The evolution of technology is pushing the boundaries and changing how the world does business. Today, we’re accustomed to everything being online and right at our fingertips for immediate access. Through Amazon, the pioneer of fast-paced delivery service, it’s possible to receive a package less than an hour after ordering, depending on where you live. Improved technology has also increased productivity in the supply chain, minimizing costs and errors. These advances benefit all areas of the logistics industry: trucking transportation, international transportation (ocean and air), supply chain management, and shipment tracking. Here are five major technological advances that are changing the future of the logistics industry.
Shipment Tracking Systems
Previously, customers booked shipments, received an estimated delivery date, and then were left in the dark, unless they decided to make a phone call. Today, internet and software advances allow customers access to shipping and tracking systems 24/7. Not only does this enhance the user experience, but it saves time and money for the company as well. Shapiro offers Shapiro 360°, a shipment tracking system tailored for our customers that allows to them to monitor and manage their shipments. It features shipment notifications and messages, customizable reporting, and customer accounts with information specific to the cargo destined to them. You can’t complain when technology is allowing us to do everything from the comfort of our couches.
Internet of Things (IoT) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
Did you think years ago that you would be able to turn on your ceiling fan from your smartphone? Today, many devices are made with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities and sensors, from cell phones and ceiling fans to cars. The easy access to Wi-Fi and the internet connects everyone to everything, which is why it’s called the Internet of Things. IoT is opening up many opportunities for the supply chain, such as reducing costs and delays by avoiding risks. Sensors are built into cabs, cargo ships, trains, etc., and connect to an alarm system or dispatcher that is monitoring and tracking. These sensors process and transmit the information to the crew who then gains insight into hidden risks and knowledge. Although IoT isn’t an entirely new technology, it continues to impact the future of logistics, allowing for a more accurate in-transit visibility and delivery of goods. RFID technology, which has also been in use for a few years, is a popular labor-saving way company can track their inventory. A tag or sensor is placed on the product and radio waves are sent out. The data is then received and processed by the company. Similar to RFID tags are barcodes, but the superior speed of information delivery and data processing of RFIDs is more appealing to businesses and the way technology is moving. Today, many companies are using RFID tags in their distribution warehouses to monitor containers. Other industries are already using RFID tags, such as the apparel industry and major theme parks.
Autonomous Trucks and Drones
A world where a computer drives you from Point A to Point B or you receive a package from a flying unmanned aerial vehicle sounds like something out of a movie, but that is where we’re headed. Autonomous cars are already a reality with trucks not too far behind. Embark and Uber have already made long hauls using autonomous trucks, with Tesla releasing a truck this year. While it wasn’t completely driverless, with a driver in the passenger seat to monitor the computer, it is a huge step in this breakthrough technology and has the potential to increase efficiency in the delivery process. Amazon has announced the future of packages being delivered right to doorstep by drones, called Amazon Prime Air. Drones deliveries are still a few years out due to regulatory measures and associated costs, but the thought of not having to sit around during a four-hour time span waiting for a package is pretty appealing.
Enhanced GPS Accuracy
Long gone are the days when you printed out directions from the computer before you left the house. Now almost everyone uses GPS, whether built-in on their vehicles or on their cellphones. The accuracy of these devices has drastically increased throughout the years, not only helping frustrated, lost drivers but also improving the supply chain. The advanced accuracy of GPS allows for increased productivity and satisfied customers, by tracking trucks’ locations and improving hauls through access to updated traffic data.
Who doesn’t check some sort of social media platform every day? The power of social media is optimizing the logistics industry and operations as a whole. These platforms are becoming the easiest and most efficient way for companies to communicate with customers, conveying urgent information, industry news, and customer responses quickly.
According to Hootsuite, 59% of Americans who have a social media account agree that customer service via social media has made it easier to get questions and concerns resolved. Here at Shapiro, we use multiple platforms to get news and updates to our customers: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. To remain competitive and enhance efficiency, keeping up with the latest technology is a must. The logistics industry is benefiting immensely from the latest technology and will continue to grow as more advances are made. The breakthroughs in technology will continue to push the boundaries for years to come.