Digitalization in Logistics - Shiny chrome or solid base?

Press Review

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This article was published in the December issue of International Cement Review in 2019.

A paintjob is only as good as its foundation. The same applies to any digitalisation project. Spraying bright and shiny technology over a company’s existing IT infrastructure and business processes will lead to poor quality and costly rework. Using the analogy of the different stages of a vehicle’s paintjob, this article presents the different layers of digitalisation in logistics and discusses how they can be applied in the cement industry.

by Dirk Schlemper and Thomas Bergmans, INFORM GmbH, Germany

When it comes to painting a car, any automotive expert will tell you the same thing: it’s all in the preparation. Whether you’re repairing a chip or spraying the whole car, prepping can make or break a paintjob. Selecting and applying the right primer ensures better adhesion of paint to the surface, increases durability and provides additional protection for the body of the car. When it comes to digital transformation, all too often companies are using the latest technology to try to give their traditional products and services a facelift. However, not understanding the different layers of digital transformation can lead to ‘delaminated’ processes that do not adhere properly or may give the entire project a dull and unwanted finish.

Digitalisation in its simplest form refers to taking analog information and encoding it into zeroes and ones so that computers can store and process such information, eg, scanning a paper proof of delivery (POD). Digitalisation in a wider form is making processes digital, eg, using mobile apps to create an electronic proof of delivery (E-POD). Digital transformation, in contrast, is quite distinct from digitalisation. It is, for example, about using E-POD data in real-time and feeding it into an intelligent transport planning tool that automatically updates the entire truck delivery schedule, or providing it to customers in real-time for their downstream optimisation processes.

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