According to the World Economic Forum (2009) today, one out of four trucks is driving empty in Europe. The average fill rate of the non-empty trucks is hardly 57%. However, we are heading to an important capacity shortage.
The term Supply Chain Management was probably first used in the late eighties, when most companies realized that procurement, manufacturing and distribution should be more integrated. The company-wide transactional systems, the so-called Enterprise Resource Systems were instrumental in accelerating this integration. This was the era of technology, with a strong focus on creating supply chain efficiencies throughout powerful ICT systems. This excessive focus on ICT systems made companies realize that they forgot their customer. Therefore, since the beginning of this century, the world has entered the customer-domination era. Faster, smaller but more frequent on demand deliveries have become the new normal. Supply chains have been tuned to pay much more attention at customer service levels. A strong vertical integration with all supply chain partners, including suppliers and customers was a typical characteristic of this type of supply chain. With the ongoing boost of e-commerce, it is expected that the customer dominance might lead to excess. The “next day” and even “next hour” deliveries offered by e-tailers are pushing the supply chains to their limits with the unterminated request of the individual consumer for faster, fresher, cheaper, safer and completer on demand deliveries. This will create an explosive need for additional capacity, for which our society is not prepared to chose. Moreover, people start to realize that current supply chains are unable to provide appropriate solutions to relevant and major societal issues, like the scarcity of raw material, the spread of welfare, the world’s food and water supply, the growth and aging of population and the urbanization. As the individual excess economy is now reaching its tilting point, the world has already started to shift towards a “share and circular economy”. Environmental sustainability is there to become an at least equally important decision criterion as compared to efficiency and effectiveness. In this era, the scarcity needs to be orchestrated by means of highly performant cross-company supply chains and collaborative platforms. Already today, the collaboration platform is considered as one of the most optimal supply chain designs. A collaboration platform is a partnership in which logistic activities are clustered and resources are shared and pooled. Collaboration platforms can be industry specific, as in the case of the Belgian chocolates manufacturers who consolidate their warehousing, transport and co-packing activities. In other cases, the logistics of complementary products, like heavy with voluminous (e.g. heavy spare parts with voluminous baby drapers) can be consolidated, to optimize the fill rate of trucks, ships and trains. TRI-VIZOR’s core activity includes preparing, designing and operating these horizontal collaboration platform.
Ultimately, we might evolve towards the Physical Internet, where the capacity of the network (warehousing, transport, value added services,…) is shared among its users. The Physical Internet applies the concepts of internet data transfer to real-world shipping processes, thus improving global logistics efficiency and sustainability. Just like sending an e-mail through the internet, from provider to provider and hub to hub, by means of protocols, the same could be applied to freight transport. Sender and receiver of the goods don’t care about the transport and warehouse providers alongside the trajectory, as long as the goods are delivered in the appropriate conditions, at the lowest cost and in the most sustainable way. Goods are transported in π-containers that are modular, eco-friendly, smart and standardized worldwide. The internet of things guarantees the real-time track and trace of the containers in an interconnected network of certified infrastructure, protocols, logistics centres, hubs, information systems, regions, etc.