[ID] => 10130
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2018-09-21 09:06:27
[post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-21 08:06:27
[post_content] => Digitising the chemical supply chain has been a recurring topic throughout 2018 – and will no doubt continue to be so in the future. But it is not an off-the-peg solution for logistics service providers (LSPs) in the sector and, as David Kew, managing director of tank container operator M&S Logistics, explains, there are many steps to go through if the process is to deliver benefits.
Pressure for greater digitisation and the use of Blockchain solutions (especially in the realm of distributed ledgers) in the chemical supply chain is, Kew says, coming primarily from chemical producers. As industries, he adds, both chemical producers and their LSPs are behind the curve on digitisation in comparison with other sectors. Furthermore, while LSPs are still a few years away from being required to integrate into supply chain-wide digitised systems, they need to start preparing now.
That process will require commitment and the necessary investment from all the relevant stakeholders. As Kew says, “While M&S acknowledges the drive to implementation of Blockchain concepts, it will not be without cost. The question is: while offering value to all parties that are required to invest – and considering the required investment – how is it going to be financed?”
At the moment, margins in the European logistics business are under significant pressure. As a result, international tank container operators and other players in the sector are re-evaluating their activities in the European market. “M&S has reduced its European exposure this year, preferring to trade in regions where a fair return can be made from the services we provide,” Kew states.
WHAT ABOUT THE HUMAN ASSETS
M&S is also alert to the human cost of digitisation and the implications it has for how companies will do business in the future. For digitisation and Blockchain to work properly across the chemical logistics sector, there will need to be a change of attitude and culture, Kew says, with a common approach and real partnerships between chemical producers, their LSPs and other service providers, such as depots, road hauliers, rail companies and shipping lines.
“M&S invests in people and we need to understand how digitisation will affect our staff, our suppliers, our customers and their needs,” Kew adds. After all, when things go wrong – as they sometimes will – it will be people who will fix them, not systems.
That does not mean that M&S is letting the digital revolution pass it by. It is already working with Real Asset Management (RAM) on its tank management system and paying close attention to the level of digitisation in the system.
But Kew is aware of the threats. “While we’re all interested in new technology,” he says, “the question needs to be asked: ‘Where is the real value?’ With Blockchain we need to identify what information is key to the supply chain. In terms of standard bulk liquids it is unlikely that there will be more than 10 items of information that really add value.”
Then there is the issue of confidentiality. “If we open our systems to each other, how do we manage it and ensure we’re not compromising sensitive information,” Kew asks. Moreover, in Europe, how can we develop the processes, bearing in mind the need for stringent data protection rules?
[post_title] => Digitisation: Man-machine interface
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
[ping_status] => open
[post_name] => digitisation-man-machine-interface
[post_modified] => 2018-09-19 09:30:44
[post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-19 08:30:44
[post_parent] => 0
[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=10130
[menu_order] => 0
[post_type] => post
[comment_count] => 0
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Digitisation: Man-machine interface
Smart supply chains are coming but, asks M&S Logistics' David Kew, who is going to pay for them? And what does it mean for investors and workers in the sector?