There are additional advances in automation that push the supply chain toward greater use and deployment of technology and transportation planners are the key.
Drone Delivery Takes Flight.
Last December, Amazon successfully placed its first test flight and delivery by drone. As the technology improves, drone delivery will become a reality, not just a possibility. Unfortunately, drones are not capable of flying for extended periods or high altitudes, so drone technology will be used in conjunction with other technology.
This might involve a system like mentioned in the opening example, where drones are deployed and return to trucks while on the road. Furthermore, new technologies, such as Amazon’s recent patent filing for an airborne fulfillment center (AFC), will further revolutionize drone delivery.
The simplest way to think of an AFC is like the airship used by Shield in Marvel’s “The Avengers.” Today’s technology is not equipped to handle such large warehouses, but Amazon’s patent suggests the technology may be possible within the next decade. If the example is scaled down, the AFC could be the size of a modern blimp and hold large pallets of orders for a local area. Drones could be deployed to deliver products, and restocking could take place while the AFC remains airborne.
Additional benefits of such technology could include avoiding weather delays, increasing delivery windows for customers and avoiding space issues with ground-based warehouses.
HOS rules will make ELDs essential.
The changes to the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, specifically the mandate to use electronic logging devices (ELDs), will come into play later this year. Increased use of ELDs will require transportation planners and supply chain entities work together to ensure compliance and bring information gathered together into one system.
Companies Are Measuring Performance Against Amazon & Other Retail Giants.
Accuracy and security in billing is among key priorities due to increasing demand for lower product and logistics costs.
Less manual entry, more machine-to-machine connectivity via the IoT, will create a more efficient, productive and cost-effective supply chain, capable of competing with Amazon and Retail Giants.
More Information poured into Big Data through the IoT will enhance traffic flows, patterns, translates into better maintenance of roads. As a result, companies can work to reroute deliveries, and government agencies can have a better understanding of real-time and projected demands on the country’s infrastructure, especially roads, bridges, and fuel demands.
To Plan for the Future, Transportation Planners Should…
- Expect more information will be available for decisions.
- Increase resources devoted to automated data reporting.
- Identify weaknesses within existing infrastructure.
- Understand the traditional definition of warehousing will change.
- Optimize collaboration and information sharing among departments.
- Create a pathway for information sharing with freight transporters.
- Provide feedback to transporters.
- Consider the potential impact of more autonomous vehicles on the road when planning construction, detours.
- Understand more shipments will likely be on the road as technology advances.
- Increase cyber security and compliance with such measures in their agencies.
- Streamline today’s activities.
- Recognize that technology may evolve faster than predicted.
- Analyze and apply data gathered from across transportation industry to identify patterns and potential issues within the transportation network.
Companies focusing on technology will reap these benefits:
- Better collaboration and improved communication.
- Competitive advantage.
- Reduced operating and logistics costs.
- Increased on-time delivery and better delivery windows.
- Fewer problems with deploying new warehouses, factories and transportation networks.
Automation technologies that will shape transportation planners and supply chains over the next year:
- Additive manufacturing.
- Driverless trucks & vehicles.
- Transportation management systems.
- New technologies developed by Amazon.
How Will It Impact Third-Party Logistics Providers (3PLs)?
3PLs will transform into 4PLs, tackling traditional logistics needs while working toward better technology to increase responsiveness and productivity. In addition, 4PLs will provide value-added services to compete with Amazon and other major companies.
More companies will turn to Off-the-Shelf Tech, Like the Cerasis Transportation Management System (Cerasis Rater), to provide holistic improvements while additional advancements in tech are made across a company. These systems will continue to provide information needed for transportation planners and managers to perform their duties and accommodate changes in traffic flow.