Supply Chain Commentary: How to Overcome Technology Roadblocks

Tags: Logistics, Technology , Big Data, Supply Chain

Timothy Leonard, EVP and Chief Technology Officer, TMW Systems

The shipping industry has hit a roadblock and can't expand without overcoming numerous challenges. Talent shortages, increased competition from outside the industry, and slow acceptance of technological advances are just a few of the hurdles that have stagnated one of the most important segments of American commerce.

The only way to overcome these challenges and spur growth is to innovate through collaboration, which is easier said than done, given the independent nature of shipping.

Technology may be the most impactful answer, but not just for technology’s sake. Innovation in the form of recent technological advancements, such as blockchain and predictive analytics, will help shape the future of the industry.

The Key to Innovation

We are on the bleeding edge of blockchain development and are emphasizing deep analytics that the industry has built without really knowing. Predictive and proactive analytics are aspects of “deep learning” that will make drivers’ break times and routes more efficient while alerting management when its fleet needs maintenance.

Most importantly, innovation needs to be applied innovation. In other words, it needs to be the kind of innovation that makes a difference for shippers.

Right now, there is a disconnect between shippers, carriers, and customers that does not allow for blockchain and deep analytics to be applied. When all parties behave according to their own standards, discrepancies tend to show up in operations. A better platform for collaboration throughout the industry will drive growth and the overall success of the logistics sector.

Another obstacle to blockchain adoption is fear on the part of company executives, who tend to doubt technologies that lack testing. They question whether the new technology can handle the increased data load, curtail cybersecurity attacks, or protect private data.

Blockchain roadblocks are slowing down progress within the industry. That’s why we’re working so hard to get our technology up to a certain standard to ease the minds of executives and opponents of the new systems. Still, if we don’t work towards open collaboration, our industry will remain stagnant.

We have already begun to see how new technologies like deep analytics can boost supply chain management. Road sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT)—shared data across software, electronics, and sensors—have made logistics more efficient. Shippers can track where their goods are, adjust routes, and more easily file insurance claims when there’s an accident, among several other functions.

For blockchain, contracting among parties will become more consistent by logging every step on a blockchain ledger, according to contract terms. End users will experience a heightened level of transparency when assessing accuracy, costs, and sales.

In addition, implementing blockchain transactions within transportation will drastically cut down breaches of contract. Throughout the shipping process, freight is often re-rated. While this simplifies the process and moves freight faster, it causes delays in invoicing, and payments can take up to 45 days to settle as a result.

Blockchain will enable shippers to see exactly when goods are off-loaded and carrier fees are added, and the customer will see exactly what they are charged for and why. If there’s a breakdown along the way, users can trace the issue back to its origin on the blockchain, simplifying investigation processes and resolving conflicts at a faster rate. With every step of the process being tracked and logged in an online, secure ledger, there won’t be a need for redundancy in or duplication of the processes.

To overcome the challenges that continue to plague shipping, we are working to bring more collaboration to the industry, find standard practices that suit all parties, and get business leaders to buy into the technology that will revolutionize the transportation industry. Our goal is to bring transportation in North America up to the standards that other countries are setting by embracing new, impactful technologies, such as blockchain and deep analytics.

Ultimately, implementing deep analytics, blockchain, and other technologies will revolutionize the shipping industry. And the sooner these technologies are instituted and standardized, the sooner everyone will start to reap the benefits that collaboration promises.

 






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