Issue: Feb 2017


Cloud-based TMS simplifies management of global logistics chains



by Michael Stewart

Trends such as the legislated reduction of CO2 emissions across the entire value chain, driverless cars, globalization and alternatively powered vehicles are changing the automotive landscape – and along with it the logistics challenges facing the industry.

Logistics service providers are utilizing the same information technology that is disrupting the automotive industry to provide global solutions. Cloud-based tracking management systems (TMS) have been proven to reduce transport costs by an average of 20% by networking all participants in the supply chain on a web-based platform in real time, according to European TMS specialist inet-logistics.

The company is currently one of the top five TMS providers across the globe. Its proprietary inet TMS connects global and multi-mode transport networks on both the inbound and outbound levels. Clients include global companies such as Bosch, MAN, Magna, Lear, Volvo and Scania.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Oswald Werle, CEO of inet-logistics, what has made inet TMS such a global winner in the logistics systems market? Werle: The inet TMS is the only mature and globally available multimode and multitenant cloud TMS. Multimode enables companies to plan, execute and monitor their complex transportation networks globally. A shipment may start in China with a truck leg, followed by a sea or air main leg to the US and reaching its final destination by rail or truck. A multitenant system structure enables true collaboration of companies with customers, suppliers and logistics service providers. After a fast and easy onboarding of their partners, the shippers benefit from real time data exchange and maximum optimization based on true cross-company collaboration.  AI: What makes logistics so complex when it comes to automotive OEMs and suppliers?

Werle: There are global, complex and time-sensitive transportation processes in place. Furthermore, thousands of suppliers need to be integrated in order to get maximum reduction of transportation costs and CO2 emissions. Therefore, automotive OEMs and suppliers have a need for a true Cloud TMS like inet is offering. Another distinctive feature of the industry is the importance of packaging. The sheer number of containers in circulation and their sometimes very high value are enough good reasons for efficient container management. The traceability it provides allows for usage-based charging of your suppliers, significant reduction of inventory and better demands planning.

AI: How is inet-logistics keeping ahead of the curve in the 4.0 version of the automotive industry where driverless cars and electric vehicles are fast becoming realities?

Werle: The inet TMS is based on an open architecture ensuring a secure real time communication with humans as well as all kinds of systems and things. This enables constant information exchange between the TMS, drivers (via social networks) or devices like sensors attached to the goods using IoT. The inet TMS is thus well prepared for all future technical enhancements of the 4.0 world.

AI: How has inet TMS managed to evolve since inception?

Werle: inet has shown a continuous and impressive track record of product enhancements since inception by investing approximately 20% in R&D. Major milestones were the development of a seamless Cloud TMS for the optimization and execution of global and complex multimode transport networks, as well as a very strong and flexible freight cost management system. Another highlight is our unique Cloud solution for managing the packaging in closed or open loops.

AI then asked Alexander Redmann, Key Account Manager Automotive, inet-logistics, how partnerships with companies like CDNetworks have helped inet-logistics TMS stay ahead of the technological curve?

Redmann: We believe strongly in the value of partnerships and therefore work closely with research, technology and solution partners. These partners provide the inet TMS with complementary functions e.g. customs management, tactical planning, the latest studies and trends and more. On the other hand, they benefit from the multitenant platform, numerous supply chain partners already in the network and 20 years of TMS and logistics experience. Put together the joint manpower, solution knowledge and expertise across industries becomes more than the sum of its parts.

AI: What security and privacy features are built in?

Redmann: Our comprehensive information security system defines policies, guidelines, responsibilities and roles in accordance with ISO 27001:2013. Globally secure software development and testing, encryption of data in transit and at rest, emergency handbooks and procedures, secure server architecture and role-based access control are in place. Moreover, access control components inherent in the business logic and a consistent client structure across all applications and modules ensure that each client may access only their own data. The effectiveness of these and other measures is verified by voluntary penetration tests, as well as internal and external audits taking place several times a year.

AI: What are some of the challenges facing automotive logistics today with the advent of driverless cars and alternatively-fueled cars?

Redmann: We anticipate big changes in the medium-to-long run due to these developments. New players, in part from other industries like Information Technology will edge into the market – for example Google or Uber. Well-established OEMs and Tier 1s will have to step up their game in order not to become just hardware suppliers for IT companies. With regards to logistics  processes we also expect major changes and revolutions due to the rise of electric cars and autonomous driving. When thinking of a gigafactory like Tesla’s, it is obvious that new ways of production result in different inbound, outbound and in-house operations. On the other hand, new challenges with regards to legal issues, handling of dangerous goods, reprocessing cycles, emission regulations, disposal logistics and much more will evolve. Whatever the changes will turn out to be exactly, they will all be based on huge streams of data -the currency of our time. The intelligent analysis, interpretation and use of petabytes of data in the cloud will be the main capability needed to thrive in the future.

AI: How is automotive manufacturing changing (the move towards additive manufacturing for example) and what does inet-logistics need to do to keep up with these?

Redmann: Undoubtedly, trends like 3D printing, Internet of Things, autonomous driving, connected cars are all picking up momentum and force the automotive industry to take respective actions in order to be prepared. Yet, we experience that in everyday business there are still some basic questions and problems that need to be addressed. For instance, proper master data management, standardization of processes and formats as well as end-to-end supply chain visibility may not be the latest trending topics. So many automotive companies still need to start right there in their optimization endeavors in order to stay competitive.



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