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Greater supply chain integration essential

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Global and regional supply chains have come under the spotlight as never before during the long months of pandemic. They have been shown often to be disjointed and dysfunctional.

This was the troubling message from two supply chain experts at a Seatrade Middle East Maritime session in Dubai yesterday.

Martin Helweg, CEO of P&O Maritime Logistics, a DP World group company established in 2019 after the Dubai multinational bought Topaz Energy and Marine, and Lars Greiner, as Associate Partner of Hamburg Port Consulting, revealed how many of today’s fragmented supply chains not only take up far more resource than necessary, but also result in poor environmental performance.

Helweg stressed that focusing on the vessel in isolation is not enough. While an essential part of international supply chains, vessels and voyages are the sea-trade link and must be integrated into the entire system. Such an approach, he said, had been shown to allow an existing supply chain to achieve the same results 40% faster with 30% fewer vessels, and commensurate reductions in emissions.

Helweg pointed out the widespread lack of integrated data flow and visibility, leading to uncertainties over supply chain risk and over-ordering by companies. As a service provider with more than 400 vessels, his company had to be capable of providing an integrated supply chain service for its customers, based on end-to-end logistics including the essential ‘last mile’, he said, often the most challenging link in the chain.

Greiner commented that the world’s transport industry has traditionally been driven by making money out of inefficiencies. Now, though, through advances in digitalisation and connectivity, weak links in the chain can be easily identified.

Port community systems can be designed to make sure that parties get the data that they require specifically for their part of the business, not everything else. Over time, he said, this would make cargo flows and deliveries far more efficient and sustainable.

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