In my previous blog, I wrote about the lack of transparency, visibility, and traceability in the automotive finished vehicle industry. I also shared instances of how finished vehicles are being shipped from the factory to dealerships or end customers, including some real-life examples of issues that can occur.

In this second blog issue, I would like to focus on supply chain & logistics visibility in general. In many industries, they talk about supply chain and logistics visibility as “just a dot on the map”. Others believe it is the most important functionality a company should have because of ongoing global insecurity (pandemic, global conflicts, natural disasters, etc.) causing structural supply-chain & logistics issues.

This topic is not just relevant to the automotive finished vehicle industry but to many other industries. Due to delivery delays or lack of visibility in general, even people not working in supply chain and logistics are nowadays aware of what supply chain and logistics issues are.

In the late ‘90s when I worked for a large OEM in the high-tech electronics industry, we had issues tracking and tracing our shipments in transit in all regions. This became even worse when shipments – sometimes complete truckloads – were stolen in transit. We solved these issues by creating some traditional IT interfaces with trading partners like Logistics Service Providers (LSPs) and asset-owned carriers (e.g. motor carriers). On some occasions, we even had direct access to their trucks’ GPS carrying our shipments, so we could monitor them 24/7 (geofencing). It may well have been the beginning of operational control towers and real-time geofencing in the industry.

Years later, when domestic supply chains became more global (especially due to global offshoring), logistics management became more complicated for OEMs to manage their shipments in transit and orchestrate their supply chain in general. This was applicable to (inbound) manufacturing line feeding as well as (outbound) final delivery to B2B and/or B2C customers.

LSPs and some integrators soon started offering their control tower experience to OEMs. More recently TMS and ‘Visibility Platforms’ came into the market, offering near-to-real-time visibility to OEMs and LSPs. In all these cases they offer a ‘dot on the map’ to show where shipments are, using several IT interfaces, incl. RPA* web scraping, maritime & airplane trackers, etc.

For many OEMs, it gives them more visibility than they ever had before, but when it comes to executing exception management (e.g., rerouting, expediting, or using other modes of transport than initially planned) most OEMs will still go to the manual execution ‘solution’, using traditional means of communication (email, telephone or even fax), MS-Excel spreadsheets, etc.

Even if OEMs and LSPs create visibility for themselves, other trading parties in their supply chain and the destination manufacturing or B2B and/or B2C customer delivery locations are still ‘in the dark’. This is the key issue of supply chain and logistics transparency and visibility today. OEMs and LSPs have been developing or buying expensive IT functionality in support of supply chain and logistics visibility for themselves individually. At the same time, they do not realize that when optimizing their entire end-to-end supply chain, they should have offered supply chain and logistics visibility to ALL stakeholders in their supply chain. A traditional control tower and/or visibility platform will not solve that issue. Hence the examples I shared in my previous blog.

So, then what is the solution? In the next blog messages, I will reflect on the examples and information I shared in this and previous blogs and share potential solutions to resolve these topics.

We will post our blogs on and on our Vinturas LinkedIn page and look forward to sharing them with you. Make sure to keep an eye on our website and follow us on LinkedIn for updates.

* Robotic Process Automation