It comes as no surprise that as technology continues to thrive and grow in the modern-day world, the current supply chain and how it functions is changing dramatically. Whether it’s using mobile robots or trialing drones to help with distribution, the transformation is in progress. The evolution of AI could mean that the future of supply chains could be totally autonomous. But what technologies could be used to self-orchestrate the supply chain?
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The future of the Supply chain
The future of tech and supply chain is one that’s going to become more efficient and faster than ever before. Most importantly, it’s one that is going to be self-orchestrated. These incredible technologies that we now have in our possession, will be implemented within the industry over the next decade or so. So what technologies could we see more of?
It goes without saying that drones didn’t get off on the right foot when it comes to public perception. They were being used for the wrong thing, but since Amazon released its plans to launch drones for deliveries, more companies are coming around to the idea of using drones in the future. These vehicles can help the supply chain become autonomous and man travel is one of the most time-consuming and unproductive elements of the distribution process. So what’s better than to potentially remove this from the equation?
Vision-guided fully autonomous mobile robots are likely going to be the new thing for many areas of the supply chain. They will likely help with processing orders and distributing them, faster than the average human would be able to manage. That, for any business, means saving money and time.
With the growth of e-retailing, the tech and supply chain can benefit from mobile apps and their influence with on-the-move brokerage systems. It seems that in the future, we’ll see many freight brokers being mobile-based, developing in-house software solutions that will help better match up truck drivers to shippers based on the rates, routes, and schedules provided. Automating this process is going to help minimize those operating costs and will also help to reduce the number of mistakes made by human error.
As new players emerge and the industry unbundles to niche pockets, general operational hurdles of commerce and trade could multiply. For a 150-year-old industry that has been trading in “trust,” this herd of new players will cause new compliance complications. The industry will look toward smarter ways of doing business to avoid paperwork, such as the use of blockchain, which is quickly emerging as a great tool for driving quicker compliance.
With other technologies like blockchain and the layering of technologies together, it’s going to make for a more secure and encrypted industry. Blockchain-based cryptocurrency for example is ideal for handling cross-border payments.
In general, when it comes to the future of the supply chain, we can expect to see a lot more automation come into play. Robotics is also going to play a major role and there will likely be a lot more transparency between parties, including access to real-time information whenever needed.
The Evolution of Artificial Intelligence in Logistics
AI has certainly come a long way since its origin came about more than fifty years ago by Stanford computer science professor John McCarthy. This technology has continued to grow and is something that can be applied when it comes to the logistics. As machines learn from the experience, they can grow and adjust in order to perform the tasks that humans are currently doing.
There are lots of ways that it can be adapted into logistic applications. Companies like DHL have already developed AI to help predict air freight transit time delays. This helps them to be more productive and proactive in reducing any problems within the supply chain. The more that AI can learn, the better it will be for those who are looking to use it in order to improve logistic processes.
There are plenty of benefits that come from using AI and is likely why it’s growing in popularity. It’s cheaper, has better computing power and with the use of data, it helps to improve algorithms. The digital revolution is one that is still continuing to evolve and AI is very much a part of that growth.
In supply chains, the opportunities and growth that AI can provide are only becoming more apparent. Automated warehouses are another area where AI could help improve operational efficiency. It could be that more of the warehouse operations become automated as a result due to AI.
How to use big data in logistics?
With big data, it’s helping to revolutionize logistics in tech and supply chains. Making sure all the moving parts remain moving is important at all points and so having that data available can certainly help. There are plenty of ways in which this data can be collected, whether it be via advertising response, web browsing, or data from vehicle diagnostics. It’s worth mentioning a few examples of how big data can be used when it comes to logistics.
Last mile of shipping
It’s known that for the last mile of a supply chain, it’s often inefficient. It can result in costing a lot due to the challenges that drivers face in delivering and when some customers might not be able to sign for the package due to not being at home. Big data can help address the challenges that come from this ‘last mile’. Using GPS sensors, the data that delivery drivers send out on how long it takes to deliver a package can be valuable not only to the customer but also for the logistics team too.
As sensors are being used when it comes to delivery, data can help to continue providing transparency within the supply chain. This can be valuable to those who are shipping, that is carrying the product, or to the customer themselves.
It’s something that can help in improving the services and offering more information for all parties involved.
Improving the routes that delivery drivers take is going to help save a lot of time and money when it comes to a business. It also helps to avoid late shipments, which can result in unhappy customers.
Data can provide a lot of information on how to overcome the obstacles and challenges that come from route planning.
More Quality For Sensitive Goods
With more sensitive goods, big data can help with providing the information needed for delivery drivers to take more care in what they’re carrying in order to reduce damaging and costs.
Installing sensors or monitoring certain sensitive goods can help with giving the best routes to help keep these deliveries safe.
Big Data Helps Automation Of Warehouse & Supply Chain
Data can help with automation when it comes to warehouses and the supply chain. By having this data, it can help with allowing automated systems to flourish and get better, the more data and information it has available.
Interestingly, Amazon is already putting this into action within their fulfillment centers. Little robots that grab items from shelves by routing them from the data they have. It’s easy enough to do, especially with the technology that’s already available. It’s just about pairing them together to make it work. Amazon have also got the drones that could change the ability to deliver faster and more efficiently with the help of big data.
Optimizing logistics management with route planning software?
As mentioned above optimized routes can be helpful in saving money and time. Route optimization is the process of finding the shortest route that’s the most cost-efficient at the same time. The best route is dependent on a number of factors and having route planning software in place can certainly make it an easier process to do.
Route planning software is one of the technologies that can be great when it comes to the supply chain and optimizing the logistics. It helps to test ‘what-if’ scenarios and can factor in a variety of constraints from vehicle availability to traffic congestion. All of this is done faster than what a human or several humans could do.
By using AI-based technology and decision-making platforms, this type of software could really help benefit a lot of those companies and suppliers that are responsible for the distribution of products. With the right route planning software in place, a lot of mileage could be saved and the order capacity could also be increased.
The technologies that we have available at our fingertips could really help create more efficiency and offer advantages to the supply chain. It’s important for businesses and industries to continue to adapt and transform. The digital age will continue to allow business processes to thrive and the supply chain is no different.
We may see same-day delivery change to same-hour delivery, more secure payments with blockchain being used more, and fleets becoming fully autonomous. If any of the above comes into action, then we’ll have certainly come a long way and the only way is up from now on.
Vardan Markosyan is the CEO at Less Platform. He spent decades of research and consultancy on business process optimization and system design.