Maersk and IBM joint venture to apply blockchain to global supply chains

Logistics company and container shipping giant A.P. Moller – Maersk and technology company IBM have announced their intent to establish a joint venture to provide efficient and secure methods for conducting global trade using blockchain technology.
The new company is to be built on open standards, offering a global trade digitisation platform designed for use in the movement of goods across borders and trading zones to provide more transparency and simplicity.
A distributed ledger technology, blockchain establishes a shared, unalterable record of all transactions that take place within a network and then enables permissioned parties access to trusted data in real time.
Maersk and IBM will use blockchain technology to power the new platform, as well as employ other cloud-based open source technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics to help companies move and track goods digitally across international borders.
“This new company marks a milestone in our strategic efforts to drive the digitisation of global trade,” said Vincent Clerc, Chief Commercial Officer, Maersk, and future Chairman of the board of the new joint venture. “The potential from offering a neutral, open digital platform for safe and easy ways of exchanging information is huge, and all players across the supply chain stand to benefit.
“By joining our knowledge of trade with IBM’s capabilities in blockchain and enterprise technology, we are confident this new company can make a real difference in shaping the future of global trade.”
Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President, IBM Global Industries, Solutions and Blockchain, added: “The major advances IBM has made in blockchain have shown that the technology can foster new business models and play an important role in how the world works by building smarter businesses.
“Our joint venture with Maersk means we can now speed adoption of this exciting technology with the millions of organisations who play vital roles in one of the most complex and important networks in the world, the global supply chain. We believe blockchain will now emerge in this market as the leading way companies seize new untapped economic opportunities.”
IBM and Maersk began a collaboration in June 2016 to build new blockchain- and cloud-based technologies. Since then, several companies have piloted the platform, including DuPont, Dow Chemical, Tetra Pak, Port Houston, Rotterdam Port Community System Portbase, the Customs Administration of the Netherlands and the US Customs and Border Protection.
The joint venture will now enable IBM and Maersk to commercialise and scale their solutions to a broader group of global corporations. General Motors and Procter and Gamble and Agility Logistics have already reportedly expressed their interest.

Global industrial automation market to reach $80.6 billion

Analysts from Research and Markets have announced in their latest report on industrial automation that the global industrial automation services market was worth US$35.2 billion ($44.5 billion) in 2016 and is estimated to reach US$64.5 billion ($80.6 billion) by 2022, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6 per cent for the forecasted period.
Industrial automation involves automation of manufacturing, quality control and material handling processes, with control systems, information technologies and robots used to handle different processes in an industry. Various types of industrial automation include fixed or hard automation, programmable automation and flexible or soft automation. Project engineering and installation holds major share in this market. Advantages of industrial automation include increased productivity, improved product quality, reduced routine checks and improved operational efficiency.
According to the report, the US is currently at the head of the industrial automation market, followed by Europe. Asia Pacific (which includes Australia) is expected to be the fastest growing region in this industry. The reports says during 2015–16, US companies exported nearly US$10.5 billion worth of products to foreign markets.
Some of the key growth factors of this industry are the need for operational efficiency, rapidly growing SMEs, a growing inclination towards Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud-based automation, the growing demand for smart factories, mass customisation, supply chain synchronisation, integration of systems and increasing R&D and innovation in artificial intelligence and advancement in the M2M communication technology. High installation and maintenance costs and lack of trained professions are some of the constraints in this industry.
Major companies in this industry include Honeywell International, General Electric Company, Mitsubishi Electric, Rockwell Automation, Johnson Controls, ABB, Samsung Electronics, Siemens AG and Schneider Electric. The report also pointed out that most of the regional and local vendors are vertically integrated. International players can grow by acquiring regional or local players.

Cloud software company wins New Zealand Post contract

Australia and New Zealand cloud software company PrimeQ has won a major contract with New Zealand Post designed to improve parcel and mail monitoring and deliveries.
PrimeQ will help the parcel service to deliver over 560 million items each year by automating its transportation and warehousing requirements through the Cloud.
PrimeQ will install, deliver and support cloud-based transport management system (TMS) and warehouse management system (WMS) software from Oracle.
“New Zealand Post will be able to monitor deliveries in real time, creating a better customer experience via the Cloud,” said Andrew McAdams, CEO, PrimeQ.
“PrimeQ’s installation of a state-of-the-art TMS will use the power of data to track the transportation of letters and parcels at every step of their journey and improve planning of bulk pick-ups and deliveries.
“PrimeQ is also consolidating and upgrading New Zealand Post’s WMS to better service e-commerce businesses seeking to outsource their warehousing and deliveries.”
Design work on New Zealand Post’s new TMS and WMS is now complete, with final configuration and pilot testing due to commence in the coming weeks.
“Our work with PrimeQ will contribute to improved parcel and mail deliveries across the country,” said Alan Court, General Manager – Transport and Logistics, New Zealand Post.
“It will also support the growth of New Zealand Post’s third-party logistics business, using the benefits of the Cloud.”
McAdams said PrimeQ would support New Zealand Post to become the first organisation in New Zealand to transfer a WMS into the Cloud.
“This is a major win for PrimeQ off the back of our rapid expansion in New Zealand and will create significant benefits for New Zealand Post,” he said.
“By replacing New Zealand Post’s legacy system with cloud-based Oracle solutions, PrimeQ can offer lower capital costs and rapid implementation times while creating greater delivery efficiencies.
“We will go live within six months, compared with 12 to 18 months for an on-premise system.
“Oracle has established a three-year SaaS subscription with New Zealand Post that includes technical support.”
PrimeQ is the only business in Australia and New Zealand to focus solely on Oracle cloud business solutions and services.

Data management top tech priority for global supply chain

A new survey carried out by supply chain operator Geodis has found that the top five technology supply chain priorities globally are all related to data management, they are data analysis, Internet of Things, cloud computing, info security and predictive analytics.
“In the wake of globalisation and rampant digitalisation, commercial trade flows have evolved dramatically,” the company said in a statement. “Both the volume and the scope of services managed within supply chain have reached unprecedented levels.”
Seventy per cent of respondents of the 2017 Supply Chain Worldwide survey stated that they consider their supply chain to be either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ complex, and they also emphasise the strategic position it has reached in their overall organisation.
The majority – 57 per cent – of firms surveyed said that they consider their supply chain to be a competitive advantage, and 66 per cent dedicate 5–15 per cent of their turnover to supply chain spends.
Three quarters of the firms Geodis spoke to reported that they use four or five different transportation modes in their supply chain, with road (full truckload) and airfreight the two most common.
Focus on achieving full visibility over the supply chain – from suppliers of suppliers to clients of clients – has increased in recent years – it is now the third most important priority reported, while it came in sixth place in the 2015 survey. Only six per cent of firms succeeded in reaching this target, however.
“[The] supply chain has become more customer focused and mostly considered as a lever to win competitive advantage,” the statement concluded.

Moving the warehouse into the cloud

Cloud computing can assist manufacturers to effectively respond to increased order volumes and complexity. By switching to the cloud, manufacturers can reduce order-to-shipment cycle times by as much as 70%.

Australian warehouse operations are undergoing significant changes that are forcing many manufacturers to re-evaluate how they manage them. With the rapid rise in omni-channel commerce, as well as many manufacturers now selling direct to consumers, orders are rapidly growing in volume, speed and complexity as consumer purchasing behaviours continue to change. 

Previously, warehouses were able to satisfy demand by managing orders by the pallet, but as digitalisation continues to shift the way manufacturers need to operate, they must now process a large volume of smaller orders, often as individual items. 

Adding to this complexity, order cycle times have reduced from days or weeks to a matter of hours as the pressure for same day fulfilment increases. 
Successful manufacturers are embracing change and understand the generational shifts in process and technology they need to make to remain relevant and competitive. 

Purely implementing an efficient manufacturing or warehousing solution isn’t going to future proof a manufacturer; they need to integrate and automate all of the business processes and data needed to move forward as a successful manufacturing organisation and remain competitive. 

To achieve this, they need the ability to operate and have complete visibility of their entire manufacturing operations in real-time, gaining deep insight into every interaction, transaction and relationship occurring in their business, anywhere in the world. 
This is where cloud computing plays a crucial role in helping manufacturers respond to order volume, velocity growth and increasing demand for automation. 

Not just warehousing
Cloud provides the ability to operate in global markets in real-time and establish a core platform for manufacturing, warehouse management, distribution, customers and supply chain, which they can access from anywhere and at anytime using the Internet. 

Businesses can have all of these components in a single, integrated cloud business management system, which can completely transform, automate and modernise warehouse operations. 
Cloud gives all manufacturers, regardless of size, the opportunity to access a complete solution for manufacturing resource planning, integrated inventory and dynamic replenishment, warehouse management, financial accounting and costing, customer and partner relationship management, and ecommerce. 

The real-time operations and financial visibility they gain enables manufacturers to better plan and manage inventory, as well as provide more accurate product delivery estimates to customers faster.

No longer do manufacturers need to spend countless hours of work associated with data entry, organisation and fulfilment. Integrated cloud manufacturing solutions can convert forecasts to orders, orders to shipments, and shipments to revenue with unprecedented efficiency. They also enhance warehouse order fulfilment, packing and shipping processes, as well as being integrated with leading logistics and freight companies. 

Access to real-time reporting on all aspects of supply-to-distribution processes gives management added flexibility for logistics planning and maximises cost effectiveness of shipping. It also improves inventory management efficiency by eliminating redundant labour processes associated with inventory shortages. 

By switching to the cloud, manufacturers can reduce order-to-shipment cycle times by as much as 70 per cent; reduce delays and back orders by as much as 90 per cent; and reduce labour costs by as much as 40 per cent.
By automating processes such as order processing, fulfilment, shipping and collections, manufacturers can often accelerate their quote-to-cash cycles as well. Many businesses are able to create orders on the fly instead of keying them in manually, and have reduced the need for adjustment or rework due to fewer errors.

Leveraging an integrated cloud-based application, manufacturers can lower total cost of ownership by eliminating costs associated with on-premise solutions, particularly licence fees, onsite IT support and ongoing maintenance. 

Its open architecture enables easy system integration with a manufacturer’s supply chain and enhances mobile productivity. It also delivers rapid implementation, lower costs and a quick ROI.
By integrating all core manufacturing processes in a single, unified system—manufacturers are positioning themselves to replace complexity with fluidity, and educated guesswork with real-time transparency and execution. 

These are the ingredients that will define success in today’s volatile markets and help manufacturers’ to achieve optimum delivery performance, reduced costs and improved efficiency.
[Mark Troselj is VP and general manager of NetSuite ANZ]

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