Q&A with Greg Cline, Investec Import Solutions on Telematics and Supply Chain

Q: How can technology be integrated in the transport and import sectors?

A: Transport and logistics are key enablers of the supply chain function connecting suppliers, importers, exporters, shippers, distributers, wholesalers, retailers and most importantly, customers. Technology offers the ability to access financial and logistics information on any device, book and manage forex from your smartphone, and conclude sale and fulfilment agreements without the dependence on physical presence.

Similar to live-vehicle tracking on the Uber app, or booking accommodation on Airbnb, goods can be booked on the next available vessel against comparative rates and tracked from order to delivery using geo-location technology.

Essentially, technology is being used to improve customer service and provide reassurance as to where the goods are and when payment is to be made.

Q: What is the role of IoT in the import sector?

A:With the rise of IoT (Internet of Things), big data and cloud technology is being incorporated into the transport and logistics sector as there is a growing need for instant and efficient customer service. Consumers are also becoming accustomed to instant connectivity and receiving any information they need and it is for this reason, many are turning to technology to ensure this is able to happen.

Take for example in the import process, IoT is able to improve customer service through the use of technology to track shipments and providing information to the customer on where and when their shipment is and when it will arrive, pull data from their shipment history for reporting processes as well as manage their supplier performance. This is all achievable through vehicles and shipment containers being connected with sensors that share the data instantly.

IoT provides interesting capability for driving strategy and decision making regarding sourcing and pricing the way in which goods are ordered and align with customer expectations. E.g customers are able to hedge foreign currency risk by assigning FEC’s (Forward exchange contracts) to guarantee fixed costs and maintain profit margin.

Q: How digitalisation can be used to manage risk?

A: The use of IoT connected devices can help manage risks that the transport and logistics industry are faced with on a regular basis. Because these devices communicate and with the use of systems such as BlueLink which Investec Import Solutions created and uses, customers are able to track their shipment and see the expected delivery time and can be alerted if there are any delays, providing them with any necessary information they need that can help mitigate any risk that may happen and prevent any undesired outcomes. And to further better manage any risks that may occur a two way messaging functionality (on a single platform) can be useful when clients want to communicate with their importer directly should they have any query or problem – leading to a much quicker solution.

Real-time updates – live tracking and status updates. Reactive approach. For example if there is a Port delay, congestion, custom stop, boarder stop, insurance claim etc this can be communicated in real-time via a messaging functionality.

Additionally to better manage risk, transparency throughout the supply chain with predictability regarding timings and pricing is critical. We’ve combined the financial and physical supply chains onto one digital platform. If you consider how internet-banking has transformed traditional banking, Investec Import Solution’s systems have transformed the supply chain function within businesses, enabling business to focus on sales and marketing, instead of dedicating resources to streamline supply chain functions.

Q: Looking at an import solution back-end – how quickly can a problem be identified?

A: regarding Investec Import Solutions technology digital milestones are identified throughout every step of the supply chain. Our system will be able to identify and flag delays which will be communicated with the logistics controller.

Q: What is the importance of linking smart technology / applications to support industry growth and development?

A: Essentially what smart technology does is increase the amount of competition in various industries and pushes companies to really assess the industry they are in and look at what other businesses are doing to improve their services. Such boundary spanning encourages businesses to look at ways of how they can eliminate any threat towards their business and utilise smart technology in a different way to stand out from the rest. It is essential that your partner in business is offering relevant technology to you through their systems via innovative technology to be accessed by mobile phones or laptop.

Such evolution boosts industry growth as businesses compete to be the best - while at the same time adopting new technologies and learning new skills which ultimately leads to innovation or training or hiring new employees for example which supports growth and development.

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