For many, recent events such as the pandemic and the Suez Canal blockade have been a wakeup call. Better solutions to tackle the challenges surrounding transportation on a global level are needed, but how do we do this?
Makers & Movers Global Summit – Transportation Access and Cost
On May 12th I had the opportunity to attend Alcott Global’s Makers & Movers event on Global Transportation Access & Cost, where a group of panelists discussed the challenges and solutions to tackling current global issues surrounding transportation. For me, the main topics that were discussed during the event were resiliency, visibility and data.
The benefits of having a resilient supply chain are better availability of resources, more flexibility and generally having more control. Resilient companies often have access to quality operating systems and real time inventory data which can be adapted to global constraints. Experts on the panel ’Managing Logistics Costs Around the World: Away from Squeezing Suppliers Towards a Smarter Approach’ discussed resiliency as a key attribute to the future of supply chains. Ghim Siew Ho, Head Group Commercial, Strategy and Cargo Solutions at PSA International mentioned, especially with what has been seen with COVID-19 and the Ever Given blockage in the Suez Canal, ports should play a role in the resilience of the supply chain too. It is important to “reconfigure supply chains and look at how they can be more resilient and sustainable.” We should “unlearn, relearn and adapt” and that one has “to be multiskilled and be really agile.” And data even shows that companies who practice supply chain agility have higher customer service rankings than their competition.When discussing managing logistics costs during another panel, Rob McIntosh at Dell Technologies noted that fast decision-making and the use of 3PL partners really helped the company during the pandemic last year. They also had tools to see what was in the particularcontainers in ships on the Suez Canal when Ever Given ran aground in March. Using these tools, they were able to see what capacity they had and were also able to measure customer data quality.
Supply chain visibility has become more important as companies have lost control and visibility over what used to be part of their operations. Visibility can improve and strengthen the supply chain by making data readily available to all stakeholders, including the customer. Visibility was also a focused on during the event and was especially a topic in the panel on managing logistics costs around the world. “Network and supplier visibility is enormously valuable”, Heiner Murmann, Chief Executive Officer at Orkestra SCS pointed out. “Shippers need visibility and transparency of performance and cost.”
In the panel ‘Solve Logistics Chaos – Is More Data the Answer?’ Andrea Abegg at Estée Lauder said, in terms of inventory visibility, “it is important to have the right data and the right level of data. It is important to have it quickly to be able to understand what the impact is on your supply chain and to make decisions.” She also noted that “collaborating [with other companies in the supply chain] is also important for making quick decisions.” Organizations can work closely together to meet shared objectives which are typically focused on cost reduction, the improvement of customer service and raising specific aspects of supply chain performance.During another panel on supply chain visibility, Daniel Stanton (Mr. Supply Chain) commented that “everybody understands we need visibility” but recognizes it costs money to implement, therefore “you have to do it thoughtfully. You don’t want big gaps in data” because it won’t provide value.
The question of whether using more data is the answer to global transportation challenges was also a main discussion point, especially in a panel which included representatives from Estée Lauder, 1010data, Flexport and Henkel about solving logistics issues. Inna Kuznetsova, Chief Executive Officer at 1010data, said that “it’s not just about the data, it’s your ability to analyze the data” as well. “Thiscomes from the tools you use and the culture of the organization.” Stephan De Barse, Executive Vice President at o9 Solutions Inc added “data is not the issue, it is the knowledge. I might have a lot of data, but I don’t have the knowledge to help close the gap.” Collecting data and having the ability to interpret its meaning obviously is not the actual objective of companies though. It’s “all about quick decision-making.” said Sanne Manders, Chief Operating Officer at Flexport. To me, one question was unanswered during the discussion: How do I get to make the best decision for a particular problem within the supply chain? I would have liked to hear more about digital decision making which is sometimes left out of these kinds of discussions involving data.
“The pandemic has been a wakeup call” for many in supply chain management, said Bruno Sidler at Lonrho. The pandemic has been good for cargo because airlines acted quickly and switched from passenger flights to cargo flights. But from what I have learned from the event, it is that the implantation of more visibility, resiliency and data, as well as collaboration, is needed in order to tackle future transportation challenges. “Collaboration is key” stated Sheri Hinish (Supply Chain Queen) at Supply Chain Revolution. “In the future, we are going to look at which partners are able to support us most strongly, which ones are unable to, and which ones are unwilling to do that.” said Julia Myroschnychenko at Henkel.
This overview is an insight into the key topics that were discussed during this month’s event Makers & Movers Global Transportation Access and Cost. While there will always be challenges to face in the supply chain that have exacerbated by events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Suez Canal blockade, the tools we use will help us to become more resilient and prepared in the future
The All Things Supply Chain Blog is a Media Partner of the Makers & Movers Global Transportation Access and Cost event.