Sebastien Barth

In the world of F1, the winning is as much down to what happens off the track, as on it. World champions take the podium on behalf of their teams: the mechanics, technicians and the all-important supply chain personnel who, time-critically, have to seamlessly get new nose cones from Brackley to Bahrain in the blink of an eye.

Such sophisticated supply chains are wholly reliant on bespoke logistics solutions designed to shave time off delivery, which is as critical as shaving tenths of a second off a qualifying lap. However, time-critical logistics in an ‘asset-light’ 4PL world relies upon the peace of mind provided by knowing exactly where every component is at every second of the journey.

Track and trace has traditionally monitored progress by using fixed points on the journey as benchmarks of progress, but this does not provide an end-to-end picture of the consignment’s journey, far from it. In terms of air freight there are many thousands of miles of ocean to be crossed where the goods are effectively invisible to both the consignee and the consignor.

However, track and trace technology can now monitor a driver’s mobile phone, a GPS solution that we have developed in-house and make available through a customer web portal so that they can study minute-by-minute or at their leisure. The technology can provide KPI reporting, ETA updates that are traffic dependent and total supply chain transparency with money back guarantees if the solution falls over.

This is no longer just the world of F1, but the future of automotive logistics in general where such fail-safe solutions become hygiene factors rather than ‘nice to haves.’

Taking this technology to its logical conclusion, there is little need for an endless paper chain of emails as progress can be accessed online and monitored on a need to know basis through automated exception reporting tools.

Just-in-time and supply-in-sequence can only truly exist in a world where the lack of stock holding is more than a hypothetical pipe dream because they no longer pose the threat of bringing production to a standstill. Production managers can now log on for, or demand, up-to-the-second reporting to keep the manufacturing lines moving, via their laptops, tablets or smart phones.       

Transparency has always proved to be the missing link in the global supply chain, the vital ingredient that not only ensures the right product reaches the right location at the right time and at the right price, but also a production leveller. By this I mean that it is a technology that can democratise the supply chain and totally dismantle the procurement hierarchy by building trust through open book accounting and transforming suppliers into collaborative partners.