Mahindra Logistics

Connected Logistics: The Future Of Supply Chain

A Game Changer

Autonomous Vehicles (AV) are not new for us, in fact when a vehicle’s performance at the current mode of operation falls below a certain level on a busy street, it is really annoying. That brings us to the new way of thinking, where AV an off-board human driver through remote teleoperations becomes the new way of operation. They instantly take control and maneuver through the traffic. 

In another story, at a 100-meter height over sea level, the blades of an off-shore wind turbine need repair. A drone flies off with tools and a high-resolution camera. The images are seamlessly beamed into your console in nanoseconds, you maneuver the drone and reach the exact spot and repair the blade, without stopping the rotation of the blade. 

It may feel like a scene from a 3D Sci-Fi movie, but it is a reality. This is Connected Logistics - the future of supply chain in warehousing and transportation. 

India is in the cusp of digitization and 5G - the ultimate game-changer in the field of telecommunication – will propel it much faster. With ultra-high bandwidth, extremely low latency, superior availability, and massive capacity, 5G is expected to connect everything that can be connected reliably and efficiently. The power of automation in logistics will further be harnessed through 5G connectivity. 

Indian Logistics and an opportunity – 

Indian logistics today is far from being technology-driven. With many small players, the industry is fragmented, low on reliability, low on uniformity of standards and policies across all States along with being expensive – 12% of GDP as against 7 – 8% in any matured economy. However, this leaves you with an opportunity of leveraging advanced connected logistics management on the 4G/5G network. 

The key benefits of connected logistics are- exponential productivity improvement, enhanced safety, cost optimization, improved competencies, and major enhancement of training effectiveness. 

Connected Logistics on 4G Network and Transition – 

The next natural question that any supply chain expert has in his/her mind is that, “Is it the right time or before the curve to invest in automation and connected logistics?”

The answer to the above lies in whether you are comfortable living in the past or are you preparing for the future – 

4G Networks has following advantages over other mobile network systems -  

  1. Low Latency- Enabling critical activity being performed without time delay.
  2. Large data volume- Can handle complex data from various sources. For example, capacity available in all trucks at different time and location moving in multiple routes and load available at a different location in the same time range on the multiple routes.
  3. High Throughput- Helps in the automation of processes that help in large scale repetition becoming feasible.
  4. Higher degree of programmability- Larger number of devices can be used.
  5. Tailor-made Quality of Services (QoS) instead of “one-size-fits-all”- Helping in customization of solutions for your clients.

Supply chain experts would know to invest in connected devices like Autonomous Guided Vehicle (AGV), Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality (AR/VR), Drones, etc. in 4G network today helps in transitioning into 5G for future and new evolved use cases. 

From AGV for repetitive tasks inside a plant or warehouse to Drone for managing inventory and surveillance/maintenance of telecom towers, MLL’s innovation team is working non-stop in providing such solutions to its clients and leveraging the technological advantages to improve productivity. 

Your action today will prepare you with more power in your service armory when 5G rollout happens. Experts believe that the trend of the rate of shrinkage from 3G to 4G user base due to greater applicability in manufacturing will continue in the future, in the form of shrinkage of 4G, when more evolved 5G technology gets launched. 

So next logical question to ask is what is the benefit of 5G technology and how does it impact Logistics?

5G provides major advantages – 

  1. Massive Internet of Things (IoT)- This means a huge volume of low cost, low energy consuming devices can be connected.
  2. Critical IoT- High Reliability, a massive level of data processing at an ultralow latency.
  3. Augmented Reality/ Virtual Reality- Helps in the virtual tour for clients for services like warehousing, safety measures, etc. from the comforts of office or residence. In the current social distancing, as a way of living, this can be a major game-changer. This can also be used for faster onboarding of team members in industries such as e-commerce which has high seasonality needing faster ramp up during peak.
  4. Better Connected Automation- Smart devices can be connected without a drop in quality of network and speed. This helps in better sweating of assets and productivity enhancement.
  5. Better Results of Artificial Intelligence (AI)– A wider and more complex network of AI-enabled devices to enable smarter decision making.

Current restrictions have enabled many supply chain experts to move towards connected automation and smart devices which can help in faster recovery and limit the possibility of future disruption due to lurking danger of second or third wave of COVID-19, or any such unprecedented force majeure situations in future. It is becoming an integral part of a business continuity plan.

As a smart decision-maker, it is always prudent to act before the curve, have a first-mover advantage, and stay ahead of the competition. 

The connected network can fetch you higher productivity, higher efficiency leading to higher profitability from your current business processes.

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