Four out of five logisticians surveyed by Deloitte are of the opinion that consumers already expect the supply chain primarily to be accessible and transparent around the clock and on demand. Among other things, this concerns continuous preview and access to any data in real time. It turns out that the digital revolution in logistics and transport can also have a much more „prosaic” dimension, and concerns, for example, fuel cards and tires.
Companies are slowly getting used to modern technologies. Slowly, because they are still afraid about cybersecurity, a shortage of suitably qualified employees is also a barrier. The authors of the latest report „MHI Annual Industry Report Next-Generation Supply Chains: Digital, On-Demand and Always-On”, prepared by Deloitte consultants in cooperation with the MHI association (survey conducted among 1.1 thousand managers) state that the digital revolution is forced by the Consumers themselves.
As much as 80 percent respondents believe that the digital supply chain will become a must within the next five years. 16 percent claim that we are already dealing with it today.
What does the digital world and digital consumers require from the supply chain?
The customers’ requirements for better and faster service are growing rapidly. The revolution that has taken place in retail is also coming in industry. And that means that companies in the manufacturing sector need to improve their supply chains so that they can be faster and more transparent to their partners. Including salespeople who, in turn, feel the increasing pressure from consumers. In addition, digitization and availability of information allow manufacturers and distributors to respond faster to any disruptions and better manage the costs’, explains Jakub Rosiecki, senior manager in the consulting department of Deloitte.
The consumer is impatient, he requires immediate reaction and exchange of information, in particular digital order confirmations, tracking the status of implementation, or up-to-date information on its transport and delivery.
A digital revolution thanks to the computing cloud
Respondents asked about innovative technologies having the greatest impact on the implementation of these functions pointed to robotization and automation (61% of responses, compared with 39% two years earlier) and the Internet of Things – IoT (55%, previously not included). In the future, the particularly important thing will be the availability of information. It is about solutions allowing for the ongoing monitoring of operations and prevention of unwanted events (e.g. failures).
Currently, almost half of companies use automatic identification tools, however, the one adopted the fastest was cloud computing which is already used by half of the surveyed companies. What’s more, the respondents indicated that in the next two years, three-quarters of them will be using this technology.
However, the real sensation are inventory and logistics network optimization tools (increase from 41% to 75%). They allow to achieve significant savings in logistics costs (5% to 20% reduction in supply chain costs).
Big Data and fuel cards
According to a survey conducted in the US on behalf of SAS, so far only every third company recorded profits resulting from the use of solutions for Big Data analysis. It does not change the fact that today four out of five American companies invest in projects related to Big Data. The degree of this activity depends to a large extent on the industry (currently it is mainly the financial sector and retail trade).
In the transport sector, Big Data can, among others, change the role of fuel card systems. Currently, more than half of the transactions by leading card operators concerns the settlement of tolls. Added to this are VAT refund services, vehicle repair and service, car washes, petrol station purchases and parking fees. It turns out, however, that even such card functionalities are only a background for their real potential for carriers, that is advanced online services using Big Data.
Running tens of thousands of operations a day, we collect huge amounts of data that help carriers to increase their competitiveness on the market. I am talking about up-to-date information on fuel prices at over 43 thousand petrol stations in Europe, news about the level of tolls, alerts about problems on the route or changes in regulations. Thanks to advanced data processing, we hand to our clients knowledge in the form of a few clicks on the computer or in mobile applications that suggest the best solutions for a given user’, explain the representatives of DKV Euro Service.
Wireless recorders and failure warning systems
Standard wireless recorders placed in semi-trailers and transport containers, mainly isothermal (a special application indicates the best locations for recorders, so that communication will not be interrupted) are to become a significant element of this singular revolution in supply chains.
The next stage is programming the devices so that they will react, for example, to possible temperature fluctuations beyond the user’s indicated frame (using applications which collect and store data as well as create reports).
There are also some completely different manifestations of this revolution. They may concern, for example, vehicle tires. The Goodyear Proactive Solutions service could be an example. Proactive is based on a TPMS system that monitors tire pressure, temperature and tread depth, and transmits the collected data to a proprietary prediction algorithm.
Computer algorithms, data from services offered to fleet operators and reporting systems allow to precisely identify potential problems related to tires and to plan repair and maintenance works in advance. The signals about tire problems can be transmitted even five days in advance. This, according to Goodyear engineers, allows to reduce the number of tire breakdowns by even 75%.
An example of the digital revolution in the part of the supply chain related to internal transport may be Hyster Tracker. It connects transport means (e.g. forklifts) into a network. The tracker also sends alerts in advance about the need to conduct service activities, which is useful when managing a large fleet, operated by several hundred operators.
Another task is GPS tracking, which supports the identification of operational areas with an increased risk of adverse events.