Maersk-owned global freight forwarding and logistics provider Damco has unveiled its in-house ‘digital freight forwarder’, Twill Logistics, a ‘start-up’ designed to simplify and digitalise the shipping process and place the customer “at the helm”.
Twill has until now been in a closed test phase with a select number of customers, but from 10April, the platform will be openly available to the UK market.
The solution enables customers to book, manage and monitor shipments online at the click of a button, focusing on four key features: Instant quotation; Integrated document handling; Milestone transparency; and Proactive exception management.
Initially focused on managing ocean shipments within the China to UK trade lane, Damco said the company would grow by adding more shipping routes and products over the coming months.
Although the company was initially only taking on full container load business, arguably the most easily standardised part of freight forwarding, it would, in due course, take on the more complex challenges of freight forwarding, such as less-than-container load (LCL) and air freight, Twill Logistics CEO Troels Stovring told Lloyd's Loading List yesterday at a seminar at the Multimodal exhibition and conference in Birmingham. It was expected to initially serve smaller and more transactional customers that larger freight forwarders are sometimes less able to easily service, before scaling up to larger accounts.
One customer already using the Twill Logistics platform, Randa Accessories’ logistics manager Jo Southwell, commented: “We were really pleased to be involved in the early stages of Twill’s development. Already the online platform is giving us improved visibility of our shipments − meaning that we can see where our goods are in the supply chain at any given time. Previously, we relied on a lot of manual processes including emails back and forth with our team in China, but Twill allows us to see all information in one place, and it is so simple to use.”
Stovring commented: “We understand that not everyone is a shipping expert. Twill is designed to keep the booking process of freight as simple as possible.
“We’re taking an agile approach, developing a product for the customer with their needs as the core of everything we do. We are confident that this will simplify shipping significantly and create a great customer experience.”
Adopting the approach of many tech start-ups and tech-powered disruptors such by placing the focus of the business on the customer experience, he acknowledged that this was also expected to help build the business and bring new customers and revenues into Twill and its parent company Damco.
Twill is described as “a Damco innovation”, and is made up of around 30 staff currently, two thirds with tech backgrounds and one third with logistics backgrounds. But some Damco staff have also been trained to sell the Twill product and the two companies were working closely together, with Damco providing the physical freight forwarding and logistics for bookings made via Twill.
Both companies’ ultimate parent, Maersk Group, last year announced a broad-ranging strategy to digitalise the group’s businesses and processes. As reported in Lloyd’s Loading List, this has included its announcement in March of a partnership with IBM to use block chain technology to digitalise paperwork related to the global supply chain process to improve efficiency and optimise costs. The so-called block chain solution will allow Maersk and IBM to manage and monitor the documentation of containers shipped across the globe from one end of the supply chain to the other and share this data with trading partners.
Maersk expects the solution to help save the container shipping sector billions of dollars when it is adopted at scale.
Damco is a global provider of freight forwarding and supply chain management services with more than 11,000 staff in over 100 countries. In 2016 Damco reached a turnover of US$2.5 billion and managed 659,000 TEU of ocean freight.