How digitalization is shaping transportation in the paper and packing industry

A look at how leading companies are tackling transportation challenges in the paper and packaging sector

To the lay person it might have looked like the paper and forest product industry is on its last legs. Newspapers are going digital or out of business, more and more people keep their library on a Kindle and we’re seeing fewer and fewer flyers making their way through our post boxes. And yes, the rapid digitalization of the ‘print’ media has certainly affected the sector, but that’s only part of the story.

According to McKinsey and Company, the paper and forest-products industry is getting bigger and bigger. The demand for packaging, fuelled by the digitalization of shopping, is growing across the globe, as is the need for pulp-based hygiene products. This change has greatly impacted the way companies in this industry operate and has driven many to restructure their facilities and processes.

And while these changes have led to new challenges, they have also uncovered plenty of opportunities, especially in transportation. 

Digitalisation to the rescue

There’s a big difference between creating a pre-defined number of newspapers every day, and responding to fluctuating demand for online deliveries. That’s simplifying the change, but you get the idea: the industry is dealing with a very new type of end-consumer. The short-term turbulence caused by this change has meant many production plants needed to be adapted, while different grades of product are created in new locations. 

The transport challenge here is linked to visibility. Knowing where products are, where they’re needed and planning ahead based on limited knowledge. In this case, freight exchanges and tendering tools are the industry’s best friend. They enable spot bidding and ad-hoc transportation opportunities. Pair the with Live Tracking solutions and you’re already a step ahead of most businesses.

In many cases, the cargo being hauled by these carriers is relatively low value and many of the opportunities for cost optimization lie within the production and transportation processes themselves. In that context, many companies are looking at slot booking. It’s a vital touchpoint for warehouses, carriers and shippers and businesses which optimise their loading and unloading gain a huge competitive advantage. 

A slot booking platform, such as Smart Booking, provides the real-time visibility needed to cut waiting times and costs.  In terms of cost, avoiding congestion and not having trucks waiting around is a real saver, not to mention the time and money that can be recouped by automating the process. And let’s not forget increased customer satisfaction rates.

Turning the page – future challenges

The paper and packaging industry is not alone in having to change its business model as a result of digitalization. However, it can take solace in the fact that digitalization also offers many opportunities for optimization and improvement - Both from a strategic and operational perspective. Better data and visibility, leads to better planning potential and reduces the frustrations of every day work life by automating tedious tasks. 

The one element that will not change is the ability of leading companies to continuously improve and adapt their transportation by leveraging the latest technology to stay ahead of the competition.

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