In the next five years, it will all be about quick and fast deliveries with logistics analytics, 100% location accuracy, and complete end-to-end visibility. When you consider that Apple introduced its iPad in the year 2010, and now tablet sales are about to overtake the combined sales of desktops and laptops, it becomes apparent. Consider Facebook that was launched out of a dorm room in college and now boasts over a billion users. The valuation of Facebook is almost four times the valuation of General Motors at $196 billion. Logistics industry trends have also not been left behind in the move towards a more technological future.
Today’s business has increasingly become fast-paced. Highly demanding customers seek instant gratification on one side, and businesses, in a quest to do more with the finite resources on hand, try to optimize and accelerate their supply chain, on the other side. All this means not just larger volumes to process, but also a significant increase in the number of issues warehouse and logistics management needs to deal with in a day. Side-by-side, competitive pressures mean wafer-thin margins, leaving warehouses bereft of the luxury of spending more to cater to the increased workload. The solution to overcoming such challenges is automation.
The single biggest task for warehouse executives is determining fleet deployment, matching fleet deployment with cargo based on loading capacities, fuel consumption, and more. Another critical task is monitoring fleet movement. Automating these functions, by using the latest software to intelligently route different data sets and data streams improve accuracy, leaving the managers free to focus on other things where their core competencies and interventions would be more productive. Such warehouse automation solutions improve the efficiency, accuracy, and velocity of warehouse operations manifold. Major logistics players such as Amazon are already adopting warehouse automation in a big way to move things.
Superficial Intelligence and Big Data
If you list out the X-factors for logistics management Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) would be the top contenders. We have been talking about IoT and AI for many years now, however, we have now been able to direct them to reality. Big data analytics unlock a wealth of possibilities for enterprises. For logistics companies, insights from big data are invaluable in optimizing routing, identifying perennial bottlenecks in the supply chain, and streamlining the flow of goods and resources at the warehouse. Real-time traffic, climate, and other data could identify the best route to a destination, factoring in route congestion, diversions, fuel prices, and much more. Predictive analytics help identifies whether the addressee is likely to be at home to sign for the shipment, avoiding repeat visits, and more
These X-factor concepts are a reality for us now. Technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) have evolved to a platform that they are implemented across industries as a standard practice. As far as driverless trucks are concerned, there is still some way to go for that. But with automation reaching a level that was previously assumed to be unachievable, such driverless trucks might be closer than we can imagine. Logistics management, in recent years, has been at the forefront of optimization, with many companies signing up for innovative approaches rather than traditional ones.
Hyperloop technologies are a bright spot for logistics management and linehaul express tracking in Asia. The execution of such a grand vision would require a dedicated and inspired approach. Hyperloop, however, right now is more of a concept than a reality. Some educated guesses place 2021 as the possible year of implementation.
Even then, for such a model to be commercially viable, they would have to consider the economies of scale. They would have turn a profit without passing on the cost burden on the customer. They would have to figure out a system where their resources are close to 100% utilized. Even beyond that, the Hyperloop model would be creating potential hubs at the corresponding endpoints of the tubes. These end hubs would have to manage with absolute precision to avoid bottlenecks. This brings resource and delivery route planning back in to focus. If companies want to take benefit of future technologies like Hyperloop, they must integrate delivery route and workforce optimization software within their ecosystem. This would help them amplify their first mover advantage once these technologies become a reality.
South and Southeast Asian governments have smoothened the way ahead for the transportation management system in the enterprise mobility sector. With this development field service scheduling, field service management and delivery tracking software would be the next big thing. Companies can now target optimization without worrying about infrastructure bottlenecks.
Robots and Artificial Intelligence!
Robots replacing employees is a debate that has been happening for decades. It is never going to happen. Machines, simple or complex, were made to optimize human effort, not replace it. With the advancement of technology, the only real ‘replacement’ would be in the mundane and repetitive tasks performed by employees. When these tasks are automated through software, or ‘robots’, it makes the employees free to implement their talent on a bigger scale. Strategy, conceptualization, implementation, and analysis would always be done by humans.
Humans design robots to continue a set-up that has been tested and perfected by repeated human effort. Amazon has been experimenting with automated delivery management, but the people designing these automation algorithms are humans. With all the human talent taken away from rudimentary tasks and applied to exemplary ones, the next ‘age’ after industrialization would surely be the ‘innovation age’.
The Indian Angle! Route Planning Software Post-GST Implementation!
Warehouse management would see restructuring with the advent of GST. Before, with inconsistent tax systems differing from state to state, companies used to maintain multiple warehouses across the country to achieve the lowest tax aggregate. With GST, there would be renewed incentive to streamline the warehouse network across the country.
Companies would revisit their logistics management ecosystem to device more optimized structures and shipment tracking software. The focus of optimization would now be the shortest and well planned routes with the most efficient field workforce management structure. The benefits emerging from this optimization could be then passed on to the end customer.