The well-known English writer, Arthur C. Clarke had once stated, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The fact is that our once staid logistics sector is witnessing profound infusion of technology which has already transformed its landscape. And we are at the cusp of witnessing magic. Logistics today is witnessing disruptions of tectonic proportions; and like all upheavals, this entails risk as well as opens up unprecedented opportunities. Infusion of new technology, new market entrants, new customer expectations and new business models. And there are many ways the sector will evolve, some evolutionary, others more revolutionary.
In fact, disruptive technologies will drive exponential change in logistics cost and productivity. Technology is usually a good mix of hardware and software. But disruptive technologies have made hardware more accessible to drive Supply Chain improvements. Some of these technological interventions have the potential to completely reshape our Indian Logistics industry:
Warehouse Robotics and Automated Guided Vehicles
While system guided manual processes can improve warehousing efficiencies to a significant extent, completely automated warehousing operations through warehousing robotics and AGVs can raise warehousing efficiencies and material throughput to a completely different orbit.
IoTs on Trucks : Sensors in a truck can not only detect GPS coordinates and speed, but now it can monitor rapid accelerations and de-accelerations as well as rapid lane shifts (through G-force sensors), thereby monitoring driver behavior. Next wave of disruption is expected to come through sensors proactively steering driver behavior, thereby increasing fuel efficiency, reduced idle time, increased customer OTIF and increase overall life of the vehicle.
Last-Mile Logistics : Last mile logistics is a complex science since it has a lot of variables participating in the decision model. Having said that, sophisticated optimization algorithms along with big data interventions can help solve this. In the time to come, algorithms will progress from providing siloed navigations to individual vehicles on pre-determined routes to providing closely coordinated real-time navigations, thereby enabling the entire fleet to operate as a “swarm” on a real-time virtual control-tower.
Advent of Cloud : Procurement and adoption of advanced Supply Chain Planning and Optimization Softwares had been an expensive proposition in India, till the advent of cloud. SaaS and PaaS have completely transformed the Supply Chain Technology landscape resulting in unprecedented adoption of technology and this trend is only going to gather steam going forward. In the time to come, all software licenses including licenses for advanced optimization engines are going to be based on pay-per-use subscription models.
In the time to come, the industry is expected to undergo a lot of standardization, making it more and more amenable to adopt technology as a principal means to upstage the current supply chain baselines of achievable operational efficiency and thereby significantly reducing cost of logistics in India.
This article was first published in CIO REVIEW INDIA magazine, August 2018