The evolution of technology is pushing the boundaries and changing how the world does business. Today, we’re accustomed to everything being online and right at our fingertips for immediate access. Through Amazon, the pioneer of fast-paced delivery service, it’s possible to receive a package less than an hour after ordering, depending on where you live. Improved technology has also increased productivity in the supply chain, minimizing costs and errors.
These advances benefit all areas of the logistics industry: trucking transportation, international transportation (ocean and air), supply chain management, and shipment tracking. Here are five major technology advances that are changing the future of the logistics industry.
Internet of Things (IoT) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
Did you think years ago that you would be able to turn on your ceiling fan from your smartphone? Today, many devices are made with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities and sensors, from cell phones and ceiling fans to cars. The easy access to Wi-Fi and the internet connects everyone to everything, which is why it’s called Internet of Things. IoT is opening up many opportunities for the supply chain, such as reducing costs and delays by avoiding risks. Sensors are built into cabs, cargo ships, trains, etc., and connect to an alarm system or dispatcher that is monitoring and tracking. These sensors process and transmit the information to the crew who then gains insight into hidden risks and knowledge. Although IoT isn’t an entirely new technology, it continues to impact the future of logistics, allowing for a more accurate in-transit visibility and delivery of goods.
RFID technology, which has also been in use for a few years, is a popular labor-saving way companies can track their inventory. A tag or sensor is placed on the product and radio waves are sent out. The data is then received and processed by the company. Similar to RFID tags are barcodes, but the superior speed of information delivery and data processing of RFIDs is more appealing to businesses and the way technology is moving. Today, many companies are using RFID tags in their distribution warehouses to monitor containers. Other industries are already using RFID tags, such as the apparel industry and major theme parks.
Enhanced GPS Accuracy
Long gone are the days when you printed out directions from the computer before you left the house. Now almost everyone uses GPS, whether built-in on their vehicles or on their cellphones. The accuracy of these devices has drastically increased throughout the years, not only helping frustrated, lost drivers but also improving the supply chain. The advanced accuracy of GPS allows for increased productivity and satisfied customers, by tracking trucks’ locations and improving hauls through access to updated traffic data.
Sensor technology is one of the most advanced and well-developed technologies today. With the introduction of sensors, there is no need for checking equipment on the ships manually. Connecting all the machinery to sensors through wireless connectivity enables the crew on the ship to keep accurate tabs on the working condition of machines, the maintenance required at regular intervals, and their complete operability on ships.
In addition, if the sensors are combined with machine learning and artificial intelligence, they can access remote locations and analyze the data, immediately sending out alerts if any of the ship’s parts need maintenance. Sensor technology, if calibrated correctly, can guarantee the most efficient operation on ships.
The use of robots in every sector has become quite common in the past few years. In the shipping industry, robots are gradually being used to aid all the tasks. Activities like packing, delivering, inspection, firefighting, etc. can be carried out by robots effortlessly.
Since robots work more effectively and without any breaks, the shipping industry is anticipated to come to rely heavily on the use of robots for every function. These robots will also be able to locate and navigate ships and can be used to eliminate a threat in case of an attack. The size of these robots is also being worked upon. Robots the size of heavy machinery can take up a lot of space and prove to be a hurdle. New types of robots, called ‘mini-robots’, are being paired with the sensors to identify and record all the data in the ship and work on it. Given the increasing trend of robotic automation, it can be expected that in the next few years, manpower aboard ships will be considerably reduced.