posted on: 11.28.2019
Matjaž Čurič

Author:

Matjaž Čurič

Lead Engineer

Top Trends to Watch in Freight Forwarding

The slow dawn of digitalization in logistics is finally beginning to pick up speed as more and more companies are realizing its importance.

Logistics is often cited as the sector that stands the most to gain from digitalization, with vast amounts of untapped potential that could make a huge impact in improving efficiency, visibility, traceability, and security, at a time when these things are becoming increasingly vital.

McKinsey reports that ocean carriers and freight forwarders are two of the subsectors experiencing the most pressure to go digital and move their services and databases online. With the number of logistics providers growing every year, to stay competitive and at the top of their game companies need to accept that the days of easily lost or unfiled paper documents is behind us, and to consider the clear benefits of digitalization in meeting increasing demand and customer expectations.

With this in mind, there are a few major trends emerging that every freight forwarder and logistics provider should be looking into.

 

1. Blockchain

Blockchain enables everything from secure transactions and verifications, to product tracking and tracing, and even smart contracts with signature authentication.

Here’s an example of how it works: a platform collects data from various IoT devices, sensors, and providers involved in the movement of goods. It calculates a cryptographic hash of the data and creates a digital signature, verifying the transaction has originated from a sender and their private key. The transaction is then validated by the nodes, which create digital proof of delivery and store it in a tamper evident shared digital ledger, which is replicated across all other nodes holding the blockchain.

Employing Blockchain in logistics can help companies to optimize processes, gain vastly improved transparency, and significantly cut costs. For example, every day there are 140 billion dollars tied up in disputes for payments in the transportation industry, and administration costs have reached as high as 20% of overall transportation costs. By easily resolving disputes and making administration more efficient, Blockchain frees up a lot of money.

Blockchain’s wide range of applications within logistics makes it one of the most exciting developments in its digitalization today, and it is improving all the time.

 

2. Visibility Technology

Knowing where goods and shipments are with milestone visibility has long been a struggle in the logistics industry. Freightos’ independent survey shows that as much as 18.4% of business owners have no visibility at all on their shipments, and 83% of shippers admitted to not having full visibility on the location of their shipments.

With Blockchain and GPS technology, track-and-trace solutions are becoming more accurate all the time, allowing for full visibility on goods with real-time data. This enables companies to understand how they are performing, and to easily visualize vehicle, load, and product locations.

 

3. Load Optimization

Say no to dead freight. Imagine you can see the load capacity and fullness of every one of your vehicles, view delivery and pick-up points and load sizes, and visualize everything geographically on a map – in this case, load optimization becomes simple.

With this kind of visible data, you can allocate loads to vehicles optimized to their capacities, and get rid of dead freight issues. For example, where a vehicle partially offloads at one unloading point, or fully offloads, there might be a collection point on route to its next destination with a load the right size to fill up the freed space. By using cargo space more efficiently, you save on time and money, and massively reduce your environmental impact.

By going digital, you can also internally leverage your data to create new business revenue streams. For example, if one of your vehicles frees up half their capacity after a delivery, but your company has no nearby pick-ups scheduled, you can use uber-like truck sharing platforms to create added business opportunities, capitalizing on an awareness of free cargo space.


 

What to look for

These trends in themselves are huge game-changers for the logistics industry, but when combined into an intuitive, scalable, and customizable solution, the benefits and possibilities are endless. Yes, really, endless. With the right solution provider willing to tailor solutions to your needs and engage in a partnership with ongoing updates and service, like Comtrade Digital Services does, you can ensure that your solution is always improving, keeping you one step ahead at all times.

 

SmartFreight

Our SmartFreight solution encapsulates this. SmartFreight is a smart freight sharing platform for logistics. It can be used to post trucks and allocate load/pick-up jobs (connecting carriers, shippers and brokers), track and trace goods, and ensure all transactions are verified and documented. This allows companies to know at any time the location, ETA, and condition of all their shipments.

The SmartFreight mobile application and system uses Blockchain to create digital identities, store information in a temper-evident format, share ledger information securely for multi-stakeholder collaboration, store proofs of delivery and payment, create and maintain smart contracts for clear  business logic and ensured adherence to tender agreements, enable secure cryptocurrency micro transactions, and allow peer-to-peer decentralized replication of logistics data. This use of Blockchain pushes SmartFreight a head above the rest, making it much more valuable than other simple TMS systems currently on the market.

Not only this, but SmartFreight’s web application gives real-time shipment/fleet tracking and visualization, enables carrier validation and reputation score calculation, and a whole range of other data analytics and forecasting which can be facilitated through the use of AI.

We use the 3rd generation of blockchain technology, which is decentralized, scalable, and interoperable with other blockchain technology, so can readily be integrated into the foundations of a new token economy.

 

SmartDock Integration

SmartFreight is a complementary companion to our SmartDock solution. By integrating SmartFreight into a SmartDock system, warehouses and other pick-up or drop-off sites can view the ETA and real-time locations of arriving vehicles and deliveries, significantly reducing unload and load times, and keeping everyone on-track and notified.


 

Conclusions

All of the technologies and digitalization opportunities mentioned above are already tested, widely available, and in use by successful companies. It’s only a matter of time before those still clinging to entirely paper-bound, manual processes and methods of working are left far behind by those embracing such digital advances.

That’s not to say that digitalizing everything and blindly jumping into the process are to be advised. Successful digitalization is always dependent on setting clear company goals, identifying your most pressing current and recurring issues, and taking careful note of exactly what certain technologies, services, solutions, or systems can provide you with, and what’s most useful to you. This means thinking about how best to combine these opportunities, and choosing a provider ready to adapt to your requirements and work with you, to gain the most value out of your investments.

 


Want to know more about SmartDock? Download our brochure in English or German version.