IT solutions are a driver of the world economy, the basis for the development of practically all industries, and an engine that cannot be stopped. Does the transportation and logistics industry need IT solutions? Marina Syroezhkina, Director of the Information Technologies Department at the AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG international corporate group, answers this question.
Is the transport and logistics industry interesting for IT specialists?
Of course. IT specialists are quite bold and creative people who love challenging tasks. In the transportation and logistics industry there are plenty of such tasks, and they differ in their scale. Logistics is so far limited only to our globe – for the time being – and involves different cultures, nationalities, and industries. But the real proof is the active growth of IT solutions and services in the industry.
How does the work of an IT specialist in the transport and logistics industry differ from work in other sectors?
Each domain has its own characteristics. Of course, an IT professional must understand the key features, bottlenecks, and other basics of the business for which he develops solutions. In logistics, to build effective solutions it is necessary to take into account the interests of three parties: first and foremost Clients, the company itself, and transport partners.
What are an IT specialist’s main goals at work?
First of all, fast responses to emerging problems. Also, providing support that ensures 24/7 system availability. Goods are being delivered constantly around the world. Trains and trucks are rolling, ships are sailing, and planes are flying. Many modern systems collect and distribute information about loads as they move. This is necessary in order to deliver the cargo on time to the final recipient, who could be anyone from a plant manager waiting for production materials or your neighbor waiting for some sneakers he bought online.
Secondly, IT specialists need to know logistics processes so as to speak the same language as users. They need to be team players who can learn fast. It is impossible to work in a vacuum and ignore Clients’ processes and systems. And of course they have to be able to manage stress and solve complex problems.
IT solutions are driving the future of the world economy. How are they developing and how will they change the transport and logistics industry?
IT solutions help increase the speed of processes and the availability of information. As you know, true, applied information is power in this world. Cargo tracking services were relatively unique five years ago but are now considered the norm. The tendency to rely on data is only increasing: the more we accumulate information about cargo transportation, the more accurately we can predict the behavior and performance of such transportation in the future. This will take the burden of routine tasks of people and reduce costs for downtime due to incorrect delivery planning. Therefore, Internet of Things (Iot) and Robotic Process (RPA) technologies are becoming increasingly common in logistics now.
What IT solutions are implemented in AsstrA?
The AsstrA international corporate group uses several IT solutions, such as:
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) integration with Clients. EDI allows you to work more closely with business partners, use their information environments, and provide all necessary data about transport projects.
AsstrA is also quickly building a Track&Trace solution into its business processes. Through integration with carriers' GPS providers, AsstrA experts directly receive direct satellite information about the location of vehicles. If a carrier does not have GPS trackers installed, the AsstrA group offers its mobile tracking application.
Supplier’s Portal is a web solution for transport partners working with AsstrA. Here, the carrier can receive information about and work with AsstrA orders. The system has an interesting round-trip function that, on the basis of a supplier’s current orders and transport information, automatically selects and offers the carrier new orders in the opposite direction to reduce downtime. The AsstrA group is actively developing this solution; in the near future carriers will be able to use it to check contract payment status and print transfer order documents.
GetRate is a mobile-friendly online calculator that allows you to perform real-time cost calculations of shipping costs from China to the CIS / Europe via accelerated-speed container trains.
In addition, AsstrA is constantly automating and improving its processes. The foundation is the Oracle Transportation Management (OTM) order handling system. Customer Relationship Management and Enterprise Content Management solutions are also under active development. In addition, a customized Business Intelligence (BI) system consolidates all information, supports management decisions, and automatically analyzes data from all around the enterprise.
Modern technologies are crucial for development and success, but at the same time they pose certain risks to employees. What is the golden mean between human labor and automation for transport and logistics companies?
New technologies often scare people. They perceive IT solutions as a threat to their jobs. For example, a company might introduce RPA technology that can automatically check emails and enter their information into a system. In this case, the technology seems like a competitor that can render some professions unnecessary and maybe even control us one day.
At the same time, this inevitable process is already in motion. New technologies will transform society and generate new professions. It is only a question of when – and it is necessary to understand and accept this situation.
A successful transport and logistics company must be integrated, easily adaptable, and even somewhat advanced. It stands at the junction of various sectors and businesses. Therefore, the golden mean is a symbiosis of IT and the transportation business, with IT technologies used ultimately to add value for Clients.