Transparent supply chains: “Openness in a protected setting is important”

Following on from the piece about how companies sharing data benefit from this move, we asked Thomas Reppahn, Head of Logistics Product and Process Management at Schenker Deutschland AG, for his opinion on the importance of data transparency and data sovereignty.

logistik aktuell: In your view, how important will data transparency be for the supply chain of the future?

Thomas Reppahn: Openness in a protected setting is important. For example, it enables upstream and downstream points to supply carriers with data, and it also means that information can be augmented using what is known as public data, i.e. traffic conditions, traffic predictions, weather, and other events. Data forms the foundations for making future predictions, an ability that can be established by cleverly combining “insights sourced from past information, trend recognition, and event influencing”.

Thomas Reppahn, Head of Logistics Product and Process Management at Schenker Deutschland AG

“It is important to change how we think: We need to leave the multitude of one-to-one interfaces between two partners behind us and instead focus on a global platform.”

logistik aktuell: Will data transparency actually become reality along the entire supply chain, or will the various participants have too many misgivings and, even at best, restrict exchanging data to the lowest level and smallest size? Can we say that large-scale data exchanges are a long-term objective for supply chains?

Thomas Reppahn: It is important to change how we think: We need to leave the multitude of one-to-one interfaces between two partners behind us and instead focus on a global platform that participants use in accordance with an authorization system. Here, it is critical that all participants maintain the same level of data quality. Otherwise, to use a rather literal example, how will apply and strawberry suppliers know what they have to deliver if a baker only talks about “pies with fruit”?

“DB #Schenker manager on data sovereignty and transparent #supplychains. #scm“

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logistik aktuell: Can you imagine data serving as a means of payment within the supply chain of the future? For example, could a consignor provide its data (loading frequencies, loading times) to a logistics service provider and then receive remuneration for it?

Supply chain: Sharing data brings more benefits | logistik aktuell

Greater transparency in the supply chain: Data sovereignty makes it possible.

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Thomas Reppahn: Essentially, what happens today is that the data service provider capable of remotely transferring data of high quality is referenced during price discussions. Then there is an assessment of the production-related advantages that this data has for the partner that wants to use it. What is it worth to them? Similarly, a service provider that can provide detailed bills of quantity and plans has an advantage during the tendering process. This results in improved planning quality, and there is less of a need to include “uncertainties” in the bid.

logistik aktuell: Could the trend towards data transparency result in logistics companies going from being freight forwarders to data suppliers? For example, they could gather data along the entire length of the chain, compress and process it, and then make it available to producers and traders.

Thomas Reppahn: Personally, I think this is a possibility. The more that traditional freight forwarders’ tasks are digitalized, the more opportunities data evaluation can offer. The service supplier has three key advantages here. Firstly, they possess a large quantity of data; secondly, they are positioned in the middle of a logistical network; thirdly, the role they occupy among the various participants is that of an absolutely neutral partner.

logistik aktuell: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.