May 12, 2015 - 4:30AM
May 12, 2015 - 1:00PM

MIT Sloan E62-350

Shippers, carriers, third parties, and technology vendors (both hardware and software) have been talking about supply chain visibility for more than two decades. While there has been a steady evolution in both the state of the science and practice, it is still the weakest link in a global supply chains; especially for ocean transportation.

What was originally called "track and trace" functionality has evolved from stage 1: having to call the carrier up so they could tell you where your products, to stage 2: where shippers can check the “recent” location status of shipments themselves via a webportal, to stage 3: where real-time information is directly integrated into the shipper's systems, to stage 4: real-time location data is immediately translated into information for action. Stage 4, however is proving to be very elusive.

Shippers need to obtain real-time tracking of its assets and product as they move globally as well as domestically. A key challenge is that most products move across multiple borders, are handled by a variety of different firms, and are transported in many different conveyances. This last point is critical, because the ability of, say, a pallet of material to be tracked is compounded if it is stored in a container that itself is held within the bowels of a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean. This “Nested Asset” problem creates many challenges – both technical and organizational - that need to be overcome.  

There are two opposite approaches to visibility of products in supply chains: self-tracking and third party tracking. The self-tracking option means that a shipper (or third party)  would equip its conveyances (cases, pallets, containers, barrels, etc.) with some sort of technology that enables them to track and trace all movement themselves without any third part assistance or approval. The second approach is where the shipper relies on third parties to track the larger conveyances that the shipper's product travels in and communicate this information to the shipper in a timely manner.  

Each of these approaches has strengths and weaknesses and they are not mutually exclusive. Self-tracking provides the fastest and most accurate information but has severe technology limitations and the actionability of the information is limited if the third party carrying the product is not even in the information loop. Third party tracking has fewer pure technical challenges, as someone somewhere is already tracking the larger conveyances, but the organizational and coordination challenges are daunting. All stakeholders need to understand when each approach is appropriate and how they might be blended. Another basic trade-off is whether to require continuous tracking or only through gateways or checkpoints.

This roundtable will bring all stakeholders together to discuss recent technology improvements, share approaches, and identify opportunities for improving the end-to-end supply chain visibility - especially for ocean transportation - to Stage 4.

Please contact Katie Date, Coordinator of Corporate Outreach, at datecl@mit.edu, if you have any questions.

FAQs

What is the cost of the roundtable?

Where is it being held?

When does the roundtable officially begin and end?
Are accommodations provided?
Where should I stay?
Where is the nearest airport?
What is the best way to travel from the airport to MIT?
What is the best way to travel to the airport from MIT?
Should I rent a car?
If I drive, how do I get there and where can I park?
What should I wear?
What if I have a dietary restriction or allergy?

What is the cost of the roundtable?
There is no charge to attend this event for MIT CTL Partners. This is by invitation only.

Where is it being held?
This roundtable will be held at 100 Main Street, E62-350 (Sloan Building, 3rd floor).

When does the roundtable officially begin and end?
Check-in and informal networking will begin at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 12, and adjourn by 5:00pm. 

When booking your return flight, take into consideration the following recommendations for travel time and security checks at Logan: allow two hours for a domestic flight and three hours for an international flight.

Are accommodations provided?
No, each person is responsible for his/her own accommodations.

Where should I stay?
Guests are responsible for their own hotel accommodations. We do not have a block of rooms reserved. However, the hotel properties most conveniently located to the campus are the Marriott Cambridge Boston.

The Kendall Hotel
350 Main Street
Cambridge MA 02142
617-577-1300

Marriott Cambridge Boston
Two Cambridge Center
50 Broadway
Cambridge MA 02142
617-494-6600

For additional accommodation listings, please see Visiting MIT CTL; however, please note that the room rates do not vary greatly for those hotel properties in proximity to MIT.

Where is the nearest airport?
Boston's Logan International Airport.

What is the best way to travel from the airport to MIT?
To get to MIT from the airport, we strongly suggest taking a cab. The trip will take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, and the fare is roughly $30-35. The cab fare from Logan is always a bit more than the return, because a surcharge at the airport and a tunnel toll add approximately $5 to the total fare.

If you live locally and prefer public transportation, take the MBTA Red Line to the Kendall/MIT stop. It is a short three block walk from the T.

What is the best way to travel to the airport?
We suggest taking a cab. There are two cab stands - one on either side of the Marriott, on Broadway or on Main Street, both a short walk from E51. This is the most efficient means with regard to time. The MBTA Silver Line is an option, but will add perhaps 40 minutes.

Should I rent a car?
We do not recommend renting a car. The expense on top of poorly marked streets and lack of available parking makes having a car more of a nuisance than a convenience.

If I drive, how do I get there and where can I park?
If you are renting a car or will be driving, MapQuest and Google Map offer excellent mapping services to get you from your doorstep to MIT.

The nearest self-parking garage is The Green Garage, adjacent to the Cambridge Marriott (50 Broadway). Rates are as follows:
  3-10 hrs, $36
10-24 hrs, $40
This garage is not owned or operated by the Marriott.

Addresses for your mapping requests: 100 Main Street, Cambridge, MA and the nearest parking garage is adjacent to 50 Broadway, Cambridge.

What should I wear?
Appropriate attire is business casual; no ties or suit coats are necessary.

What if I have a dietary restriction or allergy?
If you have a dietary restriction or allergy, please email MIT CTL Events Coordinator, Nancy Martin, nlmartin@mit.edu to let her know.