When the authorities issued the lockdown and shelter-in-place orders, the logistics industry experienced reduced economic activities. But the effects were varied depending on the part the company played in the supply chain. Ocean shipping and railroad transport experienced a slowdown. On the other hand, last-mile deliveries saw an increase in economic activities.
But a year after the pandemic first upended logistics companies, stakeholders can expect innovations to revolutionize the industry. These innovations integrate the latest developments in technology into an industry that supports global trade. Here are some innovations that people can look forward to in the logistics industry.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is typically associated with smart devices at home. The IoT is a network of connected devices that exchange data and work with each other to make the lives of homeowners comfortable. In the case of the logistics industry, the IoT is associated with the devices connected to different transport providers that allow logistics companies to facilitate fleet and asset management without human intervention.
The network transfers data to enhance the visibility of a company’s assets as they move along the supply chain. It also enhances the efficiency of managing assets, which allows logistics companies to make adjustments if there are delays in the delivery of supplies within the supply chain. Using the IoT also enhances transparency, monitoring, and real-time visibility of assets.
When people talk about IoT, cloud computing also comes into mind. Software as a service (SaaS) gives companies access to cloud computing solutions that reduce their need for maintaining IT infrastructures.
The pay-per-use model also allows logistics companies to use the technology even with limited funding. Cloud-based solutions also allow these companies to communicate and exchange data securely. It also allows them to collect data from their management system to analyze to make adjustments in their operations. Additionally, cloud computing allows companies to access their systems anywhere in the world.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Another tech development that will make an impact on the logistics industry is artificial intelligence (AI). The integration of AI and machine learning (ML) allows companies to proactively deal with fluctuations in the demand for specific products. For instance, companies can forecast the demand for certain products using AI and ML.
AI can help logistics companies in managing finances and ensuring suppliers get paid. Both technologies can also help predict equipment failure to allow companies to implement maintenance services to avoid issues in the supply chain. Self-driving trucks may also become a familiar sight on the road in the future.
Warehouse automation is another innovation that some companies are currently using. It uses software and robotics to automate tasks that increase the warehouse’s speed and efficiency. It also reduces the need for human intervention, which increases productivity.
Logistics companies can use the technology to reduce error rates and automate the storage and retrieval of items inside a warehouse. Some global retail and e-commerce companies are already using this technology in their warehouses to reduce their operational costs.
When people talk about warehouse automation, they should also include robotics in the conversation. Logistics companies using warehouse automation use robots to increase the accuracy and speed of operations in the warehouse.
The integration of robotics in the industry also enhances supply chain processes while reducing instances of human errors. Robotics does not take away the jobs from humans, but they make the workplace safer for them as the robots work on dangerous parts of the job.
Logistics companies can use collaborative robots or co-bots and autonomous mobile robots to work on different tasks within the industry. They take over mundane tasks in the industry so human workers can focus on more complicated parts of daily operations.
Currently, vehicle manufacturers are still working on the development of autonomous vehicles. While there were breakthroughs, there were also setbacks that these manufacturers have to work on before they can confidently offer these vehicles in the market.
Similarly, some logistics companies are working on autonomous vehicles to integrate into the supply chain in the future. Using these vehicles can increase efficiency and eliminate human errors while delivering goods safely to their destination.
These vehicles can also improve fuel efficiency by using different techniques in long-haul deliveries. With more autonomous vehicles on the roads, a reduction in traffic jams can be noted, and the vehicles will look for ideal travel routes depending on road conditions along their route.
Developments in technology have benefitted different industries, including the logistics industry. These developments can increase efficiency and reduce costs for logistics companies in the long run.