According to a recent survey conducted by Forbes Insights, 65% of logistics, supply chain and transportation executives recognize the need to overhaul existing models and add agility to business operations to ensure omnichannel delivery, reduce costs and constantly evolving to meet changing consumer demand. through digital transformation.
In fact, 72% of companies involved in planning, executing and monitoring the flow of product from point of origin to point of consumption rank improved customer experience as the top benefit of business transformation.
The way to more operational efficiency and customer satisfaction lies in the digitization of logistics processes.
Driven by significant advances in hardware and software development, as well as a booming global economy, regulations and fierce competition, 62% of business leaders surveyed by Forbes admitted their organizations were undergoing digital transformation at this time.
With the supply chain being a goldmine of structured and unstructured data, it seems only natural that the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and blockchain are considered the key drivers of digital transformation in logistics, supply chain management, warehousing and transportation.
By collecting the information generated by connected devices and logistics software and comparing the data with machine learning models deployed in the cloud, companies can achieve greater supply chain visibility and drastically reduce operational costs.
However, the industry is largely lagging behind the digital curve.
Although cloud computing adoption rate exceeded 50% across the industry last year, just over 20% of companies involved in logistics and supply chain management are collaborating with IoT software companies to power their digital transformation initiatives, while only 10% of logistics companies rate their data processing and analytics skills as advanced.
In this article, I want to identify the technologies that are expected to have the most profound impact on logistics, as well as the biggest barriers to digitizing the sector.
New technologies in logistics and their potential impact
INTERNET OF THINGS
The Internet of Things, often referred to as “telematics” in the transportation space, could have a $1.9 trillion direct economic impact on logistics and supply chain within the next five years.
IoT operates at three layers – i.e. connected hardware, infrastructure that facilitates data exchange and processing, and the software layer – blurring the line between the digital and physical as virtually any object such as a delivery vehicle, an order picking truck or inventory items can be tracked will.
Armed with IoT solutions, manufacturing, retail and transportation companies can monitor the whereabouts of goods in real-time, ensuring they get to the right place at the right time and in the right condition. In addition, IoT solutions enable companies to assess demand based on historical data and automate inventory replenishment.
In addition to RFID and barcode-based asset tracking, the applications of Internet-of-Things technologies in logistics include:
- Connected and autonomous delivery vehicles.While onboard GPS trackers, driver drowsiness detection technology, and tank level sensors have become a reality in modern logistics, further advances in electronics and computer vision are expected to lead to unmanned delivery solutions, including drones and driverless trucks, aimed at short-haul automation. Delivery services and facilitating same-day delivery to remote areas.
- Smart warehouse.Unlike traditional warehouse management systems (WMS), IoT solutions allow warehouse managers to monitor goods down to the item level, streamline order processing using picking robots, and improve inventory accuracy by up to 95%.
- viable. Applications of wearable technology in logistics, supply chain management, and transportation include handheld, head-mounted, and cloth-wrapped devices that speed picking in the warehouse, monitor employee well-being, and provide hands-free guidance for industrial workers.
As I mentioned earlier, the logistics business is intertwined with historical and real-time data. In order to quickly advance the ultimate goals of digital transformation, it must be captured, analyzed and implemented.
With the greater availability of cloud managed services that support rapid and cost-effective development of custom AI-based analytics solutions, as well as the exponential growth in computing power of IoT devices, allowing software developers to move computing closer to the edge of a network, — these tasks become manageable.
Today, artificial intelligence can capture most text and voice interactions—the understanding of AI speech-to-text algorithms has already surpassed that of humans—and successfully transform massive amounts of visual data into content usable by the system.
The large-scale adoption of AI solutions will have a revolutionary impact on supply chains:
- Intelligent forecasts.Although AI-based demand forecasting is still in its early stages, smart algorithms tend to show a 6.4% higher accuracy rate compared to traditional forecasting methods for industries with highly volatile demand because they consider more factors (from demand volatility to bad Weather). ). By ensuring a consistent flow of data across a supply network and integrating advanced ETL capabilities into enterprise software solutions, companies involved in logistics and supply chain management can achieve near real-time information sharing, anticipate customer needs, and personalize the shopping experience.
- Route & freight cost optimization. In addition to predictive shipping enabled by intelligent demand forecasting programs, AI technology can be integrated into delivery modules to optimize routes based on real-time environmental, traffic, and vehicle/staff availability data, reducing last mile costs, fuel consumption, and mileage to reduce carbon emissions.
- Increased automation with robotics.From autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that locate, track, and move inventory in warehouses and fulfillment centers to collaborative workspaces where humans and intelligent machines work hand-in-hand, robotics presents a unique opportunity for companies that… Want to close the workforce gap and scale operational capacity.
The applications of distributed ledger technology in logistics largely fall on smart contracts – i.e. self-executing digital contracts that allow companies involved in the distribution of goods to automate the purchasing process, eliminating bureaucracy and inefficiencies of business processes related to human error to eliminate, secure payment transactions and increase transparency in the supply chain.
In addition, a blockchain-based logistics system can store electronic documents on the origin of goods, transport conditions and expiry dates. Because each item has a unique identifier, the cutting-edge technology offers the ability to monitor the products’ journey from a manufacturing facility to the final consumer and can therefore be used in the fight against counterfeit pharmaceutical goods, which account for 30% of all medicines sold in emerging markets and ensure the cold chain quality for temperature-sensitive products.
Identifying the barriers to digital transformation in logistics
- Limited IT capacity. According to the Digital Supply Chain Transformation survey conducted by GT Nexus, 39% of logistics leaders cite a lack of the required technology skills and expertise – on site and across the supply chain – as the top barrier to digitizing companies. To accelerate the implementation of digital workflows, 61% of companies are expected to rely on external partners – ie digital transformation outsourcing, technology and consulting providers.
- resistance to change. 25% of logistics and transport companies have no digital strategy. 48% of companies engaged in product distribution rely on traditional technology and legacy software to communicate with partners and manage workflows. Only a fifth of logistics executives admit to having access to data from the extended supply chain and using it to make informed decisions. The lack of collaboration between technology and business development teams only exacerbates the problem.
- Technological Limitations. Some of the top technology-related barriers to innovation adoption include failure to ensure connectivity across the supply chain, AI deficiencies – i.e. immature collision avoidance technologies preventing mass deployment of delivery drones – and the security challenges of the Internet of Things based on flawed Hardware are due and design of software systems.
In the real-time economy, speed, timing, and data-driven decision-making are key to ensuring a company’s success and meeting liquid customer expectations that go beyond on-time delivery. The technologies that show promise for the logistics sector mainly revolve around location, connectivity, big data, cognitive computing and security.
Considering that 74% of logistics executives currently place their company in the middle of the digital progress scale (hence, most digital transformation projects in logistics are still in the proof-of-concept stage), one certainly can Talk of a solid start to digitization has been made – and it only takes a technology leader and the agility of the team to lead the companies to a successful conclusion.
Andrei Klubnikin is a content marketer at R-Style Lab. He creates articles in collaboration with IoT experts, highlighting the benefits of adopting cutting-edge technologies in businesses. Andrei also writes for Datafloq, DZone, IoT Evolution, IoT for All, StartUs Magazine, etc.