Track-and-Trace Techniques for Better Transparency

Today's supply chain management and logistics are complex, increasing the demand for real-time visibility and continuous monitoring of shipment chains. Shipping and logistics remain among the last industries to undertake digital transformation. 

The highly fragmented nature of international shipping, where a dozen companies each play a role in getting a product from concept to the buyer, essentially ensures that there will be a level of complexity past that of nearly any other industry.

These issues are augmented by the Amazon Effect, if a consumer can know precisely when a shipment will arrive, how is it possible that a massive company like Samsung can literally go days without knowing where a shipment of TVs is?

Inbound Logistics by Thomas publishing company described three primary approaches to adding transparency to the supply chain.

1. EDI – Most of the major shippers globally have invested in some flavor of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) solutions. EDI is an older approach that is probably best known as the standard that enables the secure sharing of information between doctors and patients.

At the time it was developed, EDI was among the most progressive and secure approaches to electronically sharing information. Today, it serves as the platform of many supply chain solutions. This is not, however, because it is the most efficient solution. 

There are two main reasons EDI is nearly universal. The first falls into: “how we’ve always done it,” and the second is: “because we’ve already invested so much.” 

It is incredibly expensive to declare “technology bankruptcy,” and start building a new platform from the ground up; even more so when the platform in consideration is powering the supply chain of a Fortune 50 company.

2. API – Application Programming Interface (API) is a more modern approach to connecting disparate systems. In the simplest terms, APIs enable programs to ask each other for information.

APIs generally gained common acceptance around Salesforce, and serve as the basis for that company’s enormous partner ecosystem; the market cap for the partner ecosystem for Salesforce is six times the size of the actual company. 

3. Blockchain – The idea behind blockchain is to create a distributed, immutable ledger where multiple parties essentially share custody of the generated data.

There are two pervasive views of blockchain. The first is that it will replace substantial number of applications, databases and storage methods. The second is that it is largely a solution without a problem. There is, however, a less popular opinion; blockchain, like EDI before it (and Google Drive today), will ultimately be a strong fit for specific use cases but not a one size fits all solution.

Track and trace in logistics have become essential for all shippers and carriers. It has numerous benefits, including simplified finding, tracking, and data collection from every supply chain step. Moreover, it helps businesses save cost and time, increase supply chain transparency, improve efficiency, and offer a superior customer experience. Therefore, you should consider using smart track and trace solutions, like the ones provided by the Cargodock platform, to organize, centralize, and optimize your logistics operations.

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