How this disruptive retail shopping model will entirely redefine how cargo moves through the supply chain. The Premise? Those transporting freight will come and go from ports, depots and distribution centers with complete autonomy...entirely unaffected by people and absent of lines.
After a year of false starts, Amazon Go opened its first store in Seattle last week. Its quest is to remake our retail shopping experience and empower the customer to come, buy and leave with uber efficiency and without needing to interact with anyone. No lines, no checkouts, no cashiers!
For those needing a primer on Amazon Go, watch this video first... Amazon Go Overview
We think it's worth considering how this same autonomous model could impact those moving cargo from port to port and into the myriad of complexity which is the landside supply chain.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” — Authur C. Clarke (author 2001: A Space Odyssey)
A huge problem in the flow of containerized cargo exists in the places it’s stored…specifically at ports, inland depots and distribution centers. Truckers responsible for the pickup up and movement of these millions of containers routinely wait in long lines both inside and outside of these facilities while people make preparations to ensure the right container is delivered to the right truck. At ports of LA/Long Beach the average ‘turn time’ for a trucker currently exceeds 90 minutes!
But what if these same truckers could just drive in, go right to their container, have it delivered and then just drive out? Turns out this exact process is already happening at the 3 automated container terminals in the US. Here’s our big problem…how to extend this process to all container storage locations, wherever the cargo moves (and without big expense and risk for those facility operators).
Here’s how we think this could be achieved, on a broad scale, today.
Nearly all places where containers are stored have cloud/web connected IT systems maintaining inventory (lets call them apps). And nearly all truck drivers have smart phones (also with apps!). The gap to greatness here lies in connecting these arriving truckers with the underlying IT systems to validate who gets what container in real time.
Following an Amazon Go model would simply require drivers and those responsible for moving the cargo be linked via a collective chain(i.e., a blockchain contract listing shipper, trucker, port, depot, routes, final destination, etc.). Truckers could then use an app to validate their ID and intention before gaining entry into a facility(much llike an Amazon Go user logs their credit card info before entering the store). We can then extend those digital connections to understand where the container is headed next so as to “preadvise” that facility in advance(ensuring the trucker can enter/exit automatically and be processed quickly).
Advent, via our eModal software platform and API data services, is actively expanding the building blocks needed to facilitate exactly this type of digital information exchange where previously disconnected stakeholders can collaborate in real time, watching their cargo move from port, to depot, and to door with unpresented levels of visibility, efficiency and velocity.