Visibility in multimodal maritime container transport chains - Logistics service providers' perspective
Tuomola, Emmi (2020-04-07)
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Nowadays, transparency and digitalization of actions in the whole supply chain are emphasized and firms are demanding visibility to better forecast, plan and control the flow of goods. The expectations towards fully real-time traceable cargo flow are high and logistics service providers are recommended to digitize their actions to stay in the highly competitive freight transport markets. When it comes to technology, it has been developed rapidly and can provide very sophisticated solutions to enhance visibility. Information flow is a key for visibility. Therefore, information and communication technology (ICT) is vital to enhance visibility. However, technology alone does not enable visibility. It requires collaboration with other involved actors in the transport chain. Multimodal maritime container transport chains are complex in a sense that they require deep collaboration in a form of IT-compatibility with vast number of players involved within the carriage of goods to enhance seamless and automatized exchange of information. It has been disclosed that the biggest logistics service providers have already been able to form such collaborative relationships with big shipping lines, for instance. Also, market leaders usually arrange the pre- and end-haulage of the transport with own assets and therefore information flow is advanced. However, freight transport industry is highly fragmented and majorly consists of small-sized firms. Margins in the freight transport markets are extremely low as customers do not see added value in freight transportation and therefore transportation is seen as an extra harmful cost for firms. Therefore, the idea of big IT-investments and integration of actions with other players is infeasible for some companies. In this study, visibility in multimodal maritime container transport chains is investigated in a wide sense by conducting semi-structured interviews among different-sized logistics service providers located in Finland. First, the current adoption of visibility is studied, the benefits of it are discussed and the barriers to adopt visibility are discussed. Furthermore, perceptions towards the importance of visibility as a service offering in the creation of competitive strategies are investigated.