In today’s blog post we continue our look at the logistics technology trends that will shape 2018. In our first post on this subject, we addressed the 5 automated logistics technologies that will serve as the foundation of the transformation to the digital logistics & supply chain landscape. In this post, will go to how shippers and logistics providers will lean on 6 more trends to make gains in the months to come.
The Evolution of LTL Shipping Practices
What is the difference between logistics technology trends and supply chain technology trends which we covered earlier this year? The short answer is: not a heck of a lot! However, logistics focuses expressly on the movement and storage of products, while the supply chain goes into deeper detail, including manufacturing processes, procurement, and the flow of goods. Although similar, the following will focus more on the big-scale technologies and their associated key concerns that will affect logistics in the coming months.
The Logistics Robots Market Will Dominate in 2018 & Beyond
Robotics is set to change logistics more than any other area of the logistics technology trends in the coming year. As explained by i-SCOOP, Amazon’s acquisition of Kiva Systems robotics a few years ago, now known as Amazon Robotics, dramatically altered the robotic logistics landscape. Support for companies using Kiva robots diminished over the past years, and it is expected to end shortly. The decision by Amazon will result in increased development of robots for use in logistics and other functions in warehouses such as packing and picking. Further, we may see, as we are now in manufacturing, the rise of cobots, or collaborative robots, as coined by Rethink Robotics. The market is ready for the use of logistics robots to work in conjunction with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), also known as industry 4.0. Cobots are involved in packaging, picking, shipping, delivery and visibility throughout logistics, but they are rapidly becoming key players in the artificial intelligence and data analytics movement.
By the end of the year, up to 30% of all new robotic deployments will use c0bots that operate three times faster than existing robots deployed at the end of 2016. In other words, more robotic systems will be used for order fulfillment warehousing and delivery operations by up to 45% of mainstream global e-commerce and omnichannel commerce companies.
More Companies Will Explore In-House Last-Mile Delivery Solutions
The demand for faster last-mile delivery is causing some major problems for shippers trying to implement in-house last mile programs, says On Time Logistics. For many retailers, this will be difficult, requiring significant investment in two fleets, drivers, technology and additional resources to handle last-mile delivery.
Think about the typical costs associated with hiring and training drivers. Drivers credentials must be verified. They must undergo health and mental wellness exams. If a problem arises, the company must mitigate their losses. Creating in-house last-mile strategies increases risk, so more companies will begin outsourcing last-mile delivery service in favor of meeting consumer demands.
However, last-mile delivery is not exclusive to home delivery, and it can include delivery to store. Ergo, ship-to-store and pick up at a store are last mile delivery options, and shippers can leverage existing brick-and-mortar stores to offer faster delivery to consumers. As a result, stores as a distribution center will become more popular throughout 2018.
Problems With Autonomous Delivery Will Become Evident
Autonomous trucks and drones are the 800-pound gorilla in logistics technology trends. They are the in-all solution to the concerns over the driver shortage, and they can save big bucks for logistics service providers. Unfortunately, self-driving trucks and cars are not yet widely available. Even when they can perform as their name implies, chances are good that regulatory agencies will act. This will result in added costs of using driverless vehicles, changes to insurance premiums and more.
Another side of the equation is labor; people are clamoring over the possibility of robotics, including driverless vehicles and tries, taking the place of human jobs. Although it might sound like a doomsday scenario, it is not a robot apocalypse. Driverless technology has a long way to go before it can be deployed on a nationwide scale, and 2018 will see more logistics service providers realizing the potential drawbacks to investing too much in autonomous delivery options right now. This also includes drone delivery. Instead, they will focus more on existing technologies and explore autonomous delivery with caution.
Logistics Safety and Cybersecurity Systems Will Be Top Priorities in Logistics Technology Trends
Safety and logistics will also come under the microscope in 2018. Recent hacks into nationwide companies have revealed potential cybersecurity threats throughout some of the most secure organizations on the globe, including Equifax. Furthermore, pushback against the new administration has led some states to adopt even tighter regulations governing safety standards in the workplace, even if on a local level. As a result, logistics providers will be focusing more on safety. Increased demand for faster turnaround will also have an inescapable result of increasing the risk of accidents in the transportation process.
Workers are going to be moving faster, and doing things faster tends to result in less-than-safe practice. Logistics providers that do not take the time to consider how safety will evolve throughout 2018 may be the recipient of unwelcome punitive damages and penalties on the part of injured parties or regulatory agencies. National regulatory agencies also understand that logistics companies will be doing overtime in 2018, so it is more likely that they will pass regulations sooner rather than later.
This will require the use of more advanced analytics to track employee performance and adherence to safety standards.
Logistics Service Providers Will Increase Mobile App Adoption
The rise of new technologies and the Internet of Things will encourage logistics service providers to increase adoption of mobile apps. There are apps for trucking miles driven, freight sent, freight waiting to be sent, inbound orders, marketing leads, customer service interactions and more. Logistics companies can leverage information and capabilities via an app to reduce demand and effectively manage it. Freight sharing apps are one of the major app categories that will see a significant boost throughout 2018.
TMS Adoption Rates Will Soar
The use and adoption of transportation management systems (TMS) is expected to climb in 2018 and beyond, says Bridget McCrea of Logistics Management. ATMS has the value of being a “hub” for all logistics interactions and processes, including route planning and optimization, freight auditing and payment processing, carrier management and more. Furthermore, TMS applications have moved from terminal-based installs to cloud-based platforms, reducing delays in implementation, eliminating bottlenecks from downtime and improving cybersecurity simultaneously. As a result, more companies will adopt such solutions throughout the year to keep up with increased demand and to integrate into the increased used of the other aforementioned logistics technology trends.
Logistics Will Continue the Technology Overhaul in 2018
Logistics is poised to reap the benefits of technology in the coming year, and understanding these logistics technology trends’ implications will be key to success or failure. Consumers are only demanding more, and technology is the solution service providers have been looking for to move more product with fewer resources.