Let's Talk About Logistics Technology for the Whole Supply Chain

January 14, 2017

 

 

It seems the majority of attention placed on logistics technology has to do with international shipping – with a focus on “disrupting” freight forwarding.  This makes sense given how big global trade is.

 

But we’ve argued on this blog that many of these companies are really more in the business of changing the customer experience in international shipping – not so much providing any exceptionally transformative technology.  Not that this is a bad thing.

 

The point?  There is high-tech innovation happening in other parts of the logistics supply chain that deserve attention too.

 

Big Data

 

We've also discussed the unrealistic expectations companies have for big data - and our ideas for a more realistic approach.

 

In more practical terms, innovation and technology using logistics data is really about supporting better decision making and providing better supply chain transparency - like real time container tracking and a move away from EDI towards API's to improve the flow of data. These are just a few of the ways technology is impacting the logistics industry today.

 

Autonomous Vehicles - Alternative Delivery

 

The most tangible example of disruptive logistics technology - and one that seems so close to becoming real - are self driving trucks.  But with ecommerce transforming the entire retail business, it's the technology and alternatives being developed to improve 'final-mile' deliveries that may be the most interesting.

 

Sure, drones may be part of the solution, but there will be many new ideas and technologies that step in to help with this crucial last step in the retail experience for consumers.

 

Warehouse

 

Perhaps the most technologically advanced area of the supply chain, and the one that is the least visible, is the fulfillment warehouse.  Robotics and other automation are common throughout the warehouse environment.

 

This is especially significant and transformative given how labor intensive the warehouse management function has always been.  Not surprisingly it's ecommerce that is driving these innovations as well.

 

The point of this article is not to argue any logistics technology is better or more important than any other.  They all are.  The important thing is stay aware and utilize the broad reaching impact technology is having on the entire logistics supply chain.

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