One of the main problems of the supply chains is that they do not follow the technological development with the necessary speed, they are essentially “paper-based”, and even where digitalisation is in use, the parties involved seek to develop so-called “digital islands or containers”. These digital islands are rarely or inefficiently distributed among the different actors in the supply chain. As a result, each participant in the chain records the same data several times, thus increasing the number of errors and widening error margin, not to mention a huge amount of redundant work. As a result, supply chain visibility becomes unreliable as the credibility of the data is questionable at many points of the chain.
Where do we stand now?
There is much talk about the revolution in the supply chain, but in practice we see basically sporadic attempts only. There is a lot of development, but there is still no unified platform that any participant can use to share the information generated in the course of the logistics process. Moreover, it is also imperative to ensure that all information stored in this system is 100% reliable, verified, and unalterable so that all actors can interpret them the same way.
At e-track we have been working on this problem for almost 20 years and try to create environments that meet the above criteria. Our attempts have been more or less successful, but we have not managed to create a system to suit each and every partner. Our current system is now capable of integrating some of the actors in the supply chain into a common platform: principals, hauliers, carriers, buyers, suppliers, etc… However, we have managed to bring about only partial integration in the field of ensuring the visibility of the supply chain we supervise and the reliability of the data exchange among our partners.
How does today’s physical supply chain work?
These processes are very similar to a kind of peer-to-peer connection. Each partner passes on certain data to other partners, while bombarding them with incessant questions such as: Has the loading been done? Has my shipment arrived? Is everything okay with the shipment? Where is it now? When is it expected to arrive? This process is best demonstrated by the kids’ “gossip” game. In this the first player whispers an annoyingly long message into the ear of the 2nd player who passes on the gist of the message to the next player, etc. By the time the message makes a round it will be entirely distorted. All the more so if the players agree to use a language native to none of them which they speak at differing levels. In actual fact this functions as a kind of peer-to-peer protocol which facilitates multidirectional communication but due to the repetitive and unverified flow of information the end result will be inevitably distorted.
Current supply chain protocols produce similar distortion aggravated by redundant “noise” created by certain players who feed in irrelevant or inaccurate info into the chain, understandably this practice might lead to annoying misunderstandings.
Why is it a major concern?
This kind of process is time-consuming and labour-intensive, as a huge amount of data is accumulated in the chain, but only a small part of it is of practical use, and only a minor portion of it improves visibility. As the data generated is recorded and stored in different systems, data loss is very common. Only a fraction of these data is shared digitally, even less online, and simultaneously with the creation. Moreover, the aforementioned “paper-based” approach is also very common, as many participants are still unable to get rid of the pre-printed CMR system. In addition, POD, invoicing, and other processes are done on paper. In many areas of logistics, increased traffic has already forced to introduce a certain amount of digitalisation: many freight forwarders in the field of container shipping and courier services now handle the POD in electronic form. However, there is still room for improvement, especially in road and intermodal transport. We also see a similar backlog in the analysis of transparency. In some areas of the physical supply chain, significant progress has been made in recent years, but in many areas we are light years away from 100% and immediate visibility.
The goal of e-track is to overcome these difficulties and to offer our partners a digital solution for 100% and immediate visibility.
With over 20 years of experience behind us, we consistently build on a system that supports visibility and integrity. Our current services are now well suited for full-scale integration, and if each of our partners makes available the necessary information for the system, the shipments and deliveries we manage and supervise will be fully visible and transparent throughout the entire physical supply chain.
If you are interested or would like to know more about the technologies we have developed, please contact us!