In 2021, shippers and logistics service providers (LSPs) are closer to 100% shipment visibility. So why have most carriers not yet deployed true end-to-end visibility solutions in their operations to boost customer satisfaction?
This article unveils the Open Visibility Network: a collaboration of the world’s top providers of real-time visibility and predictive analytics that is giving the shipping industry a much-needed upgrade. You’ll gain valuable insights into topics like:
- How adding data from multiple providers makes performance benchmarking simple;
- What insights can be added to existing systems to mitigate risk and eliminate shipment delays and damage;
- How real-time alerts help shippers act on excursions before they become insurmountable.
Numerous technology providers allow users to track specific facets of shipment data. Though there is an inherent risk with low-visibility supply chain operations, about half of companies still report that their supply chain visibility relies on siloed or outdated internal data that affects their ability to identify and address problems and disruptions.
Thanks to the growing field of Internet of Things technology, today’s best shipment trackers exist to track data across various networks, including GPS, cellular triangulation, and Wi-Fi. These IoT devices allow shippers and receivers to see if cargo will or has arrived on time and in full. These trackers offer a range of benefits, from hyper-accurate location, vibration, and impact tracking to environment-based monitoring of temperature, humidity, light exposure, and other factors, granting cargo owners insight into the conditions of loads in real-time or near real-time during transport.
Unfortunately, most shippers cannot incorporate all the various tracking solutions into their cargo movements. While each visibility solution may excel with a few unique capabilities that could benefit different types of shipments or modes, using numerous visibility solutions for a broader coverage has historically been impractical in terms of cost and complexity.
As the events of 2020 made end-to-end visibility more essential than ever before, shippers and providers of visibility solutions have begun to realize the benefits of data sharing. A Gartner study revealed that only 21% of shippers said they had a highly resilient supply chain network, with resiliency defined as good visibility in combination with agile sourcing.
The possibility of 100% visibility is more likely now than it has ever been. Between the various visibility solutions, shipment data is available from virtually every point of transit. If in-transit visibility technology providers, logistics providers, and shippers instead collaborate to share historical and real-time data across platforms, it’s possible to achieve 100% visibility across many shipments, lanes, and modes.
Open Visibility Network – Removing Competition From the Equation To Benefit the Customer
A need for better supply chain resiliency has surfaced as the primary lesson learned from 2020. As a result, 87% of supply chain professionals plan to invest in solutions and technologies that will improve supply chain resiliency over the next two years.
“Companies that were resilient and outperformed their peers during the pandemic were also those that were the most agile,” said David Shillingford, CEO of Everstream Analytics, a provider of supply chain risk-planning solutions and partner in the Tive Open Visibility Network (OVN). “But agility is relative. It’s about being faster to react than you otherwise could. That’s important when the Suez Canal is blocked, or borders close due to a pandemic, or any time when capacity is strained. Agility starts with knowing what might happen or what has happened as quickly as possible, and that’s visibility.”
Most players in the supply chain would agree that the stand-alone options for shipment visibility fall well short of true end-to-end visibility. Supply chains are ill-prepared to handle another black swan event, leaving no time to wait for a single provider to develop true end-to-end shipment visibility. Supply chain resiliency needs to move fast to avoid further disruption on the level experienced in 2020.
“The biggest barriers to complete visibility for shippers are primarily around fragmentation,” said Krenar Komoni, CEO and founder of Tive, a provider of in-transit visibility solutions. “There are more than a million carriers in the United States alone — that’s just domestic. All of those carriers have thousands of different types of telematics devices. Pulling data from all of them promptly when the load is actually being loaded and in transit is essentially impossible unless all the information is known prior. You can attempt to integrate with many of those carriers and possibly get to 50-60% visibility, but getting to 100% visibility continues to be a major barrier that the Open Visibility Network addresses today.”
Providing more holistic shipment data requires partnerships between technology offerings to bridge gaps across fragmented transportation providers. When technology providers collaborate to share critical shipment data across their proprietary platforms, their mutual customers benefit from something much more akin to end-to-end visibility, facilitating data-driven and proactive decision-making. Users gain access to additional data through API integrations provided by multiple leaders in the in-transit visibility space into their TMS or EDI solution, often eliminating the need to change or add providers to gain specific insights.
Some providers are more software-based and some are hardware,” said Nimesh Patel, vice president of global business development for visibility-solutions provider FourKites.
“Providers are partnering with other providers. One may offer state-ofthe- art hardware solutions to capture in-transit visibility. Another gets information from electronic logging devices or telematic devices. Combine those with another provider offering ETA calculation and predictive analytics around the load, and together they’re all providing an end-to-end visibility solution. It’s one plus one equals three.”
OVN enhances visibility for the technology providers involved in the sharing agreement, allowing them to offer critical facets of shipment location and condition to their mutual customers that they might not otherwise be able to access.
There are more than a million carriers in the United States alone — that’s just domestic. All of those carriers have thousands of different types of telematics devices. Pulling data from all them in a timely manner when the load is actually being loaded and in-transit is essentially impossible unless all the information is known prior. You can attempt to integrate with many of those carriers and possibly get to 50-60% visibility, but getting to 100% visibility continues to be a major barrier that the Open Visibility Network addresses today. – KRENAR KOMONI, CEO OF TIVE
Empowering Resiliency Best Practices With Best Possible Shipment Visibility
With complete 360-degree visibility into shipments as they move, shippers and logistics providers can implement best practices across the supply chain without buying or subscribing to multiple overlapping solutions.
“The idea of solutions providers collaborating is critical for making the entire industry more collaborative,” Shillingford said. “When providers have walls around their solutions, it’s very difficult for shippers, carriers and 3PLs to collaborate. There’s a shift in mindset happening, and I think we should celebrate that. It’s a very exciting development.”
With shared visibility across providers, cargo owners gain access to more data from a variety of sources. Some of these sources may include:
DATA FROM CELLULAR/WIRELESS SHIPMENT TRACKERS
Cellular and wireless shipment trackers provide a broad spectrum of important data about the physical shipment, such as temperature, humidity, light exposure, impact, tampering, and more. Depending on the specific tracker type, these technologies enable the cargo owner to verify the security of freight during transit or immediately upon delivery.
“Real-time cellular connectivity has been cost-prohibitive, but the cost curve has changed quite a bit recently,” Komoni said. “Now you can get visibility on location and conditions to see if the container or trailer got opened in real-time, in a very cost-effective way. That cost curve will continue trending down, and these trackers will get more and more ubiquitous across shipments around the globe.”
ELECTRONIC LOGGING DEVICES/ TELEMATICS FROM TRUCKS
Electronic logging devices (ELDs), dash cams, and other onboard fleet telematics offer a broad range of useful visibility data. Fleet telematics offer real-time updates about location, equipment condition, accidents, risky driver behavior, and numerous other metrics.
“There used to be a lot of technology barriers until the ELD mandates started occurring,” Patel said. “Just having that lack of technology with carriers made it hard to communicate. Fast-forward six years and the ELD mandate has forced a lot of carriers to invest in solutions where it’s easier to connect, and shippers and carriers are now both seeing the need.”
INFORMATION FROM TERMINALS AND PORTS
Ocean shipments often take up to a month or more, and in that time, many factors can go wrong. International shipments can get delayed by days or even weeks, with little or no notice for shippers when something goes awry.
Integrating real-time data from terminals and ports helps cargo owners know when shipments arrive and when they can be picked up. Without proper visibility at ports and terminals, cargo often sits longer than it should because owners don’t know their shipments have even arrived. Better access to the reliable port and terminal information can help mitigate detention and demurrage fees caused by inaccurate shipment data.
LOCATION DATA FROM CARRIERS
Carriers across all modes have leaned into digital transformation, which has created a lake full of data about lanes, rates, capacity, individual shipments, and the performance of the carriers themselves. Access to direct data from carriers can help reduce the risk for shippers when shipping in new lanes or sourcing new transportation providers.
“Even with a smartphone app, sometimes drivers turn that off or they don’t like it. When you’re working in the spot market or you don’t have dedicated freight, sometimes you have to hire a carrier that you don’t know, and you’re not connected to. With an open network like OVN using data from multiple leaders, you suddenly have one of the biggest networks of carrier data in the market,” Komoni said.
ESTIMATED TIME OF ARRIVAL (ETA) DATA
With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools, some visibility providers have gained the ability to predict arrival times with a great deal of accuracy. By incorporating historical lane and carrier data with real-time tracking, visibility providers have been able to greatly enhance the accuracy of ETA predictions.
“ETA is calculated based on all of the data you can fill in. By leveraging these different partners and resources and tools, you can say when the shipment is actually going to arrive,” Patel said.
With this comprehensive pool of data from multiple leading providers, shippers will gain full visibility into their cargo while it’s in transit. This capability allows shippers to build agility and resiliency into operations through better:
- Supply planning. Understanding when shipments will arrive and having the real-time insight to mitigate risks greatly improves a company’s ability to avoid production disruptions. With reliable visibility into the movement of critical components and supplies, leaner inventory practices become more feasible as well.
- Exception/disruption management. With 360-degree visibility into freight on the move, shippers get real-time alerts about problems with critical shipments. This allows them to address exceptions quickly before they can substantially affect operations or customers.
- Carrier benchmarking/vetting. With broad historical and real-time data from multiple providers, benchmarking carrier performance and vetting new transportation providers in any mode or lane become easier than ever before.
- Capabilities of AI/ML technologies. Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are only as good as the data they have access to. With access to a broad pool of data for analysis and cross-referencing, the effectiveness of AI and ML technologies improves significantly.
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