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Data-driven Logistics: the future of logistics

Logistics companies are often wary of sharing competitively sensitive data, which is entirely understandable. However, combining and enriching digital data is an excellent way to make logistics processes more efficient, faster and more sustainable. This clearly requires a careful approach. TNO has the necessary expertise and shares this with the Dutch industry.

TNO cooperates with logistics partners in the Smart Data Factory for Logistics to find concrete solutions, often down to the demonstrator level. The demonstrators reveal how sharing data can result in new logistics concepts with successful business cases.

Enriching data with weather forecasts

TNO is bringing various stakeholders together to enrich logistics data with weather forecasts and other real-time information. If these parties agree to share and harmonize their schedules, this will increase the efficiency of the logistics process. For example, owners of consignments and customs departments could exchange information, as could freight terminals and the recipients of the consignments. This information could be enriched with data collected by sensors installed in the shipping containers, such as weather forecasts and other real-time information that influences when a ship will arrive in port.

Daring to share data

The required technology is already available, but many companies feel uncomfortable with the degree of openness that data sharing requires. TNO has developed instruments to make stakeholders more aware of the usefulness and necessity of sharing data. Examples include serious games such as Synchro Mania, Chain Game and Master Shipper, which enable the participants to experience the advantages of sharing themselves. The solutions and required data for each company are easily visualized, making it easier to take the next step: actually sharing data to achieve major innovations in logistics. Companies gain confidence that data sharing is safe and has benefits for them, and they can then proceed to conduct the initial cost-benefit analyses.

Digital transformation and data analytics

The logistics sector is in the middle of a digital transformation that is being accelerated by the advent of sensor technology, the Internet of Things with new mobile networks (5G, LoRa, NB-IoT), blockchain technology and autonomous vehicles. Once the raw data that these technologies produce has been processed, a new challenge follows: how can we valorize the value of this data by translating it into usable knowledge? The key to this is data analytics: the collection, processing and cleansing of data to extract useful information from it. The new insights this produces result in better logistics choices that can be embedded in an organization’s operational system. We demonstrate how this can be done in our Smart Data Factory for Logistics.

Which logistics sectors can profit from data sharing?

Many logistics sectors can profit from data-driven innovations, such as container transport, construction industry logistics, urban logistics and transport of perishable products. One Dutch shipping company uses analytics to forecast the arrival times of their ships. They can then make agreements with transhipment companies on suitable slots, similar to the system used in aviation. The container transporters can have their trucks at the ready and the recipient of the shipment will know exactly when their goods will arrive.

Advantages for data-driven innovations

The advantages go without saying: improved efficiency and lower costs. In addition, implementing data-driven innovations can result in new earning models. It also allows companies further down the chain to structure their work more efficiently, which they will be happy to pay for. As the number of kilometres travelled is reduced, the costs to society fall, and so data-driven logistics are more sustainable too.

If you would like more information about data-driven logistics and the Smart Data Factory for Logistics?

Please contact Gerwin Zomer

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