Digital Edition

Aug.21, 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 48 of 63 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 49 I t's been 65 years since the container disrupted the shipping industry and 20 years since the internet burst on the scene, offering astonishing abilities to communicate and connect with business partners and internal stakeholders everywhere, in real time. In the meantime, other remarkable advances in computing have created an exponential increase in the sheer amount of data that can be gathered and analyzed within the supply chain (and everywhere else). At first, the challenge was to determine the ultimate problem the internet would solve. Would it be best used to create online markets to buy and sell freight? Was the answer wireless devices to track freight in motion? Could it be used to better predict delivery times and thereby reduce the amount of inventory carried? Could we automate everyday transactions such as payment? The answers to all of these questions were "Yes," and — as entirely new service providers emerged — so much more. Transportation and logistics has traditionally been a low-tech industry, but the advance of information technology has presented breath-taking opportunities to make operations run faster, cheaper, and better. Many bold promises have been made about what a technology- enabled supply chain would look like, but been far-fetched, expensive, or difficult to implement. Part of the problem has been that many logistics technology start-ups began with the wildly ambitious mission of finding a way to be all things to all people across the supply chain, offering a single solution that used the internet and big data to automate all operations. These vendors have now entered a new phase of realism, offering solutions that solve one particular set of problems, providing easy connectivity that allows the software to work seamlessly with other solutions that solve other sets of problems. Something else has changed; logtech providers have put their focus squarely on what customers actually want; not just what vendors can deliver. Together, these trends translate to a new age of shipping technology. A typical example is the work being done by Advent Intermodal Solutions, an information technology company serving the marine terminal and all stakeholders in the landside logistics chain. "We get systems talking to systems instead of people talking to people," Allen Thomas, Advent's chief strategy officer, said. Despite shippers being able to track containers as they come across the ocean, and having good access to information about cargo in trucks or on trains, timely data get stuck when it comes to port facilities, he explained. "What we've been facilitating at Advent is system-to-system level communication, where the data from marine container terminals and inland depots is routed directly into a beneficial cargo owner's transportation management system all throughout the chain. Really, for us, it's about exposing the data we have to the folks that need it. A lot of the same data is queried consistently by the same types of people in the supply chain, over and over." A common scenario involves a shipper who SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION OF THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Digital Edition - Aug.21, 2017