Guest Post, Author at Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd

Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd Total Supply Chain Summit | Forum Events Ltd

Posts By :

Guest Post

Combatting a new era of maritime sanctions evasion

Recent years have seen a notable increase in deceptive shipping practices (DSPs), particularly in the form of AIS spoofing and dark fleet activity. The implementation of Russia-related sanctions and a price cap on the sale of Russian oil and petroleum products has led threat actors to turn towards more sophisticated forms of sanctions evasion. Their aim is to deceive authorities and financial crime compliance programs via the creation of a shadow economy that operates outside of the confines of US, UK, EU, and G-7 law.

Despite the new era of sanctions compliance challenges that such DSPs have created, it is possible to comprehend, detect and mitigate these practices, as Charles Ike, Vice President of Maritime Trade Sales, Pole Star Global, explains…

The challenge: maritime sanction evasion

Sanctions targets require access to allied countries’ markets, including commodities traders; financial institutions; flag registries; and ship charterers (“covered persons”) – all of whom have compliance obligations, including those relating to the price cap on Russian oil.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and other sanctions authorities have outlined an attestation process to document that Russian oil sales are within the Price Cap.  However, this is not a mere record-keeping problem. The current price cap for oil leaves very little room for margin, meaning threat actors may attempt to falsify documentation, pass goods off as being of non-Russian origin, or violate other sanctions outside the Price Cap – such as acting on behalf of a blocked party or attempting to export oil to an allied country.

The authorities have therefore warned covered persons to be aware of evasion attempts. For instance, in April, OFAC singled out P&I clubs, ship owners, flag registries, and commodities brokers to remain vigilant for DSPs as evidence of sanctions evasion.

In addition, the UK’s National Crime Agency has warned the wider financial community that sanctions targets may use proxies and enablers to gain access to the financial system – access they would otherwise be denied. This advice is equally applicable to the maritime industry.

Illicit dark fleet activity 

There are two primary methods emerging for sanctions evasion: the “dark fleet” and “AIS spoofing”.

The dark fleet is a fleet of tankers owned and operated by persons outside of allied jurisdictions. These tankers – estimated to number around 600 vessels globally – are acquired for trading with Russia or other sanctioned countries.  Owners will go to great lengths to disguise their stakes in these vessels.

That said, dark fleet vessels are not used exclusively for sanctioned trade – and not all vessels will therefore present the same level of risk. For instance, they may be shipping oil within the confines of the Price Cap. However, they do present an increased risk to covered persons. Covered persons should therefore proceed cautiously when dealing with a dark fleet vessel and conduct enhanced due diligence on the provenance of the cargo, the buyer and the seller.

Determining whether a vessel is part of the dark fleet is a subjective process.  A number of criteria and factors must be considered before a ship can be categorised:

Ownership: A vessel’s owner may be tied directly to Russia, Iran, or Venezuela. Likewise, threat actors may attempt to obfuscate their interest by owning the vessel through shell or front companies, or by making rapid changes to a vessel’s declared owners and operators.

Movement: Dark fleet vessels may frequent Russian or sanctioned ports with deliveries to non-allied countries, and/or conduct ship-to-ship transfers in known high-risk zones, such as those used off the coast of Greece.

Deceptive Practices: Consideration for vessels who engage in AIS spoofing or who opportunistically turn off their AIS transponder with the intent of avoiding sanctions.

Timing: The timing of a vessel’s ownership change may indicate an intent to evade sanctions. For instance, moving vessels to new owners directly after the Russian price cap was passed. Likewise, if a vessel makes its first voyage – or routinely makes the same voyages – to Russia or a sanctioned country, this may indicate the vessel was purchased for sanctioned trade.

Fleet coordination: Consideration of a vessel’s changes in conjunction with other vessels owned or operated by the same person. If a fleet of vessels change their flag simultaneously or incorporate into a new high-risk jurisdiction, this may signal that the owner and operators intend to misuse the vessel.

Finally, covered persons should also be aware of the increase in pop-up P&I clubs, outside of the recognised International Group consortium. Thorough and intensified due diligence on the vessel’s owner, operator, or charterer, as well as the source of the cargo, is recommended.

The rise of AIS Spoofing 

Spoofing was once considered a minor part of maritime sanctions evasion, but in the past six months, the practice has surged ahead to become the predominant form of evasion – at least for vessels carrying high-value cargoes such as oil and petroleum products.

In the past, high-risk countries would simply prohibit the export of AIS data, and compliance officers denied access to AIS information. These gaps in AIS coverage were easy to spot. In reaction, there’s been a major shift toward deceptive strategies, which is the provision of false AIS information. That is, inaccurate positional and navigation data is given, making  a vessel appear where it is not.

This presents a far more difficult problem for the maritime community to tackle because threat actors have access to a broader range of spoofing techniques, and maritime intelligence firms will need to keep up with those tactics to counter them. OFAC recommends insurers, flag registries, and ship managers turn to “maritime intelligence services to improve detection of AIS manipulation”.

False AIS data can be uploaded through a variety of means and can be targeted towards individual AIS ground stations and data providers, or through radio frequency broadcasts targeting satellites. Typically, an AIS position is broadcast from a vessel’s transponder, which is then received by either a terrestrial ground station (“T-AIS”) or an overhead satellite (“S-AIS”). This information is then transmitted digitally – such as through an API – to either an AIS aggregator or directly to a maritime intelligence provider.

A threat actor can insert its false data at any point in this chain. Yet, with the right security protocols or an automated ability, receiving sources can discriminate between valid and invalid transponders.

In general, spoofing can be categorised into four typologies, each having distinct signatures:

  • Anchor spoofing” simulates the vessel remaining in the same place for impractical amounts of time. The vessel may appear to be at anchor or may look like offshore storage. However, a review of the vessel’s signal activity or use of human or imagery sources allows us to confirm that it is not the transmitted location.
  • “Circle spoofing” describes a situation where the vessel moves in geometric circles at a set location. Circle spoofing is generally used closer to shores and ports over a few days to a week – which is enough time to visit a sanctioned port and return to the station.
  • “Slow roll spoofing” is when the vessel pretends to be moving in a general direction of travel at very slow speeds. This movement will lack an economic purpose and/or be inconsistent with local traffic patterns.
  • “Pre-programmed route spoofing” is the most realistic technique used. The vessel is programmed to travel along feasible routes. This requires either duplicating or sourcing past AIS data to successfully mimic      the vessel’s movements, or more careful planning is used to ensure that the route appears to have an economic purpose. This methodology is hardly infallible, but is difficult to identify based on a visual inspection of the underlying data.


The threat of maritime sanctions evasion has increased tremendously over the past year. We are now seeing the wholesale creation of fleets for side-stepping allied sanctions, a drastic increase in AIS spoofing and more complex forms of maritime sanctions evasion.

With the threat environment only likely to increase; the onus is on covered persons and those involved in sanctions enforcement to conduct enhanced due diligence on all transactions involving potential dark fleet vessels and eschew – if possible – transactions involving the highest risk fleets, jurisdictions, flags, and classification societies. Working in partnership with providers of maritime intelligence services will be key to ensuring the most up-to-date data is used as part of this due diligence.

Photo by Kurt Cotoaga on Unsplash

Carbon reduction vs carbon offsetting: Choosing the right route for freight decarbonisation

By Serge Schamschula, Head of Ecosystem at Transporeon

In light of the  European Commission’s recent ambitious proposals to enhance the sustainability and efficiency of freight transport across Europe, the need to decarbonise has reached a critical juncture.  This urgency is fueled by the growing concerns of the British public regarding the climate crisis. Consequently, all stakeholders in the UK’s freight industry must be prepared to elucidate the steps they are taking to combat climate change.

To embark on this journey, companies first need to understand precisely how much carbon they’re responsible for emitting, which is no small feat, especially when you consider that any enterprises are yet to adopt a system that effectively measures their scope one emissions (arising from their own production) and scope two emissions (from purchased energy), let alone indirect emissions falling under scope three.

The consequences of all this is that  the accuracy of emissions calculations in the logistics transportation industry is mixed at best. While some companies endeavour to calculate  their own emissions, others rely on generic industry  averages, resulting in discrepancies of up to 55% even within the context of similar full truckloads.

The ascendance of offsetting – a simple solution for decarbonising logistics?

In response to the growing complexity of the situation, there’s now an appetite for ‘quick fix’ solutions. And carbon offsetting – the practice of investing in an activity that compensates for greenhouse gas emissions – has emerged as the lead contender.

Nowadays, companies offer a plethora of offsetting opportunities. Popular choices among them include planting trees or purchasing areas of rainforest to protect them from deforestation. So far, so good. But is planting a tree that will take 20 years to grow really enough to offset carbon emissions created today?

In a word, no. While the need for action is immediate, it takes an average of twenty years for a tree to absorb a surplus of CO2 compared to what it releases. This leaves a significant gap in addressing the urgency of the climate crisis.

In addition to being easy to implement, offsetting is also very affordable, and in some cases, alarmingly so..  Currently, carbon offsetting starts at just £2 per tonne. To put this in perspective, consider the expense of emitting one tonne of carbon through the European Union’s official Emissions Trading Scheme. In this scheme, companies can purchase permits to exceed a predetermined emission cap. Over the past year, the cost has fluctuated between £65 and £105 per tonne, making it up to 50 times more costly than offsetting.

The logical alternative – tangible carbon reduction measures

While carbon offsetting certainly mitigates  unavoidable carbon emissions, it falls short in providing an all encompassing solution for freight decarbonisation. A more robust approach is warranted and shippers, carriers and LSPs are better advised to implement tangible carbon reduction measures.

This starts with measuring emissions as accurately as possible. Only through gaining an understanding of where emissions are coming from, can companies  set effective long-term decarbonisation goals as part of a broader strategy that includes a prioritised list of measures and science-based annual reduction targets encompassing scope one, two and three emissions. Additionally, companies should continually assess their progress against these targets and take corrective measures when necessary.

Decarbonisation isn’t just about investing in expensive, cutting-edge technologies. Considerable strides can be made through incremental improvements that enhance operational efficiency. And  digitalisation plays a crucial role here. Digital tools are easily deployable and require minimal capital expenditure. They empower companies to curtail carbon emissions by facilitating enhanced data sharing and increasing visibility.Armed with the right data, companies can reduce empty mileage, tackle unnecessary dwell times, educate drivers on sustainable driving practices and combine transport modes intelligently to minimise emissions.

However, digitalisation alone isn’t enough. Today, the ‘secret sauce’ for decarbonisation lies in implementing digital tools within a collaborative network. For example,  the industry can drastically reduce empty mileage when different stakeholders work together in a “platform approach” rather than operating in silos.

Looking to the future, the advent of cutting-edge technologies like electric and hydrogen-powered trucks (and even aeroplanes!) will transform the transportation industry and enable freight decarbonisation. Yet, these innovations remain several years away from practical scalability and demand substantial capital investments for their implementation.So, as companies invest in pilot renewable energy projects, it’s also advisable to prioritise the impactful ‘quick wins’ outlined above.

Decarbonising logistics won’t  happen overnight and whilst  offsetting may appear to be a ‘fast-track’ route to sustainability, the reality is far more nuanced. What is truly required  is a multipronged approach that combines short-term efficiency gains, long-term renewable energy projects and some carbon offsetting for unavoidable emissions. This comprehensive strategy paves the way for the industry to embark on a genuinely sustainable path.

Photo by Sam LaRussa on Unsplash

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Staci – Multichannel logistics powered by experts

Staci provides UK and global multichannel logistics services to some of the worlds best loved and fastest growing brands and retailers. With 78 fulfilment centres across UK, US, Europe and Asia, Staci offers eCommerce fulfilment, multichannel logistics and spare parts fulfilment.

Staci’s strengths of flexibility and expertise creates custom built logistics solutions for every client, ensuring each set of requirements has a purpose built model designed to achieve its unique objectives – not a one size fits all stock model.

Your business is one of a kind – your logistics should be too.

Our 3,000+ experts include our strategic account management team to ensure your logistics continues improving, in house IT development team, and PRINCE2 qualified Project Managers to help integrate your business.

If you’re looking for a futureproofed, seamless peak, multichannel logistics expert to handle your UK or global fulfilment requirements, talk to Staci.

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Metafour – Market Leading Delivery Software

Streamline your entire delivery process in one, easy-to-use, intuitive cloud platform, that helps Overnight, InternationalSameday, and Last Mile Fulfilment Couriers reduce costs, save time, scale easily, and delight customers.

With 4 decades of expertise and innovation in the courier & mailroom industries, Metafour has developed world-class software that streamlines your entire delivery process, helping companies reduce costs, delight customers and scale fast.

More than 150 companies worldwide use our systems to monitor the flow of parcels, packages, and important documents into, around, and out of their organisations, across their delivery networks.

As a team we pride ourselves on our unrivalled service, covering consultancy, support, training, and maintenance. With 40+ integrations, we have offices in the UK, Africa, and Asia to ensure that you will always receive the best possible service, from your initial enquiry, through the implementation of your project, and beyond.

For further information, please visit

Transforming supply chain performance and security – the SI opportunity

Supply chain disruption is predicted to cost organisations around the world an average of US$184 million per year and demand is surging for better end to end visibility to improve resilience and response to disruption. While IoT has transformed supply chain visibility over the past decade, only 15% of the world is covered by terrestrial networks which means vital insight about freight location and status remains uncaptured. With innovative Systems Integrators (SIs) adding Satellite IoT to extend asset tracking across the globe, the industry can now achieve timely interventions to improve security, reduce wastage and carbon footprint and manage customer expectations. Eric Ménard, Vice President Strategy and Business, Astrocast, explains why the shipping industry is on the cusp of a Satellite IoT enabled revolution…

Systems Integrator Opportunity

For all businesses involved in transportation, from shipping to trains and road hauliers, accurate information about the location and working status of trailers and containers has become ever more vital. The accessibility of cost-effective Satellite IoT (SatIoT) solutions is opening the door for SIs to provide solutions to meet an array of operational demands across the supply chain.

Shipping lines can track containers not only at sea but on land, especially at ports. This helps to improve fleet management and optimise supply chains in the face of on-going disruption and unloading backlogs. Up to date information can support proactive maintenance, minimise asset downtime and improve supply chain resilience. Adding IoT temperature sensors is particularly valuable, especially for containers (Dry and Reefers), to improve control throughout the supply chain. If a power outage occurs that affects temperature within a reefer container, for example, the problem can be flagged to a control centre. If possible, an onboard engineer can then remediate the problem; if not, the cargo owner is immediately aware of the need to provide replacement goods to fulfil their obligations.

For high value cargo, including pharmaceuticals, adding satellite connectivity to operational IoT deployments is providing the ability to control the logistics chain from production through to end customer. It is minimising wastage, improving integrity and, as a result, reducing insurance costs.

Design Requirements

For SIs, the supply chain provides a compelling market opportunity. But how easy is it to add SatIoT to existing IoT solutions – and does the business case stand up? Certainly, the arrival of a satellite connection designed specifically for widescale IoT deployment is a vital component in creating Return on Investment (ROI). These Operational IoT applications, such as location tracking, do not necessarily require the continuous or real-time communication associated with high-cost, power hungry traditional satellite links. Reliable interim communication provided by modern cost-effective satellite services is good enough.

These solutions are also designed to use minimal power, a key consideration when attaching an IoT sensor to a shipping container which can cross the globe many times a year. Every part of the solution, from antenna design to robustness of equipment and battery life, must be optimised to ensure deployment is a one-off event. Ensuring battery life extends to 10 years can transform the ROI.

SIs can also explore the value of two-way communication, such as remotely changing the temperature set point of a reefer container, changing the frequency of temperature recording or confirming data transfer has been achieved through an acknowledgement mechanism. Ensuring the data is actioned in the field is also key to the ROI. A single, fast intervention to repair power failure to a Reefer container at sea could repay the entire investment for the entire fleet immediately. 

Added Value Innovation

There are a number of additional areas of potential innovation to consider. Theft and piracy, for example, where thieves use technology to ‘block’ cellular networks and compromise existing IoT based alerts and alarms. Adding SatIoT – which works on a different network – to the solution provides another layer of asset security and tracking to minimise loss.

In addition, the ability to identify whether a container has been entered or tampered with in some way during the voyage, would support the war on piracy and drugs. Adding smoke detectors would raise the alarm when fire breaks out on board – an increasing concern if owners fail to inform the shipping company that the container holds self-combusting cargo such as Lithium-Ion batteries.

Indeed, the next step will be to extend the use of IoT from containers to individual loads, using tiny devices to track high value items all the way through the end warehouse or distribution centre destination. SIs can add even more value to this data, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to offer customers more insight.


The shipping industry has a massive demand for better information to mitigate the impact of global disruption. But this is just the start for a market that has an array of complex operational challenges in its management of 50 million containers across the globe. The opportunity is compelling: SIs need to build a solid foundation and business case today.

PRODUCT FOCUS: Metafour Courier Software

Streamline your entire delivery process in one, easy-to-use, intuitive cloud platform, that helps Sameday, Overnight, International, and Last Mile Fulfilment Couriers reduce costs, save time, scale easily, and delight customers.

With 4 decades of expertise and innovation in the courier & mailroom industries, Metafour has developed world-class software that streamlines your entire delivery process, helping companies reduce costs, delight customers and scale fast.

As a team, we pride ourselves on providing an unrivalled service. Trusted by over 150 companies globally with 40+ integrations, we have offices in the UK, Africa, and Asia to ensure that you will always receive the best possible service, from your initial enquiry, through the implementation of your project, and beyond.

Find out more at

Data, data everywhere: The future of AI in logistics transportation

Most shippers, carriers and logistics service providers understand the importance of data collection and data-driven decision-making. Data collected over time provides intelligence, enabling companies to enhance long-term decision-making. Meanwhile, real-time data can be used to make smart split-second decisions – like how to correct or replan when problems occur. 

Artificial intelligence is a potent tool that helps companies get the most from their data. This takes several forms. “Statistical AI” enables users to analyse huge quantities of information to find hidden patterns and make smart decisions. Meanwhile, companies can use past data to programme “symbolic AI” models, which can be used for “purpose-seeking” applications, such as process optimisation. Jonah Mcintire (pictured, above), Chief Network Officer at Transporeon, A Trimble Company, explores further…

Automation vs. AI – understanding the difference

Automation and AI are often spoken about in the same breath, as if they are synonymous. However, though they’re interlinked, there’s an important distinction between the two. Automation involves delegating mundane, often administrative, tasks to software. It’s clerical. On the other hand, true AI involves handing over decision-making power. Software is given set parameters, but it will use them to draw unexpected conclusions. Users can give AI varying degrees of freedom. A more cautious approach is to allow software to calculate options and make recommendations for a human to approve. However, it’s also possible for it to reach conclusions and make decisions autonomously, without even informing a human.

So, where can AI in logistics transportation have the most impact? The short answer is “everywhere”. In fact, forward-thinking shippers, carriers and logistics service providers are already integrating AI into their tech stacks.

There are a few considerations to keep in mind. AI is best used for decisions with concrete financial values that are easy to score and have discrete, well-known variables. Fast decision-making cycles are also important. Like humans, AI learns from experimentation. So, if a decision is only made annually, it will take decades for the software to gather enough data to get feedback. Realistically, you want AI models to analyse thousands of decisions per day. Ideally, players would use models trained not just with their own data, but with data gathered from across the industry. This collaborative (also known as “platform”) approach enables everyone to get ahead.

So, how AI can transform how companies utilise their data through autonomous procurement, real-time ETA tools and decarbonisation?

Real-time ETA tools 

The disconnect between shippers and carriers has long been a challenge in the logistics transportation industry. To enhance visibility, transparency and efficiency, we need to connect load receivers and load givers.

For example, predicting arrival times for loads has traditionally been a pain point for both shippers and carriers. Common causes of delay – like strikes, traffic jams and mechanical difficulties – can seem completely random to the human eye. But when an AI model analyses years’ worth of this data, hidden patterns do emerge. Typically – unless circumstances are truly unprecedented – AI is much better at predicting ETAs and with the help of an AI-assisted real-time ETA tool, companies can ensure they’re prepared to receive loads whenever they arrive.

Automating procurement and quotation

Spot buying is a perfect use case for symbolic AI, as companies have a set budget and clear constraints around lead times and carrier types. Beyond this, the structure of negotiations is relatively simple – participants can make an offer, wait for a response, make a counteroffer, accept an offer, or end a negotiation. This makes it easy for software to pursue its goals independently, saving thousands of manual administrative hours.

This is just one example. In the procurement space, statistical AI can also revolutionise tendering by using huge quantities of data to predict pricing. For example, instead of asking carriers to bid on a load tender, AI can present said tender – and a pricing offer – to a select number of carriers. If no carrier accepts the tendered load at the offered price, the AI can initiate additional tendering rounds as needed.

AI can also have a transformative effect for sellers of logistics services, enabling them to automatically serve customers with instant, accurate pricing for spot transports based on predicted market rates. With this ability, load takers can increase the volume of opportunities they quote for and ultimately win more new business.


The logistics transportation sector is under pressure to slash its carbon emissions. End-user customers are leaning on shippers to decarbonise. Meanwhile, shippers are putting the same pressure on carriers by contracting them based on their sustainability practices, offering longer freight contracts to environmentally responsible carriers, and even paying a premium for lower carbon transport.

With sustainability now affecting the bottom line, it’s no surprise that decarbonisation is rising to the top of the agenda for both shippers and carriers. So, how can AI help with all this?

The first thing to emphasise is that – unlike procurement – there’s often no single “right” answer when it comes to sustainability. Companies may have differing ideas of the optimum strategy, carefully balancing “cost vs. emissions” or “certainty vs. emissions”. However, once shippers, carriers and logistics service providers have decided on their risk appetite, AI can play a crucial role in helping them stick to their goals.

Companies typically adopt one of two mentalities. The first is a cap-and-trade strategy, where the company decides that it won’t tolerate more than X emissions. The second is a carbon tax, where a company decides to offset its emissions. For both of these strategies, shippers and carriers can factor “price per ton of emissions” into procurement events. Statistical AI can be a helpful decision-making tool. For example, when deciding which mode of transportation should be used for each shipment.

The future of AI in logistics transportation is collaborative

We’re at an important inflection point in the use of AI in logistics transportation. It’s poised to slash administrative work and help companies become more efficient and sustainable. But achieving this depends on effective data gathering and sharing. This is where cooperation between industry players comes in. To maximise positive outcomes for everyone, shippers, carriers and logistics service providers need collaborative digital platforms to share data to feed AI models. Looking ahead with this approach, we can significantly accelerate our progress towards reaching the industry’s digitalisation and decarbonisation goals.

Where are brands applying innovation to supply chain and logistics operations?

The turbulence of the past two years has shown senior management the importance of supply chains and logistics. Within this business landscape, the need for retailers to innovate to adapt their supply chain and logistics operations to meet the challenging market conditions has never been more important.

While every company’s challenges and opportunities are unique, it has also become important to establish whether there are any common technology innovation themes across organisations.

With that in mind, Descartes, in conjunction with SAPIO Research, surveyed 1,000 supply chain and logistics executives’ opinions in the UK, Europe and North America to determine where organisations are placing their innovation emphasis and technology deployment focus. Some of the results will be surprising, while others show how market hype distorts innovation realities – further, what can retailers learn from these findings?  Chris Jones, EVP, Descartes reveals all and shares some of the key findings and insights from this study…

Digitisation Initiatives

Digitisation efforts are closely aligned with supply chain and logistics innovation, because they’re about transforming company performance in ways that allow customers to see the positive difference. Supply chain and logistics operations are very extensive, so it’s highly unlikely that companies would have digitisation programs that address the entirety of their operations. The study identified the top digitisation initiatives companies have focused on as order fulfilment (47%), customer experience (45%) and transportation processes (44%). Notice that these initiatives are largely “customer facing” as opposed to back-office operations.

Supply Chain and Logistics Applications

The answers to three questions paint a picture of where companies believe they’re most innovative in their supply chain and logistics operations, where they have the greatest need for innovation and where they will focus innovation for the next two years. In general, no one application area dominated the results for the state of innovation today and future focus.

The degree of application innovation in a given area is also a function of its importance to the organisation and past innovation focus. In some cases, supplychain and logistics applications, such as warehouse management systems (WMS), simultaneously topped the list for most innovative part of the business and the list of those applications having the greatest need for innovation.

Application Innovation Requirements Explained

This is further elaborated on by considering application innovation according to three categories: most innovative; most in need of innovation; and the innovation focus over the next two years.

Most innovative

Over a quarter of respondents feel their companies are most innovative with their WMS (28%) and transportation tracking (26%). Transportation management systems (TMS) were third (25%); however, this figure rose to 28% for those who said senior management believe supply chain and logistics innovation is very important and declined to 18% for those who said senior management believe it less important.

Most in need of innovation

WMS (24%) was also cited as the top area with the greatest need for innovation, followed closely by inventory management (22%). While inventory management is second, it’s fairly low, which is surprising given how many problems companies have experienced either with having excess inventory or not enough of the products that customers want.

Innovation focus next two years

The top focus areas for innovation for the next two years are customer experience (25%), TMS (24%) and WMS (23%). Customer experience was the highest priority for manufacturers, retailers and distributors, but the fourth highest priority for carriers and logistics services providers. TMS was the highest priority for carriers and logistics services providers, but the fourth highest priority for manufacturers, retailers and distributors.

Advanced Computing Technologies

Advanced computing technology has been touted as the next wave of supply chainand logistics innovation, but it’s still early stage for most companies, including retailers. When looking at full deployments, with the exception of data analytics (40%), most advanced computing technologies such as machine learning (20%), artificial intelligence – non machine learning (17%) and robotic process automation (16%) are still in the early stages of full production use. For pilots or partial deployments, however, there is a lot of advanced computing technology activity in supply chain and logistics operations: robotic process automation (52%), machine learning (52%), data analytics (50%) and artificial intelligence – non machine learning (47%).

Conclusion: Momentum Exists, But There’s Work To Do in Retail

The last several years have been an accelerator of supply chain and logistics innovation with almost two-thirds (65%) of the study’s respondents indicating they’re increasing IT innovation funding. Given the scale and scope of supply chain and logistics, companies are focusing on transforming customer-facing processes and operations. No single supply chain or logistics application stands out as the dominant way to innovate, which speaks to the diversity of challenges and opportunities companies – such as retailers – face, and the need for a wide array of solutions.

For many companies, they’re early in their advanced computing technology journeys, but the next two years could prove interesting as pilots and partial deployments come to fruition. What technologies will your retail organisation use to innovate its supply chain and logistics operations?  

How to unlock the value of data-driven logistics

The ability to tap into data is critical to business success – from predicting sales trends to improving operations and customer service. This gives companies the insights they need to outperform the competition, and today’s business leaders clearly recognise the value of data.

However, these game-changing insights are elusive for many companies, with 58% of organisations basing at least half of their regular business decisions on gut feel rather than on data and information. ‘Laggard’ companies base 70% of their decisions on gut feel, while ‘best-in-class’ companies base 60% of their decisions on relevant information.

In the logistics industry specifically, the ripple effects of the last few years – and the ongoing recovery – across supply chain processes have clearly revealed the urgent need for organisations to embrace a data-driven culture. It’s not enough to just have access to data. Data must become a central component of logistics operations, built into the fabric of the business.

Stephan Sieber (pictured, above) , CEO at Transporeon explores this further…

The journey to being data driven

Aside from the cultural shift required, one of the biggest industry challenges associated with data-based decision making has been aggregating data from many disparate systems. Logistics practitioners highlight this as the biggest factor inhibiting their ability to convert data into actionable insights, followed by a lack of trained analysts and poor data quality .

The good news is that supply chain businesses recognise the need to leverage real-time data across their operations. And as a result, having accurate ETAs on transports is essential to managing supply chains and operations more efficiently. However, there’s a significant difference between just seeing what’s happening and being able to instantaneously use that information in an impactful way.

This is where  a modern transportation management platform comes into play. Integrating different elements of the supply chain into an intelligent platform will serve as the backbone for data-driven decision making in large transportation networks. This approach can also connect shippers, carriers, logistics service providers and other stakeholders, enabling them to communicate, share data, and make smarter decisions based on a larger pool of data.

The more stakeholders that participate in the network, the more data that can be generated and analysed to deliver business value – from optimising loading and unloading through smart slot management, to scaling operations and cutting emissions. So, in 2023 and beyond, how do businesses get the most out of their transportation management data and transform their operations like never before?

Unlocking data value

The power of bringing key services and tools together in one comprehensive platform is that it delivers insights along the 360-degree lifecycle of a freight transaction. Having access to this data can provide several benefits, such as the ability to analyse market performance. With multiple stakeholders connected to a single platform, processing millions of real-time transactions annually, a network-based transportation management platform can help businesses benchmark their performance against the market.

Businesses must contextualise the data being collected by aligning it with clearly defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) linked to desired outcomes and business objectives. In the transportation realm, common KPIs include on-time delivery, on-time arrival, transportation spend by mode, lead times, and tender acceptance rate. These KPIs can then be compared to external network-wide benchmarks to help organisations see how they are performing relative to the market.

But the true value of being data-driven comes when businesses layer artificial intelligence, machine learning and visualisation tools on top of the data. This unlocks new insights about the businesses’ operations and generates recommendations on how to strive forward smarter. This could include: monitoring industry-wide freight spend and tender rates to optimise their freight procurement process; using AI-powered smart tendering to enable autonomous tendering; or analysing network-wide capacity information to reduce empty miles.

By choosing a modern, intelligent transportation management platform as the foundation of a connected network that prioritises real-time data, companies can unlock the insights that help them reduce costs and carbon emissions while improving service, mitigating risks, and much more. They can finally make smarter decisions based on actual data, not gut feeling.

WHITE PAPER: Real-time Transportation Visibility Platforms must do more. What’s next?

By Shippeo

There have never been more supply chain management solutions available to organisations. Yet a recent PWC survey of executives shows that only 17% believe their supply chain technology investments have yielded expected benefits.

For supply chains to thrive and be resilient in the complex, volatile and uncertain world we live in, transportation management needs to be more agile than ever. Venture capitalists and others have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into various real-time transportation visibility (RTTV) platform companies.

But how should the RTTV platform evolve? What place should it have in the overall supply chain management (SCM) application architecture? What do customers want? And what role should RTTV platforms play in enabling the new paradigm of agility and adaptability that is necessary to thrive in a world that requires increasing precision in the face of increasing variability and volatility?

Today, Shippeo, a global leader in real-time multimodal transportation visibility, has brought these strategic questions into the spotlight through a discussion of a strategy in which they conceived, drove, and recently launched this year. Shippeo calls this strategy “Transportation Process Automation™ (TPA™).”

Shippeo’s TPA™ strategy provides a novel approach to collapsing and automating connections between processes to reduce latency and accelerate decision making. Imagine a world where manual and repetitive tasks, such as order processing, load planning, and carrier selection, are a thing of the past. With TPA™, supply chain and transportation leaders can automate these critical functions, freeing up valuable time and resources to focus on more strategic initiatives.

With TPA™, Shippeo closes the gap on visibility being only a necessary but insufficient condition to drive transformation. But instead, it’s about making visibility actionable, to enable resilient supply chains and provide the foundation needed for true supply chain convergence.

Learn why TPA™ is the future of supply chain management by accessing Shippeo’s new white Paper “Closing the gap between visibility and intelligent action to achieve supply chain convergence.”

Download Your Copy