Challenges in logistics integration & chain cooperation

The ongoing scale increase in the container shipping industry underlines the increasing importance of logistics integration. “Container shipping companies view scale as one of the most effective methods of withstanding pricing pressure due to growing global trade. The number and size of mega container vessels have considerable consequences for ports and port operators. Simultaneous handling of large container ships results in higher peaks in container terminal operations and requires storage and handling facilities and capacities that are large enough to process these container volumes. Terminal opening hours will need to be extended, while waiting time at the terminal and congestion on the roads will increase. The coordination will need to be optimised. It is not without reason that parties are focusing increasingly on logistics integration and IT implementation.”[1]

Logistics integration from the start
At Ultimate Software, we keep track of the news and trends in large shipping companies and know how to translate these into solutions for smaller maritime companies. Though the size of the companies is different, the complexity of the processes remains the same. It is, for example, challenging to cover all operational and financial aspects of all services in Excel spreadsheets or even in standard ERP solutions. It is expected that these systems should then be able to handle many different parameters, specific to the shipping industry. To be able to develop maritime solutions, it is important to have a complete understanding of the authentic shipping process. Acquiring this knowledge ensures correct and fully detailed operational information at any moment and at any point in the process.

Years ago, at the time when we started developing our maritime ERP solutions ‘FlexPort’ and ‘FlexShip’, we identified that it’s all about integration. With integration into one single system, there is a single set of facts regarding your business processes, and you will instantly know for sure whether the management information is correct. The importance of logistics integration cited today, to stay in control in spite of higher peaks in terminal operations and increasing pressure on scarce capacities, emphasises once again that having a complete overview of operational activities and finances enables your organisation to act on the right information, at any time.

Chain cooperation through ease of use
More cooperation between maritime organisations will be needed to respond to the demand for shorter, more sustainable and cost-efficient supply chains. “In order to achieve operational excellence, physical flows and data within these chains will be coordinated precisely using increasingly smarter and more powerful IT systems.”[1]

We think it will always be a challenge to receive the information needed quickly, correctly and completely, at the source. Fortunately, modern tools make our systems very accessible for everyone. The ease of use promotes willingness of third parties and of people in your own organisation to participate. Therefore, single data entry can be done at the source as much as possible. Single data entry will substantially lower the risk of errors as opposed to when data entry has to be done more than once. So, chain integration is easy to implement and improves the quality and timely availability of information.

To implement chain integration, you are dependent on the willingness and capability of people within your own organisation, and third parties. Only then will you have the information to make sure you utilise your resources efficiently and profitably. Therefore, in our solutions, we are encouraging chain integration and the continuous improvement of the quality and timely availability of information.

Sources:
[1] Port of Rotterdam whitepaper: The Impact of five mega trends on the container industry