Wipro: smart ports can fast track Africa’s growth
Smart ports, terminals, and related logistics and transport industries will be crucial for African countries to achieve their economic growth ambitions over the coming years. To beneficiate and export commodity assets, countries throughout the continent need efficient, innovative transport and logistics environments.
Smart ports in particular, have opportunities to combine business process reengineering with the introduction of smarter technology across the total facility, such as geolocation/geofencing, connected objects and devices, Cloud-based services, mobility services, and Big Data analytics.
With technology at the heart of the thinking, it becomes possible for ports to achieve:
• Higher productivity levels
• Reduced operational costs
• Improved levels of security
• Higher safety standards
• Increased service levels
• Improved asset utilisation
With limited ability and the financial implications to expand geographically and political pressure to lessen their environmental impact, ports are continually striving to generate better efficiencies and higher productivity.
They require technology that caters for the “just in time” nature of land-to-sea logistics, helps reduce dwell time and congestion, minimises damage and theft and ensures strong security and protection of national borders.
Faced with stiff competition from other ports and alternative inland options and being a notoriously capital-intensive business, port operators place a heavy emphasis on cost control. This is a high-stakes game; as the efficiency of a nation’s ports has billowing effects for the country’s entire economy.
Connected devices, analytics, and mobility: a powerful blend
Trusted outsourcing partners can demystify much of the complexity around new technology - working with ports to define the best solutions to address specific challenges, showing how technology has transformed other ports’ operations, and ultimately delivering and managing the services.
For example, a port operator could pull together real-time information from various players in the ecosystem: truck drivers, hauliers, parking space operators, port road management and vessel tracking systems. By integrating this data into smart analytics platforms, it can inform the scheduling of trucks entering, off-loading, on-loading containers, and exiting the port.
In fact, there are endless opportunities available by combining three related technology trends: connected devices, analytics and mobility. Every vehicle, device or asset in the port is connected with wireless technology, beaming information into an analytics platform, which then distributes useful information to any mobile device.
This confluence of technology not only enables smoother operations, but helps port operators to fluidly integrate into external partner environments: such as shippers, carriers, agents / forwarders, trucking and rail companies, customs and government bodies. However, the truly transformative advantages of these new technologies go beyond faster reaction times and optimising logistics schedules. They lay the foundation for the future of predictive analytics, machine-learning and automation.
With embedded sensors on vehicles and assets recording every movement in the port, patterns start to develop and the port’s operations can be automatically adjusted based on past experiences, and expected activity within the port.
Eventually, through machine-learning, a port’s operations can be fully optimised - ensuring an efficient port management capability, and helping importers and exporters to deliver their services as quickly and competitively as possible.
By Gavin Holme, Country Head, Africa, Wipro Technologies and Richard A Butcher Global Head & Director of Ports and Terminals, Wipro Technologies
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Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.