so are the guessing machines of world trade


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The ‘Black Friday’ has kicked off the three most stressful months for global supply chains. Sales soar between November and the winter sales. It is the time of the highest consumption peak of the whole year and tests the capacity of all logistics operators. This year, the demand is even greater: a particularly intense increase in consumption is expected, together with supply problems and bottlenecks in essential channels of the supply chain, such as the saturation that occurs in some of the main transport ports world maritime.

The ‘big-data’, the artificial technology and the ‘machine-learning’ they have become essential for logistics operators.

And they are going to be more and more, say without a doubt the experts of the sector that ABC has consulted, who influence the leap that the so-called predictive logistics is assuming. That is, to anticipate the need, to plan better, with more time and lower costs.

The future passes through “anticipation, knowing human behavior and applying predictive models,” he explains. Juan Pablo Lázaro, president of the express transport company Sending. This predictive logistics is the result of massive data collection (‘big-data’), its processing to take advantage of operational and planning benefits (artificial intelligence); and take advantage of all that knowledge for machines and technological systems that are capable of learning (‘machine learning’) and making improvement decisions for themselves.

In the traditional model, it is considered that, when someone buys a product, serving it soon depends on preparing it and sending it to them as quickly as possible once the order is placed. But the president of Sending indicates that this is no longer enough: «The key and what increasingly makes the difference is the predictive model, being able to know the behavior of consumers from the mass collection and processing of individual data, details such as your internet browsing or your shopping experience, ”explains Lázaro.

Cost savings

“This allows, for example, a foreign company to predict how many are going to buy a specific product in Madrid and, instead of sending each unit on demand, move all units to the nearest point of sale in one go. that he has calculated that he is going to sell ». This saves on transport costs, makes it more sustainable and achieves an immediate response to the consumer.

«If I am a seller who is in the United States, my predictive model has told me that I have a ‘target’ of 3,000 buyers in the Madrid area and I estimate 60% of final sales, that allows me to anticipate and introduce 2,000 units in the nearest point of sale before customers buy them. ‘ What if they are not sold later? “They will encourage us to buy them” through digital tools, says the president of Sending.

In addition, the technological revolution is multiplying the capabilities to fully personalize customer service throughout the supply chain, as well as traceability –know where the shipment is at all times– or better plan production and transport.

Innovation is essential and continuous. “There are two types of company: those that innovate and those that do not exist. And technology is essential, but the key to a company is still people », explains Juan Pablo Lázaro. “The main asset of any company is to have people who know how to interpret technology, because that is what makes you different,” he says.

Human experts

An increasingly sought-after profile is one that combines technological skills, knowledge of the business in which it operates and the logistics linked to it. In other words, “technical profiles that have that accurate vision of how technologies can affect that specific business,” says the General Director of the Spanish Center for Logistics (CEL), Ramón García, who has long experience in the field of innovation. For this reason, “many large companies are also internally favoring the appearance of startups and incubating talent”, something that is closely related to this “need for hybrid profiles, who know a lot about logistics and technology.”

Regarding which basic academic qualification is better, it is not something excessively decisive. “It is not limited to graduates of scientific disciplines” such as engineering or exact sciences, he says.

He explains that it is not essential for a logistics company to have programmers or algorithm designers on staff, because they can access them with external assistance contracts. But it is essential that you have professionals on your staff “That they know very well what are the needs and problems to which the organization must respond, that when faced with a technology tell me if it is valid or not, and what it will contribute to the company”. And “for that – the CEL CEO warns – the professional has to know how to interpret the data, but also know very well how the supply chain, processes and organization of your company work.”

Cybersecurity

The Zaragoza Logistics Center (ZLC), participated by the prestigious MIT and by the University of Zaragoza, is an advanced training and research focus in this field. “The profiles of students who reach the master’s degrees that we teach at ZLC are increasingly mastering technological tools, much more digital skills,” says the professor. Beatriz Royo, PhD in Engineering and specialist in digitization and sustainability. In his opinion, one aspect that must be addressed is the cybersecurity of the technologies applied to logistics. “In a supply chain there are many agents involved, and in the end there are many points that can potentially be attacked and, through them, compromise large operators”, he explains.

In the field of development of new technologies applied to logistics, among the reference brands is the Spanish Usyncro. They are specialized in software development, cybersecurity and financial strategy applied to logistics and transportation.

From Usyncro they explain to ABC that, to optimize supply chains and eliminate their inefficiencies, “it is necessary to promote collaboration between actors and transparency in the supply chain, total visibility of operations worldwide and the transformation of obsolete operations” . The ‘Blockchain’ and artificial intelligence solutions offer wide possibilities in this field, they indicate.

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