Sep 30, 2020

SAP: Supply Chain Visibility via Logistics Business Network

SAP
Supply Chain
Logistics
Sean Galea-Pace
2 min
SAP: Supply Chain Visibility via Logistics Business Network
SAP has confirmed the release of SAP Logistics Business Network that offers new capabilities to scale logistics network visibility, collaboration and re...

SAP Logistics Business Network is a cloud-based network platform designed to easily connect SAP customers’ back-end systems to their freight collaboration, tracking, order fulfillment and material traceability networks. It provides a central entry point to manage logistics transactions, exchange documents with key business partners and gain a better understanding and visibility across the entire value chain.

“As further proof of SAP’s commitment to the SAP Business Network strategy announced at SAPPHIRE NOW, we continue to add new capabilities to SAP Logistics Business Network and to advance our partner strategy,” said Paige Cox, SAP senior vice president and head of SAP Business Network. “The open APIs and expanded partnerships are proof points of our strategy to create a true network of networks.”

The release offers the next step in the strategy to allow end-to-end visibility, increased efficiency and seamless collaboration through a unified business network that includes:

  • Sales order fulfillment tracking based on the next-generation global track-and-trace capability in SAP Logistics Business Network. This connects to milestone and live tracking services across transportation modes for global coverage.
  • Enhanced freight collaboration capabilities, which includes multimodal freight order tracking that extends visibility across road and ocean events.
  • Standard APIs to connect partners and networks, allowing new road and ocean partner collaborations.

SAP Logistics Business Network allows for enhanced coverages for a number of modes of transport through new and existing partners, such as:

  • project44 that provides business-to-business connectivity for freight contracting and visibility capabilities for real-time road shipment tracking and global live ocean tracking.
  • ClearMetal offers in-transit container and shipment tracking with machine learning to cross-reference inputs to accelerate ocean-tracking choice to customers.
  • Shippeo, a European market specialist, offers its carrier network, regulatory expertise and data intelligence to connect carriers and the truck telematics systems of millions of trucks for road shipment tracking.

Through these relationships, licensed members of SAP Logistics Business Network can now access actual shipment location, status changes and anticipated time of arrival during transportation by road and ocean carriers. The new connectivity to ocean carriers and ports, in addition to satellite systems that allows visibility across all global ocean freight.

SAP’s Logistics Business Network is a key component of SAP Business Network, which leverages insights from real-time ERP and advanced analytics while providing synergies with successful network solutions such as the Ariba Network - which connects over 5 million companies worldwide and where over US$3.4trn in commerce is transacted every year.

Share article

Jun 19, 2021

Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried

Logistics
SCALA
supplychain
Brexit
Rob Wright, Executive Director...
4 min
Logistics professionals need urgent solutions to a shortage in drivers caused by a perfect storm of Brexit, COVID-19 and compounding economic factors

While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks. 

A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so. 

What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.

"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"


That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.

But where has this skills shortage stemmed from? 

Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.

COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.

It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing. 

So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done? 

Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change. 

Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.

Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line. 

On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains. 

Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months. 
 

Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector

Share article