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Supply Chain

Editor’s Choice: 5 Ingredients for Predicting Accurate Shipment ETAs




Note: Today’s post is part of our “Editor’s Choice” series where we highlight recent posts published by our sponsors that provide supply chain insights and advice. This article comes from Vivek Vaid, CTO at FourKites, and examines how to predict accurate shipments ETAs.

shipment ETA

Predictive intelligence is a big deal these days. In talking to one of our customers, it occurred to me that despite the advances FourKites has demonstrated in machine learning and data science, the concept is still a black box to many of our stakeholders. We thought we would take this opportunity to start unpacking some of that and communicating how we are able to do the things we do.

Let’s start with the basic question: What exactly is predictive intelligence? And how does that differ from traditional business intelligence?

AI is intelligence demonstrated by machines, unlike the natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals who have a cognitive ability to get better through experience. What this means in the world of FourKites’ real-time supply chain visibility is to learn that mechanical breakdowns or busy rest areas will result in longer transit times. This may seem obvious, but when you are looking across 100 countries, the number of these learnings quickly outgrows what a human can keep track of, e.g. idiosyncrasies of hours of service (HOS) regulations, commercial traffic hours, warehouse congestion, individual driver, route or carrier learnings, and the list goes on.

In the landscape of data science applications, predictive analytics is a special class of algorithms that tell you what will happen vs. other techniques that may focus on explaining why something that happened in the past occurred.

Predictive analytics at FourKites is primarily about solving customer issues in anticipation of a problem. For instance, a basic use case might be that unusual traffic causes a change in the ETA (estimated time of arrival) which could cause a shipment to miss its anticipated delivery window. You might be thinking, “That’s not data science!” – and you would be right if the mechanism for doing this work was simply rule-based.

To read the full article and learnt the top five ways to predict accurate shipment ETAs, click HERE.



Supporting the global pharmaceutical supply chain.




Because finding a vaccine is just not enough.

Natalia Pedroza

It’s great to see how suddenly pharmaceutical companies, once competing with each other, are now in a joint race to discover a vaccine that will end the pandemic.

The day when we can say that the vaccine is available and that the lockdown will finally end is coming. However, not only is finding the vaccine not so easy, but once discovered it also puts the pharmaceutical industry supply chain in trouble.

Let’s think about it this way. For the vaccine to be effective and the pandemic to end, the majority of the population should be vaccinated.

There are government plans, such as that of Colombia, in which the possibility of implementing a staggered vaccination plan is evaluated. First the medical personnel, then the high-risk population, then the children, and finally the rest of the population. (Diario Portafolio, 2020)

This could facilitate access to the vaccine without saturating the supply chain. However, Colombia is not going to be the only country interested in its citizens having access to the vaccine.

Even applying the tiered system, there are 7.8 Billion people in the world. That would be the number of doses required so that one more person in the world does not get infected. However, some of the vaccines that are being developed require more than one dose.

Imagine supplying the market with 15.6 Billion doses, which must remain in a strict cold chain.

There are currently 136 pharmaceutical laboratories looking for a treatment or vaccine against Covid19 according to the IFPMA. These laboratories are distributed around the world, which makes the eventual distribution of vaccines globally a challenge.

According to the Spanish Society of Pediatrics and its associated vaccination committee, the cold chain during the distribution of vaccines is essential to guarantee the success of treatment. According to the organization, each vaccine has a specific time in which the vaccine remains stable at a certain temperature. If these conditions are altered, the doses run the risk of losing their effectiveness.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Taking into account the above, it can be said that not only is it necessary to find the vaccine against the virus, but also that a way is required to optimize the logistics of its distribution so that when injected it meets its objective.

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In normal situations, the biggest challenge in the logistics of vaccine distribution is maintaining the cold chain at all stages. Currently, pharmaceutical laboratories, drug distributors and medical centers have an established protocol for dose management, from the time they leave the production center until they reach the person in charge of handling and administering the doses.

Take the case of Spain as an example, but most countries have similar management protocols.

Under normal conditions, the doses stored in the refrigerators awaiting distribution should not exceed 50% of the total storage capacity of the refrigerator. Once loaded into the transport truck, it must meet certain requirements in terms of temperature and light, which are measured along the way with sensors in order to prevent any damage.

Once the medical center or drug collection center is reached, the person in charge of receiving the doses needs to send a fax or email with an incident notification sheet to the manufacturers.

It is right there where communication solutions will play an important role in the battle against the pandemic.

If under the previous example you have access to an instant communication tool that allows automating processes, such as the notification that the doses were loaded into the truck at 7pm, and another one to know that they were delivered at 7:30 pm, it would allow people in charge to know the time in which the doses could have been exposed to harmful factors.

Photo by Alex Mecl on Unsplash

This could be achieved through QR codes on the transport boxes. When scanning them, a database is automatically fed with the references of the doses that go in the box and the time at which they were loaded onto the truck. In the same way, once at the collection point or medical center, they are scanned to record the time it took to transport.

Let us suppose that when taking to the medical or collection center a fault is identified in the truck carrying the doses. Today the technical team is notified by call or email. By using a tool with the ability to automate this process through a SuperBot, the time the truck spends immobilized before being repaired is reduced.

In addition, it is recorded that the truck had a breakdown, and therefore it is necessary to review the history of deliveries made during the day to ensure that the other doses will not be affected.

After all the work of taking care of the cold chain, the vaccines arrive at the medical center to be applied to the patients.

Photo by Alex Mecl on Unsplash

The person in charge of receiving the doses must mainly perform 5 tasks.

1. Check the correct reception of vaccines

2. Record the date of receipt

3. Record the number of doses received

4. Record the expiration date and the manufacturing laboratory

5. Notify the manufacturer of the return of expired doses

To fulfill this task, the people in charge used to go to a spreadsheet and record the information there.

Today there is a tool capable of notifying the manufacturer and distributor of the correct reception of the doses and of making the other records, simply by selecting different buttons within a mobile messaging application that automates these processes.

The tool I am talking about is called Twnel and it is used by the largest companies globally to coordinate the communications of members of the supply chain.

Why do I say that it would be the solution that the pharmaceutical supply chain requires?

Because it uses the mobile messaging format that is the most used in person-to-person communications globally.

Also, because through Superbots you can automate processes such as:

1. Taking orders for vaccine doses (which could shed light on demand and thus calculate production)

2. Registration of arrival at a collection or production center for transport

3. Dose loading record prior to distribution

4. Record of delivery of orders to medical centers or collection centers

5. Geolocation of transport vehicles

6. Notification of changes or requests

Among hundreds of other things.

An improvement in the communications of pharmaceutical laboratories, distributors and medical centers could contribute to the optimization of the logistics required to distribute 15 Billion doses of the Covid19 vaccine. In the same way, optimizing such logistics prevents many of the doses from being damaged by delays and inconveniences in distribution.

According to Dinero magazine, a prestigious Colombian media outlet, the Coronavirus vaccine would cost about 11,000 Colombian pesos or the equivalent of 3 USD. By multiplying those 3 USD by 15 Billions, the value of the vaccine begins to be relevant without counting that, according to the World Health Organization, almost 50% of the vaccination doses were lost in a year due to inefficiencies in the distribution and maintenance of the cold chain.

For those lovers of numbers this would be 10.5 Billion dollars lost due to communication and coordination failures that can be improved.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

The thing we are most proud of is that the company that created the tool capable of avoiding many of these headaches was founded in the United States. It is currently available globally through Twnel Messenger or Twnel Web Messenger in different languages ​​such as Spanish, English and Portuguese, which facilitates adoption in this case.

Do you have any ideas to improve the supply chain using mobile messaging and SuperBots?

Leave me a comment.

Are you interested in this idea and want to see Twnel success stories in industries with complex supply chains?

Visit our website now or book a Demo.

Together we can change the world.


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Supply Chain

Next Generation Warehouse Heating and Cooling Unveiled




Logistics BusinessNext Generation Warehouse Heating and Cooling Unveiled

Indoor climate solutions specialist Zehnder Group UK has launched what it calls a new generation of radiant ceiling panels to ensure businesses and other organisations can heat and cool their buildings comfortably and efficiently, whilst achieving substantial energy savings.

Zehnder ZFP delivers a number of benefits and advantages including an optimum indoor climate all year round, whilst the panels can achieve a proportion of radiation of over 80%, meaning that the supplied energy can be transferred effectively.

In addition, the high stability of the modules means that only a few suspension points are required – significantly reducing the required installation time. Weighing only around 14 kg/m², the Zehnder ZFP can also be used for low roof loads.

The individual elements of the Zehnder ZFP are designed as an innovative modular system that can be combined with each other according to the project requirements to create tailored project solutions. Each solution is produced to a customer’s exact requirements and supplied in line with the on-site workflow.

The individual product components can be combined to suit the needs of each project. For example, a design for a sports hall may include ball guards, raised headers, perforation and acoustic insulation, whilst a solution for a logistics hall could incorporate LED light fixtures. The food industry could choose a system that allows easy adjustment and maintenance of the desired constant temperature, plus a dust protector panel.

David Simoes, Marketing and Product Manager, RHC at Zehnder Group UK, said: “The technology within the Zehnder ZFP is orientated for the future. It can be operated with a broad range of system temperatures. That is why it can be combined with modern heat pumps with their lower flow temperatures without any problems.

“The vast experience and expertise of our team ensures we can continue to develop and design industry-leading heating and cooling solutions that are truly flexible and allow our clients to make substantial energy savings.”


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Supply Chain

Most Significant Brand Relaunch of DB Schenker in more than 10 Years




DB Schenker

DB Schenker has opted for an updated visualization of its own brand. The transition to a new visual language of the world’s leading logistics provider starts immediately. The use of the brand logo has been adapted to align with central corporate strengths, while core elements of the external presentation in marketing formats have been fundamentally revised. It is the most extensive communicative repositioning of DB Schenker since its complete docking into the parent company Deutsche Bahn.

Jochen Thewes, CEO of DB Schenker: “Internationality, teamwork, reliability and an innovative spirit are the values which set us apart. Our customers know our capabilities and what differentiates us from the competition. With our new visual language, we will now also be able to better present these strengths. We have therefore decided to create a brand which states out more strongly from the often uniform look and feel of the logistics industry. It was time to rethink the brand and leave familiar patterns behind.”

First of all, the marketing color scheme has been revised significantly: Blue, which is widely used in the industry, is now largely abandoned. Instead, teal is used as a fresh and modern standard shade. Introducing this new type of signature color also underlines DB Schenker’s efforts and objectives for more sustainability in logistics. At the same time, elements such as the red “pulse” enable identification and recognition with the DB umbrella brand.

Rüdiger Vetter, Vice President Global Marketing of DB Schenker: “Instead of changing the logo, we have amended its environment. In this way, we remain true to the brand’s core, but can still show its development. The stronger emotionalization in the external appearance underlines the unique identity of our company, which we have communicated too little so far.”

The new visual appeal is also reflected in the selection of photo motifs. The new pictures predominantly show real DB Schenker employees – authentic “heroes of logistics”. Authentic fields of work are shown in natural light. This new focus and the shift away from interchangeable images of modes of transport have already been tested in the current #OurAnswerIsYes campaign, which has met a very positive response.

Some of the new portrait pictures were taken by Munich-based photographer Thomas Straub, whose skills in visual storytelling ideally match the central idea of DB Schenker’s new brand image.

As part of the new corporate design, the use of the brand logo is also much more flexible, as the mandatory use of a white background is no longer required. This applies both to the own name “Schenker” and to the integrated “DB” logo of Deutsche Bahn AG. The optional color change of the font to white instead of black means that is can now also be used on dark backgrounds.

Since the proportion of mandatory elements in the campaign and advertising motifs has also been significantly reduced, there is more space and freedom overall to show the value positioning of the brand. This also enables the brand to be more agile in digital communication environments in the future.

The starting signal for the reorganization of the DB Schenker brand was given in 2018 when stronger global brand management for DB Schenker was initiated. The relaunch was driven forward in intensive coordination with the individual business units.

At the same time, Deutsche Bahn AG was working on a repositioning reported to the renowned Peter Schmidt Group. For DB Schenker, the design specifications for the Hamburg company were then worked out by the Mainz-based agency Conteam.

“The timing was really ideal. We worked very well with the DB marketing team. The new umbrella brand design and layout has enabled us to act more freely in our strategy, in order to position the group’s global brand more appropriately”, adds Rüdiger Vetter.

The announcement of the new brand was preceded by weeks of numerous in-house presentations, webinars, and training sessions to enable the simultaneous introduction of the new and uniform appearance in over 130 countries around the world. A further global roll-out is planned in several steps over the months ahead. A corporate claim is also in planning.


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