This month China’s Chang’an Automobile Engineering & Research Institute conducted a 2,000-kilometer test run of two driverless cars, The Hindu reported. The cars performed well under simple road conditions on urban driveways and highways but still needed human assistance to navigate situations such as pulling into gas stations and going through toll booths. Chang’an’s deputy director Tan Benhong says the company will work on improving its vehicles’ sensors and processing technology next in order to prepare the car for mass production.

Chang’an hopes to get a jump on Google, which plans to have its driverless cars publicly available by 2020. At least 18 companies globally are racing to get ahead in the driverless car market, which promises to radically transform transportation. In the process, driverless cars will join a number of technologies that will have an equally profound effect on logistics in the next decade.

Driverless Vehicles and Logistics

Driverless vehicles are already transforming logistics, which will lead other industries to adopt the technology, predicts German courier company DHL in a comprehensive report. Driverless vehicles are currently being used across a wide range of industries for a variety of government, commercial and consumer applications, including military minesweeping, Mars robot explorations, farming with self-driving tractors, automatic lawnmowers, parking assistant systems and public transportation pods. DHL anticipates that logistics applications of driverless vehicle technology will extrapolate from these current usages.

For years, warehousing operations have been using autonomous vehicles to move items along predetermined routes. As driverless vehicles gain the ability to navigate more complex maneuvers, DHL predicts they will become able to travel safely through busy warehouses, where they will work in combination with automated selection, loading and unloading equipment. Outdoors, driverless vehicles will be used for transporting items around yards, harbors and airports. For line-haul transportation, driver assistance systems are already being used to help truck drivers drive safely and avoid accidents by providing information about how to adjust to traffic conditions. Autonomous driving systems are also taking over for drivers of trailing vehicles in convoys. As driverless technology becomes more sophisticated, DHL expects automated systems to play an increasing role in last-mile delivery, performing functions such as navigating busy city streets, supporting vehicles delivering mail and working in conjunction with parcel loading machines. Eventually, full-fledged driverless letter and parcel delivery vehicles will be deployed. Argentus Supply estimates driverless trucks can lower freight shipping costs by as much as 40 percent per kilometer.

car technology innovations infographic

Augmented Reality Dashboards and Warehousing

A technology that will support driverless vehicles in both navigating and loading and unloading is augmented reality: the use of digital sensors and virtual reality displays to guide interactions with physical objects. Augmented reality dashboards can receive input from the environment, other vehicles and the internet to provide dashboard or windshield displays showing information about vehicles approaching from the rear and blind-spot areas, navigational maps and weather conditions. BMW is currently developing a smart car that can use augmented reality input to switch back and forth between driverless and manual driving modes.

This type of technology can support driverless logistics operations both on the road and in warehousing and loading contexts. In the warehouse, DHL predicts augmented reality will be used to streamline the picking process, which accounts for 55 to 65 percent of the cost of warehousing operations. For instance, virtual reality headgear will enable workers to automatically find items within their field of vision instead of relying on paper-based picking procedures. At other points along the shipping route, augmented reality input will allow drivers to automatically check to see if loads are complete and instantly identify boxes for delivery.

Digital Dealerships and Supply Chain Management

Another emerging technology that has the potential to support logistics is digital dealerships. Digital dealers such as DriveTime are currently using big data analytics to help consumers find and finance cars by searching on makes and models in a specific geographic location. In logistics, this type of technology can be applied to locate and schedule shipping fleet vehicles. In combination with driverless vehicles, digital dealerships can help provide for streamlined end-to-end automated delivery systems.

Innovations in technology are changing how the world does business, and technology is dramatically changing how entities in the logistics industry function in nearly every aspect. From increased affordability and efficiency of the transportation management system (TMS) to the application of Bluetooth technology for superior tracking of product movements, 2016 will be the year in which technology becomes an integral, if not the exclusive, part of the shipping process. Now, it’s easy to think of technology as being a manufacturer-only realm. Yet, technology breakthroughs are further pushing the bounds on what we see as normal shipping standards. Let’s take a look at what logistics technology trends will become the dominant factors of the logistics industry for 2016.

1. The Transportation Management System, a Long Time Logistics Technology, Becomes More Prevalent, Yet Affordable

Historically, shippers were unable to take advantage of a TMS unless the shipper processed an extraordinarily high volume of shipments. For many smaller shippers, utilizing a TMS was simply out of the question. However, the rise of the cloud has changed that. The rise of software-as-a-service, or SaaS, applications will further level the playing field between large and small to medium-sized shipping companies. Essentially, today’s TMSs tend to focus more on cloud & web-based systems, which can be accessed by nearly any applicable party, while previous TMS systems were located on site and only capable of minimal communication. 

As explained by Bridget McCrea of Supply Chain 24/7,  the return on investment for TMS cloud-based solutions has, on average, experienced a positive growth of 7.5 percent. This logistics technology helps shippers allocate funds and bring forth savings to their transportation budgets.

2. The Use Of Autonomous Vehicles & Drones Will Increase

Think about what happened when Amazon announced that it was planning to eventually use drones to deliver products within an hour, if not minutes, of when the consumer places the order. Over the past few years, the use of drones has become increasingly common. As explained by Robert J Hall, president of Track Your Truck, Prime Air will [eventually] deliver products within 30 minutes of being ordered. Ultimately, this logistics technology is not yet ready for roll out on a massive scale. However, Intel recently set a world record for having the most unmanned aerial vehicles, which is simply the technical term for drones, flown in a single location, at the same time.

If drones are being used for such an artistic display of human compassion and intelligence, logical reasoning leads to a notion in which autonomous truck delivery of products is perfectly acceptable. Autonomous vehicles, which are essentially unmanned vehicles, are also going to become common. In fact, autonomous vehicles are already being used by a logistics provider in Arizona.

This holds major implications for addressing the driver shortage and minimizing the potential damage from long-haul driver fatigue. Ultimately, third-party logistics providers (3PLs) and other shipping entities are looking towards the insurance industry for the successful roll out of this technology. Historically, the insurance industry’s approval has led to some of the most successful roll outs of assisted-driving technologies in the market. For example, when the insurance industry approved the use of GPS and traction control measures in vehicles, the application of these logistics technologies became widespread within a few years.

As explained by Alexa Cheater, Google announced in 2011 plans to develop an autonomous, or self-driving car.  In early 2015, Apple announced plans to ship its first, albeit far from ready today, self-driving car in 2019. As more companies become more involved in the idea and benefits of a self-driving truck, the role of this technology will become increasingly linked with the logistics industry. It will also save money on fuel costs, which results in savings of the cost of shipping.

For example, a self-driving truck may lock onto a truck in front of it, which would result in a train effect for the shipment.  At first, this doesn’t seem like it would logically save any fuel costs. However, a procession of trucks moving in tandem, at a safe distance from one another, and able to communicate with one another in the event of a blow out, accident, or other event, would help to reduce drag on the overall caravan, which results greater fuel efficiency.

3.  The Use of Robots in Warehouses, Loading, Unloading, and Delivery Will Increase in 2016

Have you missed anything about the sale of robots for logistics purposes recently? A few years ago, Kiva robots seem to be rolling out everywhere. Then, Amazon purchased Kiva, and they vanished. In today’s reality, Amazon uses these robots exclusively for internal production. However, this has not stopped other robotic inventors from working to create similar systems that do not impinge on the Kiva patent, asserts Steve Banker of Forbes Magazine.

logistics technology greyorange butler

GreyOrange Butler Robot – Logistics Technology Trend for 2016

The GreyOrange Butler robotic systems take the leg work out of the picking process by bringing shelves to the pickers, and Fetch Robotics Freight has developed a mobile base and a mobile picking robot to make the physical workload of manually picking items and placing them in a given tote simpler and less strenuous. There are many other types of robotic systems in development, and more are being created to make the logistics industry run more efficiently. 2016 will an increase in the use robotic technology in more warehouses, when loading shipment and freight on tow trucks, when unloading shipment at distribution centers, and possibly when the item is delivered at the doorstep.

Although each of these technologies will help to bridge the gap between large-scale and small 3PLs, none of them would be function at today’s level of efficiency without the Internet of Things. In the next portion of this series, we will take a closer look at forthcoming changes and trends in the Internet of Things for logistics providers, and we will move forward into how the technology of 2016 will rely on Omni Channel solutions and become further interconnected through a non-internet-driven device that you probably have in your office right now–Bluetooth connectivity.

 

CIO Review selects Cerasis, Inc. as a one of the “Top 20 Most Promising Logistics Technology Solutions Companies in 2013” for its groundbreaking work and leadership in the development of emerging technologies in the field of logistics and freight.

Dedicated Effort for Innovative Logistics Technology

logistics technology solutions cio reviewIn its December 2013 issue, CIO Review cited several factors for including Cerasis on their Top 20 list, including Cerasis’s pioneering development and successful applications of its freight and logistics technology to eliminate process errors and waste, provide robust logistics reporting, and improve their customer’s ability to better mitigate rising freight and logistics costs. The innovative logistics technology empower the freight shipper to ship more freight without incurring the extra costs of additional resources needed to ship freight as the shippers grow through the use of the proprietary and self-developed transportation management system, the Cerasis Rater . CIO Review also noted Cerasis’s innovative mindset when it comes to logistics technology solutions, mentioning the creation in the last year of both a Less-Than-Truckload e-commerce freight solution and the launch of a Mobile TMS application.

Finally, the biggest reason Cerasis was listed was the ability to save their customers both hard and soft costs in their logistics and transportation departments, with continual savings long term, as the vision of Cerasis is to provide great tools and services to drive long term value and create a long lasting relationship with their customers.

CIO Review’s Annual listing is compiled by members of CIO Review’s editorial board with the continued goal of recognizing and promoting technology innovations and leadership.

Steve Ludvigson, President and Co-Founder of Cerasis, said, “We’ve been very fortunate with our technology teams’ advancements in customer-oriented  and outcome based technology products and services that deliver bigger returns on customers’ investments.” Ludvigson added, “We invest heavily in research and development activities to stay one step ahead of the curve as new technologies and methods emerge. But we also take a pragmatic approach with new technologies, often performing proof-of-concept exercises as a first step with our customers to ensure the solutions generate value before making larger, often time-consuming investments, such as our current roll out to customers of our new Mobile TMS application.”

A Year of Investment to Support Continued Sustainable Organic Growth

In the past twelve months, Cerasis has stayed innovative by not only introducing new logistics technology to the  freight marketplace as mentioned previously, but also by building out their TMS, the Cerasis Rater, to handle shipments into  and out of Mexico and Canada, as well as for freight shipping within Canada. This year also saw the release of the fourth edition of the Cerasis Rater to continue to give Cerasis customers the tools they need to remain lean and profitable with added savings going straight to their bottom lines.

Furthermore, Cerasis was named one of the top 9 Twitter Accounts in the industrial space, named a top influencer in the way of LinkedIn marketing by Social Media Today, has initiated its first online webinar on Inbound Freight Management, as well as a hosted webinar on effective content marketing. Finally, Cerasis was able to open two new offices and expand in the last 12 months with offices in Tacoma, Washington and Chicago, Illinois.

At Cerasis, the goal is to provide solutions for shippers of freight in North America. Cerasis prides itself on this mindset of helping, educating, and having an open hand towards making freight shippers more profitable and operate more efficiently, even as they grow. Expect more great logistics technology deployments from Cerasis in the next 12 months as we look towards continually improving and driving long term value to our partner shippers and carriers.

[dropcap style=”plain”]A[/dropcap] ccording to recent Peerless Research Group (PRG) surveys and feedback as published in the January 1, 2013, Logistics Management article, “Supply Chain Technology: Transportation Management Systems (TMS) gaining altitude,” many shippers of freight, such as manufacturers and distribution companies, are seeing the benefits of both hard and soft freight costs savings when they deploy a TMS or freight management software.

The top reasons shippers plan to purchase a TMS or freight management software:

[list icon=”check”][list_item]Routing and Scheduling: Shippers want automation in order to save time and money spent on resources for processing freight shipments. The Cerasis Rater allows you to eliminate manual process and handwritten bills of lading by allowing you to store origins, destinations, and commonly used commodities, and it has your carriers and specific rates built-in so that anyone processing freight shipments can create an online bill of lading form, which they may print once or in batch and may email to the receiver who expects the shipment.[/list_item]
[list_item]Routing and Rating: The Cerasis Carrier Relationship Management team negotiates with carriers who serve you best. The team locks in your account specific rates, and both loads and maintains those rates in the Cerasis Rater. Once you’ve input your origin, destination, commodities, and any accessorial information, you come to the carrier selection page, where you choose between those specific, negotiated, real-time carrier rates. Once you pick these rates, an online bill of lading form is created.  Additionally, if you have a shipment you don’t want to process yourself or are a vendor with inbound freight shipping to you, our Freight Routing Specialists will work with you, your customers, and vendors on your behalf using the Cerasis Rater, creating the same online bill of lading form that you would normally.[/list_item]
[list_item]Shipment Consolidation: When you are a Cerasis customer, Cerasis provides both technology and people to help ship your freight more efficiently. To provide the highest freight costs savings, we work with you to make sure you are shipping your freight in the right mode.  Additionally, the Cerasis Rater’s drop-ship and master bill, have integrated sub-bill functionality allowing you to maximize your shipping routes.[/list_item]
[list_item]Carrier Selection: When you are ready to ship, do you really want to go to several websites, put in multiple quote inquiries, and HOPE you chose the right set of carriers who will give you the best rates, transit time, and limit of liability? When you are onboard with Cerasis, the FIRST thing we do is negotiate with the carriers who will give you the best lanes and prices. When it comes time to ship, you simply pick the carrier based on rate, transit time and limit of liability.[/list_item]
[list_item]Freight Payment/Auditing: Our freight management software technology allows Cerasis to offer automatic freight accounting services such as freight payment, freight auditing, and freight invoice consolidation. Our system audits your freight invoice for variances, and then our people correct discrepancies by working with the carrier on your behalf. No matter how many freight shipments you process each week, you will also only receive one consolidated freight invoice weekly. This frees up time and money to spend on your business, not on proper freight accounting.[/list_item][/list]

If you are thinking about purchasing freight management software or making a change from your current TMS, contact Cerasis today or ask to receive a Cerasis Rater Demo from one of our Account Executives.

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