If before it was common to joke that our entire country is an expert in football and politics, now we can safely add one more point: cargo transportation. Over the past year and a half, news and issues in this area have affected literally everyone. The turn to the east, difficulties with imports and exports, new routes for the delivery of goods – these and other issues that were recently discussed among specialists are now on everyone’s lips.
One of the most important aspects that characterize the modern transport and logistics industry is the use of new digital solutions. Electronic queues at border crossings, electronic document management, electronic navigation seals (now there is such a thing!) on cargo in transit… All this helps companies deliver goods more efficiently, better control and track supply chains, including international ones. And as a result, you’ll be able to do your job better and earn more.
How does the digitalization of freight transport work today and how will this area develop? These and other topics were discussed in the Eastern Economic Forum session “Digital solutions for national and international logistics.”
NO SEAMS, NO FIBER
– Why have the government and companies invested in digital solutions in recent years? This was done to improve efficiency, security, transparency and data-driven management. And the last year and a half has shown us that this digital base has become a security network for Russian transport. This made it possible to restructure in the shortest possible time and not only continue work, but continue development,” said the moderator of the session, head of the Digital Transport and Logistics Association, Polina Davydova.
According to Polina Davydova, in these difficult times, “digital” has really helped the industry and therefore all of us.
– We prove our thesis that digital solutions have helped reorient transportation flows and supply chains. And the majority of participants in the survey we conducted on our Telegram channel agree with this,” Polina Davydova added.
Representatives of the federal government also agree with this.
– Simplicity, multimodality: beautiful and important words. But behind each of them there are a series of projects that need to be linked together,” said Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation, Dmitri Bakanov.
Let’s briefly explain what we are talking about. Ideally, multimodal transportation involves the transportation of goods under a single contract, although it is carried out by several (at least two) modes of transportation. As it used to be: I took the merchandise by boat, loaded it into a car or a train and drowned in an ocean of documents and authorizations. Digitalization is successfully combating this relic of bureaucracy.
Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Dmitry Bakanov
But let’s return to the issue raised by the Vice Minister. Dmitri Bakanov talked about the three most important projects that have recently been carried out in the logistics sector or are currently being prepared.
“The first is electronic document management, from which we cannot escape,” says Bakanov. – First of all, Russian Railways created its own ETRAN system. Then we launched the State Information System for Electronic Transport Documents (GIS EPD). Hundreds of thousands of documents are now processed in this system and millions should be transferred before the end of the year.
The next step is the integration of the two systems.
“From October 1 we will start an experiment to connect the GIS EPD with ETRAN,” said Dmitry Bakanov.
This will make it possible to organize multimodal transport using two modes of transport: rail and road, digitally and without paper. This will make life much easier for transporters, suppliers and recipients of goods.
– And thirdly, a change has been made to the federal law, where starting next year it will be possible to issue six maritime and river documents in electronic format, also through the GIS EPD. This is a big step forward,” said Dmitri Bakanov. – And precisely to make this smooth, at the end of this year, with the company FESCO, based in the Far East commercial seaport, we will expand the experiment between GIS EPD and ETRAN and the interface with the maritime system. port documents. This is the core story, and legally meaningful transportation document flow is what will ultimately allow us to build the core of greater multimodal logistics.
Importantly, the session brought together not only industry leaders, but also digital leaders. Evgeniy Charkin, Deputy General Director of Russian Railways OJSC, spoke about how digital solutions help in rail transport.
– Digital has helped us a lot, starting with the pandemic. “When we, with the help of paperless document flow and electronic interaction with customers, not only survived, but also strengthened our position in terms of interaction with customers,” Charkin noted. – Now the situation is similar and here I would like to mention some emblematic projects.
Evgeniy Charkin, Deputy General Director of JSC Russian Railways
It has already been said about ETRAN – this is the basis for integration with EPD GIS. Currently, 16,000 clients are already connected to our system.
Additionally, we are actively developing smart contracts, something related to blockchain technology. This makes the interaction with our partners in the locomotive sector, the transport industry and freight transport absolutely transparent and creates a system of digital trust.
The next service is the sender’s personal account. 25,000 clients are already connected to it. Throughout eight months of this year, 1.5 million electronic documents were issued through this service, which already exceeds last year’s volume.
A very convenient service from the point of view of ordering transportation is an e-commerce platform for the transportation of goods. More than 9 thousand clients already work there and more than 20 thousand transport shipments pass through it every month. We are pleased that customers from other countries are also actively connecting to the e-commerce platform. Through it, representatives from 15 countries already interact with us.
Returning to electronic document management, I would like to remind you of the INTERTRAN service, which we implemented together with colleagues from FESCO. Through the management of digital documents, it allows the period of procedures at the port and the progress of the stages of cargo movement to be reduced by four days.
DIGITALIZATION IS WHEN EVERYONE IS TOGETHER
But let’s get closer to the sea: we are still in the Primorsky Territory.
“FESCO Group is a recognized digital leader in the field of maritime and multimodal transport,” said Polina Davydova. – In my opinion, this is a clear example of how many years of investment in digital solutions have paid off, allowing a company to weather the storm of sanctions and continue to develop.
“Many years” is the key point. When the word “digitalization” had not yet become fashionable (and even more common), the transport group FESCO already attached great importance to this area.
“Our digital transformation started more than five years ago,” says Dmitry Surovets, vice president of information technology at transport group FESCO. – A great leap has been made, both in the field of digitalization and in that of cybersecurity. But in general I can notice that digitalization is when everything comes together. There is no such thing as taking something and making it yourself, isolated from the entire market. We started, of course, within the company, creating an internal digital ecosystem that involved partners, clients and authorities. At the same time, we realized that we not only need to develop a long-term strategy, but we must constantly develop and review it.
But it is important to know exactly where to move. FESCO has therefore clearly set its “digital” directions for the near future, including import independence, critical information infrastructure and cybersecurity.
Vice President of FESCO Transport Group for Information Technology Dmitry Surovets
“The most important thing for us is digital continuity,” commented Dmitry Surovets. – How useful is the data we collect? How can artificial intelligence be used? What do we want to achieve: expand the planning horizon or eliminate the human factor? I can say with certainty that we do not strive for our port to be completely automated and controlled by a single person. That’s not what we’re talking about. We want to make sure that those employees who work for us and who will come to us in the future can find their place. Now it is fashionable to say: neural networks and big data will “kill” many professions. In fact, artificial intelligence can beat a human, for example, in the game Go. But in the industry, in the real world, we still have to go through a certain period of time where artificial intelligence will really help us a lot. Happiness is that people have the opportunity to learn new professions and become part of a new process, instead of simply being excluded from it.
SMART AND SECURE
“All the companies that come to us for joint projects tell us: thank you, you are great, you are doing well…”, says Dmitri Surovets. – Yes, we’re great, but that’s today. Will we be like this tomorrow? I’m sure we will.
As an example of the connection between “today” and “tomorrow,” the FESCO vice president cited “Smart and Safe Port,” a project program the company launched about a year and a half ago. It all started with video surveillance. Then the expansion began: all equipment was equipped with sensors, performance began to increase, etc. – all this grew and gradually became a large set of projects.
– And our today’s program can help not only us. We are open, we are ready to share. I repeat: we must all be together. Because today this is our competitive advantage and tomorrow it will be the basis of any participant in the transportation and logistics chain. Like gas, water. You don’t say: look, I have electricity, I don’t use candles! – explains Surovets “with his fingers”. – We have entered a very interesting story. And the projects that we successfully implement, for example with JSC Russian Railways, allow us to prove that in terms of digital solutions we are ahead of many foreign transport and logistics companies.
According to the vice president of FESCO, import substitution, which everyone is focusing on today, does not have a “recovery factor.”
“Through joint efforts we can create a space in which companies, the State, authorities and partners (including foreigners) can interact,” says Surovets.
– In the maritime industry, you can see if there is foreign critical software that is prevalent, for example, in the market for clearing goods and cargo at a seaport. And try to replace them with domestic analogues. This is where FESCO’s experience will be very useful to us,” added Deputy Head of the Ministry of Transport Dmitri Bakanov.
“We are open,” confirmed Dmitri Surovets. – This does not mean that we have answers to all questions. But we “walk the earth”, we know exactly what works with foreign software and what needs to be improved from domestic software. I believe that with joint efforts we can achieve this within a realistic time frame.
WINDOW TO THE FUTURE
“Joint effort” is the key. The industry is ready to act together to achieve maximum digitalization and maximum logistical convenience. Industry leaders have great modern solutions and now it is important to integrate them all into one whole. Create a “one-stop shop” so that all processes can be carried out through a single service.
– Until recently, the active digitalization of companies in the transport sector was carried out from below. As a result, we have disparate information systems and digital services for transportation participants. This multiplies the costs of integration,” said Albert Likholet, general director of UK Global Ports LLC (a company that operates terminals in the main Russian ports). – Therefore, we consider it promising to develop a platform in which all participants (senders, recipients, government agencies, etc.) would use reliable data that would be provided to this platform by a validated information source. In our opinion, Russia needs to create a national transport and logistics platform, on the basis of which a multimodal transport system can be developed.
– Now, on the basis of the Digital Transportation and Logistics Association, we are communicating with major market players to create a digital multimodal cargo transportation platform. And companies hope that this will be a “one-stop shop” for all market participants and for communication with all interested authorities. So you can exchange data between companies and government. We conducted a survey to determine which government services are necessary for the effective development of international multimodal cargo transportation and which should become an integral part of such a platform. Among the top three are: electronic document management for all types of transport, uniform standards of information interaction and cargo movement tracking systems,” Polina Davydova noted. – This is a global goal: link all platforms, all solutions, to create common standards. And this is also a great goal for the future: to agree with all authorities to collect all data on the cargo business in one place.
– For example, yesterday at the WEF sessions we showed our “Single Window”. And we realized that what we needed was for our decisions to be approved at the legislative level,” recalled Dmitri Surovets.
“The main difficulty in organizing legal regulation in this area is harmonizing laws and regulations,” responded Senator Artem Sheikin. – For this platform to work correctly, it is important to understand that it all comes down to simple rules. This is the formation of uniform standards, rules and requirements. And when all this is together, our work will go smoothly.
“We hope that in two years it will be possible to say that the “one-stop shop” has been achieved and that cargo logistics will be perfect,” said Polina Davydova, perhaps everyone’s wish.