5 Technologies that are shaking up the freight industry
If you work in logistics, there’s a good chance that your company, and even your position, will look very different in a few years. That’s because the technology that makes our jobs possible is improving so fast that we’re still struggling to catch up!
The window of time in which to play catch up is closing, but the good news is that unlike previous technological revolutions, the one we are currently experiencing is much more democratic. Keeping up this time around doesn’t require hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment. This time around, it’s an information revolution, and your ticket to survival has a lot to do with your attitudes towards new technology. This time around, it’s about being faster and smarter, not bigger and richer.
The emphasis is being placed on client satisfaction, customer management, and finances affecting the profit margins. Good organization and planning have become critical in exporting and importing. As the years have passed, the freight industry has turned to technology to increase profits by streamlining their business.
At this point, you should be asking yourself, is my company heading the right direction?
If the answer is yes, the five new trends in digital technology posted below will be of particular importance. If you haven’t been keeping up, now is a great time to get on board.
Trend #1 – The Internet of Things (IoT)
The first trend we cover is commonly referred to as IoT, or the Internet of Things. Although this technology is still fragmented, it is already on course to shake up the freight shipping industry. The type of technology IoT uses is comprised of a database, a reader, a chip and a GPS cloud-based system. These elements speak to each other, creating a detailed and valuable outlay of your operations. One of our readers described IoT as “a way of getting inanimate objects like parcels and containers, to send useful information about themselves automatically and autonomously directly to the internet.”
This new technology is referred to as radio frequency identification, and it enables the freight industry to effectively track their shipments, and the conditions of these shipments. Confirmation receipts and barcodes no longer require scanning, and the technology enables shipments to be received automatically. The advances in IoT have made it not only easier, but more efficient for a company to check on goods or a shipment. This can be accomplished 24/7.
Trend # 2 – Advanced Machine Learning
Advanced machine learning is one of the latest technologies providing the freight industry with a competitive edge. This technology analyzes data, and enables business decisions to be made using patterns. The computers use dashboards and pre-determined reports to conduct sophisticated analysis. This provides market insight in the freight industry that allows companies to pivot to more efficient operations.
Human intervention is not necessary to analyze data due to the algorithms of machine learning. Machine learning is used in conjunction with supply chain management to turn passive data into on targeted business intelligence. This improves incoming orders, the accuracy of forecasting, general performance, and predictability.
For example, by analyzing data on thousands of trucking runs, machine learning can recommend which routes are more productive, what conditions create problems, and it can pinpoint other inefficiencies. In maritime, machine learning can help companies choose routes, ports, and make other choices to increase their bottom line.
Trend # 3 – Cloud Based Solutions
The freight industry will see major advancements as the capacity of the private fleets becomes more readily available. Freight companies will be able to immediately reposition any empty containers without expensive IT infrastructure investments. This will be possible by deploying pay-per-use services on the cloud. The combination of mobile applications and services based on the cloud will enable freight companies to cater to both large and small businesses.
Trend # 4 – Connected Applications
The freight industry requires a reliable and efficient means of transmitting data, and this is crucial for logistics. Technological advances will enable numerous applications to communicate with each other in intra- and inter-business scenarios and B2C and B2B. Although EDI has been used as communication for a long period of time in the freight industry, data transmission in real-time has been compromised due to the strictness of the standards and formats. JSON and RESTful Web services are capable of replacing EDI, and are preferable for transmitting data. Mobile apps are capable of capturing data on-roads and on the floor. These apps will communicate with the existing systems and digitally transform the freight industry.
Trend # 5 – Security
Warehouse and Logistics Management Solutions are starting to use internet and cloud computing to transmit of data. This system and the corresponding software are able to prevent cyber-attacks much more effectively. Security in the freight industry is changing, and individual components are being constantly monitored for vulnerabilities.
Cyber threats can be effectively recognized, monitored and rectified to stop any possibility of a cyber threat. Regular testing and security audits will become a permanent part of the freight industry.
What’s next, and what does it mean for you?
Most people watched, or were at least aware of the first driverless truck delivery made by Budweiser and Uber last year. It was a wakeup call. Next generation technology has arrived, and it can make deliveries faster, and presumably safer.
The problem is, most freight shipping companies not ready to begin using this type of technology. Despite the consistent traction and coverage, many people do not believe autonomous trucking is ready to have a high impact on the community at this time. According to information obtained from industry surveys, the bulk of the freight shipping industry is only slowly starting to embrace the concept of autonomous trucks. The expectations are the transition will not be far behind. But for most, there’s still a lot of uncertainty.
The question is, what’s the starting point?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but as you read about the developments above, you probably recognized areas where your operations could benefit. As we head into the second quarter of 2018, it’s worth perusing those avenues. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be.
Freight shipping companies must remain current with the trends and advances. The best businesses must focus on their product quality, and the commitment they have made to their business associates and customers. As technology continues to evolve and advance, businesses must adapt and change with the times or become stagnant.
Summit Shah is a specialist in integrating business technology and has consulted on leveraging technology to make better decisions, increase revenue, improve product quality, and increase growth and profitability.