The importance of interface technology in a fragmented market, the possibilities it offers, and how the associated challenges can be solved can be demonstrated very well using the example of logistics. Platform models, in particular, prove their worth here.
Interface technology in practice: The logistics industry is assumed to have a low degree of digitization and a lack of transparency along the supply chain. The fact is that numerous applications, programs, and platforms are already in use in the various sectors that create transparency and contribute to increasing efficiency.
Interface Technology Brings Systems Together
But road freight transport, in particular, is a very heterogeneous market. It is shaped by numerous small and medium-sized companies active in the market and large freight forwarders.
Manufacturing and trading companies can fall back on around 570,000 transport companies in Europe. Around 500,000 of these logistics companies have ten or fewer employees. Some of these companies use different systems and programs to manage and plan their processes. The same applies to manufacturing, importing, and exporting companies.
Data Transfer To The Partners Involved Is Significant
The various technical systems and applications in transport and supply chain management represent a particular challenge in terms of procedural cooperation. B. in warehouse and intralogistics via transport management systems (TMS) and applications for shipment tracking. To do justice to all potential customers and clients, the numerous applications and programs would have to be linked in complex IT projects so that they can be made available in the fragmented system landscape.
This is mainly about the transfer of relevant data, i.e., the important information for the transport process. This concerns, among other things, the disposition and includes, for example, specific quantities or the number of pallets and required vehicle components such as tractor and trailer types, loading location and time, etc.
Because especially in road freight transport, several different partners are often worked with, who also have to be technically involved in the process. This is possible with international transports, if a forwarding company works with regional carriers or other specialists if it is about dangerous goods. Transmission errors can lead to immense delays
Bilateral Interfaces With Great Effort
Telematics data and ETA information are particularly important for yard and time slot management, and are of great importance when loading and unloading on the ramp. It is suboptimal if a partner uses a telematics provider not connected to the customer’s ramp management. In addition, the affinity for digitization and willingness to share data is sometimes very low, especially among small transporters and freight carriers. The added value is not yet recognized on all sides.
However, it is precisely the connection of these programs and systems necessary for the optimization and ultimately for the resilience of the entire supply chain if you want to use the advantages that digitization offers on all sides of the transport process. Resources can be planned and used more efficiently in the yard and ramp management, thanks to real-time transparency. At the same time, the carrier benefits from the fact that waiting times are significantly reduced. If this potential remains unused, this is at the expense of everyone involved, and proactive control is not possible.
APIs also help logistics connect different systems and thus share information and data, e.g., B. from transport management systems (TMS) or telematics providers. The high number of almost 700 different vehicle telematics providers on the market illustrates the technical scope and the effort that companies would have to put into tracking their goods. One possibility would be to connect the systems with the help of bilateral interfaces. Although this is possible, it involves a very high amount of resources, work, and maintenance. You need alternative solutions if you use these to optimize processes – such as B. at the loading ramp.
Interface Technology For In-House Logistics Software
To reduce programming interfaces, technical solutions using platform models are better suited instead. The advantages here: Firstly, the programming and maintenance effort is minimized by using existing infrastructure. Aggregators ensure that you can connect new partners with little effort.
Second, by connecting to an existing system – and ideally a network already established in the industry – market participants who, due to their resources and human resources, do not invest in large digitization projects can also be integrated. This is a large part of the actors involved in logistics. They use platforms or logistics systems that offer them this option and thus add value for their business.
Using the interface technology, companies can transfer their transport orders from their in-house logistics software to the Timocom system and search for or offer freight and loading space. This increases efficiency along the entire supply chain, shortens processing times, and reduces transmission errors. Because without interface technology or platform solution, the information has to be sent between logistics partners via PDF, email, or fax and then transferred manually. These media breaks are avoided with the platform as the central transmitter.
The platform or system provider must be independent. This is different for online freight forwarders, for example. Here the carrier has a direct contractual relationship with the platform. Independent platforms act as neutral intermediaries between the market participants and enable them to control the transport process in one system by integrating additional tools and features and creating more trust among the actors.