Digital maturity in Africa – Technologies for Transformation
For an industry like transportation and logistics in Africa region, which is information-intensive and highly data-driven, if not meticulously organized, then could become a liability instead of an asset. In the process of digital transformation of the business through disruption, it is first required to look at your capabilities and analyze the possible drawbacks that could harm your business objective in the long run. You can check your digital transformation level using the digital transformation maturity matrix test.
Digital maturity in Africa logistics
One of the major drawbacks faced by the transportation and logistics industry is the lack of using real-time data. With the adoption of different technologies at different levels, you can leverage upon real-time data in all the aspects of a digital matrix that are enhanced customer satisfaction, operational activities, developing a business strategy, and better employee management. According to different researches, over 70% of researchers believe that a shift towards a real-time economy affects the organizational structure and business strategy hugely.
Explained below are the different technologies that your freight logistics company can deploy to varying levels in the process of digital transformation.
Digital maturity – Technologies to be deployed
IoT Solutions: – Internet of Things devices are used to evaluate the optimum utilization of the space in a warehouse even before the setup of a warehouse. It monitors the quantity and quality of goods stored in a warehouse hence helps you keep a record of your perishable goods held in them.
They help record the information regarding the engine conditions, fuel levels, tyre conditions for your fleet. It also helps collect real-time data using outdoor and Indoor GPS devices and keeps a record of your vehicle’s driver’s behaviour at all times. It also helps monitor the environment of the containers of your fleet and helps track the goods in case of theft, which is a commonly faced issue in Africa.
RFID Technology: – radio frequency identification technology is used to identify the positioning of stored products, optimal warehousing by reading labels of shipped and delivered goods, tyre management to prevent cargo theft, especially in a countries like Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe & South Africa, reducing time for registration processes in warehouses and distribution centers, fast labelling, and packaging of cargo, increasing transparency and productivity of your logistics company.
Deploying IOT devices and RFID Technology would be a good head start for the companies lying in level one of the Digital Maturity Model. Tyre Management could be taken as an example.
Cloud-Based Technology: The cloud-based ERP systems do not require any hardware to be installed; instead, you can easily access the functions through Internet connectivity using a software application. According to your company’s needs, the new upgraded versions and the needed changes can be easily done using the cloud ERPs. In remote areas, it is required to host the solution on local servers to provide access to logistics partners and truck agents.
A logistics ERP helps provide more flexibility to the company’s operations and greater Security benefits, and easy accessibility for the employees. You can easily manage different functions of your business-like logistics invoice creation, employee relation management, fleet management, workshop inventory, and many more using the cloud-based ERP.
Integration of IoT, RFID Technology, and Cloud-Based technology would be suitable for Level two companies of the Digital Maturity Model.
Blockchain Technology: – It is impossible to organize vast data involved in the T&L industry without errors by using spreadsheets. Blockchain helps record such data automatically, for example, creating a record of attempted deliveries, pallet movements in a warehouse, capacity filled in a container. It also helps prevent fraud by the corrupted employees as it cannot be manually tampered with easily. It also creates essential documents like POD, purchase orders, invoices, and many more. You can easily update the real-time information like a delay in its delivery. It helps in recording temperature zones for the cold storage operations as well. It creates a digital link between various tracking software and hardware tools like bar codes, RFID tags.
It can help organize your data collected from various sources, making it easy for different departments of your company to understand and evaluate it. Hence, it will be a wise move for Level three companies of Digital Maturity Model.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: As it is always mentioned, the T&L industry is highly dependent upon data, yet most companies do not have complete flourished data. It is only possible for some companies to afford a vast resource size to collect and evaluate big data. AI and ML help make the most out of the collected unclean data to make it meaningful and helps in route optimization, and enhance supply chain transparency. One such real-life example that has leveraged route optimization is UPS that saves about 10,000,000 gallons of fuel every year by optimizing their routes. Optimum usage of the data could become the logistics company’s core competency.
Not only that, but AI also assists in automated warehouse management by analyzing the capacity of the warehouse, the location of goods stored in a warehouse, and predicting the demands of the products to make the most of the available space in a warehouse in real-time.
Geo-Fencing Technology: – Time and speed are the two most important factors to be considered in reducing the cost and enhancing the functioning of your fleet and warehouse operations. With the help of geofencing technology, you can get automatic alerts for the inbound loads approaching and evaluate the time of offloading and loading the trucks accordingly. Getting real-time information helps you become more flexible and improves the scheduling and planning for your company. It also helps in reducing theft as the stoppage of a vehicle at your warehouse would be for a minimal time because your team would be pre-ready for the incoming load.
Data Analytics: – with the overly complex data in the T&L companies, it gets hard to evaluate your workforce’s performance, which is a crucial step in the functioning of your company. With the help of data analytics, you can assess your crew’s performance and the machines deployed and make decisions accordingly regarding your assets, both human and artificial.
It also helps in sharing the real-time data with the respective stakeholders of your logistics company which can help improve your operational efficiency recognizing the hindrances caused either by the external or the internal factors. It helps in enhancing transparency and hence builds trust with the company’s stakeholders.
It helps make the most of the available space by organizing the data most accurately and efficiently to make the most of the additional space left for the new orders, hence generating more revenue.
One important thing that most of us forget is to evaluate our performance and the impact of newly deployed technology. With the help of data analytics, you can evaluate the performance on an ongoing basis and find out the inefficiencies based upon real-time information. With predictive analytics, you can anticipate the demand peaks for a particular product at a specific time and the prices charged for the same.
All but not restricted to the Digital maturity technologies mentioned above can be integrated and deployed at different levels of your digital transformation process, evaluating the feasibility of other aspects like financial, environmental, economic, and political.
Contributed by Nivedita, PGP student, summer intern @Freightlogisticsonline.com