January 21, 2020

Logistics and Supply Chain Tech in 2020

It’s now 2020. Meaning, there’s no avoiding the fact that tech is at the forefront of any and all industries. That’s double for the logistics industry, where technology has been a driver since its inception. It’s unlikely that you’ll thrive as a supply chain or logistics manager if your finger isn’t on the pulse of what’s cutting edge.

Despite the logistics industry consistently utilizing tech in increasingly innovative ways, the nature of eCommerce has made the demand for new tech reach a fever pitch. Plus, other digital businesses depend significantly on logistics.

The fact is, around 80% of customers are buying products digitally. This percentage will continue to grow, and without continually seeking new and innovative ways to meet such a demand, logistics companies will falter.

The brass tax

When we break down supply chains and logistics down to their barest elements, it revolves around there being plenty of ground to cover. Businesses in the industry are spread throughout given continents. They can also stretch overseas, while goods and assets are dispersed great distances away from their final landing spot.

With concerns to ground-based operations, the need for reliable communications between on-field personnel all the time is pressing.

Also, those on the road must remain connected with HQs, necessitating the need for bi-directional communication. Also, locations must be easily accessible and simple to find for drivers. 

These are only a few factors to consider when looking into potential tech investments for 2020, of which we’re writing about below:

Two independent interfaces

As a logistics and supply chain manager, you’ll know that the business has two distinctive parts. One of them is stationary, and the other is moving. Let’s delve a bit deeper:

There’s one aspect of the organization that’s in one building that contains HR, warehouse storage facilities, HQ, and dispatch stations.

Conversely, the moving or – more accurately – mobile facet of the business is comprised of goods, delivery executives, and vehicles. Therefore, there’s a pressing requirement for two separate interfaces for each respective entity of the logistics and supply chain business.

The aim of supply chain tech is to bridge the gap between the stationary and mobile components of the organization and keep functions streamlined and efficient. How should this dual-interface model be implemented? In-house employees need a web or desktop interface, while those travelling the road need something mobile.

While there’s going to be a form of overlap with these interfaces, and they should work harmoniously amongst each other, they’ll have differing functions. In other words, the technologies will be different.

Geolocation tracking systems

Geolocation tracking systems make it, so dispatching teams are aware of the whole company’s fleet in real-time. Plus, this savvy tool allows fixed office workers to stay on top of deliveries because of GPS trackers in the shipping vehicles. Though, even if there’s no GPS, WiFi signals track the positions of mobile phones.

Here’s what’s crucial for supply chain and logistics managers to consider with location transparency:

  1. End-users need an accurate estimated date for which their goods will arrive.
  1. Tracking the movement of the driver is vital. Specifically, in instances when the vehicle is idle, admins must be able to check in to make sure the driver’s well-being isn’t at risk. They also can keep the customer informed while orchestrating another delivery asset.
  1. Admin panels are good at noticing potential deviations—which can be a sign of possible theft.

Voice navigation

Voice navigation tends to make everything a little bit more straightforward, as it’s challenging to check for directions while simultaneously driving.

The voice navigation technology of today is quite impressive and comprehensive. It provides drivers with updates on given road situations, speed limits, repairs, traffic signs, and closures. These features help drivers plan the most efficient trip.

Time tracking

We’ll investigate one more example of mobile technology:

If there’s one thing customers genuinely appreciate, it’s a time tracking feature. It’s available when drivers enter the warehouse, embark on their next delivery trip, successfully reach a destination, return to their base, and when their shift ends.

With an admin panel, data can be monitored to plan mobile resources strategically. Furthermore, with this function, drivers will find themselves more open to promotions, pay hikes, and feedback based on accurate data.

Plus, time tracking makes it so that drivers will be able to monitor night shifts, overtime, and holidays, etc. with accuracy. As such, they’ll track hourly rates, increases, and deductions that may occur with their salary throughout any given day.

Robotic automated storage and retrieval

This technology is seen as something of a robotic shuttle system. It is a blend of traditional shuttles and free-roaming robots.

Several providers offer this technology, and each specific example has its own unique method of solving problems.

What they all do have in common is the very real positive impact of high storage density and impressive flexibility because the bots move with such dynamism. Due to this agility, throughput and sequencing constraints are neutralized, which promotes a spike in productivity potential.

With same-day fulfilment becoming more of a norm, such technology in the logistics industry becomes more relevant and pressing. In the grocery industry, for instance, the need for this technology is quite prevalent.

It’s time to hop on board with state-of-the-art technologies

It’s 2020, and if your logistics and supply chain business is behind the times, it needs to change its approach, as of yesterday.

Really, we’ve only scratched the surface with available technology, giving you a peek into the methodologies that should be applied. Your organization should be spending much of its time seeking out the most disruptive industry innovations that can set it apart from the pack.

So, while this blog is an ideal starting point, it should only influence you to embark on even more research initiatives. Only then will you find the best technology for your supply chain business.