Technology has always had a tremendous impact on shipping, logistics, and the supply chain. Everything from refrigerated trailers that keeps the fright cold to satellites for tracking and tracing. Advancements in the supply chain means that goods get delivered faster, cheaper, and with a smaller carbon footprint.
In this post, we are going to cover 8 technologies that will impact shipping and logistics in 2021 and beyond. And some of them are a lot closer than you may think.
#1 – Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) has been used in shipping and logistics for years now and continues to get better every year. With it, we are able to find the most optimized routes, figure out when demand is going to spike in certain industries, and find patterns in the data that no human could.
Using an AI for all of the repetitive tasks also opens up time for the team. This means offering better customer service and more options to the shippers.
#2 – Advanced Analytics
A big shift among shipping and logistics companies has been the reduction of information silos and having better overall data integrity. With these two changes, transportation companies are able to have better forecasting, planning, and visibility.
Additionally, as data gets standardized, companies are able to work with each other more easily. This is especially important when a shipper decides to start using a 3PL and needs to have an exchange of information.
#3 – Warehouse Robotics
Robotics are still in their infancy but have undergone some pretty dramatic changes in recent years. There are already multiple warehouses that use robots and they will only get better and better over time.
Another interesting technology has been augmented reality, which is able to overlay graphics and information on top of the real world. This means workers can navigate to where they need to be hands-free without a second thought.
#4 – Autonomous Trucks
Autonomous trucks have been “coming soon” for some time now. Now, in 2021, we finally have the technology for fully autonomous trucks going down the road. The technology that has gone into making autonomous trucks work is quite impressive and worth looking into. As the use of these trucks starts, the only thing to catch up will be the laws to define how self-driving trucks will need to operate.
#5 – Real Time Visibility
As technology advances, real-time visibility has become more accessible for everyone that is involved in the supply chain. Because of that, real-time visibility is in higher demand than ever. Having full visibility means that the shipper and logistics operator always knows where the shipment is and when they can expect it.
#6 – Digital Twins
Digital twinning is a pretty new technology and not many know what it is exactly. Digital twins allow you to create a digital mirror of your processes, lanes, and anything else that you need. It’s kind of like being able to run a simulation, so then you can test to see what would happen if one of your lines went down. With this, you can find weak points and areas that need to be improved before they make an impact in the real world.
#7 – Better communication
New technology always means better communication. For the shipper, this means that you can get information that you need when you want it and HOW you want it. This is accomplished through EDI’s, chatbots, and in-house systems tailored to better the experience for the shipper. However, it is always important to offer the type of communication that the customer wants and is comfortable with.
How These Technologies will Impact Shipping & Logistics Companies
There are many ways that these changes will impact the companies that work in logistics, both good and bad. Let’s start off with the good. First, better data makes all industries and operations run better which results in a better overall supply chain. Second, a more efficient supply chain results in a smaller carbon footprint. This is due to more optimized routes and upgraded machinery. And last, better technology drives down costs. Every product is impacted by the supply chain and as operating costs go down so do the price of goods.
However, some of these technological changes could result in some negative consequences. First is a higher barrier to entry. This could be for any area of the supply chain. Warehouses will need to invest in robotics and augmented reality. Shipping companies will need to invest in additional technology. Then, carriers will need a fully automated fleet which could also lead to losses of jobs. Second, there is the possibility of a loss in customer service. As procedures become automated and communication becomes more digital there is the possibility that companies just won’t offer face-to-face interaction anymore. This, however, can be countered by shipping companies continuing to keep a focus on customer service as they advance.
In summation, technology will bring plenty of benefits to the supply chain and the world. There are possibilities of some downsides but as long as companies care about their service then they will find a way to make it work for everyone involved.
At Becker Logistics we are always implementing the greatest and newest technology so that our customers, shippers, and employees can benefit. If you want to reach out to Becker Logistics you can do so by clicking here. Additionally, if you want to request a shipping quote you can click here.