Digital supply chains give logistics companies planning security and help them adapt their processes. Recipients are informed in real time about the location of their consignments and about any delays. Exchanging documents with authorities is quicker and easier. “Overall, everyone benefits,” says the CIO of the shipping company MSC.
In the supply chain experiment, every step the shipment took from Germany to Canada was tracked and analysed. This included dispatching the goods with a GPS tracker, land transport within Germany, export declaration at customs, trans-shipment in Hamburg, sea transport across the Atlantic, trans-shipment in Portugal, sea transport again, trans-shipment in Vancouver, land transport in Canada and arrival at its destination. During this process, they recorded who had which data and at which point in time. They also recorded where data was generated, how it was able to be exchanged, and who had the associated documents.
Ten documents were exchanged during the shipping process, including booking confirmations, transport orders, an export declaration, receipt and exit confirmations, a bill of lading, a weighing certificate and a freight list. Six of these were machine-readable. The booking confirmation, land transport order, delivery note and export declaration were only available in paper form.
The experiment showed that further horizontal and vertical networking is needed in the supply chain. “To achieve this, cross-industry standards need to be defined to achieve interoperability between everyone involved in transport,” says Thorsten Sickenberger from the consulting firm D-Fine, which monitored the experiment. MSC and other container shipping companies are committed to this in the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA). Technologies also have to be linked to ensure that shipments are tracked and traced throughout. Documents can be transmitted digitally and securely via blockchain.