Current State of International Transportation Industry – LogiSYM October/November 2020

What TRAMES Aims to Tackle

Our vision at TRAMES, is to reduce global trade barriers through digitalizing international freight and transportation. By convening players, who would normally work in isolation, to participate on a collaborative platform, information and documentation can now be relayed dynamically, in real time.  Doing so significantly reduces physical paperwork, as well as the number of manual touchpoints in any supply chain resulting. This results in efficient gains in time and cost.  The process is achieved through carefully crafted services and tools on TRAMES, to enable seamless connectivity and secure exchange of information across a streamlined and unified workflow.

The current trade and logistics landscape is plagued with manual processes and siloed actors. Just from the sheer number of actors involved, coupled with potentially differing channels of transmission (i.e. emails, text, physical documents) has resulted in delays and potentially inaccurate or misconstrued information.  This problem statement is exacerbated when supply chains are long and complex, with further fragmentation through disconnected legacy systems.

Why We Do It Better Than Others

TRAMES is all about International Freight Orchestration (IFO). Key features include the tracking of concise milestones to bring supply chain transparency, a completely digital document repository to facilitate real time sharing and confirmation of shipping documents, exception management, and many other collaboration tool-kits.

There are four key factors that set us apart from the competition:

1. Eco-system Approach:

Shippers—especially multi-national corporations— work with a plethora of logistics partners all over the world. Transparency of the supply chain becomes even more important as the number of logistics partners within the Shippers’ network increases. TRAMES’ solution bridges the shipper and all their logistics partners onto a single platform, facilitating collaboration and streamlining communication.

a) Across the various actors in any single transport chain

According to IBM, “1 shipment goes through 20 people, via 200 interactions”. These interactions flow across Brokers, Truckers, Carriers, Third Party Logistics Service Providers both at Origin and Destination.

b) Within each service pillar

An average company would appoint anywhere between 3 to 50 Third Party Logistics Service Providers. Monopolistic supply is extremely rare, especially in the freight industry where service providers have varying strengths in the different markets.

c) Digital Freight Forwarders

Digital Freight Forwarders boast a broad stack of digitized capabilities but are constrained to flows that they manage. Shippers need visibility across their entire supply chain, across all freight forwarders that they work with.

2. Technologically Inclusive:

Logistics partners across the world have varying levels of technological capability and maturity. Across the spectrum, the TRAMES solution can integrate with ERP systems for the more progressive companies but also supports web portal connectivity for those who prefer quick and easy access.

a) Digitized Partners

Global freight forwarders have moved fast on the digitization journey, and now have a much stronger ability to share key data seamlessly with their clients. TRAMES provides a straightforward delivery of data through an API gateway in any corporate network, regardless of technology stack.

b) Traditional Partners

Not all freight forwarders have digitized to the same extent, especially smaller regional players where return on investments have been hard to justify. Where integration of back-end data systems is not technologically possible for less technical suppliers, basic file/csv upload functionalities for key event milestones are in place.

3. End-to-End Capability:

Digital solutions reap maximum benefit if all stakeholders from Shipper, to Consignee as well as all logistics stakeholders in between are plugged into the platform. With this as a key fundamental principle, the TRAMES solution is carefully designed to include all partners, no matter big or small, to realize complete visibility across end-to-end supply chains.

4. Optimal Customs & Free

Trade Leverage:

Customs Compliance is absolutely key in International Trade, but is made challenging due to varying practices across countries, inconsistent classifications and heavy administration. Our digital solutions ease our clients’ administrative burden, preventing delays and penalties, and optimizing customs costs as a result.

a) Harmonized System (HS) Code Optimization

The quantum of applicable Import Customs Duty is defined by the HS Code corresponding to product description. TRAMES’ Customs AI Module analyses and proposes HS Code classifications to help customers ensure “accuracy” and “optimization”. Significant productivity opportunities can be uncovered in this space!

b) Leverage Free Trade Agreements

Many countries have struck bi-lateral Free Trade Agreements, offering businesses significant opportunity to optimize customs duties in International Trade. Two main factors impede this opportunity: (1) identification, and (2) execution. TRAMES’ Customs Module does both digitally, easing the extensive paperwork and administration needed to leverage FTAs.

How We Actually Do This

Putting everyone on the same page is essential – as a digital platform, the TRAMES solution serves as the glue that will bring together and align stakeholders; and through the continued addition of relevant and unique features and functionalities, this is how we will address specific pain points and add value.

1. Dedicated Freight Eco-Systems:

Shipper-centric Freight Eco-Systems allow companies (ie. Beneficial Cargo Owners) to conduct International Freight in their very-own environment, powered by TRAMES’ technology. This is an ecosystem across existing partners, convened on a digital platform. Digital connectivity across all parties will reduce time and friction from traditionally manual processes, and significantly enhance collaboration.

Trames’ EcoSystem presents a number of opportunities for process improvement and productivity gains. Existing customers have validated a 30% reduction in the time spent on freight booking management, shipping document review and shipment coordination – with the following features:

a) Freight Booking & Shipping Administration

b) Document Repository & Sharing

c) Collaborative Chat

d) Workflow Customization

2. Data Objectivity & Transparency:

The collaborative nature of the Freight Eco-System requires operational shipping events to be managed within the platform. This facilitates the corroboration of data between partners, ensuring a high level of data integrity. The solution uses Satellite AIS (Automatic Identification System) data, to provide real-time visibility of vessel movements across the globe.

a) Real-time Shipping Milestones

With shipping status at your fingertips, expect Customer Satisfaction to improve significantly with the ability to provide reliable delivery date commitments. Pre-emptive operations from automated Pre-Alerts between actors give sufficient lead time for crucial follow-ups before problems arise.

b) Objectively Validate Ancillary Charges

Hidden ancillary charges in the freight industry is common – these range from re-routing fees to container detention and demurrage—and traditionally Shippers have not been able to refute when these are imposed. Transparent event milestones provide Shippers the means to objectively challenge the validity of non-standard activities.

c) Data-Driven Partner Performance Management

Suppliers render transportation services, and typically commit service levels in the process. However performance measures are reported by each service provider, and there is no objective means for the Shipper to evaluate nor critique. With your Dedicated Freight Eco-System, you can change the way shipping performance is managed today!

3. Analytics:

The ability to harness cargo and freight data can yield significant benefits to any Shipper. Through manipulation and analysis of freight orchestration data sets within the Freight Eco-System, together with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities, the TRAMES’ Analytics Module effectively turns fragmented, unstructured data into actionable insights. Beyond the basic dashboards, some interesting examples would include:

  • Air-Sea Ratio Optimizer
  • Container (FCL) Fill Rates
  • Groupage (LCL) Optimizer

4. Block Chain Enablement:

Over the past few years, there have been an increasing number of blockchain use cases in the shipping and international trade industry. By ensuring stored data records are tamper-free and come from a verifiable and immutable source, participants will be able to trust that data on the network is the single source of truth. We are of the opinion that Blockchain technology has the potential to render paperwork in freight movement obsolete.

Key use cases for blockchain, in the context of TRAMES, include:

  • Instantaneous and secure access of end-to-end lifecycle of delivery orders
  • A single source of truth, with fair, trusted and a tamper-proof information flow
  • Permissioned access control and fully transparent history of all transactions

In collaboration with IMDA (InfoComm Media Development Authority) of Singapore, TRAMES will be weaving in TradeTrust1 where the adoption of such standards will offer a number of anticipated benefits to participants on the Trames platform:

a) Digital equivalence

The adherence to MLETR standards will ensure all electronic documents transmitted through the Trames platform are compliant. Electronic documents (including title transferability) can be taken and used on the platform, just as in their physical form.

b) Authenticity

Assurance that transmission of all information across the Trames network is secure and unique, reducing the risk of fraud. Any form of tampering will immediately be visible to participants of the network.

c)  Provenance and Auditability

Incorporation of blockchain will ensure immutability of events and secure information exchange across unique stakeholders and curated enterprise workflows, providing full transparency of actions across all stakeholders.

Our TradeTrust journey represents our commitment to supporting the eventual transformation of the International Transport industry. We at Trames, believe BlockChain will be a crucial part and contributor towards the inevitable digital transformation the freight industry

1 TradeTrust is a blockchain initiative by the Singapore Government. It is a ‘digital utility that comprises a set of globally-accepted standards and frameworks that connects governments and businesses to a public blockchain to enable trusted interoperability and exchanges of electronic trade documents across digital platforms’ —

Karmjit Singh

Chairman Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transportation (CILT)

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