Earlier this year, we ran a series of articles exploring the future of logistics technology. Many of the experts – Cathy Roberson, Joel Clum and others, are consultants with a 50,000 foot view of the industry.

Today we’re continuing the series with a post by Robert J. Hall, the president of Track Your Truck. Real innovation is driven by the entrepreneurs in the field, which is just one reason we’re so interested in what Mr. Hall has to say.

Technology Trends for the Logistics Industry

The logistics industry is facing a period of intense change. Technology is hitting the market at an overwhelming rate, and companies are struggling to stay abreast with these changes. Those that want to embrace the latest, cutting-edge technologies should consider these popular trends, and the impact they have on the future of logistics and supply chain management.


Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the technology that allows devices to communicate via an Internet infrastructure to one another, without a person initiating the communication. The Internet of Things is the technology that drives fitness trackers, smart appliance and automated home security. For the logistics company, this is the technology behind machine-to-machine technology that makes monitoring and managing equipment so much easier.

In a recent study published on Cerasis, 26.25 percent of third-party logistics companies indicated they were using connected machine-to-machine technology, and 46.62 percent had plans to do so in the near future. Another question asked in the survey was about the impact of the IoT on supply chain management, and nearly half said they believed it would have tremendous impact, and only 3 percent indicated they expected no impact at all. These statistics show that the Internet of Things is going to change the logistics marketplace in the near future.

Artificial Intelligence

In today’s supply chain management, artificial intelligence does more than simply make products. Robotics for manufacturers is a great tool because it helps reduce costs and limit overhead. It is also helping computers become smarter and better at making computer-based predictions. According to Toolbox.com, Dell is using artificial intelligence to improve its predictions for product demand.

Radio Frequency Identification

One of the problems logistics companies must overcome is the struggle to track their assets throughout the supply chain process. Radio frequency identification can help. RFID technology helps companies keep tabs on their assets and inventory, reducing the number of goods that are lost or stolen during the manufacturing and shipping process, ensuring that more end up where they belong and less money is lost.

Fleet Management Tracking

The logistics industry requires a variety of vehicles, and keeping tabs on those vehicles is a challenge. GPS fleet tracking allows the logistics provider to know where the fleet is and what each driver is doing in real time, helping streamline the process and ensuring that vehicles are used in the most efficient manner. GPS fleet tracking allows logistics providers to know whether vehicles are being used without authorization or for unauthorized trips. This employee accountability allows the management team to focus on the areas where improvement is truly needed, and avoid coming down too hard on employees who are doing their job well when they are on the road.

Drone Delivery

The Amazon Drone made news across the country as the huge company determined that drone delivery of Amazon products could be part of their future. While the technology is not ready yet, when it is it will help logistics companies save time and money on shipping by eliminating vehicles and drivers. In fact, Prime Air, the concept initiated by Amazon, estimates that products could be at the customer’s door within 30 minutes.

Driverless Vehicles

If a drone delivering a package to a customer seems too far-fetched, the idea of driverless vehicle delivery may not be. Google is in the process of perfecting a driverless car, and that could improve the delivery process for retail products.

The Cerasis survey indicated 42 percent of manufacturers and retailers would like their third-party logistics providers to have some knowledge about the use of driverless vehicles. If this technology were viable in the delivery marketplace, it would greatly reduce the costs associated with logistics. While it, like drone delivery, is still coming, the driverless car will have a tremendous impact on the future of logistics.

Manufacturers and retailers are encouraging logistic companies to adopt these technologies, but many third-party logistics providers are moving slowly. To remain competitive and meet the needs of clients, logistic providers in the future are going to need to start embracing these technologies as they change the face of the logistics industry.

Robert J. Hall is president of Track Your Truck, a leader in GPS vehicle tracking systems and software for small and midsized companies.

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