A smart supply chain is one part of a successful digital transformation. For this reason, it is essential that logistics companies utilize new technologies. Logistics service providers who harness the opportunities presented by the digital transformation can become indispensable partners to everybody involved in the supply chain.
Modern logistics are being driven by digitalization and the changing nature of what customers expect from information and mobility, which have made automated processes, telematics, big data and cloud solutions indispensable. Many products that used to be transported physically are now being sent electronically or are being created on site with the help of 3D printing.
The added value of products that still need to be transported is changing. In the future, this value will be determined above all by its digitality. As a result, the way that things communicate with infrastructure on transport routes is becoming increasingly important. In the future, goods will be able to select their own routes and will dictate transport and delivery. This will require decentrally organized, self-managing systems. As a result, the role of the logistics company is changing: It needs to transform from a mere transport provider into a service provider in order to remain competitive.
Utilizing intelligent sensors and the Internet of Things
The new technologies available for the digitalization of the supply chain and logistical processes are sophisticated and practical, and are leading to improvements in many areas of the transport and logistics industry. For example, by using intelligent sensors, cold-chain compliance, vibrations, and dust and contamination can be monitored and documented along the entire transport route, from the producer to the end customer. Logistics companies that offer their customers this kind of “digital product memory” create real added value.
In addition to this, Internet-of-Things technologies can be used to better take into account bottlenecks during the planning of routes. Moreover, the Internet of Things is generating large volumes of data, which will ideally flow into big-data platforms with logistics companies as the central coordinators, because these platforms can serve as a starting point for the optimization of transport, replacement parts logistics or predictive maintenance scenarios. Cloud platforms in particular can form the basis of cross-company collaboration and create more transparency in the supply chain as a result. One long-term goal is the introduction of supply-chain-visibility platforms that record all logistical processes from production, to transport by land, sea or air, to retail and delivery to the end customer.
Staying competitive with the help of the digital transformation
If logistics companies step up their investments in this area and offer their customers added value in the future, they can become the central coordinators of the data exchanges between producers and suppliers that are necessary for Industry 4.0. This will also increase their ability to react if, for example, providers from outside of the industry, such as Amazon, push into the logistics market. Established service providers will then need to be able to keep pace. They will be able to achieve this if they put their trust in the digital transformation. Lufthansa Industry Solutions is helping companies to implement these changes. Together with companies from the transport and logistics industry, we develop unique solutions on the way to a smart supply chain.