Opinion: CEO of Shipping: The best solution to global supply chain chaos

Much attention has been focused on ports and other infrastructure, as well as truck and labor shortages. These are significant bottlenecks that require additional investment to be addressed, but they are symptomatic of a deeper problem.

What really plagues the global supply chain – and what is the root of most problems today – is a lack of technology. The current technology in use has left companies and supply chain suppliers with low visibility into freight, a lack of supply chain integration, and virtually no ability to anticipate and mitigate issues. Giving the supply chain its own completely redesigned and improved “cloud moment” will improve life not only for businesses but also for their customers.

Global supply chains have long been complex, modular and siled networks that focused on demands for capacity and maximizing costs, efficiency and scale. They’re designed to work a certain way and can withstand known challenges, but when put to the test by unexpected events like a pandemic, they’re incredibly fragile. They are built for a world in balance. And when imbalances do arise, which unfortunately often are, they are simply not resilient enough to withstand disruption and delay. The pandemic accelerated and magnified the challenges that already existed.

Today, logistics professionals in all types of businesses must work with a myriad of different vendors, platforms, systems, and solutions to source and ship products to customers. Just think about the growth in e-commerce we are seeing right now and what that means for businesses. A clothing company that used to distribute merchandise to its stores in the past must now be able to ship directly to customers around the world or to one of their outlets for same day pickup, then also prepare for possible returns of orders.

Here’s how technology can help meet these challenges.

Reduce complexity

Automakers are a prime example of how certain industries could streamline their operations and reduce layoffs. The world produced nearly 80 million cars last year, and a typical car consists of 30,000 individual parts, from the screws to the windshield. And to add to the complexity, every automaker has invested heavily in building their own version of a supply chain to maintain and manage their operations.

Instead, these companies should tap into a holistic infrastructure solution that could meet their needs. It’s not that different from the cloud revolution ten years ago, where companies realized that it was not a good deal to invest in building their own cloud, but rather to partner with it. global cloud providers who had the scale.

Digitize

Supply chains are still operated in a very siled and manual way. A single container may require up to 100 document exchanges per trip, which can increase shipping costs.

Digitizing these interactions by creating a platform or infrastructure where they can be more easily processed will ensure that goods pass more efficiently through customs and across borders, and comply with regulations.

To integrate

One of my biggest global clients recently told me, “I just don’t know where my business is right now. It’s not an infrastructure issue, it’s a data visibility issue.

The movement of goods is subject to many discounts, which can create structural weaknesses in the supply chain. Like in a relay race, they represent an opportunity for failure, mistakes or delays. To achieve better results, companies are leveraging digitization to integrate data, products and services, which will give them greater visibility.

One of the biggest supply chain issues in the world is food loss and ensuring a connected and reliable cold chain to keep food fresh and fresh. At Maersk, we move over half a million containers of fruit and vegetables every year. This requires refrigerated containers and cold storage facilities to keep the products at the perfect temperature to prevent food loss.

By combining our tracking capabilities with sensors connected to the Internet, we have enabled our customers who transport bananas to monitor, adjust and get automatic alerts on the status of their produce – including temperature, l humidity and CO2 levels – from an app on their phone. The result is that bananas can travel further and arrive in perfect condition so that they are ripe by the time you put them in your fruit bowl.

There is so much to be optimistic about the integration of data, systems and technologies and their application to the challenges of tomorrow. This will allow us to better connect and simplify global supply chains, making life easier and more affordable for businesses and consumers.