Logistic Rubik’s Cube
© Schaeffler
November 2022

Logistic Rubik’s Cube

By Björn Carstens
43,252,003,274,489,856,000 – that’s the number of possible turns to solve the famous Rubik’s Cube. The options of the global logistics network are similarly diverse. A maze that will surely cause one to get lost without comprehensive data use and analysis. At Schaeffler, the Transportation Data Cube (TDC) developed in-house takes care of that.

The supply chains of the global economy are currently affected by exceptional circumstances. The international survey “Interos Annual Global Supply Chain Report” has revealed that global supply chain disruptions cost large companies 184 million dollars per year on average. “We can no longer cleanly separate digital and physical supply chains, which is driving a need for greater transparency into hidden supply chain risks, relationships and reliances,” says Interos CEO Jennifer Bisceglie.

For companies, that means no analysis, no improvement, no routine business without specific data. Schaeffler as a group with global operations has to handle data volumes of astronomical proportions. Every year, the company dispatches hundreds of thousands of shipments on vessels, trains, aircraft and trucks around the globe. 121 countries are part of its transportation network. In 2021, Schaeffler shipped 18,500 standard containers – equating to a whole freighter of the currently largest class. Each of these shipments generates a huge volume of data pertaining to prices, transit times and more – a massive amount that needs to be prepared and analyzed in complex processes.

Logistic Rubik’s Cube
Lisa Yun, Head of Asia Pacific Outbound Supply Chain & Quality
© Schaeffler

“The standardization and automation in the TDC also enable full transparency, fast processes and new analysis possibilities at Schaeffler sites around the globe.“

Since 2021, the Transportation Data Cube (TDC) – a smart, digital program that Schaeffler developed in-house – has been facilitating those tasks. On the one hand, the TDC enables complex freight cost data management and on the other hand, it makes finding the cargo routes with the lowest costs as easy as booking a tourist flight on the internet. The TDC runs automatic searches for the world’s most favorably priced, reliable and fastest transportation routes on water, rail and in the air.

Transportation Data Cube – what are its capabilities and uses?

The automated analyses of the TDC serve as the database for a number of other interfaces (see infographic below) and increase the speed of responding to market changes and disruptions in transportation networks. The data gained by the TDC provide the basis for numerous features including a detailed CO2 calculation (see info box) and a digital image of all the logistics routes used by Schaeffler. Via an intuitive intranet tool, the TDC delivers complex analyses and manages all data preparation processes transparently and centrally.

How digital transportation logistics works at Schaeffler
Logistic Rubik’s Cube
More data means more green

While costs, transit times and accessibilities used to be the key parameters in logistics until recently, the level of CO2 emissions is now becoming an increasingly important assessment factor – also at Schaeffler. Schaeffler’s objective was to establish a centralized solution functioning as a CO₂ calculator and enabling the calculation of standard values from transportation logistics. The Transportation Data Cube (TDC) provides the database for that task so that employees no longer need to calculate distances in a complex process. The CO₂ levels can subsequently be queried using a web tool.

Logistic Rubik’s Cube© iStock