Network, not Supply Chain

Are transport sector network orthodoxies in the process of being supplanted by a tech-driven collaborative model? Paul Hamblin spoke to Transporeon CEO, Stephan Sieber.

Germany’s Transporeon has been a standard-bearer in the great migration to digital over the past decade or so, building impressive numbers with its connectivity and market intelligence cloud-based software. Indeed, carriers signed up to the platform in autumn 2022 are just shy of 150k, shippers number 1.4K, all racking up some 220K transactions per day. We’re talking the Transport sector, remember, which has been notoriously slow to take to digital potential and still likes to play its cards close to its chest, with carriers eyeing their competitors warily as they riffle through their ancient spreadsheets. Indeed, in a significant 2021 German-government sponsored survey reviewing digital adoption across a range of sectors, the transport sector ranked last.

For Stephan Sieber, who was appointed CEO by the founders in 2019, this traditional reluctance to share information offers the next great leap forward in solving challenges for the industry. “We’re a tech company, we believe in digital and we believe that it’s now ready for Prime Time,” he announces confidently. For Transporeon has grown to be something much more than a connectivity software provider in different silos – it’s now about joining the dots between them to create a whole new world of collaborative success. “The digital effort has traditionally focused on what happens within organisations, rather then between them,” he observes. “We are looking to explore those gaps and fill them to the mutual benefit of all parties.” For that, read shippers, forwarders, carriers and load recipients.

Collaboration Network

For Sieber, the answer is not more software – it’s about adopting the platform mentality. “We have a transport management platform that empowers and optimises a world in motion, including match-making, process execution and transaction costs,” he asserts. “We started as a successful connectivity enabler, but that’s no longer enough. Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do. We are now at a point where we are doing much more than recording, we can create a system where the platform can predict and dictate the right scenarios to benefit its participants.”

Aware that any network grows in value the more participants it can attract, Transporeon has grown organically and via confident acquisition to upgrade and expand its offering to an entire suite of transport management modules. All are agnostic in terms of connecting to existing software packages that members may already have. The list includes Freight Procurement and Rate Management, Freight Matching (including the vital facility to sub-contract), Dock Scheduling and Yard Management, as well as Settlement modules. All are backed up by Real Time Tracking and Visibility, adding real heft to Sieber’s claim that sustainability, a core requirement of his members, is “at the heart of everything we do.”

He likens the selection to your domestic fridge. “You have a number of ingredients in there, and you can make any number of tasty dishes according to your own preference and tastes.”

Cut empty miles

For Dan Burgess, Head of Primary Logistics at UK supermarket giant Tesco, Transporeon’s platform is already answering questions. “The capability removes ambiguity for drivers and transport teams, it improves our resource allocation and gives us more accurate KPIs. There is real insight into how we can provide more sustainable solutions. Cutting out empty miles is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s an absolute must-have.”

There are some tempting alternatives to the traditional orthodoxies in all this. Are we moving from a supply ‘chain’ model to a supply ‘network’ model? Will we be talking about demand-chain management, rather than supply chain management? We watch closely.

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