More products are being bought online than ever before, but in a landscape dominated by one key player that specializes in incredibly fast logistics for free with a membership, tech is changing the way products get delivered as companies scramble to keep up with both demand and expectation.
The combination of wanting the convenience of online shopping with the instant satisfaction that comes with buying a product in a shop is driving a demand for fast turnaround. In this changing world, logistics companies are having to do a large part of the innovation to keep businesses and consumers happy and to stay afloat. This high pressure environment means that logistics companies have to adopt new and exciting tech to change the delivery experience for the better.
Adhering to Eco Regulations
Although they might not look into environmental practices of logistics companies too often, the consumer is becoming more and more discerning when it comes to the environment. There’s a statistic that is gaining traction in the eco-world: the 15 biggest ships produce more pollution than all the cars in the world combined.
Overseas shipping is achieved by an actual ship 90% of the time, so in order to adjust to the changing attitudes, shipping companies are looking at ways to reduce their environmental impacts. Sustainably powered ships that leverage wind energy are a leading idea on this front, but they do travel slower than gas powered ships, which will have an impact on consumer satisfaction. It seems to be the most promising area of development though, and ships are looking to be made far more lightweight to deal with the issues posed by slower speeds.
Smart Route Planning
A significant problem in delivery is the issue of last mile delivery. The last step between the transportation hub and the consumer is often the most expensive part of the process – the final mile can account for 53% of a shipment’s total costs. This is highly problematic when consumers are expecting cheap or more likely free delivery.
To help solve this issue, route planning technologies are being developed to help shave off precious seconds in the last mile process. Routes are often miles long with a few drop-offs in total in rural areas or marred by traffic in urban areas. Route optimization technology helps to solve this by processing time, location, vehicle capacity and traffic to deliver the very fastest routes to drivers.
Blockchain has been subject to a lot of hype, but in simple terms it is a highly efficient way to record data – it allows for a clear record of transactions and changes that can be investigated at a later date with complete trust that it hasn’t been falsified. This is unbelievably useful in the shipping industry in many ways.
Blockchain can be based in the cloud, allowing all the millions of shipping transportation containers to be tracked and measured with complete transparency. This means that delivery times will be reduced as travel log recording, data entry in spreadsheets and even import and export paperwork will be simplified. What’s more, there will be clear benefits passed onto the consumer as it will become far easier to check whether goods are legitimate or fake – something that China is already looking into with Vechain.
Robotics at the Fulfilment Center
There are points in the supply chain where mistakes occur. These mistakes can be in order selection, entering tracking numbers, putting in delivery destinations and more. Mistakes in logistics can be costly and time-consuming and can impact a consumer’s brand loyalty, as well as company reputation. Robotics are the direction that logistic centers are heading into in order to prevent these sorts of errors from occurring, as well as speeding up all their fulfilment processes.
Robots are currently used by Amazon to retrieve customer orders from the warehouses at speed, achieved by buying the robotics company Kiva Systems. The robots save a lot of time and error, streamlining the order fulfilment process and helping to contribute to Amazon’s market dominance in the logistics sphere.
The idea of drone deliveries has been floated in recent years, but companies are still on the fence about it. They will help to speed up deliveries and improve delivery times, but drones can run into a lot of issues that could lead to crashes and orders not being fulfilled – from signals dropping to being shot down. Amazon has made successful drone deliveries, but these do seem to be more like stunts than an actual business direction for the time being. However, as soon as drones become cheaper to produce and more secure to operate, they might become the mainstream. Amazon has recently won FAA approval for a Prime Air fleet.
Have you ever done a CAPTCHA on a website to prove you’re human? If you have done a few, have you ever noticed that the items you are being asked to identify are related to transport? Asking you to identify bridges, crossroads, bikes and more isn’t just a coincidence – you’re being used to train AI to recognize things imperative to safe logistics for the benefit of automatic vehicles.
Driverless cars already exist, but the race is on to make automated trucks that will come with a significant reduction in the speed that something is delivered. There will be no need to stop to sleep or go for rest breaks, a driverless truck will be able to drive through the night without stopping, adjusting speed and gears to ensure they are constantly being as fuel-efficient as possible. Automated ships that are sailed from a command center will also cut costs, as well as avoid human error that can lead to damage and slow delivery. They might be more environmentally friendly too, as fuel efficiency could be maximized by a machine.
These technologies, combined with the reintroduction of older methods of logistics like train travel (now more cost-effective than before due to optimized fuel efficiency costs) are either changing the way we currently get goods or will change the way that we get our products delivered in the next few years. The future looks efficient and environmentally-friendly.