Technological development, particularly in the past two decades, is enabling the logistics industry to continually evolve. Logistics, supply chain, and parcel delivery are at the forefront of technological adoption. History reveals that the companies which fail to adopt the latest trends in logistics cease to exist because competitors outperform them.
Although technology brings a range of capabilities to this industry, yet some technologies and approaches would be the key players in the upcoming times. The following are the six most notable technologies capable of refining logistics operations.
1. Crowdsourcing Delivery Tasks.
The largely empty vehicles traveling to remote locations for supplying goods pose a serious challenge to logistics managers. Many companies have tried a range of ways to reduce costs and time consumption in fulfilling these tasks. However, they could not attain any significant results.
Crowdsourcing – usually referred to as crowd shipping – emerged in recent years after the successful adoption of the gig economy. Independent vehicle owners traveling to remote locations register themselves as gig workers and perform the delivery or supply chain tasks on the behalf of a logistics company.
Such companies experience remarkable cost and time optimization by ensuring that their vehicles perform operations only in the areas where half of each truck remains filled with goods. In return, the delivery agents attain small monetary benefits.
2. Collaboration for Outsourcing.
Using common citizens as gig workers is not the only choice when aiming to optimize the supply chain and short-distance delivery orders. Another option is to collaborate with competitors in a mutually beneficial way so that both stakeholders generate value.
More precisely, you can develop partnerships with delivery and logistics businesses operating in the same region to generate a marketplace of gig workers. The workers would be getting more orders, and hence remain satisfied since they would be registered to work at more than one company.
It is not only the new things that you can create. Collaboration would allow you to rectify the loopholes in existing approaches. As a result, you can attain remarkable improvement in last-mile and same-day delivery operations by adopting these trends in logistics.
Partnership with a competitor creates a win-win situation. Both partners have one less thing to care about with one more source of obtaining benefits. There are always a set of shortcomings that prevent you from expanding your business or entering into new markets. The same goes for your competitors as well. The collaboration allows both businesses to fill their void and grow in the process.
3. Smart Warehouse Management.
It would obviously be unwise not to adopt automation in warehouses despite the advancement in IoT(Internet of things) and AI(Artificial intelligence). A smart warehouse presents the interconnection of various devices and software systems to eliminate human input and accelerate job scheduling. Transforming a warehouse with smart technologies brings the following advantages.
IoT(Internet of things) provides the ability to track inventory items instantly with RFID(Radio-frequency identification) tags or bar codes. Smartphone apps scan these codes and visualize records associated with this unit. This approach enables you to win the trust of customers by ensuring that none of the inventory units is counterfeited, expired, or smuggled.
Automation can be implemented at multiple levels to reduce operational time and cost. From responding to customers’ queries to scheduling a job and generating invoices, each task can be automated. Incorporating robotic process automation is one of the top trends in logistics management.
4. Multi-Route Planning System.
Delivery and logistics businesses cover a wide area in their supply chain. The vastness is not limited to manufacturers, distributors, and supply chain operators – on-demand delivery agents operating in a city also cover thousands of kilometers every day.
Although crowdsourcing and partnerships present a considerable solution, yet they address the challenge only partially. Every notable logistics operator is now adopting intelligent multi-route planning systems (IMPS). Recent studies sharing results of surveys revealed that the companies adopting these systems reported remarkable optimization in fleet operations. The widespread adoption of IMPS makes it one of the crucial current trends in logistics.
Map Customization: Delivery points in the supply chain are predetermined and continue to remain the same as the locations of warehouses and retail stores are unlikely to change frequently. However, on-demand delivery destinations immensely vary. Thus, the dynamic map embedded in the ODTap platform keeps on updating with new destinations.
Destination Prioritization: Once the delivery agents have all the destinations, they can prioritize one over the other in cases where urgent delivery is intended.
Route Identification: Knowing every destination and placing priority over it enables IMPS to identify possible routes that a driver can take. Some routes offer better roads while others have less traffic congestion. Again others offer the shortest distance.
Route Recommendation: The IMPS is capable of suggesting the most suitable route to drivers. However, it is upon drivers’ consent to take the recommended route or go for an alternative one.
5. Blockchain for Enhanced Logistics.
One of the most longstanding challenges in the logistics industry is the time consumption in the verification of transactions. Apart from distributors and retailers, regulatory bodies are also the stakeholders. Every transaction has to be verified at multiple steps. Research confirms that the time wasted in waiting for authentication is more than every other part of the logistics management cycle.
Fortunately, Blockchain – one of the emerging trends in logistics – presents an immensely promising solution. This technology-based on distributed ledger stores transaction records in an immutable scheme. In essence, a record once stored cannot be deleted or modified.
Blockchain is not only secure but transparent too. Its transparency reflects in the fact that every stakeholder can view the relevant transactional details – unlike the traditional approach where only the business administrators are entitled to view such information.
6 . Good AR and IoT for Fleet Management.
The research and development in technologies including Augmented Reality (AR) and Internet of Things (IoT) are demonstrating impressive results for the logistics industry. Fleet managers are implementing these technologies for improvement in their fleet operations.
The drivers can view cabin temperature, estimated arrival time, distance traversed and remaining, and a vast amount of other useful pieces of information. Apart from drivers, AR can be highly useful for warehouse managers as well. They can find inventory items and details associated with them in real-time by using AR glasses.
IoT also enables drivers to perform connected braking. In this practice, the leading truck also controls the braking systems of the following fleet vehicles. Thus, the fleet attains improved aerodynamics due to reduced friction. Managers can leverage this practice on long and straight roads.
The industry is rapidly adopting these trends in logistics for their abilities to transform the industry for the good. IoT and AR are all set to play a crucial role in fleet operations.
CLMI (Courier and Logistics Management Institute) is an academic and professional institute in Nigeria that offers courses in Courier, Logistics, and transportation management and is in partnership with Limburg Graduate School of Business (LGSB) Swiss School of Management SSM.
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