15 January 2019
TouchStar ‘Technology Trends’ series
Technology Trends (1):
Bulk logistics and Big Data
Big Data is a term that is used to describe huge volumes of
data that can be analysed in order to discover patterns and trends. This can
help organisations review and improve almost any aspect of their business in
order to make better decisions in the future. Going by this definition, Big Data and bulk logistics should
be made for each other. Bulk logistics produces large amounts of often
unstructured data, and Big Data solutions can take that data and allow smarter
strategic thinking around how to improve processes, increase efficiency and
create new opportunities. But collection of high-quality data is often a sticking
point and Big Data is a relatively untapped asset. It requires a change in
mindset and an understanding of how it can be used in real-world
Bulk logistics can be incredibly complex, and on top of that
many businesses in the supply chain will have to adapt to changes in the
landscape in terms of technology as well as economic pressures. But Big Data
can offer an edge.
Could Big Data make
In some ways Big Data offers a simple pathway. The more
collected real-time data available, the more value and insight on optimisation
can be put back into supply chains. However, the challenge for companies is to
be able to cope with this huge amount of data.
The biggest gains are often in the delivery stage, which
includes task management, tracking, navigation, scheduling and more. After all,
these are data-driven operations that can be analysed and reviewed in order to
make them more effective. The truth is that today, most large-scale logistics
operations require data to run efficiently and the earlier the information is
available and the more precise the information is, the better that managers are
able to optimise. Big Data concepts offer new methods to generate valuable
In addition to opportunities to improve, the application of
analytics to large (and high-quality) data sets often reveals risks and
provides resilience against disruptions.
Delivery is the last and often the most expensive aspect of
the supply chain and maximising the performance of delivery staff and vehicles
is crucial. As mentioned below, the introduction of mobile devices able to
track and provide real-time information on the status of deliveries is key to
creating an effective operation.
Winning the race
New technology and the abundance of data available is
causing the supply chain to be seen more as a network than a chain. It’s not only
about completing your own tasks as quickly as possible and handing over to the
next part of the chain. To achieve the speed and – just as important – the
flexibility that is often demanded, all processes need to be reviewed and
optimised to deal with new fluctuations. In some cases, it can even help to
With Big Data the dynamics within and outside the distribution
network can be analysed and impact on capacity requirements calculated in
advance. For example, real-time information about deliveries can be reviewed to
predict the allocation of resources for the next day. As well as using data to inform operating personnel to scale
capacity up or down in each particular location, forecasts can also be made to
reveal assess congestion on routes or delivery locations.
Data by itself is little use without organisation and review.
That’s why the difference between success and failure will lie in how data is
used. It will have several knock-on effects, from increased transparency to
seasonal trend predictions and how operational demands can be met more
A better understanding of the supply chain through data will
also open up new opportunities, long-term growth partnerships and potentially
entirely new business models. From staff to the machines they use and the processes that
they undertake, digitisation means that they all have a voice, and all provide
data in real-time. This can all be used to uncover new insights with relatively
little human interaction in deciphering the data.
Of course, there are some obstacles in the way. Many of
which will have prevented organisations from considering Big Data opportunities
to this point. Data quality, privacy concerns and technical feasibility are
just a few of the hurdles that Big Data faces. But it’s becoming clear that
these issues must be navigated as the benefits are huge.
Benefits in bulk logistics
Big Data is transforming the bulk logistics industry through
data-driven insights. In the bulk delivery market, the key benefits
- Enhanced operational efficiency, visibility, and
- Dynamic, real-time route optimisation through
the intelligent correlation of data streams
- Smarter forecasting of demand and optimisation
- Risk management
- Detecting, evaluating, and alerting all
- Increased customer satisfaction.
Why choose TouchStar?
TouchStar is recognised as market leader in technology
solutions for the bulk delivery market. With more than 30 years of experience,
TouchStar has a portfolio of solutions to assist in bulk delivery, including navigation,
job allocation and driver communication.
The product suite offered by TouchStar creates a robust
interface between hardware and back office business systems. As well as
optimising processes and boosting efficiency, this flow of real-time data gives
businesses the visibility and data they need to continue making smart decisions
and improve their strategy.
Furthermore, TouchStar ensures a fully scalable and
futureproof solution that meets both operational and strategic objectives.