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Project44 shines a light on Asian trucking

Supply chain visibility specialists project44 will expand its real-time cargo tracking system to trucking services in China with the aim of achieving a truly end-to-end and global tracking system according to the company.

Tracking cargo while it is at sea and at ports is comparatively straight forward but tracking freight from the manufacturing centres to the point of destination so that shippers can clearly understand where the delays are occurring.

It is early days in the development of the system, Vernon O’Donnell, chief product officer for planning and expansion, told Container News, who added that he is hesitant to share data at such an early time.

“Things sit longer than people anticipate, understanding the role of ports in the supply chain is critical,” explained O’Donnell, who said that cargo can sit at Asian ports for up to 14 days. “We are pleased and surprised to see how big a pain point this is,” he added.

According to O’Donnell project44 is starting to get into the market now and the early indications ate that there is a lot more “noisiness” in the movement of freight than first thought, and that the industry makes a lot of assumptions about the movement of goods without real visibility.

“Shippers need to see further up the supply chain, and that need is demonstrable and growing, it helps shippers to plan around that visibility and improve their customer service,” said O’Donnell.

This level of visibility means that shippers can be proactive in dealing with any difficulties in the logistics system. O’Donnell points to a pharma client that had shipped a high value cargo of medical supplies, however, the vessel that the cargo was loaded onto was redirected. The shipper was able to react early and send critical cargo by airfreight to make certain they had fulfilled their obligations for the time-sensitive cargo in the container load.

“We are working with large shipper customers and a network design is not far off, the development of the system has been driven by early adopters, but it has also been accelerated by Covid-19 and the Suez incident,” claimed O’Donnell.

In a company statement project44 pointed to said logistics events in Asia continue to affect western markets, and the “opacity” of Asia’s trucking services “emerged as a weak link in global supply chains”.

As the ageing Asian truck fleet is replaced by modern, electronically connected vehicle fleets the opportunity to use the data provided through building partnerships with local companies, said the company.

“As the economic recovery picks up pace, global supply chains are under pressure to improve agility, predictability, and efficiency,” said a project44 statement.

Bart A. De Muynck, Research Vice President, Transportation Technology at Gartner, pointed out that, “The sheer size of the Asia Pacific region combined with the diverse cultures spread across it create unique challenges for transportation. Organisations that operate complex global supply chains often favour visibility solutions that can be implemented and utilised worldwide.”

For O’Donnell the move into door-to-door tracking systems is a clear and natural progression from the company’s current services, which were bolstered by the recent acquisition of Ocean Insights.

“Government regulations in China regarding IoT telematics devices is fairly mature, in terms of connectivity, the big barrier is finding the right partners on the ground,” O’Donnell pointed out. However, the logistics transportation system is a  US$6 trillion industry that needs to be unlocked.

“China is critical to global supply chains,” said O’donnell, “But there can be a lot of winners in this market,” he added.

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