What you need to know about the state of drones in logistics

What you need to know about the state of drones in logistics

The logistics industry is always looking to improve the practices that will make sure clients get merchandise faster.  The industry is constantly researching and developing new way to improve processes.  Sometimes, they will experiment with existing technology which has become popular with the masses and see how it can be used to carry a package from point A to point B.  Over the last couple of years, one of the most popular technologies to come about has been unmanned aerial vehicles, the general population knows them as drones.  At first, they were just used as a hobby and the latest Christmas craze.  Slowly, they began to get used in more industries.

The real estate industry has been one of the most benefitted by the growth of drone technology.  Sports venues and concerts have also seen an improvement in user experience thanks to these unmanned vehicles.  Another awesome example of how drones can be useful has been shown by the Rwandan government.  Back in October, they announced that drones would be making periodic on-demand emergency deliveries, something that could save thousands of lives each year.  Another industry that is looking to take advantage of drones and their many applications is the logistics industry, one which David Kiger knows plenty about.  Let’s have a look at both sides of the coin regarding drone usage in logistics.  It’s a debate that has started to heat up a little more in the past year and one which will surely not be settled for a while.

What drones have going for them

  1.       Get you what you need where you need it.

Here are the best things drones have going for them.  Their maneuverability allows them to go practically anywhere.  Isolated areas can now get supplies delivered to them without much hassle.  Drones would give logistics companies an opportunity to expand their shipping network and eliminate location restrictions.

  1.       Cost reduction

Having small packages sent by trucks brings on a ton of costs for a company.  It has to worry about fuel, personnel, truck maintenance, and package safety and integrity.  With drones, small packages can be delivered locally in a matter of minutes.  Amazon recently tested Prime Air, it’s drone delivery service, and the results were outstanding.  According to the company, a drone was able to deliver a package in only 13 minutes from the time the customer clicked pay to when it arrived at the delivery address.  If the process was done traditionally, it would at least take one day.  Drones can dramatically change how local deliveries are done and save the company a lot of costs that could be invested elsewhere.

  1.       Improves processes inside a company’s warehouse

Handling packages, moving them around, and keeping an inventory of what’s in stock can lead to many work-related accidents or complications.  Drones can help logistics companies create a safer work environment.  They can help employees move heavy packages from one area of the warehouse to the other, automatically decreasing the chance of injury.  Additionally, drones can climb to high places in warehouses so that employees don’t have to risk a fall.  Inventory-wise, drones can scan whatever is stocked up high while human personnel do the same task on ground level.  Basically, inventory can be run a whole lot faster.

Image courtesy of Paolo Tonon at Flickr.com

What drones have going against them

  1.       Regulations against drones.

There are still many local governments which are opposed to drones occupying air space.  They have concerns about drones crashing into buildings, suddenly running out of battery, carrying hazardous materials, and many others that don’t allow them to even consider the benefits of using drones to deliver packages.  Until those in charge of making the laws are on board with drones delivers will be extremely restricted with regards to location.

  1.       How weather can affect delivers

Mother nature is another thing that can potentially affect how drones are used in logistics.  Trucks and vans can still be used during rain, snow, and other severe weather conditions.  Unmanned air vehicles could have potentially catastrophic results if they were used under these conditions.  For those situations, shipping and logistics companies would be forced to use traditional means of transportations.  What this means is that companies will only be able to use drone delivery for a limited amount of time during the year and that also means that could be spending money on technology that will really have that much benefit in the long run.

Drones can definitely shape the future of logistics.  If regulations can be passed and weather conditions don’t become a factor, drones are going to be an important part of logistics.  Finally, the industry can benefit a great deal from using drones to carry out inventory and help out employees all over the different processes of the company.

There are other technologies that are changing logistics.  To find out which ones, check out the blog to find out which six technologies are changing the logistics world.

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