As we are beckoned into 2022, customers are getting their shopping lists ready. The new year will come with new year demand and some emerging technologies that can create strategic opportunities for logistics companies. This evolution in technology is changing how the world conducts business.
Today, customers can shop without stepping out of the comfort of their homes and parcels that would otherwise take days to reach them are now delivered within hours, irrespective of where they live. Better technology is also responsible for minimizing costs and error, as well as increasing productivity, thus leading to resilient supply chains. Trucking, international transportation, and shipment tracking are all benefited from it.
Getting up to speed
According to a McKinsey report, the technological progress we experience in the next decade will be more than the last 100 years. Information, communication and automation technologies have provided innumerable advantages to businesses. The many benefits of technology include increased speed of identification, reliable, accurate and quick data gathering, processing, analysis and transmission.
Technology improves the overall effectiveness and efficiency of logistics. However, how successful businesses are is dependent on how well the technology is applied, the availability of proper infrastructure, culture as well as management policies.
All of the above need to be aligned for technology to bring about effective change in how these businesses are carried out. Insufficient capacity planning and staff or driver shortages are products of poor management and can create logistical nightmares for retailers.
Here are five ways in which technology can tackle the new year’s logistics challenges.
- Virtual as the new reality
According to a recent report, about half the existing activities will be automated in the next few decades, making next-level process automation and virtualization the norm. Robots, automation and 3D-printing will generate around 79.4 zettabytes of data per year. Robotic technology will increase efficiency and productivity, reduce errors and risk rates, and improve employee safety as well.
Self-learning robots that are reconfigurable, will automate several physical processes and this can pose a challenge for policy makers, compelling them to address the resulting labour displacement and carve out the new workplace. Tools to virtualize processes, such as 3-D and 4-D printing, and digital twin technologies will speed up development cycles in logistics supply chains, putting more pressure on profit pools.
- Connected at every step
The new year will bring with it faster digital connections and data-driven decision-making fuelled by 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). The latter consists of interconnected physical devices that can monitor, collect, and send data to a cloud-based management software and help save a lot of time and money. GPS tracking of shipments and monitoring parcel conditions are also a gift of IoT and can improve quality management in supply chains.
With the 5G infrastructure market to be valued at 131.4 billion USD, and expected to reach 80 percent of the global population by 2030, the promise of enhanced speed and coverage will hold. Speedy digital connections and network availibility will become the norm thanks to 5G and IoT, both of which promise bustling economic activity in the coming year.
- Better predictive analysis with the help of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to be one of the biggest trends in the logistics industry. In fact, by the year 2024, more than half of global interactions with computers will be through AI-generated speech. As technology becomes more sophisticated and is used to develop tech-based tools, it will handle repetitive tasks such as filing, preparing documents and indexing. Repetitive errors in supply chains will also be eliminated by using AI to detect patterns and work on them.
Locus’ automated dispatch planning software, DispatchIQ is a great example of efficient AI. Its AI-enabled algorithm plans orders on a daily, even hourly, basis while still keeping room for on-demand orders. By helping with last-mile delivery, it can aid logistics managers in finding the shortest, quickest routes to get to their customers.
- Increased visibility due to blockchain
A digitally distributed public ledger system that individual parties or stakeholders share is known as blockchain. The system can help businesses trace and track a product from the manufacturing stage till the time it reaches the customer. This enhances visibility and encourages transparency throughout the supply chain. Blockchain supply chains will continue to be a popular trend in the new year and will be of tremendous value to businesses.
- Self-driving vehicles and drones
Self-driving vehicles are no longer the stuff of sci-fi films; they are very much a reality. Companies such as Embark, Uber and Waymo have successfully carried out long hauls with self-driving trucks already. Even though the pandemic has put brakes on them temporarily, autonomous vehicles are very much the future.
Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are already making the rounds (no pun intended) for transportation and delivery of customer purchases. Not only do they save on distribution costs and promise faster deliveries, they are a great solution for urban areas riddled with traffic and reduce CO2 emissions as well. Technology is witnessing exceptional transformations and this has great benefits for the logistics industry. These advancements are not solely focussed on creating intelligent machinery, but look after the well-being of the environment as well. AI-driven logistics technology platforms such as Locus can now enable same-day delivery, thanks to these technological advancements. They will also help us navigate the new year by bringing greater insight and efficiency to all aspects of the supply chain.