Five minutes with… Sarfaraz Alam, co-founder and CEO of HashMove

The online logistics marketplace set to launch in GCC will allow users to search, compare and book a multimodal shipment



1. Can you tell us about Hashmove and how it will operate?

Hashmove will launch with a logistics platform that provides an online marketplace where users can search, compare and book a multimodal shipment end-to-end with multiple service providers all through a single booking.

Our platform matches shipment requirements regarding routes and types of goods with all relevant service providers and presents options with filters for optimising choices, based on the user preference around the route, time and price, and provider.

The aim was to provide a similar user experience as the established search and booking engines in other industries such as travel, which is now well established, and which represent the level of customer experience users expect but which is still unfortunately unavailable within the logistics industry.

However, the platform is conceived and designed to support much more than a marketplace. It will operate primarily as a cloud-based collaboration tool for all and any logistic service provider.

2. How will automation impact the regional logistics industry?

Automation is and will continue to figure significantly in the evolution of the industry, particularly in the distribution and “last mile” sector.

Already we are seeing significant investment in infrastructure and facilities in Dubai South for instance, where the new warehousing is an example of how robotics and cobotics are changing the level of efficiencies achieved. Warehouses are using robots, unmanned cranes and forklifts with automated extensions that transfer, unload and upload goods by connecting through AI, advanced sensors, and geo guidance technology, all without human intervention.

Similarly, automation can make its way into airports, yards, and harbours by employing intermodal transportation equipped with GPS tracking, navigation, traffic control, and route optimisation and perform functions like self-parking, lane changes, and obstacle avoidance.

IoT sensors are impacting the industry across the whole supply chain with tracking and quality monitoring available from source to shelf now. These devices can provide real-time performance data around critical metrics around humidity, impact absorption, orientation, and thermal readings and are in use in many of the local facilities.

The region has strong aspirations to be a global logistics hub, and so the adoption of the latest technologies will continue.

3. One of the challenges facing the logistics industry is differing regulations across the MENA region. How do you address that?

Cross-border regulatory discrepancies have historically been a challenge for the logistics industry globally. However, technology can play a massive role in alleviating some of the concerns which the regulations aim to address.

Fundamentally, regulatory control attempts to safeguard the integrity and security of goods moved, thus allowing the transparency to protect commercial interests of the transacting territories.

The move towards digitalisation across the industry will provide the foundation for the adoption of blockchain type supply chains which will remove many of the fears that drive legislation and regulation.

4. What other hurdles does the logistics market face?

The logistics ecosystem is gaining momentum, but it faces a proliferating need for unhindered connectivity and integration of information at every level.

At present we see hurdles such as the lack of a single digitalised information hub resulting in the loss of time through cumbersome and largely manual processes.

Also, inefficient coordination and unreliable collaborations lead to disjointed communication.

While there has been an increase in the adoption of technology in the industry, this is still piecemeal and siloed in the sense of dealing with one aspect of the value chain such as warehouse management. There are still gaps where the technologies are not talking to one another to create more efficiencies across the supply chain as a whole. End-to-end visibility still presents the biggest challenge.

The holy grail of logistics is a fully joined up end to end supply chain agile enough to deliver a demand-driven value chain.

Global manufacturers lack information and material visibility across their supply bases and the control of a product’s life-cycle from the point of origin to the point of consumption is segregated and divided among multiple sources with limited interlinking capabilities if any.

A staggering 77 per cent of companies still report having no transparency in their supply chain. This must change if we are to meet the increasing customer expectations around delivery.

5. Looking ahead what are your plans for the future? Where do you see the maximum potential?

As we build our global footprint through the marketplace and other solutions and work with more providers, users and strategic partners, we aim to harness the power of the data.

We see the GCC as the perfect launch point given its younger infrastructure, high growth, focus on innovation and strong government support for shipping/transport development.

Our platform will provide the region with a sustainable competitive advantage.