Logistics is the key to a successful business as it enables any firm to serve the end product to customers. Modern logistics software management has been phenomenal for worldwide fleet movements and cross-continent deliveries. Especially the current situation of COVID-19 is pushing innovations in logistics to a higher level.
Take an example of the popular Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19, which needs to be maintained at lower temperatures. Now, suppose you want to deliver doses of this vaccine into a hot and humid country like India. In that case, the temperature monitoring all along the delivery route becomes paramount, and that is where modern logistics technologies can come in handy.
The global digital logistics market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 21.7% between 2020-25. The revenue of the market is set to rise to $46.5 billion by 2025. With the pandemic, the logistics industry is under enormous pressure to deliver daily essentials and healthcare products in virus contracted parts of the world.
With the enhanced logistics software solutions, fleet monitoring, seamless communications, revenue management, and supply chain management become efficient and flexible.
So, let’s check out the innovative trends in the logistics industry that will dominate 2021 and beyond.
Since the inception of the industrial revolution, businesses have always looked on to innovate in terms of automation. Rather than investing in individual automation technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Robotic Process Automation, businesses started using them in pairs or twins, as put by the VP Analyst of Gartner, Mr David Cearley.
Hyper-automation is an amalgamation of different innovative technologies to enhance logistics efficiencies. It helps with a seamless transition of sales, suppliers, planning, purchases, distribution, and improving customer touchpoints.
To understand the hyper-automation phenomenon, let’s take an example of the on-demand courier delivery app. One of the biggest challenges that on-demand courier delivery businesses face is order management. As your courier delivery business scale, the number of orders increases, and you need a reliable management software solution.
Here, you can use cognitive automation by combining Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Employing AI and OCR will offer you capabilities to handle unstructured sales orders. All you need is to apply AI+OCR to an RPA (Robotic Process Automation) model.
Such a model works wonders for eCommerce businesses, and according to McKinsey, out of every $100 eCommerce sales, $20 goes to e-tailer’s in-house logistic units.
Along with this cognitive system, you can deploy chatbots on the customer front to handle effective communications. Simultaneously, software dashboards can offer analytics about the order deliveries’ efficiency, number of returns, customer pain points, and other metrics.
Warehouse Automation is not new, and we have already seen AGVs (Automatic Guided Vehicles) help the industrial revolution. Modern logistics needs and massive demand surge due to eCommerce markets made it overwhelming for most warehouses to sustain even with the AGVs. Automated Vehicles will reduce delivery costs for on-demand businesses up to 40%. It is the reason why warehouse-automation manufacturers have seen a rise of 15% in revenues since 2014.
The next phase of evolution in warehouse automation will be more robust integrations of IoT (Internet of Things)-based technologies. According to McKinsey, investment in Warehouse Automation will grow at 3 to 5% by 2025, Retail at 6-8%, and Pharmaceutical logistics at 8-10%. Here, businesses will need more reliable embedded software to develop data transformations on the fly for logistic pickup and delivery.
Here, API (Application Programming Interface) technology will be in the thick of things. It is a set of protocols that authorise, validate, and facilitate data exchange between heterogeneous systems. It has been a phenomenon that has been a part of the logistics industry and encouraged 75% of IT operations plants to move towards warehouse management systems.
Take an example of the Amazon warehouse, where robots work with cloud-based logistics software solutions to handle large amounts of orders. Amazon’s success has been pivotal in boosting the warehouse automation trend. According to a report, 27% of warehouse and distribution centres are expected to spend more than $1 million by 2020.
The eCommerce giant employs a last-mile delivery approach to automate deliveries for its customers. Let’s get to know more about the last-mile delivery approach and its future scope in logistics industries.
Last-Mile Delivery Systems
Last-mile delivery refers to the movement of goods from a transportation hub to the final delivery location. It is part of the logistics where eCommerce is most aggressive in achieving customer associations through rapid deliveries. Here, the order tracking technologies like IoT, Bluetooth Low Energy, iBeacon, and others can help businesses stay ahead with their deliveries and offer better customer experiences.
In the first step of any last-mile delivery system, the order details are fed into a centralised system. The software will notify both the sender and the receiver of order requests. Next, the distribution centre or a warehouse dispatch team will deliver the package at a transportation hub through its fleet.
Here, the last-mile delivery approach begins with orders at the transportation hubs and then is designated to delivery personnel according to their routes. In this process of package reaching the end-customer from the warehouse, there are many touchpoints where advanced logistics software can help mitigate the operational boundaries.
For example, you can use AI-based sorting algorithms to sort the products according to optimal routes. These courier delivery software solutions can easily integrate AI algorithms with cloud computing and API technology’s cognitive power. It can even help you design delivery personnel and deliver through the shortest possible route to increase delivery efficiency.
As we can see, cloud computing plays a vital role in the courier dispatch software, mostly sorting operations. Let’s discover how it will be pivotal for logistics industries.
Cloud computing is a virtualised pool of computing resources that enables data storage, retrieval, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence over the internet (“Cloud”). When you apply a cloud computing approach to logistics software, activities like fleet management, order management, and delivery become efficient.
The logistics industry has been leveraging the SaaS (Software as a Service) model to enhance its operations. SaaS-based cloud logistics helps to unify resources or data from customers, retailers, and wholesalers. Then the predictive algorithms can be leveraged to gain insights into the supply and demand gaps.
Fleet management is another excellent application for cloud computing. Take an example of your fleet of shipments travelling through the pacific ocean. There is a climatic threat; a fleet manager can track every fleet’s movement through cloud-based logistics software solutions and redirect the fleet on a safe route avoiding catastrophic damage to the business.
There are many activities related to fleet management like courier tracking, documentation, fleet monitoring, and others you can achieve through cloud-based software. What helps this software in analytics and tracking the fleet is IoT-based smart technologies. So, let’s see how it is changing the logistics industry.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things is a technology that you probably have seen most commonly used in smartphones, fitness trackers, and even smart homes but logistics industries have turned this intelligent technology into an ally for better operations efficiency. IoT based devices help logistics businesses to track and record each data along the supply chain.
Take an example of SenseAware, a subsidiary of FedEx that offers sensor-based logistics tracking system. Apart from the usual location and distance data, SenseAware offers insights into information like heat, temperature, light, humidity, pressure, or even weather-based alerts. It operates across 20 countries to provide IoT-based logistics software solutions.
Blockchain technology is a decentralised system that depends on the ledger of transactions or contracts. The best part of Blockchain is that the data, once written, can’t be altered by anyone in the system, and anonymous miners verify each transaction.
For logistics software that deals with payments, fleet management, and tracking of shipments, the decentralised structure of Blockchain works wonders. Especially with its consensus algorithms. A consensus algorithm helps automated decision making for fleet management and dispatch teams based on an optimal decision that can benefit the team.
There are many different types of consensus algorithms that Blockchain deploys in logistics,
- Delegated Proof-of-Stake
- Leased Proof-Of-Stake
- Proof of Elapsed Time
A proof-of-work consensus algorithm employs the logic of the amount of work done by a miner and mathematical problem-solving capability to determine a block’s eligibility. Once eligible, a miner is responsible for validating the ledger’s transactions for a group of miners. Here, transactions can be seen as the critical touchpoints in logistics operations that record delivery and receipt of shipments with software.
Logistics Blockchain Consortium, and Blockchain in Transport Alliance(BITA), are prime examples of Blockchain technologies active in the logistics industry.
Robotics is not a new trend but will be the dominating factor in logistics advancements. With the advent of mechanical engineering and machine learning algorithms’ cognitive approach, modern robots are smart. The global robotics market will reach $210 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual rate of 26%. Industrial and logistics applications mostly dominate the robotic market.
Here, you can see how Ocado employs robotics for automated grocery packaging. The robots communicate through 4G technology to avoid crashes with the ATC (Air Traffic Control) type of system. Each robot follows a grid system and delivers groceries to the packing terminal, where a human or another robot will scan it to complete the packaging phase further.
Robots are quite popular in the logistic industry and have been phenomenal in automating activities like a pickup, distribution, deliveries, and more. According to a survey, out of 32% of companies investing in technologies like automation and robotics, 40% want more robotics, and 55% want Enterprise Resource Planning software.
The application of such a sophisticated robotic system requires reliable logistics management software to ensure efficient goods delivery. Similarly, you can apply robotics to fleet management, especially in loading hazardous chemicals where humans may not be an option.
From the integration of Artificial Intelligence to Blockchain adoption in logistics, the industry sees a meteoric rise in process automation. These advanced innovations in the logistics industry are pushing the boundaries of efficacy in deliveries and customer experience. But, as the hardware part of these innovations emerge through robotics and approaches like last-mile deliveries, logistics management software will also play an important role.
Here, we have discovered some critical innovations that will improve logistics efficacy in 2021 and beyond. If you want to know more about the software solutions for logistics management, please contact us.