DHL promises near real-time tracking with new integrated portal

DHL promises near real-time tracking with new integrated portal

DHL Global Forwarding

The drive by forwarders to provide a fully digitalized service offering lies behind DHL Global Forwarding’s new online platform launched Tuesday. 

Developed in-house and free to customers, the myDHLi integrated platform gives selected customers from North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa visibility of shipments across air and ocean in “nearly” real time, according to Marina Haug, project manager of the portal.

DHL plans to steadily roll out the platform across its global network over the rest of 2020, Tim Scharwath, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding, told reporters in an online press conference Tuesday.

Scharwath said within the platform, 97 percent of DHL’s ocean volume, and 31 percent of the forwarding division’s air freight volume, was now being managed via CargoWise One, with a priority in 2020 to shift greater air freight volume to the platform. CargoWise One is a single-platform software solution, designed to increase productivity and improve integration, automation, and communication within a supply chain. 

“We strongly believe that digitalization bears the potential to ease and improve the daily business of shippers and freight forwarders simultaneously,” he said during the platform launch. “This is even truer during unpredictable and challenging times such as those we are currently facing with COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019], and which might now act as an accelerator for digitizing the industry.”

Rolling in real time

Visibility has long been an issue for shippers, particularly at transshipment ports where cargo is most often rolled and carriers struggle to provide complete, real-time visibility and alerts to customers, but the new DHL platform addresses this area, said Haug. 

“Customers will have full visibility of the complete route of a shipment, from origin to destination, including all the transshipment ports,” she said, with visibility data delivered to shippers in “very close to real time, with a few minutes delay but not more.”

If a container belonging to a myDHLi user is rolled at a transshipment port, a milestone would be updated and the shipper, if following the shipment, would receive a “proactive notification,” Haug said. Even if the cargo owner was not following the shipment, she said a notification would be sent on the customer’s myDHLi.

The platform merges existing online services such as myDHLi Quote + Book and myDHLi Analytics with new services and features, using end-to-end information to give users greater control from pick-up to final delivery, DHL said in a statement. All shipping documents — quotes, commercial invoice, packing list, house bill, invoice, proof of delivery, etc. — are stored in one place. 

DHL Global Forwarding joins several other services and solution providers offering enhanced visibility across ocean freight transport. Rival forwarder Kuehne + Nagel’s Sea Explorer platform gives customers predictive insights into schedule reliability for sailings across most global carriers’ services — approximately 63,000 port pairs, 1,200 ports, and 750 direct weekly services as well as transshipment options. 

Third-party providers such as Ocean Insights, ClearMetal, Blume Global, and project44 are also offering various levels of real-time and predictive visibility, selling directly to shippers but also offering white labeled versions to forwarders that include DHL competitors.

The DHL statement said built-in social media features, such as “follow” and “share” functions, allow customers using the platform to exchange information with colleagues, customers, and suppliers. The data can be analyzed and exported or directly integrated to own systems, based on a suite of application programming interfaces (APIs).

“What is really great about this is that it all comes together under one platform,” Scharwath said. “You can use it on any device, anytime, anywhere. You can see where your shipments are at any time.”

While the platform has only been made available to selected customers, Scharwath said there has been a huge uptake in the quoting and booking functions. “But this has to do with COVID-19, as customers work more with spot quotes because the markets are so volatile,” he noted.

Contact Greg Knowler at greg.knowler@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @greg_knowler.