From continued high consumer demand to port congestion, labor shortages and COVID-related lockdowns, supply chains remain under extreme pressure from the first through to last mile.
Now more than ever, it is crucial to assess the logistics landscape and adapt to these changes while navigating the complexities of increased M&A activity, ongoing regulatory shifts and global trade, compliance, and tariff fluctuations.
Forward-thinking freight forwarders and carriers are moving to a more digital environment to meet these changes. However, while the pandemic has accelerated the process, there is still some way to go to.
In a recent Reuters Events webinar, leaders from Crane Worldwide Logistics, Maersk and CargoWise discussed where the industry has come from, where it’s going, and how technology can help navigate the massive changes to its operational dynamics.
Freight forwarders face increasing logistics complexities
For Brannon Kuykendall, CIO at Crane Worldwide Logistics, the value of technology and data to overcome operational headaches and improve overall efficiency and accuracy has never been clearer.
“If the past two years are anything to go by, supply chains are only going to get more complex, intricate and demanding. For many of us in the industry, digitalization will be our key to long term success,” he said.
Gene Gander, General Manager of Global Sales for CargoWise, agreed and said technology adoption was top of mind for the industry, from the board-level down.
“The pandemic was a catalyst for logistics leaders to reimagine their business-as-usual environment – shifting their workforce to large scale remote working, rapidly automating processes and accelerating the use of real-time data to drive decision making.
“Consequently, many logistics leaders are looking at how they can continue to prioritize their digital transformation initiatives, and in turn, better adapt to new and uncertain market conditions,” he said.
Visibility through technology is vital for freight forwarders’ success
According to a poll of event attendees, when it came to the benefits of digital transformation, while increased operational efficiencies were important, improved visibility was most crucial.
All three speakers discussed the power of visibility within a company and between partners, government agencies, customers, vendors, and other key stakeholders.
“The last two years have increased the demand for visibility significantly across a wider customer base,” said Kim Nigel Overman, Regional Head of Lead Logistics – Europe at Maersk.
“There are literally hundreds of milestones you can put into a physical movement, so it’s about making that data more usable. The challenge used to be capturing the data. We have that now. So, the question is, how do we align data in a meaningful way, so our customers consume it and use it.”
Alignment, standardization, and collaboration for logistics service providers
For Kuykendall, a big opportunity in 2022 and beyond is to drive greater collaboration between the many different and disparate players in the global logistics ecosystem.
“It gets tricky when you are sitting across from a competitor that might see visibility as a competitive advantage, and you’re saying, ‘hey, let’s standardize a bit.’ I’m not trying to take your competitive advantage, but I’m trying to come up with some middle ground. For example, track and trace, bookings are a couple of obvious opportunities to standardize.”
Gander agreed and said that standardization, in areas such as bookings, can help consolidate functions into one system, which can then do everything from bookings to customs compliance, e-invoicing and more.
“Standardization helps everyone. You really want your users to be able to access the same information on the same database at the same time, regardless of where they’re based,” he said.
“Anytime we can do that consistently on a single platform, or as few as possible, there are less variables from multiple sources of information, multiple endpoints, or data being passed from one point or another. The more we can have that centralization and consistency, the more variables we take out of play.”
While there’s ongoing discussions as to whether the pressure on global supply chains has peaked and might be nearing a turning point, one thing is for certain – 2022 is going to be another significant year for the global logistics industry.
However, clearly freight forwarders that stay ahead of the curve through strategic planning and technology adoption, while prioritizing visibility and operational efficiencies, will be better able to keep up with the speed of oncoming change.
Watch the webinar to learn more about optimizing a digital ecosystem by streamlining digital capabilities, improving efficiency, and overcoming visibility roadblocks. Watch now
Get in touch for more information on how CargoWise can help optimize your supply chains from origin to destination. Contact us