logisticstechoutlook

Technology Is Leveraging Business Procedures

By Tycho Van Peteghem, Head of Technology and Procurement, Container Technics nv

Tycho Van Peteghem, Head of Technology and Procurement, Container Technics nv

The supply chain becomes increasingly transparent; manufacturers of goods are just one click away, new technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing and blockchain are transforming the world at a rapid pace. The maritime industry, which always was assumed to be conservative, has also started to acknowledge and embrace the opportunities of technologic development.

To seize the opportunities and prepare for the threats that come along with the constantly changing business environment, Container Technics nv firmly believe in the following principles.

Understanding our customers’ needs

Technologic development will not change anything on our main purpose to serve our customers in the best way possible. Therefore, we believe it’s important to have all knowledge -from logistics to engineering services- inhouse to look for optimum solutions for our customers. This can be an urgent delivery of spare parts in a remote area or a custom-made lifting design for a new building ship. As a vast amount of data is available about customers’ requirements and their behavior in the market, data-analysis tools will play a growing role in understanding customers’ behavior. These new insights will be critical to further optimize the availability of our goods in our world-wide stocks.

Digitalize business processes and release human potential

Supplying ships with crucial parts to load and secure their cargo in a safe way requires fast and accurate processes from inquiry to delivery. With little room for errors we constantly look to facilitate order processing and organize our deliveries as efficient as possible. With an ERP system and an electronic documentation management system, IT proved to be an important driver of process improvement in the past for our firm. As we see further possibilities for improvement by implementing up-to-date IT-systems we recently invested in a new ERP-system. This will not only lead to an increased flexibility and error-reduction of order processing but will also enable employees to focus on serving customers, innovation and improvement. Further we expect large improvement in managing our inventory and flow of goods between our different locations. With stocks and distributors strategically located in Belgium, China, Italy, Dubai, and looking to increase the availability of our products in the USA and Canada, it’s of tremendous importance to keep a clear overview. The number of products and locations to manage makes the assistance of a good and reliable IT-system indispensable.

Another area where we see an increasing role for IT-systems in our company is quality assurance. As the goods we supply are mainly used for securing or lifting cargo, they all have a safety function. This implies high requirements on certification and traceability. To simplify and speed up the process of filing and searching through the certification a document management system supplements the ERP-system.

The influence of technology will be mostly felt in our engineering department. Purpose-built software will become increasingly important to improve the lead-time of design or consultancy projects. The advantages of the increased efficiency of the engineering department are twofold. Firstly, we can provide our customers with faster responses. Secondly, more projects can be done in a shorter period, which enables us to accelerate the built-up of knowledge in our company. Technology doesn’t only affect the business by automation and optimization of the processes. It plays also an important role in the business environment we operate in.

Understand the impact of technology

The influence of technology on the world is undeniable. Every company, no matter how conservative their sector is, should keep a clear eye on the development and the impact it can have on their business environment. We’re convinced that following technologies will have the biggest impact on our sector in the near future:

• RFID or radio-frequency identification tags are already established as a form of digital certificate in lifting equipment and are expected to have an increasing importance in inspection and maintenance systems. Active RFID tags in handling and securing equipment will enable further automation of terminals, especially container terminals.

• The impact of 3D Printing on our business can be twofold. Firstly, there’s the development on the production side of our business. The first steps into printing lifting and lashing materials has been set in the last years. We don’t expect that it will easily replace the mass production of lashing materials. It can, however, offer solutions for smaller batches of custom-made equipment certainly when needed at remote locations. It also leads to opportunities in light weight designs of lifting equipment. Secondly, it’s to be seen what the influence of 3D-printing will do to global trade and shipping.

• The administrative processes of import and export are likely to be simplified by the use of upcoming blockchain technology. The influence on transparency and traceability of these parts can also not be neglected.

Apply those technologic trends that support your strategy

The combination of the pace of the technologic development, the specific skillsets required to apply and the always present limitation on resources makes it more and more important to make smart choices and focus on technology that is supporting your strategy. Container Technics stands for quick and reliable delivery of qualitative, certified cargo securing and handling material from stock and providing our customers with on-demand solutions. Therefore, we choose to implement new technologies in a way that serves our customers best: increasing the availability of our products using data-analysis to plan our inventories and automate our processes as much as possible.