Transportation in logistics is one of the most important components of the supply chain. Transportation is an area that links the many different moments in logistics and brings them together and it is also one of the most notorious components of the whole operation since it is the one that most directly affects customers from the moment their order until they receive products or services. The movement of goods adds up to around one-third of the total cost of logistics, so considering the fact there are so many moving parts, the importance of transportation in the grand scheme of things is rather huge.
What does this mean in a world where technology moves at a vertiginous pace? How is technology affecting the supply chain when it comes to transportation and how feasible are those news we see on the internet about transportation becoming completely automated and independent from fossil fuels?
Just this month, Daimler AG revealed its smart vision EQ fortwo, a self-driving concept vehicle considered the first in its class, since it doesn’t have a steering wheel or pedals. The purpose of the smart vision EQ fortwo is to provide a service that allows passengers to be picked up on demand with the use of an app on their smartphones. The system would work just like sharing a Uber, but minus the driver as if that weren’t enough, the smart vision EQ fortwo can remove the awkwardness of sharing a ride with a stranger by pairing people based on their mutual music preferences, Facebook like and other preferences based on their online activity. The car is also electric and produces no emissions and while it isn’t transporting passengers around, it can drive itself to a charging station to replenish its batteries. As if that isn’t enough, the smart vision EQ fortwo can display on the outside of its body the news, weather, sports scores and general information to those that seem it drive by. While the vehicle may never see the streets, it does pose some interesting questions about what we are capable of accomplishing and how those technologies can be used later for other applications that may perhaps be more influential to our daily lives.
There is also news that is even more relevant to the world of logistics. Earlier this week, Tesla shocked the world with an announcement that takes the company from making high-end electric sedans to the world of heavy-duty cargo trucks. Next month they will unveil their most impressive invention, a semi-truck that seems to be fully battery operated. The tweet read as follows: “Tesla Semi truck unveil & test ride tentatively scheduled for Oct 26th in Hawthorne. Worth seeing this beast in person. It’s unreal.”
It seems like the company is going through its best moment yet as they prepare to complete their massive new factory and they have positioned themselves in the market as the leaders in battery powered solutions for transportation and possibly for homes.
Tesla decided to jump onto the bandwagon after companies like Cummings and Toyota have already displayed their plans to revolutionize the industry by launching their own electric-powered transportation solutions. Cummings unveiled a prototype that they will start selling as early as 2019 and Toyota presented an emission-free powertrain that can generate almost 700 horsepower from electricity generated by its fuel cells.
These are exciting times, to say the least, and as we can probably tell due to their own history, Tesla will undoubtedly become its own best customer by not just creating solutions that can be fitted into existing truck cabs made by other companies, but instead building trucks from the floor up.
Daimler AG also reported this week that they already have their first customer in the United States to use their new electric-powered truck. Their customer is no other than the United Parcel Service, UPS. The truck is able to carry a lower payload than a normal diesel truck and it can only go 60 miles between charges, but it can be fitted with more batteries to extend their range while sacrificing some of their cargo capacity. While this may sound strange, it is important to remember that these are emission-free vehicles that do not contaminate and cause no noise pollution either. Their use could probably be limited to urban areas and not for traveling between cities for the time being since their limitations would make this type of activity a bit ineffective.
It seems like Tesla’s truck is the best of its kind at this point, however, this has a lot to do with infrastructure as well. Think about charging stations and technology similar to the roads that are being built in Germany, where trucks could be charging as they drive during long hauls. An initiative like that could truly revolutionize the industry and change the way we move cargo in the future.
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* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com