The basis for Synfioo is real-time data that is aggregated and analysed. With the help of approximately 50 data sources, the company is trying to make transport routes more efficient. The aim of the start-up is to focus on an arrival time for each shipment that is as precise as possible. ‘We offer our customers a service that enables them to monitor shipments in real time. The decisive factor is the ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) forecast, as it is called in logistics’, says Marian Pufahl, Managing Director of Synfioo. The 31-year-old manages the company together with Andreas Meyer.
From research project to business idea
The Potsdam-based start-up began as an offshoot of a research project. Between 2012 and 2015, Pufahl worked together with Dr Anne Baumgraß and Andreas Meyer on the EU project “GET Service” (Green European Transportation Service). The aim was to develop more efficient shipments with reduced emissions. ‘At the time, we at the Hasso Plattner Institute dealt with real-time data and their influence on processes,’ says Pufahl. The team noticed that this was a relevant approach to problems in logistics: ‘We’ve found that this is an issue that can make a difference in the world. Logistics is still a very analogue field today. So there was a lot of scope for improvement’.
Numerous practical partners were also involved in the project, including the Dutch logistics group Jan de Rijk. He became Synfioo’s first customer and gave the research team the impetus they needed to set up a company. ‘Personally, I’ve wanted to build something of my own for a very long time. We then seized the opportunity’, explains Pufahl, who had already worked as an independent IT service provider before founding the company.
Big Data revolutionises an old industry
The revolution that Synfioo is about to start through its service is the combination of Big Data and logistics. Synfioo collects large amounts of data that are used to calculate the arrival time: ‘The basic data record contains the info that delivery X is in container Y. We link the basic data record with the position data of the means of transport, such as the lorry. However, we also process data from trains, ocean-going vessels or ferries. External data are also available, mostly error data from traffic jams, storms or waiting times at borders. We thus cover about 50 different influencing factors. We then calculate the expected arrival time by merging these data. To obtain this forecast, we also work with pattern recognition using artificial intelligence and machine learning’.
All this should lead to better planning of logistical processes for Synfioo’s customers. The various influencing factors on the processes are calculated almost in real time with a delay of just 30 to 60 seconds and are then available as information for the company. ‘The logistician can reduce the planning buffer: how soon after it arrives can they send a lorry off again? This reduces the number of empty runs. These are still a big problem in logistics; we assume 25 to 50 per cent of runs are empty’, says Pufahl.
- Transport & Logistics