Shippers are finally in the position of obtaining real-time, in-transit visibility, but there are some major obstacles standing in the way of full deployment of the appropriate technology, says Krenar Komoni, founder and chief executive officer with Tive.
SCB: What are the challenges to making real-time in-transit visibility a reality?
Komoni: Primarily around how you get the data on where the goods are. Today, a lot of companies are pulling data from various telematic devices that are on trucks and vessels. However, there are a lot of challenges there, because the data is with the carrier, and all platforms are dependent on it’s actually sharing it.
The second challenge is around fragmentation in the market space. There are plenty of telematics providers, and hundreds and thousands of carriers out there. How do you onboard all those very quickly? It's very difficult to do.
SCB: Based on the complexity of the market and the number of carriers, how willing are they to provide that information on a timely basis?
Komoni: That's the challenge. What's the incentive of the carrier to provide this data for free, are there platforms to monetize it? The incentive isn’t high for them to provide that data in a timely fashion.
SCB: They get the shipper’s business if they do. Isn't that enough of an incentive?
Komoni: That could be. However, there's an extra step they need to take if they’re going to do that. On top of that, there are hundreds and thousands of carriers. Let’s say there are around 95,000 in Europe, only these platforms might have access to 5,000. What about the other 90,000? Onboarding them one at a time is going to be very difficult. It will take 10-20 years.
SCB: This assumes that every one of those carriers is equipped with the necessary sensors, which probably isn't the case to a great degree, especially when you get down to the smaller entities.
Komoni: Correct. Some companies have said, “Let’s track with smartphones." However, the challenge with that is privacy laws. Because of GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] issues in Europe, it's impossible to get a truck driver to track using their smartphone.
SCB: Have the new regulations on electronic logging devices (ELDs) helped to facilitate in-transit visibility?
Komoni: Absolutely they have, especially in the U.S., where the mandate is ubiquitous, and everybody needs to obey to those laws. Telematics devices are tracking those trucks. Again, however, there are many telematics providers and carriers, but little incentive for the carrier to share that data. That’s fine in the U.S., but if you want to provide global visibility in Europe and other countries, the challenge is much higher.
SCB: Who owns the data — the carrier or the shipper? How do you resolve that?
Komoni: Ideally, the shipper would own the data, because they know where their goods are and which mode of transportation they’re being shipped in.
SCB: Where are we now with regard to achieving in-transit visibility, not only about the location of the truck but the condition of the goods as well?
Komoni: That’s the direction we see the world going toward. Sensors are becoming more cost effective. With the internet of things (IoT), you become able to obtain real-time, in-transit visibility of your goods without relying on the carrier, telematics devices, truck driver or a smartphone. And the shipper owns the data.
And as far as the condition of goods, think of a refrigerated trailer or container. Some are being equipped with real-time information. However, the temperature that's being read might be right next to the air conditioning unit. What about the front of the door, the back of the door, and the middle of the trailer? You want to make sure that you meet Food Safety Modernization Act and other requirements to guarantee that those goods are being shipped in good condition throughout the globe.
SCB: Are you optimistic that these issues can be resolved to the point where shippers can achieve true in-transit visibility of their freight, or are we going to continue to encounter these challenges?
Komoni: I'm very optimistic about these issues being resolved.
SCB: Why? What’s the basis for your optimism that we might be able to make sense of this at some point in the future?
Komoni: The big thing is the technology — enhancements that are happening especially on the cellular connectivity side, and the ability to manufacture sensors that are cost effective and have a long battery life, and can provide real-time information of goods, regardless of where they are.
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