Time is a valuable commodity in any supply chain. Shaving just minutes off journey times can translate into business savings of millions of pounds. So with world merchandise trade valued at $19.67 trillion last year, there's a lot at stake.
The supply chain is ripe for innovation. Every day vast quantities of data are generated by everything from ships and cargo containers to trucks, delivery vans and individual packages. It's what enables us to be given a two-hour delivery window for the latest gadget bought online and shipped halfway round the world.
But all this data holds more than the promise of never missing a delivery – it has the potential to add up to a transformation for the logistics industry.
So how do we move the industry itself – what's the best route to a more intelligent and transparent supply chain?
A key factor will be bringing together multiple different sectors to create a more efficient system in which data is shared across land, sea, air and rail operations as well as associated industries such as telecoms.
Such a data-intelligent system would give instant visibility of where goods are at any given time, where they are moving to and at what speed, when they are due to arrive at their destination and so on.
The whole supply chain could become a slick operation with no time – and hence money – wasted. It could, for example, mean an end to goods sitting in port for several days waiting for onward transportation. With tracking data shared amongst operators, hauliers could be updated in real time on the location of specific consignments to enable them to organise immediate collection.
As well as speeding up the supply chain and leading to cost savings, such a joined-up transparent system could also help reduce thefts and the amount of counterfeit goods, as merchandise would be tracked every step of the way from the factory to the consumer.
Data will be the glue holding this integrated operation together – it's why our state-of-the-art spatial big data platform has such a crucial role to play in transforming the supply chain. It can instantly combine, analyse and visualise complex data sets, spot anomalies or hidden patterns, and harness more information than ever before to make useful predictions for maximum efficiency.
It's why we're predicting the dawn of a new era for the logistics industry.