For decades China has been marketed as the world’s factory supplying components or full products for use elsewhere around the world. When the Chinese government finally woke-up to the threat of COVID-19 and shuttered regions to contain movement and curtail the spread of the pandemic, the world’s factory closed for an indefinite period.
The closure of China’s factories and distribution networks raised awareness about the risks of “keeping all your eggs in one basket” but also about the importance of transportation and logistics in today’s global economy.
What is C.H. Robinson?
John Chen: C.H. Robinson is one of the world’s largest, most connected logistics platforms. Today, we manage about $20 billion in freight and process roughly 18 million shipments annually. Over the years, we have committed to building our global technology platform, Navisphere®, to provide customers with greater supply chain efficiency and real-time visibility to deliver smarter solutions.
Here in Asia, we offer our customers integrated logistics solutions in key strategic markets with a dynamic network of offices across the region. Our core business lies in global freight forwarding, consolidation and 3PL, leveraging industry-leading technology built by our own supply chain experts.
How has the logistics and supply chain industry changed in recent years?
John Chen: The modern supply chain of today is extremely complex. From transit uncertainty, to trade war complexity, and the ongoing global pandemic, the industry has seen many challenges in the recent years. In addition, stiff competition because of globalisation and the rising e-commerce landscape, especially here in Asia, have meant even more demand for customer-focused logistics services.
At C.H. Robinson, we view these challenges as opportunities, and we’ve been at the forefront of helping our customers overcome them. We give customers access to better logistics infrastructure and technology to improve the efficiency of their supply chains. Ultimately, we’re here to make sure that we are always meeting our customers’ needs.
What does digital transformation look for those in the logistics and supply chain business?
John Chen: As we look towards the future of a digitally transformed supply chain, it is key that we help businesses streamline their inefficient processes and provide more visibility into the supply chain.
We believe that cloud technology will play a huge role in transforming logistics and the global supply chain – and we aim to leverage the benefits to enable greater reliability, efficiency and real-time visibility to all inventory for our customers across the globe.
What are some of the biggest technological challenges facing the logistics and supply chain industry today?
John Chen: Increasingly, shippers are telling us that their three biggest challenges are:
- Firstly, the complexity of the global supply chain – With freight moving across more modes in more countries, shippers need both a global partner with local expertise AND the technology to provide simplicity and visibility everywhere at all times.
- Secondly, integrating emerging tech into existing operations – There is more data than ever before in the supply chains, but this does not translate into better outcomes. Shippers want to make better use of that data so that they can predict problems before they arise, and ultimately to improve their shipping times and reliability.
- Lastly, the flexibility to meet customers where they are – Consumer expectations are changing, and the same is true of shippers and carriers. Whether it is easy to use shipping tools like EZGO or FreightQuote by C.H. Robinson. The fully digital ‘no-touch’ freight distribution from our Navisphere® system also allows shippers and carriers to seamlessly interact with our logistics technology.
Among the different technologies available today, which ones will be key to the survival and growth of those in the logistics and supply chain business?
John Chen: Data is king, and even more so in the logistics and supply chain industry. In my opinion, business intelligence solutions that analyse data and present actionable information will form the core of digital transformation projects going forward.
Editor’s note: C.H. Robinson’s global multimodal transportation management will leverage the Azure IoT Central to integrate IoT device monitoring that measures factors such as temperature, shock, tilt, humidity, light and pressure in shipments to give customers an even more detailed level of intelligence about goods as they move through the supply chain.
According to Chen, the partnership aims to enable 100% real-time visibility in the supply chain. The insights will allow businesses to see their products move from the factory, to distribution centres, and ultimately to millions of consumers around the world.
Robinson Labs™ is also a great example of how we are leveraging big data and predictive analytics to further support our customers with their unique data analysis needs. Through Robinson Labs™, we aim to provide customers with actionable insights such as improvements on shipping performance and supply chain gaps.
As the industry evolves technologically, there are almost endless opportunities for everyone within the supply chain.
How do you see C.H. Robinson evolving in the next five years?
John Chen: We are excited to continue to strengthen our position as the leading third-party provider of logistics, technology and supply chain solutions and build the supply chain of the future with our clients.
We are going to continue to grow our network of customers and contract carriers, providing them with partners who have the experience, expertise and scale to solve key business challenges.
We know that technology, predictive analytics and AI are revolutionising our industry and we are leading the way forward in solutions that increase our customer’s efficiency, visibility and reliability. That is why we have invested $1B in technology over the past 10 years and we’re going to invest another $1B in the next five years.