Big And Smart Data Are The New Gold

I witnessed the power of Big Data for the first time at NK Speed Docking. Analysis of on-board computer data for 30,000 logistics journeys showed that one in five lorries on the road could be eliminated if the unpredictability of loading and offloading times was addressed.

Unpredictability is the great profit killer of the logistics sector; it leads to reserve stocks, losses and loss of capacity. Many planners assert that their processes are unreliable. That is true if you do not know why there are fluctuations from one hour to the next. Planners who are able to conduct analysis find that processes can indeed be predicted or even modified. Just like Tom Thumb, goods flows leave a trail of pebbles behind in information systems. You can follow that trail with process mining; where are the bottlenecks?

Big Data is becoming commonplace in logistics. Couriers have so much information about who is home when, that they are able advise clients optimally: we see you are usually home on Tuesdays; can we deliver then? Transporters can purchase data files from TomTom that show which roads can be traveled the quickest. Transporters will soon share their journey data with road network administrators for the purposes of traffic management and smarter infrastructure maintenance.  

Naturally, Big Data only becomes valuable once you combine and enrich data from multiple sources. But who does that Big Data belong to? Will Big Data soon democratize sectors and allow many small companies to take charge together? Or will it become the unique domain of large logistics chain managers?

Walther Ploos van Amstel

Lecturer in City Logistics at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

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