Opinion Piece: Freight Logistics: Digitisation and Disruptors
In the face of rapid industry change, the current message for freight logistics service providers is “adapt or step aside”.
A report from Transport Intelligence, Total Logistics 2018, warns of “a raft of innovative and disruptive business models” that are affecting logistics services.
“Some innovations will have an impact on just part of the logistics process, for example, improving efficiency within a warehouse,” the report states. “Others have the potential to be far more systemic.”
According to the report, these systemic challenges include:
· Mobile apps (like Uber)
· 3D printing.
· Big Data and the Internet of Things.
· Smart phone technology.
· Robotics and autonomous vehicles.
· Augmented reality.
The disruption is due to the ‘digitisation’ of world commerce, an umbrella term that includes Big Data, the Internet of Things, mobile apps – those concepts that depend on digital rather than analogue methods of data exchange and processing.
“[These] are just a few innovations which will become mainstream in the next few years, forcing logistics companies to adapt their operating models, or become marginalised,” the report concludes.
Business agility and Big Data
That imperative – adapt or become marginalised – is driving the digitisation of freight logistics, and has organisations scrambling for a more adaptable business model. A term often used to describe a successful business model today is that it is ‘agile’.
With increased agility comes the need to offer more services than used to be traditional, which has resulted in businesses expanding their services beyond traditional boundaries. The largest freight forwarders, distribution companies, express operators, shipping lines, in-house operators and post offices are now developing into ‘one-stop shop’ providers of multiple functions.
An agile business is one that has access to all the data it could possibility need about itself and its environment, and has the tools to process it quickly to make decisions on the fly. This is the real meaning of Big Data, which comes from the flow of information provided by the Internet of Things (IoT).
Every movement of every container anywhere in the international supply chain can be tracked through the IoT’s network of sensors and stored as data.
By applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to this raw data, predictions can be made about the quickest or cheapest route for each container. Big Data leads to greater efficiency and cheaper costs, so long as you have the right logistics platform with which to enact the solutions it offers.
Congestion and the flow of information
One of the biggest problems for ports and terminals around the world is congestion. This is caused by a lack of transparent information flow, under-utilisation of equipment and inefficient practices.
1-Stop Connections offers a platform solution that involves real time data, information and predictability. 1-Stop’s VBS allows road carriers to book in any of the 24 time zones per day, which leads to reduced truck queues and down time.
1-Stop VBS provides the capability to optimise port operations. The user-friendly digital interface – for desktop and mobile devices– is the ‘mediator’ of all messaging and information that’s vital to port and freight operations. It provides real-time visibility and transparency not just of available bookings, but essential end-to-end supply chain information. Whether that’s up to the minute booking information for pick-ups and drop-offs, notifications from shipping lines, or real time alerts about road congestion or re-directions, VBS puts accurate data in the hands of the entire port community.
Changes to freight logistics will continue. According to the Transport Intelligence report, “A powerful mix of demand and supply side factors means that further re-structuring is possible, if not probable.”
Those freight companies that can adapt to this restricting and adopt agile business models will remain competitive players in this challenging field.
The open platform like ‘1-Stop’ with a variety of apps (such as the 1-Stop VBS, Modal etc) that interconnect into any port wide Eco-system will allow you to reap the rewards of productivity, cost saving and increasing revenue today, whilst being future technology enabled around – AI, Blockchain and other advances in technology. The 1-Stop platform of today will enable you for the future of tomorrow.