There is hardly an industry that has not been positively influenced by digital transformation. Transportation and logistics (T&L) is one industry where the changes are evident. A diverse range of new technologies has given birth to data-driven business models that are shrinking the gap between the business and the customer.
RPA has already proven its mettle as an automation tool that can reduce manual dependencies while increasing productivity. In the logistics industry, RPA can work alongside employees assisting them in picking up information or even aid in time-bound decision-making.
For instance, logistic players have to perform a variety of manual functions like keying in quotes, schedules, consignment details, etc. RPA can automate this manual process, saving time as well as minimizing the human-error factor. These benefits combined with the easy availability of tools will increase RPA adoption in the days to come.
Here are some key areas to fine-tune:
Until a while ago, the primary goal of a logistics player was restricted to moving a parcel from point A to point B. But e-commerce has changed the old rules. This is the age of same-day delivery, scheduled delivery, just-in-time purchases, product lifecycle transparency and so on. Logistics is no longer a discreet business function restricted to few people, but an operation that has larger data visibility.
IoT and its penny-sized sensors help logistic players to collect real-time data that help monitor the entire supply chain. It helps logistic players gain several benefits like better asset utilization, preventive maintenance of equipment, minimizing downtime and even proactive response to customer demands. It is not surprising to know the IoT in the logistics market is expected to reach $1,050.95 billion by 2022 (MarketWatch)
“Torture the Data, and it will confess to anything,” said the renowned economist Ronald Coase. Almost every industry where data is created stands to gain from data analytics. For instance, data analytics can help analyze most frequented customer destinations and suggest the shortest routes. This will help cut down fuel costs as well as quicken the pace of order fulfillment.
As an allied benefit, it will also shed light on consumer demand, thus facilitating long-term planning of logistic operations. In fact, according to the 2019 third-party logistics study, “more than half of shippers and 3PLs are investing in predictive analytics.” Clearly, analytics ranks high on the priorities of almost all major logistic players.
Cloud adoption across all industry verticals has been increasing on an arithmetic progression. The dropping prices of commodity hardware and easy availability of cloud-based tools specific to logistics management are driving the rampant cloud adoption.
There are many benefits to be gained, too, with real-time pricing being the most obvious. Cloud will give supply chain visibility, market trends, weather patterns, and consumer demand from all corners of the world. It will help logistic players to price their services on a real-time basis than on an arbitrary basis. Additionally, cloud will also foster a culture of organizational collaboration where office resources can be shared with multiple teams spread across several delivery points.
Blockchain is an immutable digital ledger. It is created using public-private-key cryptography, which is shared across a network. A blockchain ledger control is not vested with a single party but spread between all who are part of that blockchain. That makes it a perfect use case for logistics.
It helps logistic players to access uniform and verified information that is vetted by all network members. To cite an example, it is possible to track the entire journey of a consignment right from the place of its origin until delivery with blockchain. This helps eliminate the possibilities of pilferage, ensure product authenticity by tracking down counterfeit products and even simplify the documentation process at ports through digital records.
Self-driving cars and self-navigating robots that deliver packages to customers are no longer science fiction. In fact, KiwiBot has been delivering food packets to customers by crawling the sidewalks of San Francisco along with other pedestrians. It has drastically reduced the time taken for delivery as well as increased the customer service rating to 4 stars and above.
In other news, Tesla had launched automated trucks in 2017 which shook up the entire trucking world. Equipped with automatic braking, lane keeping, and lane departure warnings as well as the same autopilot system that drives Tesla cars, these trucks are expected to make trucking a lot safer for American roads.
As a testament to its future potential, big players in the logistics space like Walmart, DHL, Meijer, Girteka have already placed orders for Tesla semi-autonomous trucks. Certainly, these autonomous vehicles will have a vital role to play in shaping the future of logistics.
From wild animals to half a million beer cans, the logistics industry moves almost anything from one destination to another. In fact, it is the invisible axis of the global economy. Digital tools, which have radically changed the way we work and communicate, will disrupt the logistics industry as well.
These tech trends clearly indicate that logistics will no longer remain a physical function made up of trucks and containers. It is all set to get a fresh dose of digital infusion, which will accelerate delivery times, reduce losses and simplify supply chain management.
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