Digitalising supply chains to transform global trade

Digitalising supply chains to transform global trade

Abdulla bin Damithan, CEO & Managing Director, GCC, DP World |

Global trade is in the spotlight like never before. The systemic shocks from the pandemic and the conflict in Europe have shattered many of the assumptions on which trade was based.

As international supply chains struggle to recover, the key themes of this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos touch almost every part of global trade and our operations. 

From our unique vantage point in the global gateway of Dubai, where international trade routes intersect, we are well positioned to deliver on the overarching Davos theme of Cooperation in a Fragmented World. 

Another theme of the meeting programme addresses the role of frontier technologies in overcoming the headwinds facing a broad range of industries. 

Embracing technological solutions and working in partnership define our philosophy of Transforming Trade Together. Davos 2023 presents a rich opportunity to put global trade back on track for the benefit of every nation on the planet. 

A technology-led trade recovery

Technology and innovation must sit at the heart of the global trade recovery. AI, blockchain and other digital platforms can increase efficiency and offer much greater visibility of real-time movements of freight through supply chains. 

We’re already seeing the benefits these technologies can deliver through our BOXBAY facility at Dubai’s Jebel Ali port. BOXBAY is an autonomous, fully digitalised container handling system that incorporates AI and big data into a solution that’s more efficient, safer and more sustainable than traditional port operations. BOXBAY stores containers in high racking systems which reduces a port’s footprint, energy consumption, carbon emissions and impact on neighbouring communities.  

The technology embedded in BOXBAY ensures vital information is available to all stakeholders at all times. Its warehouse management system tracks the arrival and departure times of ships, monitors the location of each container and can even supply information on container contents to the sender and receiver in a fully digital process. 

Creating intelligent supply chains

The advancement of technology in supply chains is leading us into a new era of global trade, with resilience being one of the key motivators. Nobody wants to imagine a repeat of the consequences of the pandemic – but as we continue to recover, we must embrace the unfortunate certainty that other shocks will confront us in the future. 

Intelligent technology will be a powerful ally in helping us navigate future shocks. And, in calmer times, it will enable us to make better decisions, be more efficient and to tread more lightly on the planet and its resources. 

Automation, AI, advanced analytics and robotics will transform global supply chains in the next five to ten years, and this digital revolution in global trade is already well underway

Technology is driving our goal of enabling seamless global trade. Our recently opened Container Freight Station (CFS2) at the Jebel Ali Free Zone is powered by the most advanced IT systems. They ensure goods are stored, distributed and delivered efficiently within a multimodal transportation model. This ecosystem combines port, shipping line, sea freight, air freight and trucking solutions. 

Global trade in a virtual world

Emerging technologies have the potential to offer unparalleled opportunities for transforming global trade. A fully formed version of the metaverse may still be some years away, but it’s important to explore the possibilities so that we are ready to grasp the first-mover advantage. 

In developing our own metaverse, we will soon have potential to solve real-world supply chain problems in real time. As we await the full range of capabilities the metaverse will bring, we’re using the augmented and virtual reality technology at its core as a training tool. This is already enhancing efficiency and transparency in our operations. 

Partnerships for success

One of the few certainties in our uncertain world of trade is that no single organisation can deliver the global transformation required. In order to create the stability, sustainability and shared prosperity that a successful trading ecosystem will bring, it’s essential that stakeholders across the globe are aligned and work together. Progress will only be possible if we form partnerships on shared objectives and embrace technology as an ally to help us achieve our goals.

The World Economic Forum in Davos is the ideal platform to build the alliances required as we continue our journey of transforming trade together.