The first ever edition of Digital Supply Chain Europe took place on September 16th, in parallel of the phygital edition of ICT Spring. Many local and international experts took the stage – in Luxembourg or virtually – to share their expertise and discuss the latest trends: digitalization, sustainability, resilience and more. The event was moderated by Carla Rosen Vacher (Outreach Communication Officer, Luxembourg Centre for Logistics & Supply Chain Management, University of Luxembourg).

Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy of Luxembourg, gave the opening speech via video. He first explained that, as a result of globalization, supply chains have become increasingly complex. He added: “they are interconnected and depend on a wide array of different stakeholders. Therefore, information needs to be shared seamlessly: this means that connectivity and interoperability of data are key”. The Minister of the Economy underlined that Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of well-coordinated supply chains and logistics networks in today’s globalized world. The disruption caused by the crisis has tested their resilience in an unprecedented way. Franz Fayot ended his presentation by adding that Luxembourg is a leading intercontinental and multimodal hub in Europe for value-added logistics activities.


Building Resilient Supply Chains for the New Normal

Daniel Liebermann (Logistics Director, Ministry of the Economy of Luxembourg) first introduced the topic of the morning session: “Increasing supply chain resilience is a key priority. During this transitional recovery phase, companies should take time to reassess the resilience of the supply chain. They will also have to identify potential vulnerabilities and make the adjustments where needed. Implementing risk management tools and defining scenario based contingency plans will be essential and so will be the implementation of digital solutions, such as logistics control towers enabled by artificial intelligence”.

He then welcomed Arnaud Lambert (CEO, CHAMP Cargosystems) on stage. The expert delivered a keynote speech entitled "Key Attributes of Resilient Logistics in the New Normal". He started by reminding the audience that up to 65 percent of the value of a company’s products or services is derived from its suppliers. He also explained that supply chains were about interconnected logistics, with more than 11,000 players from shipping to consignment. After sharing the supply chain challenges examples of Dell and Lenovo, he focused on resilience, which he described as “the ability to be happy, successful, etc. again after something difficult or bad has happened”, and as “the quality of being able to return quickly to a previous good condition after problems”. According to him, “resilience requires network, digitization, sharing, visibility, agility, co-Innovation and Supply Chain Risk Management”. As a conclusion, the expert shared his recommendations: shift the focus from internal to external, map our own end-to-end network, digitize before getting digitized, connect and collaborate, co-innovate with your network and perform supply chain risk management”.

"Startups - The Key to Future-Proof Supply Chains" was the name of the presentation given by Livia Toth (Ventures Director, Plug N Play Hamburg). After describing the mission and activities of Plug N Play – investing, fostering corporate innovation and launching accelerator programs – she focused on the future of supply chain. She stated: “the pace of change is accelerating: customer expectations and demographics are changing, competitive landscapes are shifting and collaboration between major corporations and startups is commonplace”. Livia Toth also focused on Covid-19 and its impact on cargo traffic, the fact that it meant long delivery services, shortfalls in supply, etc. The expert concluded her presentation by explaining that startups were the key to future proof supply chains and added that automation and robotics could be used to evaluate, plan and order, AI and video analytics are used for temperature monitoring, and she also discussed last mile delivery – electric, automated and with no human touch.

Benny Mantin (Director of the Luxembourg Center for Logistics and Supply Chain Management, University of Luxembourg) and Francesco Ferrero (Lead Partnership Officer - Mobility, Logistics and Smart Cities, LIST) then delivered a joint presentation entitled "A Control Tower Approach to Increase Supply Chain Resilience". “Flows of goods and services are at the core of how economic prosperity is created. We are seeing an increased globalization, specialization and intertwined supply chains. During COVID-19 pandemic, these flows have been dramatically impacted. It has resulted in unprecedented global disruptions,” started the experts. A control tower has recently been developed in Luxembourg, as a joint initiative of LIST, LCL and INCERT supported by the Luxembourg National Research Fund via its COVID-19 Fast-Track instrument. They added: “ACTING NoW, a FNR research project, is deploying a Control Tower for the early identification of distress in logistics networks and essential supply chains. It features a first use case with a major Luxembourgish hospital group dealing with COVID-19”. After showcasing the user dashboard and the mobile app to the audience, Benny Mantin and Francesco Ferrero highlighted that supply chains are inherently complex, that resilience needs to be embraced, and that building a digital control tower can help.

"Supply Chain Resilience @ Kuehne+Nagel" was the name of the presentation given by Tobias Jerschke (Managing Director Belgium & Luxembourg, Kuehne+Nagel). He first discussed the top 5 most common causes of disruptions in logistics in 2019: natural disaster, extreme weather, pandemics, infrastructure issues, extreme volatility in commodity, labor or energy prize, significant change in export/import regulations and requirements, and also supplier/partner contingency. He then explained that Covid-19 accelerates the change on the frontier of Technology and Organization as part of ‘New Normal’ before focusing on how to make the supply chain resilient. “Supply chain leaders are expected to focus on resilience and digitalization: 93% plan to increase resilience across the supply chain, 54% expect changes to supply chain planning after Covid-19, 90% plan to increase digital supply chain talent in-house, but 11% face budget constraints in transforming supply chains,” added the expert. Tobias Jerschke ended his presentation by sharing the numerous drivers of successful supply chain management: compliance, performance, transparency, efficiency, sustainability, visibility, resilience and flexibility, with the key enablers being digital solutions, a global network, expertise and the need to harness the disruption.

The first session ended with a panel discussion entitled "How digitalization makes supply chains more resilient to future disruptions?”, moderated by Marianne Hoffmann (Deputy Director, Directorate Logistics, Ministry of the Economy of Luxembourg) and with the participation of Arnaud Lambert, Benny Mantin, Francesco Ferrero and Nabil Malouli (VP Global Ecommerce, DHL). Nabil Malouli started by discussing the e-commerce boom during Covid and added: “nobody could plan it in such a short time, therefore the question is how can we build a network flexible enough to scale up and down volumes”. He also advocated collaboration and public-private partnerships and explained that few countries can currently compete with Asia when it comes to logistics, robotics, production, facilities, etc. Benny Mantin first focused on the evolution of the supply chain, with a race to provide better and cheaper products to customers: “but in the process, we lost control and transparency. Digital can help us increase the degree of transparency, but we need to have suppliers on board and have them share data, which will bring benefits to the entire value chain”. He also highlighted the need to trust one’s partners and share information, and advocated the use of data-driven platforms to better match supply and demand. Arnaud Lambert explained that 50% of the flow of goods that travels by air is done through passenger aircraft and that if more people are onboard, there will be less goods, which will have a huge effect on the economy and on several industries. He added: “therefore, how can we deal with the elasticity of the demand and shift from one channel to another? Real-time information and sharing are more important than ever. It is the only way to improve the resilience of the supply chain”. He also explained that, according to him, connectivity, storage, AI and power are the key concepts that will allow the transformation of the supply chain industry. Finally Francesco Ferrero focused on collaboration: “people in the industry are scared and careful when asked to share information. They do not want to give visibility to their competitors and we need to find a way in which people are incentivized to share data. Authorities can be the key”. He shared the example of the Telco industry where players assess their resilience to the risk and share aggregated results with the authorities.


How the Fourth Industrial Revolution reshapes Global Supply Chains

Daniel Liebermann introduced the topic and stated: “Industry 4.0 is a game-changer in the organization of supply chains. Breakthrough technologies such as AI, IoT, robotic automation, etc. are transforming all steps of product manufacturing. We need to adapt to this emerging paradigm shift. To embrace it, we must reshape the supply chain architecture and move from a linear one to a more interconnected one, where information flows are spread across all stakeholders”.

He then introduced Alba Serrano-Garcia (Manager, DDMS Procurement Project Leader, Airbus) who shared a presentation entitled "New Business Models for a new digital era". She started her speech by stating: “times are changing and reinventing ourselves is key to deliver products and services meeting our customers’ needs and growing societal expectations. Digital will be an opportunity together with new ways of working to foster collaboration and innovation in making a strong connection with our supply chain”. She then discussed the opportunities of digital, and explained that investing in digital manufacturing was also key, with the main objective to enable the development of next-generation aircraft. She concluded: “Airbus is also fostering collaboration when it comes to exchange of information with the different suppliers working on the same project. It represents a new model for the digital era, with the advent of integration and collaboration models”.

"The rise of the digital supply chain in the industry 4.0 era” was the name of the keynote speech given by Marina Guerin-Jabbour (Head of Digital Innovation Hub, Luxinnovation). The expert first explained that “industrials are struggling with the accelerating pace of change. There are internal challenges (responding to variations in production demands, reducing long period of warehouse inventory, avoiding siloed systems and disconnected teams, building efficient processes, etc.) as well as external challenges (coping with demand shifts, low-volume orders and specific configurations of products, managing fluctuations in resources availability and unforeseen events, increasing competition and speed to market and more)”. When discussing resilient supply chains for I4.0, she advocated data-driven supply chains with capabilities of integrated planning, value chain visibility, and intelligent asserts with IoT and AI insights. Marine Guerin-Jaboour concluded: “next-generation industrial supply chain enhances performance across main areas: optimized inventory, reduced logistics and operating costs, higher customer fill rates, increased revenues and new market opportunities”.

The organizers then welcomed Olivier Mueller (Head of SCM Cluster Markets & Global Network Logistics, Vodafone Procurement Company), who told the audience about the “the d-factor” and explained how Digital is (re)shaping supply chain management at Vodafone. After focusing on real-time supply chain visibility, big data, the sharing economy and on dynamic infrastructure and logistics, the expert explained how the procurement team at Vodafone was able to optimize its logistics networks: “we moved to a hub and spoke model, we created a safe environment for all and were able to optimize transport through a central control tower”. Vodafone was therefore able to save 25% on warehouse costs, and 20% of transport costs. It also helped drive more reuse of materials. Olivier Mueller concluded his presentation by sharing his recommendations: focus on UX which is equally important for internal users, have a “fail fast, learn faster” motto and finally, it requires different skill sets – a new breed of data scientists, experts in AI and Machine Learning, and on the user side, a new level of problem solving and data affinity.

“Digital Supply Networks: How can companies fuel growth and improve resilience” was the name of the presentation given by Ronan Vander Elst (Partner, Digital & Technology Leader, Deloitte). The expert first shared the definition of “digital supply networks” – real-time visibility into each node of the supply chain network powered by an interconnected flow of information – opposed to traditional supply chains, he described as linear and sequential flow of product and information where each step is dependent on the preceding one. In such a context, the main characteristics of a digital supply network are “always-on” agility, a connected environment, resource optimization, end-to-end transparency and holistic decision-making. He then shared the results of a global Deloitte survey: 22% of supply chain leaders want to increase their sales efficiency through digital, as well as reduce operating costs, and that 15% hope it will develop new services to address unmet needs. When it comes to operational goals: 16% want to increase visibility and transparency, 14% to create a competitive advantage, 16% wish to increase the speed to market for new products, etc. Ronan Vander Elst then focused on the technologies the industry is currently working one, the top 3 being advanced analytics, cloud computing and modeling and simulation.

The morning session ended with Christian Wilhelm (CEO & Founder, SHIPSTA) and a focus on "How Logistics Procurement becomes Autonomous". He is the CEO of a logistics startup based in Luxembourg which aims at bringing more efficiency to the procurement world. “Back in 2015, the platform economy was already redefining several industries and I was wondering what would happen to logistics. There was no game changer yet in what is the biggest ecosystem in the world. You still needed to phone and an email to contact your suppliers,” started the expert. After going through the procurement history, starting with a gentlemen’s agreement to total autonomy, he explained that current platforms provide insights based on intelligence and data stored. “Digital transformation in the logistics is unavailable and long overdue, but you absolutely need visibility when it comes to data, connectivity as you deal with many partners and third parties online, will end up in a semi-autonomous process”, explained Christian Wilhelm. He concluded his presentation by focusing on the functionalities offered by SHIPSTA, a platform to boost performance: rate management, freight tendering, spot tendering and freight rate calculator.

Achieving sustainable Supply Chains

After the lunch break, the organizers welcomed once again Daniel Liebermann who introduced the final topic of the day: “One of the few positive effects of lockdowns was a drop of CO2 emissions, although the change in public consciousness was not new. There is now a new focus on sustainability and companies need to push forward the implementation of more sustainable supply chains, in every industry”.

Jonas Hernlund (Chief Commercial Officer, EINRIDE) then took the stage and told the audience about "How Europe will become the global frontrunner in intelligent movement: Zero emissions, zero waste and zero traffic deaths”. “It is time for Europe to regain its competitive advantage and take a leadership position in the field of supply chain. We will be able to solve the biggest problems of the world: emissions, waste and traffic deaths,” he added. He also explained that there is a slowdown in innovation in Europe compared to the US and Asia, and that companies do not invest more in Europe because of the legislation: “we need to make it simpler to do business here and make sure Europe has the most progressive set of investment schemes into future and green opportunities. There is an opportunity for the real green new deal for the EU, which could really make a difference in the world”. Currently, the road freight transport market uses 5 000 000 000 barrels of oil per year, and accounts for 7% of global CO2 emissions: “it is a massive problem that needs to be addressed. It is also one of the biggest markets that has not been disrupted yet”. Einride is building a new type of infrastructure that is clean and cost-disruptive: it’s the world’s first commercial autonomous, all electric operation flow of goods. He concluded: “Our first country of expansion is the US, we would like to do the same in Europe, but the regulation needs to welcome this type of innovation. It is a mix of software (freight mobility platform, the key to understanding the best opportunities for electrification and going for autonomous drive) and hardware products (trucks, “pods” with remote safety drivers)”.

"Multimodality at the heart of sustainable supply chains" was the name of the presentation given by Barbara Chevalier (Strategy & Business Development, CFL Multimodal). She started: “multimodal transport is key to achieve sustainable supply chains, and digitalization is key to meet clients’ expectations”. The expert then explained that CFL Multimodal was a one-stop-shop concept serving multimodality as it proposes innovative and value-added logistics solutions, connects main ports and European economic centers and supports the economy and industrial activities at national and regional levels. Today, 75% of goods are transported by road and surface transport accounts for 25% of carbon emissions in the EU. According to her, multimodality is an alternative to 100% road transport and she shared the Barcelona-Poznan (terminal-to-terminal) example: 62% of external costs savings, 78% of emission savings and a decrease of 25% of transit time. She concluded: “multimodality proactively addresses the current challenges and is agile, reliable, visible and interoperable.  Moreover, we are moving forward: 10% of our fleet will be equipped with sensors by the end of 2021, we have real-time and online access to intermodal traffic information, and we integrate AI in operational decision-making processes”.

Dr. Rabin Kumar Sahu (Supply Chain Expert and Researcher, Vekia) then shared his presentation entitled “Reinventing Replenishment Planning with a "Green" Touch". He comments: “Replenishment planning is how you manage inventory, and it is applicable in a whole range of industry. It has an environmental impact as you transport products from the manufacturer to retailers and you also need to store your inventory. “If you properly manage uncertainty in the supply chain, it can reduce your carbon emissions by up to 30%. How can we manage uncertainty? Predicting better (increase predicting probabilities, accurate forecasts and take batter decision) is the first step. One way is also to exploit new technologies such as AI, and combine it with optimization (defining additional objectives, optimize with probability and make faster decisions). Data-driven methods help and digital technologies will allow supply chain experts to increase visibility, accuracy, speed and optimization,” explained Dr. Rabin Kumar Sahu.

The conference ended with a round table discussion on the topic of “data-driven innovation, a key enabler for more sustainable supply chains”, moderated by Carla Rosen-Vacher, with the participation of Livia Toth, Olivier Beaujean (Chief Information Officer, Cargolux), Jonas Hernlund, and Dr. Rabin Kumar Sahu. The latter explained that data-driven organizations need to have a top-down approach, as leaders have now realized the importance of data and its impact on sustainability and cost-optimization. He also added that Humans cannot deal with the huge amount of data and that AI and Machine Learning allow companies to make better-informed decisions. “The next step will be to predict customer behavior and start shipment even before getting the order,” he added. According to Livia Toth, supply chain experts need to leverage data: “all players are looking into it, and want to enrich data, find patterns, etc., to optimize warehouse operations, transport routes, and more”. On the topic of AI, she explained that startups are there and that acceptance from the industry is needed and that it will allow additional use cases, from manufacturing optimization and robotics to fulfillment to marketplaces and price comparison. Jonas Hernlund focused on the deep implication of turning into a data-driven company: “you need to be willing to commit to data and use it in all your business processes. It requires a deep culture mind shift”. He also explained that without algorithms, there was no way to get the impact companies need to push the industry forward: “for instance, they need to optimize in real-time, and no other machine can do it”. Olivier Beaujean agreed with the CCO of Einride: “becoming data-driven is difficult: you need to be able to deliver insights to the right person at the right time, in the right format and through the right channel. It seems easy to track information, but it is far from being simple: it is a deep cultural challenge”. The expert then discussed several digital initiatives led at Cargolux, which aim at monitoring fuel and reducing CO2 emissions, optimize routes, focus on predictive maintenance, etc. He concluded: “our goal is to be more sustainable. We have a digital innovation team which helps us find the use cases to go further, but also to engage with our customers with transparency”.


Alexandre Keilmann

Photos: Dominique Gaul

Publié le 08 octobre 2020