Authors: Steve Schellenberg and Curtis Spencer
I have worked in global logistics and supply chains for over thirty years. I started with a packaging and crating craftsman who sorted out that booking a flight and filing an export declaration would expedite moving spare and replacement parts to our drilling rig clients worldwide. He determined that if we did the work and documents in-house, we could save several days and hundreds of dollars on each cargo move. If you remember, in those days a telex would suffice to advise a customer when a package could be recovered from an airline at a specific foreign airport.
We’ve come a long way from the days of the telex, and yet, the global trade systems that supports the movement of goods worldwide are in a cycle of complete chaos on all fronts. Pricing is skyrocketing, arrival dates are fluid, dwell times are accumulating quickly between custodians, within all modes of transport, shipments are at a standstill due to lack of lift (air), manpower shortages (truck and delivery), shipments are throttled at origin or destinations (rail) and last-mile networks are rampant with delays, congestion and shrinkage.
Predictability left the global supply chain in 2020 and may not be back for a very long time.
Predictability, or especially in this case the lack of predictability, in the supply chain touches every point from loading, booking, pricing, demurrage, dwell time, and delivery and within all modes, driving shippers and cargo owners batty-that’s a technical term for frustrated.
So, what is the solution, and how do supply chain service providers begin to unravel the chaos and build predictability back into the global goods movement system? Visibility is the key to bringing back stability to the system. Visibility in terms of who has custody, when custody transfers between the many custodians, and visibility during the dwell time between these actions. A low-cost device with tracking, tracing and security capability coupled with mesh networking, battery control and artificial intelligence/learning based on rules and events is the solution. The supply chain won’t get better or more predictable without the introduction of a technological solution or “gadget” that combines the necessary data management to document end-to-end visibility, security and stability of transfers between custodians.
Since 9/11, almost twenty years ago, thought-leaders in the industry have called for the creation and wide implementation of such a device. Operation Safe Commerce provided a proving ground for early technologies. Many failed, but the vision was created. Call it blockchain or a derivative of this technology, or call it by another name, the end result must be a device that can be used to provide an advantage for a supply chain early adaptor. An advantage by creating a differential over their competitors by having superior control and management of their goods in motion,
Stand by for more details as the technology pipeline is primed to finally deliver on such a device and platform.