How Technology has Transformed the Logistics Industry

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It is not some, or most, industries that have been transformed by evolving technology, it is every single industry.  Technological advancements have offered an opportunity for all commercial sectors to become more cost-effective, productive and safe than ever before. From manufacturing and transportation to construction and health care, technology has impacted all areas of business and our lives in the 21st Century.

Technology has helped explode productivity and minimise costs in a variety of industries while reducing the impacts of human error and streamlining numerous production processes and business operations.

The logistics industry is one of the biggest beneficiaries of these technological advancements, here are six of these industry-shaking innovations:

The Internet of Things and Radio Frequency Identification

The Internet of Things (IoT) was a digital leap that became the explosion of online information and data that we know today. No one could have imagined ten years ago that a smartphone in our pocket could control our car, lights, alarm systems, TVs and dishwashers. Wi-Fi technology and the proliferation of apps, interconnected devices and “smart” appliances have allowed for remote management unlike anything we have seen. The logistics sector has evolved into a more efficient, cost-effective and reliable service industry that offers far more than possible before the IoT.

By digitising production floors and machinery, floor managers, workers and engineers are connected on a single system that shares actionable insights between relevant stakeholders. This allows for real-time operations monitoring as well as in-transit visibility performed by sensors inside the vehicle transporting the goods. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags have been used for many years by companies wanting to track their inventory. RFID tags combined with humidity, temperature, alarms system and location sensors are used to track goods until delivered.

Improving Customer Service with Shipment Tracking

In the early 2010s, if you ordered something for delivery or sent something out you would be given an expected delivery date and a number to contact for further details. You could be waiting for 25 minutes to talk to a customer service operator who might not have the information you need. Again, thanks to incredible technological innovations, the logistics and shipping business has transformed.

Software and IoT technology have given customers, importers and online stores the opportunity to track any shipment, in real-time. Until the package arrives at its destination, without the need for customer services, consumers will know exactly where their package is, when it will arrive and receiving shipping notifications along the whole way. Giving consumers direct access to all of this information, logistics operations were being streamlined and customer services had improved despite less need for a human approach.

Better Road Safety Using Digital Vehicle Enhancements

Long-distance haulers are on the road, in their heavy trucks for many hours a day which means the chance of something going wrong is higher than average. The growth of smart road technologies has created an exciting environment for long-distance transportation. Innovations like automated vehicles, solar-powered roads and actual truck-road interfacing are the future of driving and logistics.

These advancements could help minimise accidents, shorten drive times and expand the mechanical capacity of trucks and cars. However, the real game-changer in road safety is the proliferation of onboard monitors, motion sensors and assistance cameras that help drivers work more safely and reduce the likelihood of accidents, missing routes or speeding.

Autonomous Vehicles and Transportation

If you ordered a pizza to your garden via unmanned drone or a driver-less Uber car arriving at your house, you would probably think you are in an episode of Black Mirror. Fortunately, this is no longer sci-fi fantasy but, technologies that already exist and are beginning their use. Now, you will probably not see these advancements on the street yet however, if Elon Musk wanted to deliver a birthday present to someone across America in a Tesla without a driver – he could. As soon as it is legalised, there is not doubt large corporations will roll out this technology quickly, creating a massive shift in the time, distance and coverage potential of delivery services, like Amazon or Takealot.

Blockchain Technology and Protecting Both Parties

In the ten-plus years since blockchain systems emerged, the logistics sector has adopted the smart commerce strategies that blockchain technology masterminds. If a product has been damaged or did not arrive, that company can end up in legal disputes over a pair of headphones or a thousand t-shirts; blockchains protect against those liabilities. Blockchain systems negotiate smart contracts on behalf of both parties: the seller and the consumer. If any of the terms of the contract are nullified or someone fails to meet their obligations; the contract is nullified and cancelled.

Robotics and Other Technology of the Future

It is not just the sensors on packages or the vehicles they are delivered in that are transforming. Manufacturing floors and warehouses are being transformed by machinery that can be controlled off-floor as well as package, load and unload, check goods and organise upcoming deliveries. The advancements in robotics are just the beginning of the game-changing innovations taking over the logistics sector.

3D-printers can print replacement parts, mass customise pieces and decentralise the production process – easing replacement-item storage – and Elon Musk plans to use intra-atmosphere rockets to transport cargo across the globe in an hour or two. There are dozens of technological trends that have the potential to affect the future of logistics in even more ways than we have already seen, in the decades to come.