Logistics management platform e2log, originally aimed squarely at oversized and out-of-gauge (OOG) cargo, has expanded its focus. Clients wanted a single platform that also managed the many freight tons of ancillary cargo that go with projects but move in containers or via roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) carrier, founder and CEO Adolph Colaco told JOC.com. In addition to providing that ability, the platform also provides a tech layer that covers non-logistics activities including inventory, payables, and analytics.
While e2log views engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) companies as its primary target, it is also focusing on heavy engineering, wind energy, oil field services, electronic and medical equipment manufacturers, and pharmaceuticals, Colaco said. Only about 2 to 3 percent of the logistics needs of e2log’s largest client, an oil field service provider, are related to OOG, he said.
e2log’s ability to manage OOG cargo logistics distinguishes it from the myriad supply chain logistics platforms in the market. Its inventory management system is rare outside of domestic freight-focused transportation management systems (TMS), which help shippers manage transportation, warehousing, and fulfillment, and is less common on a global basis across multiple modes and holders of inventory. Without these differentiations, e2log runs up against a host of mature, well-recognized competition in the larger market.
First stage: inventory management
Inventory visibility starts when information is fed to e2log from cargo owners’ enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs), e2log CTO Mark Scott told JOC.com. Data comes from purchase orders, warehouse inventories, WMS or other sources of information. e2log is “like a funnel that captures data from all kinds of formats,” he said.
A common gap in project logistics sits at the handoff from procurement to logistics. e2log follows inventory, whether it’s a massive generator or a set of valves, from procurement through site installation, Scott said. Cargo owners can see all the inventory item-related history in one place, including whether the cargo is packed, at the packer, released, in transit, or received at site, Colaco said.
Handling OOG’s quirks
Because the use of e2log is pushed from the cargo owner down, all logistics service providers (LSPs) will use this platform rather than myriad in-house systems, addressing the chronic fragmentation that plagues project logistics.
The quirky elements of oversized cargo — packing lists and instructions, many HS codes, re-importing, customs, vessel chartering, engineering drawings, stowage plans, crane certifications, licenses, and other documentation — are all supported in the platform, Scott said. Requests for quotations (RFQs) and bid submissions are standardized. Costs are tracked. “You are not guessing which shipment a given invoice is for … we can bundle this up and push it to the ERP or accounts payable system of the customer,” Colaco said.
Managing incremental cost changes due to unpredictable variables is a chronic project logistics pain point. In e2log, the weights and dimensions in an original RFQ can be adjusted, and service providers can submit change orders and upload supporting documentation, Colaco said. Any costs not initially approved by the logistics team must be managed through the change order process, he said.
If there are transportation contracts already in place, shipments can be mobilized using pre-negotiated contract rates — or new rates can be obtained on a spot basis, Colaco said. Cargo owners are encouraged to bring their incumbent service providers to the platform, he said.
“Everything you do to manage the movement of your cargo using outside providers is managed here,” said Dennis Mottola, a global logistics consultant who spent many years with a global EPC and is an advisor to e2log. It’s not unusual for EPCs to have five or more projects running at once, to be working with five or more project forwarders, and to be bidding on every shipment, Mottola said. All of that simultaneous activity can be managed in e2log, he said.
Internal teams and outside LSPs are subscribed to channels related to their specific projects or activities and communicate via mobile app or other devices, Scott said. Team members see all recent activity, from shipments to marine traffic, and have contact information for LSPs. Communications are simplified, stored, and live on as full records, he said. The platform also tracks document versions.
“It’s live data, not a downloaded report that goes stale instantly. It’s in the form most usable to you,” Mottola said.
Project logistics is less transactional than other types of logistics, with its involvement of multiple parties, Colaco said. “It’s not the same as something being picked off a shelf and put in a container, the mechanized steps in a standardized retail shipment,” he said. All of that more complex conversation is present in e2log, he said.
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