Smart Transportation & Logistics

Authors: Stephane Marcon (Technical Director) and Bernd Wethmar (EIM consultant) | 23/05/2018

The transportation and logistics industry is one of the sectors where digitalization will bring dramatic changes in the way companies deliver services. The “Internet of Things” and more generally new connectivity technologies are currently reshaping transporters and carriers’ processes, giving them the opportunity to cope with new challenges and demands of sectors such as retail, pharma, automotive or high tech which are also already engaged in digital transformations.

Process agility and the ability to provide not only new services but ones which can quickly adapt to customer demands are here key. There is no doubt that addressing current and future needs will require the introduction of new disrupting technologies. The challenges are clear: move fast, iterate quickly and transform.

The promises of IoT

By instrumenting the different assets involved in the delivery and supply chain, companies can get a better insight on operations and act/re-act based on real-time information.

The Internet of Things (IoT) brings opportunities for both innovation and productivity improvements for the transport and logistics industry. The opportunities are huge and spread over the entire delivery and supply chain, from warehouse management to last-mile delivery, with among others:

  • Route optimization and (re-)planification
  • Real-time delivery tracking
  • Reduction of energy consumption
  • Smart Inventory Management
  • Real-time customer communication
  • Safety improvement

[…]Real-time delivery tracking[…]

Knowing at any time, in real-time where all vehicles are located is a real challenge. A smart transport system should integrate information coming from various sensors, display the vehicle position in real-time and constantly persist this position in its database.

A new reality

These challenges are clearly not new to transport and logistics companies and, in the dramatically competitive sector they evolve in, each and every company has had to address them. But today, connected objects both enable and accelerate the need to measure and understand reality at a finer grain. And reality is complex. The capacity of companies to understand and react to this finer grain reality is key. Can technology help tackle this complexity?

Legacy IT systems have been historically designed to support largely pre-defined transactions and automate them. And they did it well, allowing the business to bring both quality and compliance to major activities. But are these very same systems made to deal with pre-defined sequences of operations capable of meeting new real-time business challenges?

Situations where transactional systems do not cope with reality are complex and the most costly:

  • My truck is late, I need to quickly inform the warehouse it is heading to
  • My driver says he was on time this morning, but the customer
  • My driver noticed a damaged parcel, he needs to declare it as soon as possible and provide the necessary pictures
  • A regular customer just requested the pickup of a pallet only 10 miles away from one of my running trucks. I need to re-route my truck now

The process of digitalization is about questioning a company’s ability to react to any business event in the fastest and most effective way. How fast? Business fast.

[…]the company’s ability to react to any business event[…]

The real-time coordination and plannification of operations is a of great complexity if the flow of information is not instantaneous. A real-time collaborative system enables the distribution of information to the right people, so that they can act and react accordingly in real-time.

It’s all about events

Both positive and negative events, business events in short. Getting down to the event-level of operations (vs transactional) reality is the key. This is where real digitalization sits.

The main functionalities of new IT systems are clear:

  • To handle massive amounts of events which need to be captured, filtered, correlated and digested in real-time
  • To identify relevant situations in real-time, trigger and orchestrate the reaction, whatever or whoever it evolves
  • To send the most relevant information (data, documents, media) and recommendations in real-time to both people and systems
  • To monitor and ensure any incidents or opportunities are dealt with in the shortest period of time

A new era of IT productivity

A new era of technology is emerging, and it brings some drastic performance improvement in the development cycle of applications. This new productivity era comes with fantastic opportunities Infosquare customers are benefiting from. VANTIQ is an advanced and complete event-driven platform and a great digital transformation accelerator. It has all the characteristics it takes to drive your digitalization:

  • Event-driven: the platform ingests streams of business ‘events’ and processes them in real-time
  • Collaborative: the platform facilitates people effectiveness with powerful human-to-machine collaboration
  • Mission-critical: security, always-on availability
  • Distributed: applications can be distributed and updated in real-time to any location from edge to cloud
  • Integrated: VANTIQ is technology-agnostic and can integrate with any other system

[…]send the most relevant information (data, documents, media) in real-time[…]

Delivering the documentation related to safety rules to be applied by a driven when he/she enters a regulated/restricted environment, in his/her own language can be a real challenge. A smart system should be able to interface in real-time with the company’s document management repository.

Fast. Business fast.

In terms of components, VANTIQ provides all the components required to build applications in no time: a cloud-based development environment which shields developers from the inherent complexity of event-driven applications. Whether you need edge, regional, cloud solutions involving desktop or mobile interfaces, VANTIQ provides it all, with a level of abstraction that is the key to the platform’s productivity.

With the level of productivity VANTIQ provides, development complexity and therefore development time are reduced by at least an order of magnitude vs. legacy development approaches. But more importantly, the integration of modifications is very easy, and, thanks to the modelling interface, the flow and logic of the application can be understood by business users very easily. An application that can constantly quickly evolve as the business evolves is the key.

Transform your supply chain

You will find here below a transportation application developed by Infosquare on the VANTIQ platform and which provides the following functionalities:

  • Integration with virtually any TMS system (transport order import in PDF/EDI/EDIFACT/ebXML and status update – use of the MarkLogic technology)
  • Real-time tracking of delivery vehicles and pallets
  • Real-time collaboration with drivers using either SMS or a dedicated smartphone application
  • Real-time calculation of Estimated Times of Arrival using Google Maps
  • Real-time consolidated operations dashboard
  • Real-time communication between final customers and company personnel
  • Possibility to plug any advanced reporting tool like Excel, Tableau, Qlik (use of the MarkLogic technology)

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