Supply chain smorgasbord

by Emily Atkins
Panelist Greg Braun of C3 Solutions makes a point.
Panelist Greg Braun of C3 Solutions makes a point.

In its Eastern debut at the Palais des Congrés in Montréal this February, Cargo Logistics Canada overcame horrific weather, proving it takes more than a bad blizzard to stop logisticians from getting the job done.

More than 2,000 people attended either the trade show or conference sessions or both, and 125 companies and organizations populated the busy show floor. The event was also punctuated with great networking opportunities, including an opening party and a couple “happy hour” type happenings on the show floor.

Judging by the responses of conference participants and exhibitors, the show was a success.

Smart things
A highlight was the panel discussion on the Internet of Things and how it is changing supply chain operations.

The panelists were Jui Ramaprasad, assistant professor, information systems at McGill University in Montréal, Greg Braun, co-founder and senior vice president, sales and marketing with C3 Solutions, also in Montreal, and Aaron Lalvani, senior director, business development, IoT at Blackberry, in Kitchener, Ontario. MM&D’s Emily Atkins moderated.

Ramaprasad shared insights that were at least partially based on her research into online dating behaviour and how pervasive the Internet of Things is becoming in our day-to-day lives. She outlined the roles of devices—cell phones, washing machines, even lightbulbs—and the sensors embedded in them that connect them to the Internet and ultimately allow them to communicate with each other.

She cited a number of facts to illustrate her point: There are more than five billion connected devices at the moment; estimates of the number that will exist in 2020 range from 26 billion to 200 billion. In 2020 10.3 million connected items of clothing will be shipped, and 90 percent of cars will be connected to the Internet.

MM&D editor Emily Atkins thinking up a question for the panel.
MM&D editor Emily Atkins thinking up a question for the panel.

What all this means is the explosion of information that we refer to as “Big Data”. Every time we use a connected device multiple data points are created, and stored.

The trick will be figuring out how to leverage them. With the right analytics, there is vast potential for major social and economic change in the form of “smart” institutions like houses, buildings, hospitals, and cities.

That’s where Blackberry’s Aaron Lalvani came in, describing how hardware and applications together will transform logistics operations by creating seamless asset tracking. The ability to know—securely and in real time—where transportation assets are and how they are being utilized promises to let carriers and shippers alike reap significant savings in their supply chain operations.

For Greg Braun of C3 Solutions, the future for IoT applications is also bright. Several recurrent issues that face transportation providers at present can be resolved through the use of Internet-enabled devices and real-time tracking. For example, delivery non-compliance and shipment tracking together have the potential to save both time and avoid late delivery penalties.

Other sessions on the conference program included: IMO mandated verification of container weights; North America’s waterways; women in supply chain; Arctic corridors and gateways; Free Trade Zones and the TPP; pharmaceutical supply chain; and the importance of rail for port productivity.

The next edition of Cargo Logistics Canada is scheduled for February 8 and 9, 2017 in Vancouver, BC.