Persevering through disruptions such as the drought affecting container ship traffic in the Panama Canal, as well as future crises, involves building trusted networks of data to map the global supply chain, say Altana Technologies officials.
Altana is a New York-based startup leveraging AI and billions of data points from customs authorities, logistics providers and enterprises around the world to create a map of global supply chain networks.
“Think about Altana as a Google Maps for the global supply chain,” Evan Smith, Altana’s chief executive and co-founder, told FreightWaves.
“In a situation like the one in Panama, where Altana is useful is actually upstream of the Panama Canal. We’re very useful in understanding for any given organization what their global multitier network actually looks like and where there’s vulnerabilities and chokepoints.”
In January, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) implemented water-saving measures to maintain capacity in the canal’s reservoirs. On June 6, the authority began restricting ships’ drafts in the canal.
“Droughts are expected to affect water availability in Panama and globally,” ACP said in a recent news release. “The canal is implementing operational and planning procedures, innovative technologies, and long-term investments to mitigate its impact and safeguard its operation.”
Smith said Altana offers companies the ability to overlay data such as a climate change model on their supply chain maps, helping companies mitigate potential bottlenecks related to droughts and other weather-related events.
“You can look at the scenarios of in this case, drought, and say there’s a chokepoint in the network with a drought risk overlaid on top of it,” Smith said. “There might be something a company might do on the network design level to build a more resilient network, make sure they have trade lanes that aren’t going through a single chokepoint.”
Altana operates in the supply chain visibility/intelligence space, which has shown resilience in venture capital investments compared with other parts of the tech sector in recent quarters.
Venture capital funding has slowed to a crawl over the past several quarters, with overall venture-backed companies attracting about $11.7 billion in the first quarter, compared with $71 billion during the same quarter in 2022, according to PitchBook.
In October, Altana landed a $100 million Series B fund raise, which the company is using to expand its platform and products. Altana’s clients already include Maersk, BMW, Boston Scientific, Merck and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The global supply chain management software market in 2022 was valued at about $22 billion and is expected to increase to $39.7 billion by 2028, according to a recent report from ResearchAndMarkets.com.
Not all FreightTech visibility firms have been immune to the economic downturn.
Global supply chain visibility provider project44 eliminated about 10% of its global workforce in May. Officials at project44 said the restructuring was part of cost cutting as venture capital investors become more cautious.
Smith said Altana’s mission isn’t just to provide firms with a map of their supply chain. It’s to provide an operating picture of companies and their global product flows.
“The other key dimension of this map or knowledge graph is ownership. You can actually see from the shell company, the trading company, the movement of goods, and then trace those all the way up to the parent companies attached to them,” Smith said. “It’s this bottom-up view of what we think is roughly half today of the global supply chain flows at the transaction level, and then add a lot of machine learning on top of that data to kind of further enrich and build out the network understanding.”
Smith said everyone should care about the global supply chain and how it affects societies.
“If you care about climate change, if you care about wealth inequality, if you care about national security, pick almost anything, it’s probably going to be a supply chain issue at the end of the day,” he said.
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