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How the Digital Supply Chain Optimizes Ocean Freight Operations

March 17, 2023

As transportation industry professionals recover from the Pandemic-era turbulence in the supply chain, many seek innovative strategies to improve coordination, resilience, and efficiency. Throughout the transportation industry, logistics professionals are partnering with technology companies to harness the power of improved visibility, reduced manual processes, and optimized resiliency in crises. While these solutions are diverse in their purposes and offerings, many fall under the same category: supply chain digitization.

But what is supply chain digitization? And what does it mean for shippers in 2023? To help curious shippers learn more about the supply chain of tomorrow, we’re digging into supply chain digitization in the new year. 

What is Supply Chain Digitization?

For decades, transportation professionals have relied on time-consuming, manual operations.These manual operations often relied on outdated technologies and could quickly lead to lost documentation, missed calls, and inaccurate ETAs, which would eventually affect revenues and reputation negatively. 

However, shippers have taken advantage of technological revolutions reshaping our world in recent years. Advancements in real-time tracking, data management and collection, and software integration have provided transportation professionals with access to unprecedented connectivity throughout the supply chain. With the click of a button, transportation professionals  can now access vital transportation information across the supply chain, removing time-consuming manual processes and helping shippers manage supply chains proactively rather than reactively. 

As these advantages of digital supply chain management make themselves increasingly clear in a dynamic transportation industry, industry leaders are taking notice. According to Supply Chain Management Review reporting, “84% of CEOs are planning to increase investments in digital capabilities across their enterprise.” As business leaders take notice, innovators across the transportation industry are looking for strategies to optimize operations through supply chain digitization. 

Three Key Benefits of Supply Chain Digitization

With more transportation industry professionals taking notice of the benefits of digital supply chain management, we’ve highlighted three key benefits of supply chain digitization. 

Digital Supply Chain Management Eliminates Manual Processes

Transportation professionals have spent time laboring over time-consuming manual processes for too long. From time-consuming manual check calls to high-stakes documentation handling, manual processes cost transportation professionals invaluable time. 

With digital supply chain management, transportation professionals can harness the power of technology to automate and digitize processes, enabling transportation professionals to forgo time-consuming manual processes and focus on revenue-increasing activities. 

Among the many ways that supply chain digitization has streamlined manual processes in transportation is the transition from physical bills of lading to electronic bills of lading, or eBOLs. In late February of 2023, nine of the largest ocean carriers–including companies like Maersk, MSC, and CMA-CGM–banded together to throw the full weight of their influence behind eBOLs. According to FreightWaves, the organization, which refers to itself as the Digital Container Shipping Association, or DCSA, plans on [...] converting 50% of original bills of lading to electronic within five years. By 2030, the carriers will issue all-electronic bills of lading.In a recent statement, DCSA CEO Thomas Bagge said, The digitalization of international trade holds vast potential for the world economy by reducing friction and, as trade brings prosperity, the eBL will further enable trade, helping bring millions out of poverty. This heralds the start of a new era in container shipping as the industry transitions to scaled automation and fully paperless trade.

Supply Chain Digital Transformation Bolsters Resilience

It’s no secret that today’s transportation professionals face a vast array of challenges. From ongoing labor shortages to pandemic complications to the specter of global conflict, today’s logistics industry requires more resilience than ever. Before the digital supply chain, logistics professionals were often left in the dark when exceptions occurred, frantically calling carriers or other logistics parties to check on freight condition, location, and ETA. This high-stakes guessing game could quickly lead to lost revenue and, just as importantly, damaged reputations. 

The digital supply chain, however, offers shippers a solution to their resiliency issues. By integrating a broad variety of transportation resources–including visibility, analytics, and data processing–into cloud-based software platforms, known as TMS (Transportation Management System) the digital supply chain gives shippers access to all the vital transportation information they need to navigate even the most daunting of supply chain crises. Automated exception alerts, integrated seamlessly into an API, or application programming interface, provide shippers with real-time alerts, ensuring that shippers can stay up-to-date with exceptions whenever and wherever they occur. 

Supply Chain Digitization Optimizes Analytics

While data has become a vital component of the transportation industry in recent years, not all data is created equal. Raw data might provide an overview of performance, but it often fails to provide transportation professionals with a full-picture of their operations. Yet transforming raw data into usable insights is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that often requires specialized staff and higher overheads. With outdated data management, collection, and aggregation strategies, logistics professionals are left to choose between the lack of visibility that comes with inadequate analytics and the higher overheads of in-house data processing. 

Supply chain digitization provides a solution. In the digital supply chain, automated data collection software standardizes milestones across operations, ensuring that shippers have access to the most complete, uniform data available. With this data, shippers can quickly gain a bird's-eye view over their operations. With actionable analytics available through a digital supply chain solutions provider, shippers can use past inefficiencies to optimize future operations, ensuring that service only improves over time. 

For Unprecedented Visibility in the Digital Supply Chain, Today’s Shippers Choose OpenTrack

Facing a dynamic transportation industry, today’s shippers can’t settle inefficiency. To navigate a challenging transportation environment, shippers are searching for innovative strategies to bolster cost-effectiveness, performance, and resilience in turbulent times for the ocean transportation industry. With OpenTrack, shippers can access a vital toolkit of digital supply chain innovations.

  • Optimized Data Strategies to provide access to the most detailed understanding of operations available.
  • Real-Time Ocean Container Visibility to ensure total ocean freight visibility.
  • Automated Exception Alerts to keep shippers aware of the latest exceptions whenever and wherever they occur. 

Book a demo with OpenTrack today, and see how the latest in digital supply chain management can revolutionize your operations.

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