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Smart Logistics – networked systems and real-time data for managing the flow of goods


by Editorial Office

In order to meet the ever-changing requirements of international goods movements, companies must constantly improve and develop their logistics and transportation strategies. Real-time monitoring and integrative aspects are becoming increasingly important in the context, as digital solutions are essential for managing physical goods. The trend towards Smart Logistics is likely to gain further momentum in the coming years: According to recent studies, many companies are planning to maintain or increase their investments in the digitalization of logistics by 2026. In our latest article on the blog, we discuss how companies are benefiting from the use of digital technologies such as transportation management, collaborative platforms and artificial intelligence.

Digital solutions for transportation management

As the heart of the supply chain, transportation management is part of a complex supply network that includes both inbound and outbound processes. Being part of strategic supply chain management, it is becoming increasingly digital: with the help of selected technologies, logistics experts can better coordinate different process networks and workflows.

Geographical information systems (GIS), route planning software and traffic management systems are used to determine the most efficient and cost-effective routes, while GPS tracking technologies, mobile communications and telematics systems continuously track and monitor shipments during transportation. Companies are not the only ones to benefit from the tracking opportunities that arise: End customers often have access to the tracking system and can thus follow the transportation of goods. Such transparent processes, on the other hand, increase customer satisfaction and strengthen trust between the contractual partners. Modern transport management systems (TMS) enable the various players to coordinate orders, stock levels and transportation smoothly.

Smart Logistics: cloud and collaborative platforms facilitate collaboration

The digital transformation in the industry has already fundamentally changed collaboration along the supply chain. Ever more companies are dismantling silo systems. Instead, they rely on collaborative platforms for their supply chain workflows. These platforms offer the great opportunity for cross-company networking: all relevant supply chain partners have access to a single source of information and receive the real-time data that is important to them. They can exchange messages, confirm orders and approve documents electronically via the central point of contact. This reduces manual effort, minimizes errors and speeds up the flow of information. Thanks to the intensified exchange of data and information, companies are able to identify bottlenecks and disruptions more quickly and thus proactively find solutions to counteract delivery delays in the movement of goods.

Cloud computing provides the technological infrastructure for collaborative platforms. The cloud enables access to computer resources and services via the internet without the need for physical hardware on site. Transportation companies store and manage their data and applications in a secure, flexible and scalable environment. In addition, cloud-based solutions are proving to be a cost-effective way to access relevant information across locations – therefore ensuring a seamless collaboration between all supply chain stakeholders.

How AI and machine learning increase efficiency

As a disruptive technology, artificial intelligence (AI) also supports logistics processes and makes a decisive contribution to increasing the resilience of supply chains. The strategic integration of AI into processes along the supply chain offers companies a wide range of opportunities to sustainably improve efficiency, competitiveness and customer satisfaction. AI and machine learning form a potent alliance for the creation of forecasts: by processing, evaluating and analyzing huge amounts of data, trends are identified and predictions are calculated, for example on fluctuations in demand, transport delays or seasonal weather events.

The combination of various data such as weather conditions, fuel prices, the status and performance of machines and vehicles supports a targeted, efficient route and time planning for the transportation of goods. Thanks to the information collected, users receive early warnings and suggestions for alternative routes, thus reducing the risk of delays. Logistics experts in charge therefore only need to check and approve the AI-based recommendations.

Companies also benefit from the use of artificial intelligence in the areas of warehousing solutions and purchasing and procurement. AI-supported systems can not only create demand forecasts and coordinate and monitor processes, but also manage the flow of goods, update stock levels and forward orders. For even greater time efficiency and cost reduction in practice, Hermes International has used AI to develop a solution that can read differently structured documents and share them with other systems via interfaces within the IT landscape. It automatically adapts to the varying formats of the documents and independently searches for the relevant parameters. Hence, manual entries, such as bookings, can be automated and thus linked much more quickly with freely accessible data from carriers, for example.

Internet of Things – tracking goods in real time

When it comes to Smart Logistics, the Internet of Things also plays a transformative role. By tracking mobile, non-powered load carriers and assets, companies can track and monitor goods in real time. If the relevant information is seamlessly integrated into the IT infrastructure and the company’s own business processes, logistics experts can not only track processes, but also control and optimize them better and thus reduce costs in the long term.

Additionally, sensors on goods, vehicles and storage facilities enable a continuous recording of information such as location, temperature, humidity and the current condition of the commodities. This data is transmitted in real time to central systems, where it is analyzed and interpreted. In this context, the fusion of AI and IoT is becoming increasingly significant: AIoT represents the fusion of AI algorithms and capabilities with IoT devices and sensors and is key to creating sophisticated, autonomous and intelligent systems in the logistics industry.

Transparency and data exchange support sustainability efforts

However, every AI is only as good as the data available to it. This is the reason why real-time information is an important cornerstone of Smart Logistics. Only through the seamless transfer of data between suppliers, logistics service providers, customers and other stakeholders can all players react better and faster to changes and make efficient decisions. The reason is quite simple, as the more high-quality data is provided, the more transparent the processes along the supply chain become. According to the 19th Hermes Barometer, many companies have already recognized the potential of Supply Chain Transparency and appreciate the increased speed of response in particular.

Likewise, an increased end-to-end visibility has another significant positive effect: Today, many companies are legally obliged to reduce their environmental impact and document the results in sustainability reports (keyword: CSRD). This includes, for example, the optimization of transport routes, the reduction of empty runs and the efficient use of containers, loading areas and storage capacities in order to reduce energy consumption and emissions along the supply chain. In this context, the transparency and the multilateral exchange of data are crucial for compliance with and optimization of sustainability criteria.

Conclusion: Smart Logistics – uncovering inefficient processes through networking and real-time data

The future of logistics is digital. Hence, modern technologies will continue to significantly change processes within global supply chains. TMS, collaborative platforms, AI or IoT – by investing in networked supply chain technologies, logistics experts can digitally map, evaluate and monitor their supply chain in real time and thus identify inefficient processes. Experienced logistics service providers such as Hermes International assist with providing digital offerings and support on the path to greater transparency and improved collaboration along the supply chain. In a continuous process, Hermes International is also developing its own technology in order to take its supply chain solutions to a new level and provide companies with the best possible support in the transition to Smart Logistics.

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