Based on how the internet reacted, Jeff Bezos dropped a bombshell when he disclosed on 60 Minutes that Amazon, the global retail giant, was planning to eventually roll out retail delivery with drones. Don’t start ordering anything yet though. Bezos also admitted that the industry was still 4-5 years away from implementation because of both regulations and the pace of technological developments. Many will remember that it wasn’t so long ago that Domino’s Pizza made waves by talking about eventual pizza delivery with drones (they called theirs the DomiCopter.
While Domino’s may have meant it as a PR stunt, it seems that Bezos is far more serious. And why wouldn’t we believe him? Amazon already has smart robots zooming around its vast warehouses, ever since it’s Kiva acquisition. For good reason – there is no contesting that robots can be more efficient, smarter and safer. Google’s self-driving car aims to accomplish exactly that; of the 10 million car accidents in the US, 9.5 million are due to driver error. And like Bezos, Google isn’t bluffing. Their automated car has already driven half a million miles, twice as far as the average American driver goes without crashing.
Freight, like every other industry, has embraced computerized systems to work faster. In a previous post, I mentioned that the Maersk Triple-E only needs 22 crew members to operate. Panalpina, one of the world’s largest freight forwarders, just launched the world’s first paperless air cargo round-trip service on November 19. Lucas Kuhner, who heads airfreight at Panalpina, told Air Cargo World that “the benefits of going digital are clear: more efficiency, less cost, reduced environmental impact and increased data quality”.
Going digital is the first step to automation. Once the standard is digital, a combination of smart software and robotics (which already exist) can guarantee a faster supply chain. A variety of industries are embracing automation and robotics to operate faster, more efficiently, more accurately and smarter. In freight, the focus is on speeding up the supply chain. However, no matter how fast a supply chain can operate, it still needs to receive direction from human operators.
When it comes to 3PLs and freight forwarders, the slowest part can frequently be the quoting process. I have personally heard some freight forwarders admit that multi-modal quotes can take anywhere from hours to days! The solution to speed it up is simple: contract management software, combined with FAST (freight automated sales technology), that enables vendors to generate automated freight quotes in seconds online, including service from agents. This is the future of freight is here…and unlike Domino’s pizza drone, you don’t have to wait five years to get it. Head over to Freightos to learn more.