The Growing Need for Supply Chain Visibility in Europe

As more supply chains achieve a new level of efficiency and agility with real-time visibility, North America and Europe are blazing the trail for global supply chains. The transportation industry has unique complexities in Europe, and recent market volatility is only adding to these challenges.

To learn more about how supply chains in Europe are handing the recent disruption, why many are turning visibility, and how project44 is enabling companies to remain resilient, Lorenzo Stranges — Marketing Director, EMEA at p44 — sat down with industry expert Renaud Houri —SVP, EMEA at p44. Renaud shared his insights from the field as well as his experience in the transportation space.

Lorenzo: Six months ago, project44 opened an office in Paris during extensive European expansion. A lot has changed in the market since then. What has happened in the last six months and how has project44 continued to innovate?

Renaud: It has been six very, very exciting months. We are expanding in the European market and we have a reliable solution that is really meeting our customers’ objectives. We’re already outgrowing our Paris office as we have been hiring over the last few months.

We welcomed two new members to the team in the last couple of weeks alone. Boris Freudenfeld, our newest senior solutions engineer based in Germany, came to project44 most recently from Descartes. Another new team member on the sales side is Luca Apriletti, who will be working out of Milan, Italy. Luca has excellent expertise in the industry and had worked for another visibility provider in Europe. He decided to join project44 because we have the most reliable solution that is fully automated and can make a big difference in the market by helping our customers making strategic, informed decisions.

Another element of project44’s growth in Europe is our strategic partnership with SAP. As the landscape in Europe changes, I think this this partnership is really important. By partnering with SAP to help our customers, we are able to join workforces to have a very positive impact for supply chains.

Lorenzo: How has Covid-19 impacted the supply chain industry in Europe? And how are companies using supply chain visibility to overcome these challenges?

Renaud: Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the supply chain in Europe. Companies that are still running are managing a lot of exceptions. If you were working in an industry where trucks were arriving on time more than 90% of the time, you may now be dealing with a very high level of exceptions, causing trucks to be late much more often. The pandemic is changing the way you need to work. You need to tell your customer what to expect, you need to anticipate different problems, and at the end of the day, it’s really disrupting your supply chain. And we have seen the market realize that visibility is not a nice to have, but a must have because many have struggled to continue business as normal as possible.

This impact has been extremely different depending on the customer. We had some customers that saw a drastic decrease in activity. For example, the shippers and logistics service providers working in the car manufacturing industry. And on the other end, we are also seeing customers — such as CPG — that are seeing an increase in demand due to the pandemic. For example, companies like PepsiCo, Unilever, and Amazon saw an increase in volume.

The impact is very, very different from one industry to another, but it revealed for all of them that visibility is necessary. When you increase volume with fewer people, you need to be more and more automated. project44 helps provide this efficiency. Having this technology during Covid has made a big difference for them.

Without visibility, you don’t know exactly where the truck is or when it will be arriving. And at the end of the day, you are losing a lot of time locating your trucks without the ability to prevent any of the delays.

Lorenzo: This period of disruption and uncertainty is still evolving. What is project44 doing to meet the new and changing needs of customers?

Renaud: Supply chains need automation, and that is what we are delivering. For example, we are starting a project with one of the largest retailers in Europe. They understood during Covid that they had to implement project44 very fast. p44 has a mature process and solution, which includes an automated onboarding tool that’s easy to deploy.

Additionally, real-time visibility has made it easier for supply chains to keep their customers updated. They can follow and track the shipment without wasting time manually chasing the truck’s position. They can see ahead of a delay that a truck will never be on time, allowing them to make a decision instead of search for information. They can decide on a solution because they can predict and anticipate these disruptions.

Lorenzo: Looking forward, how do you think this pandemic will impact the way supply chains operate in Europe?

Renaud: I think if you look at the global picture, we could say that the supply chain hasn’t traditionally been the favorite division in larger companies. Some have realized they were a bit late and started to invest when they see what Amazon is doing. But I think this crisis will push companies to invest more in their supply chains because they understand now that without automation, it’s challenging to run their businesses normally in the face of disruption. At the end of the day, it has cost them.

I think companies are realizing the key is to have a resilient supply chain. How could I operate my supply chain with half of employees working from home and maybe a third fewer people in the warehouse? If you don’t have an automated process and automated solution, you are losing a lot of business opportunity and you are disrupting your organization.

Lorenzo: project44 recently announced expansion to deliver the industry’s first unified global multimodal visibility platform. How will this impact European customers?

Renaud: It will absolutely have an impact on European customers. Global supply chains do not want to use one vendor for Europe and a separate vendor for the US. Or one vendor for truckload, one for ocean, and another for air freight. The same way they look for an ERP or TMS, they’re looking for a global partner.

With project44’s latest announcements, we can support customers across multimodal, so there are a lot of ways this could benefit our customers. One system makes visibility simple at the end of the day.

I think it will lead to continued expansion in Europe. project44 is the only platform in the world who has the ability to accompany the customer on a global basis in Europe, in North America, and across all modes. And we can implement the solution at a very large scale.

I believe that our industry will see fantastic growth in the next 6 to 12 to 24 months. All major global organizations are planning for visibility in the near future, so it’s a really exciting time for us and we’re looking forward to the challenge.