Take a moment to think about the existing last mile technology in operation in your facility. The chances are good that your organization has tracking software in place, but can your software provide valuable insights or just generalizations? These questions reflect why technology and effective transportation management, including the use of a transportation management system (TMS) and the Internet of Things (IoT), is key to the efficient execution of last mile delivery and service.
Use a TMS That Handles Last Mile Demands Too
The use of a TMS can benefit entire supply chains. Newer systems can integrate both outbound and inbound logistics operations, but an effective TMS also handles last mile demands and key considerations too. An effective TMS must utilize key features to provide real value which results in these key benefits:
- Intuitive last mile technology improves order accuracy and timeliness. Your TMS should be able to double check order accuracy and identify possible risks that could result in delays, which will enhance overall timeliness.
- Technology increases visibility. The TMS achieves better visibility by providing real-time, timely and high-quality shipment details.
- It optimizes routes. The information collected by a TMS should also be leveraged to optimize routes, resulting in fewer direct transportation costs, such as lower fuel and labor costs.
- It measures efficiency and ability to meet customers’ expectations. An effective TMS should also be imbued with metrics and analytics to measure performance and ability to meet consumer demands, including boosting labor productivity in warehouses, reports CHAINalytics.com
- Technology must function 24/7. The system must also have the capacity to function regularly, and as a result, cloud-based platforms or TMS double down on this benefit.
A modern TMS also goes further than legacy systems, and cloud-based platforms, like the Cerasis Rater, allow shippers to focus on using the system, not an endless nightmare of technology integration and upgrades. Since the system resides within the cloud, otherwise known as software-as-a-service (SaaS), the system utilizes the newest technologies and continues to provide value-based services. But, last mile technology is evolving.
Additive Manufacturing Brings Manufacturing Close to Consumers
The days of using technology solely for shipping within the last mile from a centralized factory or distribution center are ended. Today, new technologies are enabling a change in how manufacturers work, and the use of additive manufacturing additive manufacturing includes technologies that break free from the traditional constraints of manufacturing. 3D printing, augmented reality and virtual reality put power in the hands of consumers to customize their products, and the ability to use these technologies without a large-scale factory means shippers can position manufacturing processes closer to consumers.
In other words, the last mile gets shorter, resulting in fewer costs. Furthermore, the use of additive manufacturing may be categorized as a courier tool, allowing carriers to partner with manufacturers to capture and communicate with clients and help everyone manage the delivery process effectively, reports Talking Logistics With Adrian Gonzalez.
Drones and Autonomous Vehicles Reduce Overhead
Speaking of reducing the costs associated with last mile delivery through technology, the use of drones and autonomous vehicles are on track to reduce overhead in profound ways. They do not have a driver, and they can operate around-the-clock. Consequently, these technologies allow shippers to compete with companies, such as Amazon, which have invested millions into the creation of a dedicated logistics network, specializing in last mile delivery.
Last Mile Technology Includes Big Data and Data Analytics
Another technology that seems to be forgotten is big data. Big data and analytics are commonplace in modern logistics, but they are still types of technology. Big data allows companies and shippers to analyze literal tons of data in a fraction of a second, allowing companies to make real-time decisions and ensure their continued success in the market. Additionally, new technology and the IoT will power a new set of standards and last mile logistics, such as driverless trucks and drones, explains Mitchell’s NY, which will further drive demand and use of big data and analytics. In other words, last mile technology is exploding across the board.
Cut Costs and Resource Demand for Last Mile Logistics by Partnering With a Third Party
Last mile technology can make or break an effective last mile logistics strategy, and its importance is only growing. While last mile logistics is crucial, shippers still need to focus on other key, critical transportation functions. Fortunately, shippers can leverage the newest technology, TMS and assistance with transportation management through partnerships with third-party logistics providers (3PLs), like Cerasis. These partnerships will cut costs and drain on existing resources, which allows shippers to improve their accountability and capacity to manage all logistics operations effectively.