5 Ways the Logistics Industry is Evolving

5 Logistics Trends

In recent years, the logistics industry has witnessed a significant overhaul, as they embraced new technologies in order to better satisfy end customers and increase employee workflow. There’s no denying the significance of these advancements and they have far outperformed the traditional systems ingrained in many supply chain companies. It’s a natural progression for any company trying to stay relevant in a fast-paced technological world.

Many in the industry have quickly realized the importance of constantly investing in new technologies. If you’re not thinking about how to make your supply chain company run more efficiently, and at a cheaper cost, then you’re setting yourself up for a potential mountain to climb as other companies race ahead of you.

That being said, third party logistics leaders are actively investing in new ways to update their work processes.

Here are 5 logistics trends to track this year:

1. Internet of Things (IoT)

We’re currently entering into an unprecedented level of connectivity within the supply chain industry. Consumers have the ability to control just about everything in their day-to-day lives via their mobile phone, i.e. switching house lights on and off, arming your home security system, and adjusting the thermostat. But those same technologies can become crucial pieces to day-to-day processes around the warehouse.  

Supply chain warehouses are connecting their various systems in an effort to gain sharper visibility on their daily operations. IIoT - the Industrial Internet of Things - machines and systems within the network are linked in order to communicate and adapt, boosting overall visibility. While your IoT systems learn over time, you’ll be able to better predict potential problems down the line and, ultimately, increase efficiency.

2. Mobile Robots

The introduction of mobile robots in the workplace, especially warehouses and logistics operations, is long overdue. The speed at which consumers expect to receive their goods has exceeded the realistic pace a typical human employee can achieve. Robots allow for more precision and faster packaging time, it would be wise to take advantage as soon as possible.

Amazon, for example, introduced robot stock pickers as a way to reduce the amount of walking their employees had to do, while increasing efficiency. During the holiday season Amazon typically hires more than 80,000 stock pickers. The move to automation was a no-brainer; it cut hiring costs and brought them to the forefront of warehouse automation.

3. Drones

Remember when the word “drones” was solely associated with military activity? Drones are now part of our daily lives in a big way. The technology is being used for sport, photography, and videography, to name a few. Today, Amazon is edging closer to using drones as a faster delivery method. Their Prime Air service will deliver items of five pounds or less, in under 30 minutes -- the pinnacle of efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Building off the Amazon model, third party logistics companies and warehouses can leverage drone technology to simplify product picking, help with rural deliveries and possibly aid in surveillance and security.

4. Augmented Reality (AR) and Wearables

While this may seem a bit futuristic, AR has grown leaps and bounds in recent years. It has also proven to be more than just another accessory for consumer entertainment. The typical warehouse picking process is both long and convoluted, but AR promises to cut costs and limit errors, by giving employees the ability to visualize the best paths while stock picking.

According to DHL, in their recent pilot project in the Netherlands the use of smart glasses and AR systems saw a 25% efficiency increase during the picking process.

5. Trucking and Brokerage

Trucking and freight brokerage is a major part of the logistics world, but costs can become an operational nightmare. In an effort to reduce the hassle of determining shipping fees, many companies are looking at deploying an “Uber-like” trucking service. with the goal of being completely price transparent. Investing in this technology will help with convenience and eliminate the menial tasks involved in shipping negotiations.

The logistics industry is already evolving, and the pace is picking up every day. What is left to be determined is which of these realistic technologies will become the next big revolution. One thing is certain, if you’re eager to get out ahead of your competition, it’s time to make some strategic technology investments.

At Seldat Technology Services (STS), we are problem solvers, next-generation thinkers, and efficiency aficionados. Operating at both local and global scales, STS offers comprehensive solutions packages developed by in-house industry experts, tested against real-world scenarios, and designed for the changing supply chain. Learn more about Seldat Technology Services’ logistics solutions and get in touch with our experts today.

By Grace Chi, Product Marketing Manager