Technology Trends Transforming the Logistics Sector
While many freight forwarders still use low-tech solutions and manpower, more and more services providers adopt advanced solutions to meet ever-rising standards and expectations. Here are some of the tech trends that are quickly transforming the logistics industry.
Blockchain Technology for Increased Automation
Many services providers have embraced blockchain technology because of advantages such as improved accident management and better accountability and transparency. Advanced solutions help businesses to automate processes, reduce costs, save time, and enhance transaction flows.
This results in secure supply chains at all levels. Leveraging blockchain distributed ledger technology enables businesses to store data by different indicators, including place of storage, certificates, origin, authenticity, and so on. Data is easy to access and view, which makes logistics processes more efficient and transparent. An added benefit is that automation helps reduce cargo theft and fraud.
Customs clearance and approvals are also made more efficient by means of smart contracts, thus minimizing processing times. Advanced platforms feature shared distribution ledgers that enable efficient coordination of documents.
Data Analytics for Better Forecasting and Planning
Data analytics can be used to help companies make informed decisions, aided by route optimization, demand and supply forecasts, and data on fluctuations and peak demand. Data analytics allows companies to monitor equipment and workers’ performance as to improve efficiency. Advanced software solutions enable services providers to forecast peaks and bottlenecks and thus improve operational capacity and profitability.
Operators have access to data by different indicators, including average delivery times, deliveries by country, delivery status, and fleet status. They also have access to information such as profit by country and location, average loading weight and time, average delivery time per month, and number of shipments. Data analytics software features multiple capabilities for transportation and storage, network optimization, network design, lead-time optimization, and product portfolio planning.
There are added functionalities for demand planning, path shelf analysis, and railroad cycle time analysis. Some advanced systems also include capabilities for supply planning, inventory optimization, and carrier sourcing analysis. Railroad cycle time analysis is a handy feature that allows businesses to optimize processes based on best practices, railroad industry standards, and shipping requirements. Inventory optimization capabilities help businesses to increase their cash flows, lower carrying costs, improve customer service, and reduce old inventory. IFA members increasingly make use of data analytics solutions for improved transparency, benchmarking and cost assessment, access to data on investment performance, and better network visibility.
Other Tech Solutions for Logistics Businesses
High tech solutions have been tested and successfully implemented in warehouses, at ports and airports, and in different modes of transportation. Examples include smart road technology, warehouse robots, Internet of Things and automation, automatic identification and data capture, and radio frequency identification. Automatic identification and data capture, for example, allows businesses to access real-time data such as delivery delays, estimated shipment times, shipment location, etc. Services providers can choose from a host of different solutions with capabilities such as voice recognition, smart cards, optical character recognition, facial recognition systems, and bar and QR codes.