Every month we select one logistics startup which represents a positive example of innovation in Logistics and Supply Chain and has the potential to alter the way the industry operates. This month, Transmetrics selected Sixfold, the leading European visibility platform, as the “Logistics Startup of the Month” for its outstanding contribution to the development of real-time visibility solutions for supply chains.
In order to learn more, we have talked with Mart Kelder, the Co-Founder of Sixfold, about the startup’s journey and how real-time visibility can change the landscape of the industry.
First of all, congratulations on becoming the Logistics Startup of the Month! Can you please briefly introduce our readers to Sixfold?
Sixfold is one of Europe’s leading real-time shipment visibility platforms for the logistics industry. Shippers and carriers seamlessly integrate their transport management and fleet monitoring systems with the Sixfold visibility platform to know where their shipments are and when they will arrive with minimal manual work from either of the parties. The platform aggregates data from all telematics systems into one stream giving true end-to-end visibility of shipments. The Sixfold platform utilizes machine learning to predict and alert relevant stakeholders about shipment delays.
Up to € 500 million worth of goods are monitored by Europe’s supply chains each day using the Sixfold platform enabling customers and shippers to gain business advantage and to better plan operations. Sixfold supports clients in more than 25 European languages and data distributed on its platform is totally secure and GDPR compliant.
Can you please tell us more about the concept of real-time visibility and its importance for the logistics and supply chain? What are the current industry hurdles that prevent companies from achieving real-time visibility?
The logistics industry is data-hungry and the demand for data can only rise. Every item in the supply chain will be traceable. Shippers are bombarded by questions from their customers to know when their shipments will arrive and if there are delays. With real-time data visibility, shippers and customers can know precisely the location of any shipment in real-time and hence better plan their operations.
What makes Sixfold unique? Can you please tell us a bit more about the features of your product?
Our platform transforms data streams from all telematics and TMS systems into one stream. Sixfold can be easily integrated into any transport management system. Our differentiators are many. Some of Europe’s largest shippers with more than a million transports each year are using Sixfold. We, therefore, have a lot of data to continuously improve our machine learning algorithms. This enables us to deliver the most accurate ETAs in the industry. In addition, customer feedback confirms that Sixfold is very easy to use and requires minimal training. We add value to the logistics industry by helping depots and warehouses to become up to 30% more productive. We are a truly Pan-European company and the only platform to offer onboarding in more than 25 European languages.
In order to provide the highest level of real-time visibility Sixfold has established partnerships with both telematics solutions and TMS providers. Could you explain how the partnerships and integrations are enhancing your platform? How difficult is it to achieve such a seamless experience for the end-user?
Sixfold is the exclusive real-time visibility provider for Transporeon, the largest logistics network in Europe. Transporeon facilitates around 50,000 shipments daily and is used by 1,500 shippers globally including industry leaders in production and retailing. We also partner with Mercareon, Europe’s leader in Time Slot Management for the retail industry and our platform is part of its solution to ensure the exchange of predictive logistics data between retailers and inbound carriers. It is predictive data that makes logistics planning easier, reduces wait and processing times, boosts productivity at loading docks and smooths out peak times to save retailers and carriers significant time and money.
It is early partnerships and integrations with Transporeon and Mercareon that have given Sixfold broad reach into these networks. These partnerships also enabled us to continue to refine our offering and bring to market a truly intuitive solution with the simplest onboarding process for both shippers and carriers alike.
Could you please share any recent client’s success stories? How did Sixfold help them in particular?
The Rockwool Group is a perfect example. As the world’s largest manufacturer of insulating materials and systems made of stone wool, it chose Sixfold’s real-time visibility platform to improve customer service and engagement.
Rockwool’s customers were demanding prompt, exact notification of each construction site delivery so they could plan ahead and assist with unloading. It was challenging for them to enquire about delivery times. In addition, language barriers with international drivers involved in the supply chain often made it difficult to check delivery status by phone and restricted communication about any delays.
“Real-time visibility of shipments by Sixfold was the missing piece of the puzzle of Rockwool’s supply chain,” says Jens Püttmann, Logistics Manager of Deutsche Rockwool. “Now we can track the entire supply chain in real-time from pickup at the factory to unloading without any driver interface for status information. The Sixfold platform is also predictive giving vital push notices about shipment delays in transit. Quite simply, we can’t get closer or faster to supply chain data.”
In your opinion, in addition to the high level of real-time visibility, what are the other technological trends that can improve the logistics operations in the next 5 years?
The logistics industry is moving into a highly collaborative era and this will continue in the years ahead. Beyond the trend towards real-time supply chain visibility, we believe that the applied use of AI in supply chains and automation will be the powerhouses behind smart cities, smart factories, and smart warehouses. We also believe that the logistics industry will strive to become more environmentally friendly and make greater efforts to reduce CO2 on European roads. It will make greater efforts to cut the number of trucks running “empty miles” on their return journeys.
What was the biggest learning point for you throughout the development of Sixfold? If you had a chance to do it all over again, is there something you would do differently?
From the outset, we knew that the biggest learning point for Sixfold would be to better understand the industry’s changing requirements and that we had to simplify the data gathering process. We knew that we would have to educate customers into the value of real-time data visibility such as making warehouses more productive in handling inbound and outbound logistics, helping factories to better plan and extend the supply chain and much more. Real-time data visibility from a predictive platform is a journey. It takes time to get transporters from so many European countries and cultures onboard and this was our biggest learning point.
What major developments should we expect from Sixfold in 2019-2020?
The year ahead will see Sixfold expand its footprint in European markets and become the platform-of-choice for data visibility across all supply chains. Currently, up to € 500 million worth of goods shipped on Europe’s roads each day are tracked by the Sixfold platform. That figure will rise dramatically in 2019/20.
Sixfold is working on a number of new projects for the logistics industry adding new layers to the current platform. More data becomes better data. At this time, our platform can let shippers know that their goods in transit will be late in arriving and issue alerts. The next logical step is for our system to tell them why they will arrive late. If it’s a technical problem, that can be fixed before the next shipment.