Updated: Mar 14
Global supply chains have faced unprecedented disruption in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. When lockdowns and restrictions were eventually lifted around the world, the sheer weight of demand for products caused chaos. Labour shortages and huge bottlenecks disrupted the movement of goods through the supply chain like never before.
On top of that, the war in Ukraine has seen energy costs go through the roof and inflation is sending raw material prices rocketing. Egg shortages have hit the headlines in the UK as a result of this 'perfect storm' – with up to a third of producers reducing, pausing or stopping production in the face of squeezed profit margins. Avian flu has also added to the problem.
And it's not just bird flu causing disruption. A winter surge in human flu and other viruses has led to unprecedented demand for cold and flu remedies, with pharmacists struggling to obtain supplies of many medications we normally take for granted.
Against this background, it's clear that supply chain efficiency and flexibility are vital – and technology has a crucial role to play. Digital innovation offers more efficient operations at lower cost, with greater real-time visibility of the whole supply chain – enabling goods to be directed to where they are needed most.
It's tempting to think data is the answer to the problem – and more data will provide more answers. But it's not as simple as that. Many goods vehicles are already fitted with some form of tracking and monitoring capability, for example, that can report vast amounts of information wirelessly. But, unless the tracking device is paired with a specific vehicle registration number, that data is not much help. The answers that add value and drive operational efficiency are things like what the vehicle is transporting, who has sent the delivery and where it is going.
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Therein lies the challenge for digital transformation of the supply chain. To get the full picture, business leaders need data captured and brought together from a variety of supply chain systems – owned, operated and controlled by numerous independent organisations.
Another complication is that the requirements of each stakeholder are different. The telematics system used by a haulier, for example, will provide visibility of all its vehicles, all the time – something that is necessary for the company to monitor its vehicle fleet. The manufacturer whose goods are being transported, on the other hand, simply wants to know where their consignment is in real time. They only need the GPS data of a specific vehicle for a specific period of time while the goods are being moved, and in a way that’s useful for them. Near-time estimated time of arrival for those goods allows them to manage their resources appropriately, ensuring the production line is geared up and ready for what’s coming in, or diverting resource to other priorities if there’s advance notification of an issue.
That's why a solution such as Atamai Freight is needed. Based on the creation of digital twins of each 'consignment journey' – containing all the relevant information to monitor each individual batch of goods as it moves through the supply chain network. The dashboard allows for easier administration and can cut the need for endless emails or phone calls to the different parties involved. The solution also includes a smart seal that facilitates goods integrity.
It's all about delivering valuable business benefits – and a flexible, resilient global supply chain.