Information sharing in the logistics supply chain can reduce costs and improve efficiency. But security and interoperability remain major challenges.
Mistrust and lack of co-ordination among actors with different roles in the supply chain threaten to derail information sharing benefits
INFORMATION sharing presents a huge potential to the maritime logistics sector through reducing costs, cutting delivery times and improving resource efficiency, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
But collaboration and security are among key factors that need addressing before the benefits can be witnessed, it says in a new report on information sharing for efficient maritime logistics.
The OECD’s International Transportation Forum says the maritime industry is already harnessing data via digital technologies for greater insights into the logistics chain in order to improve logistics processes.
The areas of application of digital technologies for the collection, exchange and analysis of information range from management and transactional purposes to more technical, operational applications.
“Effective integration of data-driven systems crucially depends on the quality of their implementation and on smooth collaboration between stakeholders along the logistics chain,” the report says.
New technologies will continue to transform logistics processes, it adds.
“Numerous logistics applications exist for innovations such as highly sophisticated sensors for data collection, advanced data analytics tools and advanced concepts such as the Internet of Things, blockchain or artificial intelligence,” the ITF says.
But it warns that better integration of supply chains via technologies faces many challenges, with data sharing being the key issue.
“The main obstacles are limited trust and lack of co-ordination among actors with different roles in the supply chain and differing size, operational or strategic objectives,” the report says. “Commercial sensitivities and the question of data ownership also matter.”
Other challenges relate to the way logistics adopt data-enabled innovation.
“Relying more and more on digitalisation and system integration can expose the entire chain to cyber security risks,” the ITF says. “Secondly, many emerging data networks are proprietary systems. This raises the possibility of future data oligopolies dominated by a small number of private supply chain integrators.”
Open standards could address this issue, but the balance between proprietary and open systems remained to be defined, it added.
The report recommends that the shipping sector should support the emergence of open standards in maritime logistics.
“The lack of industry standards for data sharing can act as a hurdle to establishing common platforms for information sharing and collaboration,” the report says. “Public authorities should support the creation of open standards in maritime logistics to develop a configuration that is useful to all players in the supply chain.”
In this context it would be important to clarify what should be standardised, whether standardisation should be publicly- or industry-driven, and how the implementation of standards will be organised.
Interoperability between public and private systems for the exchange of logistics information would also become crucial.
“Close collaboration between public and private actors is needed for the smooth data exchange that will enable faster cross-border interactions. In addition, effectively organising the interaction among companies and the public sector will address costly inefficiencies resulting from a lack of cross-border data sharing,” the report says.
It suggests supporting ports in creating co-ordination platforms and single windows.
“Reducing unpredictability for port operators means a more efficient use of public infrastructure,” the report says. “This, in turn, benefits the environmental performance of the sector.”
Although ports of the same region often compete, combined efforts to providing digital solutions for stakeholder coordination could generate efficiencies from which all participating ports benefit.