutions in the ideal format.

The group currently organises over 218 events in 17 countries (Algeria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Emirates, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States). Easyfairs also manages 10 event venues in Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden (Antwerp, Ghent, Mechelen-Brussels North, Namur, Gorinchem, Hardenberg, Venray, Gothenburg, Malmö and Stockholm).

The group employs more than 750 people and generated revenues exceeding € 157 million for its financial year 2017-2018.

Easyfairs strives to be the most adaptable, agile and effective player in the events industry by employing committed individuals, deploying the best marketing and technology tools and developing strong brands. Visit the future with Easyfairs.

Find out more on www.easyfairs.com