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Automating Logistics

IATA World Cargo Symposium: Building Better Communication In Logistics

You request a ride through your favorite ridesharing app. Do you close your eyes and hope that your driver arrives in 7 minutes, or do you pull up your app to watch them move down the street? Maybe you check it once, twice, three or four times. Do you even put your phone down? Now you’re obsessive, its a car, it will get there, and when it does, you’ll be alive, and well, at worst you’ll have lost 4 minutes.

By comparison.

You’re an aircraft mechanic. There is a 747 grounded, and you’re awaiting the single piece that will get it back in the air and save your employer thousands of dollars. You didn’t ship the part, you don’t even know where it came from, but you know it’s value, and that’s on the way, should arrive at 17:23, in 60 minutes.

So you make your way to the receiving area and wait. It seems like it’s been a while, but you can’t see where the driver is, it’s only 17:42, surely he’ll be here soon. Finally, your phone rings, probably the driver looking for you. Expecting to let them have a piece of your mind, answer the call and take a deep breath, before you can rip into the other party, a voice on the other end informs you the piece you were waiting for missed it’s flight and won’t arrive till the morning. Your employer potentially just lost over $100,000

 

I recently attended the World Cargo Symposium in Dallas, TX. There were a plethora of concepts discussed and debated, but one struck me as an accurate representation of change taking place in the logistics industry. Relayed communication is no longer sufficient for expedited and critical shipping.

We have entered the era of total-chain-of-custody-transparency. Your contact that placed an order, in this case, whoever ordered the aircraft part to be delivered, is no longer the only stakeholder looking for information during the delivery process. Every stakeholder in the supply chain is looking for information. They are relaying your performance, and the longer the chain of communication, the more outdated the data is that stakeholder is working with.

 

This costs time and money. How much? Well, how do you calculate your opportunity cost? Is it by how many people made phone calls to track the shipment, or how many emails were sent/how much time was wasted typing, maybe it’s how many people sat around and waited on a shipment that was either delayed or never going to deliver.

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