Digitalisation is a prime concern for numerous logistics service providers present in Luxembourg. Global logistics company Kuehne + Nagel and rail freight and logistics service provider CFL multimodal are among of them.

Data at the core

With almost 130 years of experience in the logistics business, Kuehne + Nagel started to invest early in its IT-driven supply chain manage- ment capabilities. Additional investments have allowed the company to become a so-called lead logistics provider (4PL), capable of managing not only its clients’ complete supply chain but also aspects such as resources, techology and infrastructure. “Our logistics management services integrate highly developed automation and other digital systems,” says Tobias Jerschke, managing director for Kuehne + Nagel in Belgium and Luxembourg. “We work with our own global network or with other logistics providers and can assure each party that  their data is managed confidentially.”

We use data to develop completely new services, such as predictive analytics using virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Kuehne + Nagel’s Luxembourg hub manages the operations  of both national customers and corporations shipping goods across the world. “The role of a global logistics company is to coordinate customers, partners and authorities in a compliant and qualitative manner. A wide range of data – financial information, logistics data, weather forecasts and congestion data, for example – flows through our systems. It is at the very core of our business,” explains Mr Jerschke. “We use it to develop completely new services, such as predictive analytics using virtual reality and artificial intelligence to anticipate issues that will occur in the near future.” These new developments are often carried out in partnership with innovative start-ups.

Bridging the gap

CFL multimodal is also undergoing digital transformation. A subsidiary of Luxembourg’s national railway company, it offers a broad service portfolio that includes combined and conventional rail freight as well as customs clearance, forwarding and logistics services. Historically orientated towards relying on traditional systems to maintain a maximum level of security, the railway sector is lagging behind when it comes to digitalisation. A delay that CFL multimodal is determined to catch up. Over the past few years, the company has launched innovation activities aimed at preparing for future challenges, identifying and testing new opportunities and, in particular, avoiding being confronted with a potential disruption of the sector.

Several digitalisation initiatives are under way. “One of the best examples is the deployment of our tracking solutions for intermodal trains,” says Marc Valette, director for innovation and continuous improvement. By introducing solutions based on the Internet of Things, the company can now follow the movements of its international trains in real time, compare their actual movements to predicted timetables and detect any abnormal behaviour. Automatic alerts allow operators to focus on managing such issues, which considerably improves the services provided to customers.

Value creation

Other projects are being developed in fields spanning from human resources to automatic controls powered by artificial intelligence. The focus is on collecting data related to processes and equipment, but also to storage and handling operations. The challenge is then to find ways of exploiting and benefiting from this data.

Digitalisation is not an end in itself, it can bring real value.

“Digitalisation is not an end in itself, it can bring real value and should not only be seen as way to reduce costs,” Mr Valette underlines. A point of view that Mr Jerschke shares: “Data science and digital  innovation are transforming supply chain operations from a cost factor into a competitive advantage.”

Photo: © Kuehne + Nagel