Supply chain: Sharing data brings more benefits

A supply chain is a highly complex thing. So complex, in fact, that the image of a chain isn’t really suitable anymore. Large networks cooperate when organizing supply processes for international trade and industry. These networks are growing in size and becoming increasingly dynamic, so digital processes can help ensure that their mutual cooperation continues to function. Each individual service provider has its own IT systems for managing this complexity. However, the data that builds up in these systems normally remains strictly inside the company and is not available to other firms involved in the supply chain.

However, by including company data in their expanding range of collaborative activities, the participants could make the entire supply chain substantially more resilient. All of them would be able to respond faster and with greater focus to fluctuations in demand and unforeseen events. Similarly, having access to more extensive data at the start of the corridor planning process would result in greater accuracy, and predictive analysis improves the more data is available and the higher this data’s quality is.

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The value of data’s contributions is continuously growing

Data can generate more insights as the integration of individual databases increases, something that applies to companies’ internal data stocks as much as to the logistics network as a whole. ERP systems such as SAP and Oracle make it possible to merge and analyze databases from different section of one company, but there is, so far, nothing similar for a network made up of separate companies. Scores of hurdles impede transparency and interoperability when it comes to their different databases.

“Future of #supplychains: #data transparency and #data sovereignty“

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However, a change is beginning to happen. An initiative launched by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institutes to create a secure site for companies to exchange information, the “industrial data space”, recently entered its second, state-funded stage. The project’s objective is to establish a secure platform for exchanging information on an international level. Every company sharing this virtual space can make its own independent, sovereign decisions about who can access the data it adds to the platform, and how extensive this access is. Specific applications have now been developed and are particularly interesting for transportation and logistics companies because they promote agile transportation management.

In the digital society, data represents information with value. It is the raw material for automation procedures and management processes alike. Data makes it possible to customize products or create batches of just one single item in size. At the same time, data is itself becoming a commodity, as data transparency throughout the entire supply chain would require a remuneration model for information provided by participating companies. (Source: Bundesvereinigung Logistik: 2017 position paper on digitalization, p. 15.)

Following on from this piece, Thomas Reppahn, Head of Logistics Product and Process Management at Schenker Deutschland AG, will provide his opinion of the importance of data transparency and data sovereignty in a short interview. Coming soon to logistik aktuell!