As COO Takaaki Ishii is instrumental in the deployment of a new 50-billion-yen pharmaceutical logistics initiative set to transform supply chains across industries. The Nippon Express system will use blockchain technology to store real-time transit data that can be accessed at any time, helping detect fluctuations in the supply and demand of goods. It means customers will have the ability to respond to crises or unexpected peaks in demand as they happen.

At the heart of the project - and all truly successful innovation - is a collaborative mindset.

“Collaboration - whether with Nippon’s own vast pool of experts, clients that are experts in their field, or ecosystem partners - makes this evolution possible,” says Ishii.

Read on to find out how Ishii is using digital innovation to grow Nippon Express and secure its future.

"Finding the way forward to supply chain innovation"

— Takaaki Ishii, Chief Operating Officer – Nippon Express Co. Ltd

How are you using technology to enhance efficiency in the supply chain?

Takaaki Ishii: We’ll be continuously recording temperatures throughout the shipment cycle and for every process right across the supply chain. We are establishing a system to monitor all this data simultaneously and allow our customers to access their information in real time via the cloud. We are also developing a cloud-based Global Cargo Watcher Advance (GCWA) tracking system in conjunction with Intel and Honeywell, which will enable us to log the location, temperature, humidity, light, shock, and tilt of any cargo fixed with a small electronic sensor. When that cargo passes through reader gateways the data is uploaded to the cloud and stored in the blockchain ledger, and clients can access that data whenever they choose. We’re currently optimizing these technologies and plan to roll them out globally as part of the new business initiative.

Resilience in the supply chain is more important than ever today, and Nippon Express has been delivering a world-class logistics service since 1937. What is the key to continuity?

TI: Continuity requires us to always be a few steps ahead - which is where innovation comes into play. And innovation, for us, is synonymous with collaboration. Without great partners and great technologies, our innovation journey would be far slower. Bringing in the right technology partners at the right time has been fundamental to our success in providing customers with peace of mind and a seamless service that is always ahead of the pack. It has enabled us to significantly improve quality control in pressured environments, all while keeping costs low. By bringing together different strengths and technologies, we have been able to find the way forward and dramatically evolve the supply chain landscape in a way that always puts the customer first, and in control.

How will data gathering help grow the business in the long term?

TI: Accumulating shipping information data gives us the opportunity to propose new solutions to our customers. In this way, proposing a cooperative delivery system to the pharmaceutical industry will lead, we believe, to changes in the traditional business model, the development of entirely new business segments, and new types of customer relationships. This initiative will eventually help organizations in other industries to increase their operational efficiency through the effective use of data. And this kind of platform is not just for one industry sector - it’s something that can dramatically change the entire industry supply chain for the better. In developing this new logistics system, we’d like to promote to the world the strengths that Japanese companies have to offer. I’d like to see this become an initiative of that magnitude.

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