‘The Box’ as the current shipping containers are called, changed the way logistics operated in the past. Online commerce in the present has changed the way food and goods are delivered at our doorsteps connecting the last mile. The future is certainly going to make life easier and better with the aid of technology which is going to be the biggest disrupter. Having said that, technology has already started its disruption in the way we dialed our phones. Welcome to the world of technology disruption. The following 5 technological advancement is going to revolutionise the logistics industry and change the current equations.
‘5G’ a technology that is touted to bring high-speed internet as high as 20Gbps and at least 50% faster than the current 4G is going to connect and treat the vehicle as a device. This would open a plethora of opportunities such as Autonomous Self Driving Cars, Automated Parking, Collision Avoidance on a mutually aware AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle), Platooning, etc. Technically it comes under the concept of V2X (Vehicle to Everything) which is a technology that enables vehicles to communicate with other vehicles, traffic systems, infrastructure like toll booth and in toto, aware of the environment around. With Internet of Things (IoT) the number of devices is only going to increase.
Semi-Autonomous Truck Platooning seeks to link a couple of truck in a convoy using communication technology thereby ensuring fuel efficiency and safer road transport. The trucks following the Head of the platoon need little or no action from drivers consequently rising at the same pace boosting fuel efficiency. Researchers have come with numbers that platooning could cut fuel consumption by 12 percent. Environmental impact should see a betterment aiding sustainable development goals.
‘UAV’, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle commonly called as drone is expected to create a space for itself under ‘Drone Logistics’. Forecasted to be operational around the year 2022 to transport small packages usually food and medicine and lightweight articles would revolutionise the way delivery happens. The ease of ordering food, ice creams online and getting it delivered at our doorsteps was unthought until this space got exploited by many players. Drones for delivery could complement the human delivery executives to reach remote, rural and even hostile locations. The use of such flying objects is expected to start indoors initially before laws evolve for outdoor operations. ‘Drone Swarms’ are efficient to carry large packages and effectively coordinate as bees.
Blockchain a cryptographic technology got introduced with bitcoins and is intruding into other domains, especially into the logistics and supply chain industry. Logistics is marred by paperwork and duplication of data. Especially in transportation where a lot of players are involved like customs, warehousing, and distribution, it would get more complex and the wait at each level would increase the turn around time. With ‘Smart Contracts’ using blockchain, contracts and payments are taken care with ease as parties to contract to get payed once the task is done. Blockchains promote a transparent and efficient supply chain by logging transactions, that is visible across the stakeholder network. This indeed creates a sense of trust in logistics space which is currently opaque. Already a big player in supply chain business like Walmart are using the technology to track a product precisely from its source to destination.
Technology is also disrupting the way it simplifies our current complex multiple-line Address System into mere three words. What3Words, a geocoding system creates a novel way by which we address our location by pinning it to a resolution of ‘3x3 square meter’ area in the Earth’s surface. This system has the potential to create avenues for ‘precise location delivery’ using drones to even deliver right in the hands of a human being.
Logistics is undergoing a seamless ‘technological’ shift where the above technologies of ‘5G’, IoT, Platooning, UAV, Blockchains, etc interact and interrelate to create a disruption in the way we would never imagine to operate. Goods would soon talk to Vehicles for its pickup. Platoons of AGV would talk to toll booth. Robots and Swarm of Drones would do ‘pick’ and ‘put’ operations in warehouses. AGV’s would be the new delivery executives. The above all would safely and securely transact behind using Blockchains. With Blockchain already being implemented in many places and the fight for the earliest 5G release has begun between the rival companies, the imagination is not far behind that the world is being shrunken into ‘a Box’.
Disclaimer: Views expressed here are the author's personal views.