Smart Sentry Keeps A Lifeless Eye on Logistics
Staff Contributor: Heather Rushworth
Like it or not, we live in an ever-accelerating universe. The speed of technology has hastened the urgency in which we operate in the world, and for our industry, this means customers expect faster deliveries than ever before. And while this mega-surge towards speedy accessibility has increased, the desire for transparency has not waned; instead, it’s only increased with the speed of the times.
In many ways, the supply chain industry has failed to keep in step with the increasing accessibility and convenience of technology. Express delivery providers offered speed, but their lack of ability to monitor shipments delayed the accurate delivery of many orders, ultimately costing them and the company precious time and money. And in extremely time-sensitive cases with high-risk ramifications— like medical transplant shipments—the delay in time too often caused fatal losses within the business.
Enter leading provider of express delivery service: DHL, who has continuously pushed the envelope (pun intended?) on urgent shipment, often redefining the marketplace as they do so with their innovative services groups DHL Same Day and DHL Express. The relevant company saw the need for an application that would monitor every component of a shipment—temperature, humidity, light-- every step of the way, yet nothing of such rigorous standards existed on the market.
DHL’s Smart Sentry, a wireless-tracking device for high stakes cargo loads, is the first device to answer B2B’s hunger for transparency in supply chain deliveries. Many people refer to the company as the “ambulance of the broken supply chain” as they deploy speedy mitigation for high stake deliveries, often saving the businesses they serve with their quick yet meticulous delivery.
Ultimately, DHL had to go at developing the product alone, as their partner in delivery, the airline industry, simply did not have the funds to invest in such specialized technology. And while such case-sensitive deliveries were urgent, they were not common, occupying a select niche of the market that the broad service focus of the airline industry could fiscally not justify with heavy investment.
Matt Groppe, Director of Global Business Development for DHL Same Day, explains the niche market Smart Sentry hopes to serve, “The application is for companies who see high risk in their supply chain.”
Ultimately, risk management is one of the key benefits to the high-tech device. Given the recent catastrophes in Thailand and Japan, the topic of managing risk has become a heated issue in the supply chain industry, and Smart Sentry may be one of the keys to maintaining quality in the midst of unexpected chaos.
“If something has to move quickly in a disaster, we have full accessibility in monitoring the safety of the shipment,” Groppe explains. “We say, ‘what is the temp?’ And it phones home that information. So we have to be able to respond to that information, and mitigate those risks to make sure it is delivered in the best condition.”
It is an unimaginable feat to bridge the gap between the highly-evolved demands of the modern business world with a quick and soundproof supply chain, but it seems DHL’s Smart Sentry has finally made visible, immediate delivery a tangible reality.
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.