The Most Popular Emerging Logistics Technologies
We’re always looking towards the innovative trends in emerging logistics technologies.
A lot of the technological advancements that have come about in recent years are still heavily trending upward. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, though, the whole logistics industry has been forced into a radical expansion in order to meet safety and satisfactory performance metrics. And they are relying on these advancements now, more than ever before, to help. Everything from SaaS platforms like RedwoodConnect 2.0 and the IoT, to physical technologies like self-driving vehicles and cobots.
Supply chains are always looking to become leaner, faster, and more autonomous. If there ever was a time that logistics tech was needed and could potentially redefine an entire industry, that time is now.
What are the most popular emerging logistics technologies, as of the spring/summer season 2020? Most importantly, what is the best way to implement them into your supply chain? Talk to the freight tech experts on our Innovate team and get a head start on your competition.
Robots are Everywhere
In recent years, warehouses and transportation companies have been slowly adopting robots into their workforce. Since the coronavirus has brought health and safety practices into question, robots have quickly begun to take on an even bigger role.
- Social distancing means robots can move goods from employee to employee without human contact.
- Sanitization and decontamination robots are able to completely clean all surfaces and packages in a warehouse/truck in just a few hours.
- Robots are able to help fill in the gaps for employees who have had to take time off for their health.
- Robots are even working as customer service reps through chat-bots and artificial learning.
The implementation of robotics goes beyond temporary measures. Robots are able to recognize patterns, learn and improve upon their tasks, communicate with other connected devices, and make decisions independently.
Robots streamline the warehouse’s most time-consuming tasks, and they’re able to do the more unsafe tasks without risk to human life. They can even predict imminent issues before they arise and make decisions in real-time to mitigate these risks. As our world is looking to change post-COVID, we anticipate that robots are going to be an omnipresent aspect of operations and logistics.
Autonomous Fleets are Being Fast-Tracked
There has been a driver shortage for the past few years. Now, with the demand for deliveries on the rise, we’re going to need even more trucks and drivers available. With that being said, a lot of drivers have grown increasingly worried about being away from their families or concerned about unsafe practices during such uncertain times.
To meet demand, autonomous deliveries are quickly going becoming the norm
Amazon has already started using drones for deliveries, though it’s thus far been restricted to small-distance deliveries. Canada recently launched its first airport-based drone delivery hub as a means of ramping up drone deliveries in a controlled way. Delivery through the skies has been growing in popularity, especially the past few months, and we expect that drones are going to become an integral part of the delivery process. Drones are able to offer human-less delivery with asset tracking, risk monitoring, remote control, and more. (Some companies are already using drones for medical deliveries.)
Autonomous trucks and vehicles are also becoming one of the most popular logistics technologies, drastically changing the way our future will look. Self-driving trucks will reduce accidents due to human error, minimize traffic concerns, decrease paperwork hours, and improve the overall efficiency of routes. Everyone is getting onboard the autonomous vehicle bandwagon, from Tesla to Rolls Royce. Although the autonomous trucking world has run into some challenges, we expect a lot of those obstacles to disappear quickly in order to meet a higher demand in a post-coronavirus world. Learn how self-driving trucks will affect America’s truck drivers here.
Blockchain technology enhances transparency
Today’s customer wants to know where their shipment is and what’s going on with it, down to the very last detail and minute. Logistics companies want to understand how their supply chain partners are working and moving freight most efficiently. To get the level of transparency that clients are demanding, blockchain logistics technology is stepping in.
Blockchain is a digital database that stores blocks of information, recording every change and piece of data chronologically. The information is public, accessible, and verifiable. That means anyone can access it to see how and where the freight is moving. This kind of transparency helps to:
- Reduce information disruption
- Eliminate unnecessary intermediaries and costs
- Simplify paperwork and inventory process
- Prevent delays
- Minimize human error and fraud
- Enhance visibility for shipment tracking
- Reduce the costs of goods
The uses of 3D printing are rapidly expanding
3D printers aren’t just a novelty. They’ve become an integral part of operations for a lot of manufacturing businesses. 3D printers can print replacement parts and sometimes even print entire products (including the most complicated ones).
Utilizing 3D printers can replace assembly lines at factories, eliminate or reduce the need to carry inventory, and minimize transport and warehousing costs. You can essentially print goods on-demand, as they’re ordered, at the nearest distribution center. That means faster delivery times, shorter transit, reduced workforce required, and significantly reduced production time and costs. There is also a lot less waste since you’re printing what you need when you need it.
The scope of 3D printers is developing every day, with new technological developments and printing abilities being employed. These developments are going to radically enhance last-minute shipping, which is becoming the top trend amongst today’s consumers.
Everything will be connected with the Internet of Things
There are already billions of devices connected through the Internet of Things… and it’s still only the beginning. Using small sensors and online connectivity, devices can collect, store, and exchange data in real-time. This creates communication between devices that enables both humans and machines to analyze, predict, and make decisions about solutions faster than ever before. Anything can be connected with IoT, from pallets and shipping containers to trucks and loads.
This allows for data collection and tracking about logistic flows in real-time, at every stage of the process. This monitoring of employees and equipment helps predict and discover issues early on to ensure the lowest loss rate and highest efficiency rate.
Previously, logistics had to be tracked with specific supply chain checkpoints. These were major checkpoints, but they were unable to track the “in-between” of each leg—which is the majority of the trip. Now, the IoT is allowing those checkpoints to happen almost nonstop with uninterrupted location tracking and real-time visibility. The Internet of Things essentially eliminates all blind spots in the supply chain for a deeper understanding of how, when, and where freight is moving.
Application-based brokerages will fill trucks
Major concerns with today’s transportation are empty miles and excess truck capacity. To fill in these holes, some companies are beginning to use e-brokerage platforms. These are essentially online or mobile apps that match truck drivers with shippers or clients based on rates, routes, schedules, and availability. This helps fill up trucks while offering more on-demand shipping options for clients.
These brokerages will be able to automate everything about pairing shippers with truckers, like delivery status, dispatch, load tracking, payments, and more. This will not only minimize operating costs and improve utilization and fuel efficiency, but it will likely also bring about a more independent logistics world. Individual drivers will be able to choose their hours and routes, like Uber drivers of trucking. One day, this may even be able to pair clients with autonomously driven trucks.
This will create new kinds of compliance complications, though. That’s why organizations are also looking for smarter ways to fill out paperwork and work alongside drivers. That’s why a strong implementation of blockchain and IoT can enhance other logistics technologies.
“Big data” is moving logistics forward
Logistics is becoming less about moving cargo and more about the data it takes to move that cargo. A lot of brokerages are emphasizing data services, especially as fleets are becoming more autonomous and independently held. Data is the greatest asset for companies today, including the operations and logistics sides of companies. Data is used for everything from AI and machine learning to “anticipatory shipping.” Without good quality data, the rest of the tech on this list can’t exist.
The future of the supply chain is data- and intelligence-driven. In order to compete, companies need to be able to adapt, flex, and grow with the ever-changing times.
In an increasingly data-centric industry, Redwood Logistics is at the forefront of technology and innovation. We’re growing while so many logistics organizations are struggling because we put an emphasis on the advanced, cutting-edge tech that drives business forward.
We create custom solutions for your unique business needs. No matter where you are or where you’re looking to go, we’ll create the strategy your operations need to thrive. Reach out to us for your FREE consultation. We’re excited to take your tech to the next level.