FedEx and Microsoft are to collaborate on a range of enhanced logistics and supply chain management services for their customers.

In what may signal an initiative that will be followed up by other players within the sector, in the first stage of the venture FedEx is to implement something called Surround, whereby it will look to to coalesce all the supply chain data generated by FedEx shipments with the data analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities of the Microsoft Azure Cloud platform. And whilst the drive towards the digitalisation of the entire freight chain is nothing new, here is an instance of forward thinking that should bring huge benefits to all parties in the chain.

A pilot programme is on the cards for a mid-year launch and this is expected to be followed by a more comprehensive roll-out thereafter.

Most in the cargo sector are aware that total visibility across the whole supply chain is a highly desirable asset and in many respects the ultimate goal. Needless to say, this has proved an elusive entity, given that a host of intermediaries are involved in any operation that sees something travel from A to B. The desire to capture the data, integrate and analyse it as never been greater, especially as e-commerce has grown exponentially.

According to the partners, with enough data users should be able to rapidly adjust their operations and shipment flows to avoid disruption and other problems. The net result, that of cost savings and greater efficiency within the cargo chain, is sure to gain adherents.