Current Trends in Logistics and Supply Chain Management
The technological development particularly in the past two decades is enabling logistics industry to continually evolve. Logistics, supply chain, and parcel delivery are at the forefront of tech adoption. History reveals that the companies which fail to adopt latest trends in logistics cease to exist because competitors outperform them.
Although technology brings a range of capabilities to this industry, yet some technologies and approaches would be the key players in the upcoming times. Following are the six most notable technologies capable of refining logistics operations.
1. Crowdsourcing Delivery Tasks
The largely empty vehicles traveling to remote locations for supplying goods pose a serious challenge to logistics managers. Many companies have tried a range of ways to reduce costs and time consumption in fulfilling these tasks. However, they could not attain any significant results.
Crowdsourcing – usually referred to as crowdshipping – emerged in the recent years after the successful adoption of gig economy. Independent vehicle owners traveling to remote locations register themselves as gig workers and perform the delivery or supply chain tasks on the behalf of a logistics company.
Such companies experience remarkable cost and time optimization by ensuring that their vehicles perform operations only in the areas where half of each truck remains filled with goods. In return, the delivery agents attain small monetary benefits.
Crowdshipping becomes even more effective when you utilize it for same day parcel delivery orders. For instance, you can seek service of one of the citizens for delivering an on-demand food order. The software system including an app and dispatcher would suggest only those citizens who are registered, currently moving toward the delivery destination, and willing to take the task.
It is notable that the users have to get themselves registered with your company to start getting requests. Each agent serves as a gig worker and poses no threat of theft to company. Thus, crowdsourcing has become one of the latest trends in logistics for all the right reasons.
2. Collaboration for Outsourcing
Using common citizens as gig workers is not the only choice when aiming to optimizing supply chain and short distance delivery orders. Another option is to collaborate with competitors in a mutually beneficial way so that both stakeholders generate value.
More precisely, you can develop partnerships with delivery and logistics businesses operating in the same region to generate a marketplace of gig workers. The workers would be getting more orders, and hence remain satisfied since they would be registered to work at more than one company.
“The whole point for collaboration is that you give and take from each other, and that’s how you create things that are totally new.” (Virgil Abloh)
It is not only the new things that you can create. Collaboration would allow you to rectify the loopholes in existing approaches. As a result, you can attain remarkable improvement in last mile and same day delivery operations by adopting these trends in logistics.
Partnership with a competitor creates win-win situation. Both partners have one less thing to care about while one more source of obtaining benefits. There are always a set of shortcomings that prevent you from expanding business or entering into new markets. Same goes for your competitors as well. The collaboration allows both businesses to fill their void and grow in the process.
Every industry demonstrates successful examples of rivals teaming up to reach mutual goals. Daimler recently partnered with BMW to accelerate autonomous vehicle production. Lyft and Alphabet’s Waymo are also working together to achieve common goals.
3. Smart Warehouse Management
It would obviously be unwise not to adopt automation in warehouse despite the advancement in IoT and AI. A smart warehouse presents the interconnection of various devices and software systems to eliminate human input and accelerate job scheduling. Transforming a warehouse with smart technologies brings following advantages.
- IoT provides the ability to track inventory item instantly with RFID tags or bar codes. Smartphone apps scan these codes and visualize record associated with this unit. This approach enables you to win trust of customers by ensuring that none of the inventory units is a counterfeited, expired, or smuggled one.
- Automation can be implemented at multiple levels to reduce operational time and cost. From responding to customers’ query to scheduling a job and generating invoice, each task can be automated. Incorporating robotic process automation is one of the top trends in logistics management.
- The probability of human error significantly reduces when tested software systems aid workforce. Warehouse management systems (WMS) enable you perform a range of tasks. They can view the status of pending, in-progress, and scheduled tasks solely from a single but insightful dashboard. Apart from operational activities, WMS also provides information regarding business growth with periodic milestone achievements.
- Big data analytics provide the insights on retail behavior by finding the units sold for each product. This enables you to perform highly effective aggregate planning, and hence tackling the excess or dearth of manufacturing items.
Also read: Improve User Experience in Mobile Apps
Optimizing warehouse management with technology does not only improve warehouse itself but entire supply chain. This is why top logistics operators emphasize adoption of smart technology trends in logistics industry.
4. Multi-Route Planning System
Delivery and logistics businesses cover a wide area in their supply chain. The vastness is not limited to manufacturers, distributors, and supply chain operators – on-demand delivery agents operating in a city also cover thousands of kilometers every day.
Altough crowdsourcing and partnerships present a considerable solution, yet they address the challenge only partially. Every notable logistics operator is now adopting intelligent multi-route planning systems (IMPS). Recent studies sharing results of surveys revealed that the companies adopting these systems reported remarkable optimization in fleet operations. The widespread adoption of IMPS makes it one of the crucial current trends in logistics.
ODTap incorporated multi-route feature in Q1, 2018 to its on-demand platform. The users of our platform responded very well and noted significant improvement in operational activities. The IMPS plans route for drivers as follows.
Map Customization: Delivery points in supply chain are predetermined and continue to remain same as the locations of warehouses and retail stores are unlikely to change frequently. However, on-demand delivery destinations immensely vary. Thus, the dynamic map embedded in ODTap platform keeps on updating with new destinations.
Destination Prioritization: Once the delivery agents have all the destinations, they can prioritize one over the other in cases where urgent delivery is intended.
Route Identification: Knowing every destination and placing priority over it enables IMPS to identify possible routes that a driver can take. Some routes offer better roads while other have less traffic congestion. Again others offer the shortest distance.
Route Recommendation: The IMPS is capable of suggesting the most suitable route to drivers. However, it is upon drivers’ consent to take the recommended route or go for an alternative one.
5. Blockchain for Enhanced Logistics
One of the most longstanding challenges in logistics industry is the time consumption in verification of transactions. Apart from distributors and retailers, regulatory bodies are also the stakeholders. Every transaction has to be verified at multiple steps. Research confirms that the time wasted in waiting for authentication is more than every other part in logistics management cycle.
Fortunately, Blockchain – one of the emerging trends in logistics – presents an immensely promising solution. This technology based on distributed ledger stores transaction records in an immutable scheme. In essence, a record once stored cannot be deleted or modified.
“Anything that you can conceive of as a supply chain, Blockchain can vastly improve its efficiency – it does not matter whether its people, numbers, data, money.” (Ginni Rometty – CEO IBM)
Blockchain is not only secure but transparent too. Its transparency reflects in the fact that every stakeholder can view the relevant transactional details – unlike traditional approach where only the business administrators are entitled to view such information.
Transaction verification is not the only use case of Blockchain in logistics industry. You can also utilize it for payment via cryptocurrency. This payment method eliminates the need to use centralized banking. A block carrying transaction details also serves as invoice with a timestamp.
Numerous companies are utilizing Blockchain for optimizing logistics operation. Walmart leveraged Blockchain to identify a counterfeited product that initiated a widespread disease. Maersk in partnership with IBM incorporated Blockchain in its supply chain and logistics. Over hundred companies are now benefitting from this solution.
6. AR and IoT for Fleet Management
The research and development in technologies including Augmented Reality (AR) and Internet of Things (IoT) are demonstrating impressive results for logistics industry. Fleet managers are implementing these technologies for improvement in their fleet operations.
The drivers can view cabin temperature, estimated arrival time, distance traversed and remaining, and a vast amount of other useful pieces of information. Apart from drivers, AR can be highly useful for warehouse managers as well. They can find inventory items and details associated to them in real time by using AR glasses.
IoT also enables drivers to perform connected braking. In this practice, the leading truck also controls the braking systems of following fleet vehicles. Thus, the fleet attains improved aerodynamics due to reduced friction. Managers can leverage this practice on long and straight roads.
The industry is rapidly adopting these trends in logistics for their abilities to transform the industry for the good. IoT and AR are all set to play a crucial role in fleet operations.
It is easier to continue with the current approaches. However, operating in the increasingly competitive markets requires more than sticking to the conventional approaches. Only the most forward looking companies are the ones which adopt emerging trends in logistics operations.
As a logistics manager or business owner, you need to look into the options that may help you in eliminating the loopholes and optimizing business processes.
ODTap with its years of experience in logistics and delivery industry can assist you in adoption of the most effective technology corresponding to your business model. Contact us today so that we may work together.