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Prediction vs. Tracking: The Race for Complete Visibility and Blockchain-Based Supply Chains

As supply chains continue to become increasingly globalized, industry players are looking to technology for solutions to address the growing complexity. One of the biggest problems facing managers today is visibility within supply chains and freight transportation. There are two main avenues experts are pursuing to increase visibility: prediction through data analytics and improved tracking. This article will examine some of the more promising technologies that aim to increase visibility as well as address the potential applications of blockchain within data analytics and tracking. We will conclude with ways you can take advantage of these technologies.

Freight Fortune-Telling

Data is now the gold of the modern tech-driven marketplace. The ability to capture relevant data, analyze it, and glean insight into industry trends is crucial to achieving industry success. Successfully capturing this data is much easier said than done and exploiting this data for profit is even harder still. Many companies have made fortunes on performing data management, the largest of which SAS, controls more than 35% of the advanced analytics market. The real power of data, however, is using it to predict the future. Why spend resources on advanced tracking, when you can simply predict exactly where a product will be, where it needs to be and how it needs to get there. This isn’t magic, this is the power of predictive analytics

Predictive Analytics

Predictive AnalyticsPredictive Analytics is a broad term that refers to a huge variety of methods, algorithms, technology and models that are designed to identify probable outcomes. These predictive models operate under a set of assumptions, so it important to remember that they cannot address every foreseeable outcome. By aggregating various models operating under differing assumptions, predictive analysts can increase the likelihood that their forecasts are correct.  The power to gaze into the future has obvious benefits, companies could better position and allocate their resources if they can predict, with reasonable certainty, market and industry trends. However, predictive analytics is not a very accessible field. It requires a firm grasp of complicated mathematics as well as computer science expertise. However, if a business was willing to invest the necessary resources and manpower, then predictive analytics could become a powerful tool and an extreme competitive advantage. The freight industry is a ripe target for the capacities of this technology. Predictive analytics could be used to better forecast demand by utilizing historical data as well as mathematically projected models. It could also greatly improve scheduling problems such as pick-ups at terminals and distribution centers. Many players in the freight industry are investing heavily in predictive analytics. A Chicago start-up FourKites Inc. made waves after it obtained over $35 million in investments from a single funding round. This company hopes to improve forecasting of transit times and other variables. Even Walmart is getting in on the action of predictive analytics by investing heavily in big data analysis such as customer tracking and demand forecasting. Furthermore, the industry giant is pressuring its suppliers to boost transparency within their own supply chains.

Blockchain Benefits

So how does blockchain fit into all this? Blockchain is certainly a hot topic in today’s business world.  We have discussed the rise of blockchain technology extensively in past blogs. Its explosive growth into the public consciousness has many of the freight industry’s players reevaluating the future of logistics as well as the potential capabilities of a tech-driven supply chain. Blockchain could drastically boost the visibility offered by predictive analytics. Blockchain’s distributed-ledger format allows data to be shared seamlessly between users/nodes on the chain. As a product moves through its life-cycle, partners within the blockchain can upload key data to the ledger, all in real time. This format creates full transparency between all network users thereby boosting the quality of data obtained from the network, which in turn increases the forecasting capabilities of predictive analytics.

Eye-in-the-Sky: Advanced Tracking

Shipment tracking is not a new concept. Ever since humans first began to transport valuable cargo, they have searched for ways to follow its progress and movements. Now with the advent of advanced technology, tracking freight is more accessible than ever, if still very complicated. The new goal is not to simply track shipments but obtain full supply-chain transparency by integrating freight transportation into a seamless operations system that provides insightful data useful for predictive analytics.

Track and Trace

There are a variety of track and trace services available for shippers to take advantage of. Electronic data interchange (EDI) is the most common method of exchanging shipment information, such as location, between supply chain partners. However, there are more advanced methods such as application programming interfaces (API) that allow automated communication between two software programs. LTX, for example, provides an automated tracking package that allows for personalized options when viewing or extracting key shipment data. Tracking is becoming increasingly mainstream, whether you want it or not. The new ELD mandate has instituted new regulations that require the use of electronic logs in trucks. These logs record information such as driver hours, location, status and more. We have written many blogs on the ELD mandate. If you would like more material on this subject, we have an e-book available. Subscribe below to gain access. Shameless plugs aside, tracking technology is continuing to evolve, with many people believing blockchain is the future.

Blockchain

Blockchain Benefits

Blockchain’s distributed design, allows all partners within a supply chain to add transactional blocks to the chain. Each block of data is connected to the previous block where they are then organized into an irreversible chain. This structure delivers a secure record of all previous transactions in a supply chain. Providing real-time tracking data and full supply chain transparency.

How can you Benefit?

There are a ton of benefits in full supply chain transparency. The ability to generate valuable data on the operations of a supply chain can lead to insights in both efficiency and cost savings. Predictive analytics and advanced tracking are excellent ways to generate supply-chain visibility. However, the costs of implementing these measures may be too expensive for most firms. One way to take advantage of the benefits of these technologies without breaking the bank is partnering with a reputable 3PL such as LTX. LTX has the knowledge and technology to increase visibility through many areas of your supply chain. If you are interested in taking the next step and revolutionizing you shipping experience than please contact us below today.

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