Digitalisation and IT in the logistics industry

Digitalisation and IT in the logistics industry

By Simon Hellmuth, 12 February 2020

Driven by a growing need for greater efficiency and increasing concerns about the environment, new technology is rapidly changing the logistics landscape. Customers are now placing much higher demands on their partners as a result of digitalisation and IT developments in the logistics industry. And if you want to stay relevant in this highly competitive market, you need to adapt quickly.

Overcoming the challenges in the logistics industry through digitalisation

Seamlessly connecting everyone in the supply chain using robust processes is not easy. It requires a sophisticated digital infrastructure and a thorough understanding of customer needs. These are challenging demands for any logistics provider. Despite Greencarrier’s long history and wealth of expertise in the logistics industry, our recent investments in a new global IT platform have given us an even greater advantage. In this article, I’d like to share my thoughts and advice for anyone feeling a little overwhelmed by digitalisation.

Data communication is the backbone of the logistics industry

In the complex world of logistics, efficient and accurate data communication is the backbone of the entire supply chain. Being able to easily connect and transfer data between everyone involved is essential. Technological developments have facilitated the interchange of data, but there are still a number of hurdles left to overcome. Just as different nationalities have language barriers, different systems have cross-platform barriers that require modern integration tools and an in-depth understanding of the various systems and processes.

Why data quality is so central to the future of automation

Historically, operational data was stored in multiple databases around the world. At various stages of the process, the same data was duplicated and manually re-entered into each local system. Having multiple versions of the same data, adapted for different systems, different processes and different purposes, across different cultures, used to make it difficult to maintain a high quality of data.

Not only did this make it difficult to establish a coherent process, it also limited our potential for creating automated flows. Consistent, reliable data is the very foundation of being able to achieve a high degree of automation.

A modern digital platform is the key to advanced logistics services

Goods flow management typically involves a series of events handled by multiple parties. The process usually includes different modes of transportation, cross-border passages, goods consolidation and last mile transportation. This requires in-depth knowledge of a lot of underlying processes that are unique to the logistics industry, which takes years to master. Common processes and stringent routines, supported by a modern digital platform, are the key to being able to provide advanced logistics services.

After reviewing our IT strategy, we decided to outsource our digital infrastructure and implement a sophisticated transportation management system. One of the reasons we chose CargoWise One, from WiseTech Global, was the increased global visibility and productivity it offered. We can configure the system to meet diverse customer needs using a single common database. This ensures transparent and efficient handling of shipment files around the world – otherwise known as the one file approach. It is also supported by a robust platform for data integration as well as modern tools for advanced analytics. These investments enable us to securely communicate and manage relevant data throughout the entire supply chain.

Instantaneous global access to shared logistics data

Thanks to digitalisation, we are able to offer much more sophisticated services and integrated portal solutions. Companies are now able to access and interact with their logistics data instantaneously and round the clock – regardless of where they are in the world. For example, proactive monitoring of important milestones with early-warning alerts, electronic order bookings, container tracking and document handling.

The level of digital interaction throughout the supply chain is growing by the day, which helps to improve data quality and support customer demands in real time.

Working with the right partners is more important than ever before

The rapid rate of developments in this industry means that working with the right partners is more important than ever. Which is why we choose our strategic IT partners so carefully. Our current partners include: WiseTech Global, an industry-leading software provider who is constantly investing heavily in new technology and digital capabilities as part of CargoWise One; Zinnovate, a rapidly growing IT and management consultancy; and Nordlo, an IT and digitisation service provider. Our partner network plays an important role in keeping us at the leading edge of digital development.

Working with the right talent is just as important

But attracting the right talent is just as important. And that is getting harder to do as the demand for talent is also increasing in other industries. However, the logistics industry offers excellent opportunities for anyone wanting to be part of this major transformation. At Greencarrier, we take a leading role in developing sustainable logistics services. We use a hands-on approach to maintain a close dialogue with our customers. Our team of highly skilled IT professionals have a wealth of experience in freight forwarding. They are also playing a central role in the development of our future logistics services.

As I said at the start of this article, it’s about staying relevant on a highly competitive market. Efficient, sustainable logistics services is an extremely interesting area right now. As are the opportunities that digitalisation is providing in order to achieve them. If you’re looking for a logistics partner who can already help you achieve that, then myself and my colleagues here at Greencarrier would love to hear from you.

I hope you found this article helpful and if you’d like to read more about digitalisation in the logistics industry, then I warmly recommend these other articles on the Greencarrier blog: Global transportation & logistics trends 2020, Digitalising and simplifying for customers to select and book transports, and The digitalisation is transforming the entire transport industry.

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AUTHOR
Simon Hellmuth
Head of IT
Greencarrier Group

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