The logistics industry used to be known as an arduous tarmac-driven one. Digital Transformation is molding the industry’s image as one that is data-driven and built on intelligent systems. Digital Transformation is also fueling the growth and efficiency of the logistics and delivery industry in ways that were previously inaccessible or deemed impossible.
Day-old reports of fleets that are out for delivery are now replaced with real-time location tracking that helps suppliers and buyers plan for storage and distribution with better accuracy. Vehicle diagnostics help analyze truck driver behavior and narrow down on speed violations, excessive braking, and even the detailed mechanical health of the truck – all in real-time. Delayed deliveries caused due to vehicle breakdowns would be a thing of the past.
Digital transformation promises this and much more in the logistics and delivery industry. From achieving cost efficiency to reducing CO2 emissions and attaining maximum order fulfillment, digital transformation in logistics and delivery industry is an industrial revolution that is taking place right now.
Here is how Digital Transformation will turn around the fortunes of logistics players.
Plan and Optimize New Routes
There is an enormous demographic shift happening all around the world that is reshaping the logistics industry. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, at least two-thirds of the world population would be living in metro cities. This would pose a serious challenge for logistics firms trying to attain swift fulfillment in densely populated mega cities, where traffic bottlenecks occur at every turn.
Digital transformation can arm logistics with real-time traffic to spot traffic bottlenecks and find alternative routes that will help the delivery stay on schedule. Intel demonstrates in this video how the Internet of Things powered Intelligent Transportation Systems would help logistic players lighten the burden of route planning and optimization.
Streamlined Loading and Distribution
Data-based automation will enable carriers to streamline their inbound and outbound shipments. Predictive analytics will help accurate planning for warehouse space, the best time for loading and unloading, followed by distribution and so on. This would enable carriers to run lean logistic operations without the risk of overlapping delivery schedules.
Real-time data of container capacity, loaded capacity and intended destination, shippers would be able to identify empty containers that can be matched with nearest load, thereby reducing idle capacity.
Automated cargo inspection
Augmented reality, RFID and Internet of Things will help drastically reduce the time taken to physically inspect and approve each consignment before shipping. Also, automated cargo inspection in warehouses and at docks will eliminate the loss of time and manpower, which also delays timely shipping.
Image processing and automated detection algorithms will make it easier for port authorities to scan containers and detect illicit or threatening materials that are prohibited for shipping.
Also, blockchain which is in its nascent stages now would become mainstream in the near future thus doing away with the entire hassle of long and complicated paperwork. Port authorities, security personnel as well as in-house quality assurance personnel would be able to ascertain where a product originated from, the many junctures it traveled through before reaching its destination.
Self-Driving Trucks (Otto and Budweiser)
Just like Connected Cars are changing the passenger automobile landscape forever, digitized trucking would also transform logistics and delivery industry on a large scale. Players like Tesla and Otto have already flagged off autonomous material transport vehicles. These smart trucks would play a major role reducing human-error induced accidents and mishaps in logistics. The practical feasibility of digitized trucking was proven by Otto’s self-driving truck which successfully hauled 51,744 cans of Budweiser beer for 120 miles.
Equipped with sensors at strategic locations, these digitized trucks will drive down the road on their own guided by a wealth of data. The data will be collected by IoT sensors from cloud servers and real-time physical surroundings like other vehicles plying the road, smart traffic signage, GPS navigation and so on.
Will they throw truck drivers out of their jobs? Absolutely, not. These digitized trucks will work in harmony with truck drivers, helping them catch up on fatigue while they speed through less populated highways. This will help the drivers run more miles and contribute to the logistic company’s bottom line.
Down the Road
Boston Consulting Group in its blog opines that the logistics and delivery industry has been long overdue for a digital overhaul. Compared to the aggressive digital stance that media, retail and fintech have adopted in digital transformation, the logistics and delivery industry was seen sluggish.
But, all that is set to change. Digital transformation is putting forth a plethora of options for logistic players to maximize their fulfillment rate by managing lean operations. Digitized operations will cut away the clutter in logistic operations making the whole factory-to-port-to-customer workflow simpler and hassle-free.