7 Technology Must-Haves for Logistics and Supply Chain Business in 2020

Jan 17, 2020 Scott Mathews Scott Mathews

The demand for products in B2B and B2C sectors has risen due to the surge in eCommerce. The competition got rifer due to the entry of newer businesses and there has been a call out for evolution in the logistics and supply chain businesses. The evolution is mostly relative to customer service through timely delivery.

The pressure of managing a warehouse has become more pressing because it is more than just controlling the regular operations, but it’s also focused on minimizing costs. At the same time, warehouse managers need to fill orders accurately for them to keep their competitive edge.

The need for faster production and distribution has been heightened due to growing digital enterprises and other consumer demands. What could the supply chain and logistics business possibly do to address this need? Here are the seven technology platforms that the logistics and supply chain businesses need to have to provide fast service to customers.


Supply Chain Visibility (Real-Time)

Utilizing Supply Chain Visibility is something businesses need to do in contrast to it being a luxury. There is a need to continually work on this technology until real-time data is easily accessible. Overall, it should not be a foreign subject to the majority of the users. 

That data is currently on need by carriers and the key thing here is that customers demand it too now. That has driven the need for this data being provided by logistical and supply chain companies by employing sophisticated systems that boost the visibility of the supply chain operations.

The systems enable businesses to make educated decisions based on the route that transporters use. It gives an output by analyzing data such as weather, road conditions, and traffic, etc. In that way, company operations are smoother and customers get more satisfied because they get their deliveries on time.

The technological systems used to improve the visibility of this type of operation feature international shipment tracking that uses IoT sensor technology. Any device that is tapped into this IoT network can track the vehicles, equipment and inventory effortlessly. Whenever customers demand to know where their parcels are, logistical companies will be in a better place to give them an accurate answer.

The trend of implementing the technology is going to pick up even more in 2020 due to big corporations collaborating or working in tandem with the smaller players in this business sector. Using IoT sensors also offers more benefits because containers can be monitored in real-time and determine whether preventative maintenance is required. That makes the operations of containers more proactive instead of reactive.


Self-Driving Cars

In the logistics industry, self-driving cars are common subject that the majority of the population is keen on seeing on the roads. The sad news is that this technology is still rough around the edges and the only time you might see these cars is when they are being piloted. However, it is expected that self-driving cars will be the greatest trend of the year.

There are pilot programs currently being run by UPS Ventures, where they are testing the feasibility of using self-driving trucks between Arizona and Texas. With this pilot program, they are trying to determine if self-driving trucks can improve the quality of service being delivered and the efficiency of operations for UPS.

Certain companies have made the resolve of developing completely self-driving freight haulers. The freight shipping role in eCommerce will dramatically improve with the introduction of such technologies. The positive results you can expect are lower costs and more accurate delivery times due to these automated systems, which are more predictable than humans.

There is also another trend arising in the fleet management systems field that uses drones to do the maintenance work. For example, Austrian Airlines uses drones to maintain their aircraft on the exterior while in midflight. The task conducted by these drones can cut down the costs of maintenance and shed the load of some maintenance work from the technician’s shoulders.


Blockchain

The subject of blockchain is also a common matter in almost all industries and due to misunderstanding this term, it has been overused in the logistics industry. Specifically, the general public couldn’t fully understand the concept of blockchain in the logistical industry. Because of that, the majority of the industry grew tired of the subject and ended up growing cold.

Although that is true, small-scale operations have started to rise up and gain traction in this industry. These operations utilized the public network run by Ethereum to ensure the transactions of documents happen securely. Blockchain can also be used to share confidential information without involving external parties that will provide security services.

Different shippers and carriers can share information safely using the Blockchain and only devices within that network can access it. The structure of the Blockchain guarantees the safety of data transmitted because it designed to be hacker-proof.

To join the Blockchain, the company needs to accomplish certain tasks on their own. Those tasks include making their documented data standard, digital and they also need to cleanse it. Once that is done, logistical companies should implement a standard that would be understood in the industry by all stakeholders and then gradually develop a system where all the supply chain partners are on one common platform.


Artificial Intelligence

The logistics and supply chain industry is shaping itself as per the times where technology is concerned and has begun using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in its day-to-day activities. AI is implemented in various ways in the logistics industry as it carries out tasks that include planning the route that will be used. It is also used in developing transportation IoT devices and is integrated into demand planning. That’s not all AI has accomplished in this industry, but it has also been used in warehouse picking systems that are automated. 

AI is also being used to develop robots that deliver parcels door-to-door, design predictive optimization software and other applications. True, this technology is shifting the paradigm in the supply chain and logistics business and companies should reach for these systems.

Augmented Intelligence is also gaining more traction because of its efficacy and the high-quality work it provides. The work that is the outcome of this technology is top-quality because it is a hybrid system that utilizes AI systems combined with human intelligence. When planning logistical business operations, having a human eye to oversee that task will yield greater results than AI alone.

What is accomplished by the human approach is that it provides common sense, experience and superior intelligence. And it is then that AI does the repetitive tasks. That saves time because it allows employees to do their work more quickly and reduces human error mistakes and saves costs.


Sustainable tech

All industries have been interested in the subject of sustainability and the logistical industry was also involved in the topic. The industry in question really has a lot to improve on regarding sustainability, especially in the field of the door deliveries system. The process of delivering parcels door-to-door currently wastes energy resources since there is fuel involved and also wastes time.

To address this matter, electric cars were then introduced for delivering parcels and some companies opted to calculate the most energy-efficient paths. For example, Amazon has partnered up with Rivian to supply them with fully electric vans for their deliveries. 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) / drones are being used to eliminate the need to use fuel with negative emissions. Also, digital safes where parcels are delivered and then collected save costs and the environment as well.


Digital Twins

One of the most interesting logistical trends you can look forward to in 2020 is the digital twins technology. The digital twins address the understood issue of computer models not being exactly the same as the actual results.

That is caused by that computer models don’t consider replacing certain parts and the possibilities of them wearing out. Computer models also don’t take into account how fatigue builds up in structures and the impact of changing a few things to better suit the needs of the owner.

Digital twins amalgamate the physical and digital world by testing digital models with the same parameters that those items will face in reality. However, how can this technology be used in the logistical industry?

In shipping, digital twins can be used to test the material used for packaging with the same parameters it will face and rule out if using those means will be feasible. The data can be utilized to spot any weaknesses and improve the operations of the business.

On the other hand, warehouses can test and determine whether their facilities are equipped to house new equipment before they buy it using 3D modeling. 


Warehouse Robotics

The operations of warehouses have been ever-changing since the robotics industry was conceived. The results were that with each development, warehouse operations got much easier and cost-effective.

Startups like Handle have developed fully autonomous robots that have features that allow them to build pallets, move cartons and unload the material from the trucks throughout the warehouse. The developments in this field will make it a great trend in the year 2020 that most companies should follow.


The Bottom Line

Technology in the logistics industry is must-have and most technological systems contribute to make operations less time-consuming and error-free. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the supply-chain field or the logistics sector, there are technologies that you should have in 2020. They include sustainable technology, real-time supply chain visibility, digital twins, etc. 

Procuring some of these setups isn’t that expensive, but once acquired, the benefits are worth it. 2020 onwards, more warehouses will be technologically savvy and save significant amounts of money. Money saved by automating tasks can help provide a better price for consumers.


Reference

Scott Matthews is an experienced freelance writer and editor who currently leads a team of paper writers for Australian assignment help and Essay writing service UK that provide high-quality custom writing service, dissertation service. His area of work includes thesis, dissertation and college essays in business management, science and engineering.

Scott Mathews is an entrepreneur and a part-time essay writer at custom coursework agencies. Scott mainly writes about logistics and shopping for various websites, including Dissertation UK and Boom Essays, but he is no stranger to other topics like eCommerce and website optimization. Scott is the father of two kids and a passionate long-distance runner.

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