It all started with the digitalisation of analogue data. LP records became mp3 files, and smartphones took over for 35-mm cameras. Now, almost everything is prepared, stored and supported digitally. This provides global data networks that allow carriers, production sites and warehouse tenants to communicate optimally.
Today, digitalisation also includes the development of new business models based on huge data platforms. These also prevail in logistics for the analysis and handling of a variety of processes. HHLA, for example, has developed the platform modility for booking intermodal transportation. Why? Over 80 percent of daily consumer goods are currently transported on the road. And only 2.5 percent by intermodal transport! In a HHLA Talk, CEO Hendrik-Emmanuel Eichentopf explains how modility wants to change this.
The goal is more efficient and more sustainable transport. And the next step on this path is to build cross-system data networks. Many different modes of transport, production plants and warehouses involved in logistics can use them to communicate efficiently. Transportation can be more sustainable, faster and more unobstructed with digital help, but only if stakeholders are prepared to share their data with each other. The Port of Hamburg is a good example of this, where the import message platform ensures better collaboration.
The logistics industry is hoping for such effects, as a study by the IT industry association Bitkom shows. According to the study, digitalisation creates greater transparency in the supply chain (61 percent), reduces environmental pollution (55 percent) and improves supply in rural areas (37 percent). In addition, digitalisation speeds up processes, saves time (84 percent) and costs (60 percent), reduces the susceptibility to errors and failures (44 percent) and ensures a lower demand for the already scarce workforce (30 percent).
Networked data can also be used in the Internet of Things. This means individual machines, or even individual goods, from cars to fridges, could communicate independently via the internet. The goal is the increasing self-management of these “things”. A lot of research and regulation must be done before these carriers can move and manage themselves autonomously. The focus is currently on better information supply with the help of many sensors. Smart containers are one important use case, as shown in this example.
Hamburg is one of the ports with the best and most connected IT networks in the world. Digitalisation enables the efficient handling of 8.7 million containers and more than 8,000 ship calls per year. Which digital locks must an export container pass through before it is shipped?
Global trade has had to endure many different stresses and conflicts since the Corona crisis began. The supply chain congestion has multiple causes that reinforce each other and have now grown into complex disruptions. There is no quick solution in sight, but many problems are being worked on together. One important component that has made logistics chains more efficient in recent years can help: data sharing.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Carlos Jahn, Director of the Institute for Maritime Logistics at the Technical University of Hamburg and the Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Services CML, sees this as "something really new. Here, even more willingness to cooperate could help ensure that minor disruptions in the supply chain don't grow to the current dimensions in the first place."