As David Kiger has previously mentioned, logistics, and pretty much everything that is commonly associated with its scope—supply chain management, key performance indicators, statistics, etc.—is constantly evolving and highly dependant on technological developments. Thus, after consideration, here are several trends that will most likely reshape the future of this industry, which is why they should not be ignored:
Trend # 1: Warehouse automation and robotics throughout the supply chain
As mentioned in older posts, automation and artificial intelligence have been growing in number recently. In fact, automation is already present and widely well-established in many distribution centres globally; however, its scope is limited as automation is managed by highly advanced warehouse management systems. Whilst those system-guided manual processes can really create a huge impact in warehouse predetermined efficiencies, the value of implementing and seizing the full scope of automation is only known to those historically dependant-on-logistics corporate giants that are able to build automated warehouses or reshape their operations.
That scenario, although common in today’s juncture, seems to be making a shift towards other companies as well: robotics is now being brought to many warehouses in the market, and robotics solutions are pretty much at hand, to some extent, for pretty much any type of business.
Such is the case of the increased use of robotic trucks, and the fact that their adoption is still being hovering and lingering around. Nonetheless, it is not a secret that the pinnacle of warehouse robotics will arrive once vendors master the art of real robotic picking—meaning: seeing robots pick orders from traditional and conventional racking.
Today, judging by the circumstances, robotic picking has been commonly associated with systems that are able to bring goods to the picker, which, of course, demands a no less than a considerable amount of specialized racking and equipment. Once robots are able to pick conventionally from either shelves or floor-locations, warehouse operators will be able to harness the opportunity to make the shift towards vastly automated distribution centers. Such scenario, in reality, will hardly arrive in the present year; however, businesses are wasting no time in making that a reality—which provides a reasonable and plausible explanation for the fact that today’s businesses are investing heavily in robotics and automation development.
Trend # 2: Autonomous transportation
In al older post, David Kiger addressed the topic of autonomous road transportation. In fact, that is one of the today’s most visible trends and the one that shows great growth levels despite the fact that it still looks that it will take some time before it is functional and real.
Be that as it may, such premises are no excuse for simply overlooking the progress being achieved on transportation and other transportation solutions with the incredible potential to reach a much greater economic efficiency.
As seen in Australia and the United States, the first automated car trials some years ago. In fact, in the United States, several companies managed to haul a full load of ready-to-be-delivered goods from point A to point B without any problem whatsoever and, almost, without a driver—although it is said he did not intervene at any point.
The cost of transport—commonly one of the major issues transportation companies experience—has finally encountered its match: driverless trucks and vehicles. As a matter of fact, once the legal and safety errands have been run, the acceptance will surely rise. And although as mentioned there is still a long way to go, 2017 will surely see automated vehicles and trucks experience progress.
Trend # 3: Logistics and technology services are not the same thing
As technology keeps evolving, logistics companies and technology providers will look alike much more. This will happen simply because both 3PLs and 4PLs continue to heavily rely on IT platforms and software. In other words, both industries will, to some extent, resemble one another. And that happens to several industries such as Airbnb or Uber. This evident merging of technology and service provision is starting to imbue B2B marketplaces, and the same blending of software and service is now found in the sheer array of solutions used in warehouse management, procurement processes, logistics operations, purchases, etc.
This means that companies will need to be increasingly careful about what kind of organizations they are dealing with when acquiring any service. Besides, this becomes even more important today, since technology and supply chain expertise continue to grow in numbers within the vast universe of current and avant-garde logistics applications: upstart providers will exhibit more strength in terms of technological capabilities than supply chain expertise and vice versa.
Be that as it may, companies, especially those heavily dependant on logistic changes, ought to be prepared to face a heavy disruption; nevertheless, it is important to remember that the very nature of every trend is that it comes and goes.
* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com