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Maciej MackowiakDirector of Carrier Marketing, EMEA, FourKites

The stresses on the global supply chain are making life increasingly tricky and end-to-end visibility is becoming a requirement to do business. That means small operators must digitize or risk missing out on lucrative contracts.

The Australian F1 Grand Prix nearly didn’t happen for three teams on April 10th as vital equipment being moved by sea got stuck in Singapore. F1 partner DHL came to the rescue, shifting the freight from a delayed cargo ship and flying it to Melbourne in the nick of time.

This kind of agile response is becoming increasingly necessary, even for organizations with as high a profile as F1. The result is that many end customers are making visibility a requirement to do business.

A recent report in the Harvard Business Review asked whether the risks in the global supply chain are starting to outweigh the rewards. Visibility is a key factor. It said that firms that had people on the ground in China when shutdowns started in early 2020 were able to see the congestion building on the major trade lanes and respond. Smaller firms using third-party logistics or freight forwarders were slower to see the problems coming and suffered disproportionately. That lack of foresight increased their risks enormously.

Yet critical information is readily available. Small firms just need to make sure they give their clients access to it.

In Poland, most road carriers are small firms with one, two or sometimes three trucks. Despite a thriving industry overall, it can be difficult for these small operators to make ends meet. Signing up with a network that offers clients visibility opens a whole new market for them, one that will likely be more profitable.

For carriers, joining the FourKites network is free. It requires only an agreement to share data. Most carriers, even small ones, already have telematics built into their cabs, so generally no investment in technology is needed. Even without telematics, there is the option to use an app to provide clients with data.

A recent report by a Polish industry group (Transport i Logistyka Polska) asked transport users how important digitization is to them. In the next five years, as many as 42% expect to move to digital systems. That kind of shift in underlying technology creates an imperative for small carriers to act now.

Despite all the problems reported in supply chains, there is a boom in European transport as a whole, with profitability on the rise. Some small carriers are missing out because they don’t meet visibility requirements and so cannot even pitch for business from bigger suppliers. The pressure to share data will only grow as more and more potential clients make it a requirement to do business.

Some small and medium-sized carriers are already seeing the benefits of meeting large supplier visibility requirements.

“We didn’t want to share our data,” says Roy van der Heijden, Business Analyst at Int. Transportbedrijf Van der Heijden, one of a co-operative of small Dutch carriers called Plan2Transport which transports food and beverage supplies to supermarkets. “But our customer insisted on it, and providing a superior service is a key value for Plan2Transport.”

Through FourKites, Plan2Transport is now able to send data directly and securely to its customers about each shipment in transit. As a result, customers can streamline their own workflows, and keep supermarket shelves full even during difficult times.

Belgian carrier Raybul moves 1,000 loads a week throughout Western Europe with its network of truckers and small trucking companies. It has also tapped into FourKites’ visibility as a way of meeting the requirements of profitable customers.

“Our mission is to be as agile as possible, and always offer services that improve our clients’ and partner’s businesses,” says Arthur Umugisha, Business Application Manager at Raybul. “We use technology to realise that mission… this is how we stand out from bigger competitors.”

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