Darren Matthews, Business Development Analyst for WiseTech Global, encourages you to investigate how today’s technology can help redefine and streamline your business.
Due to the rise of globalization and ever-changing regulations and security over the last decade, logistics providers have had to change how they do business. However, it is the shift in IT that has had the most profound effect on the logistics industry. Advancing technology in the past meant reducing staff, but the tech coming in the future may not necessarily lead to layoffs. While some companies may be able to survive without advanced technologies, they certainly can’t thrive without the productivity benefits new tech brings.
There are plenty of companies whose use of technology has changed, will change, or is changing their business.
The Transport and Logistics sector is going through a rapid and unprecedented transformation. Take the online retailer Amazon as an example. In various areas, it can now promise its customers that their deliveries will arrive within an hour after being ordered online. It’s no secret; anyone can guess that this massive global giant is seriously investigating the use of drone technology to make that speed and efficiency really happen everywhere.
There is a long-standing joke that “teleportation” could replace “delivery,” but consumers can see that idea moving a step closer to reality with the advent of 3D printing. Rather than wait for a man in a van to bring your replacement part for the washing machine, you simply receive an electronic file and print the item yourself from the convenience of your own home.
The world is also well on its way to true interconnectivity through ‘The Internet of Things,’ which enables various devices all along the supply chain (and everywhere else) to communicate with one another without needing human activation. Imagine the office coffee maker automatically brewing your espresso because you just finalized the last task of a complex freight consolidation and the software told it to.
Applications that can change the face of the logistics industry are closer to coming true every day, and there are more to watch out for.
Preparing for Market Demands
Considering there will be some areas where Amazon’s drones won’t reach, how far are we from having completely driverless delivery vehicles? Companies such as Google are already in advanced testing for driverless passenger vehicles, the day when all road-going vehicles are unmanned isn’t so far away.
A recent study by EyeForTransport found that 42 percent of retailers and manufacturers would like 3PL companies to have some degree of knowledge about driverless vehicles. Counter to this enthusiasm, however, is the position of the 3PLs themselves, where only 0.75 percent of the providers said they had any knowledge of the technology, and only 12.78 percent said they were even aware it existed.
This is a clear sign of what the marketplace demands for the future, and it’s a resounding call to action for the world’s 3PLs to start investigating the opportunities.
Automation for Logistics and Freight Management
Technology has always surrounded us. Robots have been in manufacturing plants for half a century. Back in 1962, General Motors first used an industrial robot to just move items to and fro a little faster. A few decades later, the first robotic arm was introduced on the assembly line, designed to make businesses more efficient, productive, and reliable.
Today, even simple tech tools - such as POD signature capture devices, in-cab GPS, various vehicle telematics, and RF scanners - are reducing the workload of staff and speeding up processes. But when these devices are integrated across your global Transport Management System (TMS), you not only speed up the process for a single user, you do so for the whole business. Accurate, timely data is readily available to all, without a second thought.
Maximizing Staff Efficiency
Automation will, of course, have an impact on your staff. While that may at first signal a reduction in staff numbers, many in the industry are finding that by automating what can be automated, they have been able to quickly scale and significantly grow the business by finding the technology that puts the skillsets of their highly valuable teams to the greatest use.
From a technological point of view, a small change inside your business can allow you to completely restructure the roles of your staff, putting them right where a human face is best placed, rather than where capability limitations dictate them to be. Operating from a single, integrated TMS, they can be easily re-assigned to new or different areas of the business whenever the need arises.
Productivity on Full Display
TMS software is increasingly automating tasks to replace the manual processes historically managed by staff. Reducing the number of documents you need to produce alongside automating the creation and delivery of emails and various notifications to numerous trading parties can bring efficiency gains of between 30-50 percent. When you add other productivity tools, the further potential for automation can completely change the job role or workflow of your personnel. Technology can help you embrace the new era.
Driverless trucks may not happen for a decade yet, and your Amazon order might not be landing in your garden by drone for another couple of years, but technology does exist right now to completely change how you do business. Take advantage of what’s out there, and everyone will see how you work smarter and faster on the outside, all while reducing costs and scaling your business efficiently on the inside.
Darren Matthews is Business Development Analyst for WiseTech Global
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