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It might not seem like enhanced shipment tracking can do much about the countless containers aboard ships waiting for days off the Port of Long Beach. But indeed, it can, says Thomas Deakins, senior vice president for Global Partnerships and Alliances at project44. 

His company’s Visibility Operation Center, which runs through a native integration with the SAP Logistic Business Network (LBN), covers 96% of the world’s containerized freight across 165 countries. The hundreds of clients using project44’s solution track about a billion packages a year across ocean, truckload, LTL (less-than truckload), air freight, and rail-parcel modes. 

Easing the congestion at major global ports and other distribution points will take more than just clever software, of course. But detailed shipment insights can provide the information needed to make adjustments that can improve customer service, keep sales numbers afloat, and preserve brand equity. Comprehensive visibility into shipment status also helps manage workforce schedules, negotiation better rates with carriers, and avoid demurrage charges and detention fines.  

“Being able to look at supply chain data and understand what’s going on with my shipments allows me not just to track shipments, but now I can take that data and make data-driven decisions all the way into the sales and operations planning process,” Deakins says. 

Supply chain bottlenecks can turn shipping issues into sales challenges and brand-loyalty problems, he says. Precise knowledge of shipping status can provide the intelligence needed to shift inventory from lower-priority to higher-priority customers or switch transport modes to circumvent bottlenecks, he says. This hasn’t been lost on project44’s customers, he says. 

“Discussions about supply chain visibility and how to take that data and make data-driven decisions are literally happening in boardrooms right now,” Deakins says. “In the last year, we have seen an adoption of visibility as a key investment across industries, and I think that’s all driven by the big issues in supply chain.” 

The value of enhanced supply chain visibility extends beyond current supply chain challenges, he adds. In the past, the focus of commercial-shipment tracking was on outbound shipments. Now, inbound shipments are also a focus – because, Deakins says, “We’re seeing, with a lot of customers, that inbound shipments have a big impact on outbound shipments.” 

What’s more, project44’s integration with SAP’s LBN through SAP industry cloud enables a B2B customer’s own customers to access to real-time shipping data. That, Deakins says, can not only help boost Net Promoter Scores and brand loyalty, but also identify and alert end customers to issues earlier than later. Also, Project44’s Visibility Operation Center being a one-stop network-of-networks means shipping-related data resides in one place, which improves its users’ ability to manage exceptions and solve problems – and in today’s supply chain environment, there has been no shortage of problems.  

“Supply chain visibility is the hottest topic out there right now,” Deakins says.