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One-to-one information still rules in cargo handling

28/03/2018

After all my years in the cargo handling business, it still amazes me that our ways to exchange data are so, well, old-fashioned. You would think that, by 2018, all players could swiftly exchange information through commonly agreed channels and methods. Although some is standardised, mostly this is still not the case.

AUTHOR: SOILI MÄKINEN

One of the biggest problems in the global cargo handling industry is still that data connections and data flows take place only between single operators at a time. It has not been possible to standardise the entire chain of information, so that every operator would be able to access the same data in the same way.

The information exchange is still a contract between two parties where the parties change when the goods move forward along the cargo flow.

This has been a long standing topic within our industry; we have been talking about the free and open flow of information for a long time. What would it require from us to move forward with this? What prevents us from solving this?

Change our thinking

Don’t get me wrong - much has already been done to make the information streams more transparent throughout the supply chain. At Cargotec, Navis’s XVELA aims to improve the use of information and increase its transparency. Maersk and IBM work together to improve information flows with blockchain technology, and there are many other, bigger and smaller players who work on the same challenge right now.

I see two main obstacles that we need to solve to get ahead with this: We still have this traditional way of thinking about who is the owner of the information. On the other hand, there is still much dispute about how transparently we can share the information.

A good way to proceed with this is to demonstrate the benefits in a non-disputable way. Things that come to mind are, for example, improved efficiency by better vessel utilisation planning, savings achieved by better pit stop planning and improved vessel turnaround, savings in fuel efficiency and subsequently CO2 emissions by improved route and berth planning, savings at terminal with optimised equipment operations, preventing losses due to misplacing of cargo etc.

What are your thoughts?

I do have my thoughts on where the pros mainly exist. I continue to write about those in my upcoming blogs.

What about you? Do you agree about this challenge? How would you solve it? Is the industry discussing enough about this? And are the savings concrete enough? Write your thoughts on the comments section below.

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