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Industry insider lays bare big tech impacts on logistics

Frost & Sullivan researcher spotlights trends facing freight transport and warehouse operators for 2020
Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - 08:00
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Frost & Sullivan researcher spotlights trends facing freight transport and warehouse operators for 2020

Supply chain management best practices have once again kicked into high gear. Predictive analytics, aided by artificial intelligence, is now a powerful decision-making tool to reveal unforeseen obstacles while highlighting profit opportunities.

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Management consultancy Frost & Sullivan also predicts that for 2020 real-time data collection and analysis minimizes operational risks stating that “the focus is shifting toward process improvement and predictive analytics.” These algorithms allow organizations to optimize route planning and asset overhaul scheduling.

Stephen Spivey, a market researcher for Frost & Sullivan, said in an interview with Aftermarket Business World that there is a renewed sense of urgency in reaching the customer faster, which accords with many business forecasters, including The Economist.

Frost & Sullivan’s 2019 report on “Logistics Technologies and Segments” notes that big tech like blockchain, 3D printing and robotics systems among others, “will eliminate time delays and costs associated with generation and movement of documentation and cargo.” These technologies, among others, will speed ordered goods across the ecommerce logistics value chain to the destination or the last-mile delivery.

Vehicle telematics adoption rates are increasing, says Spivey. Remote performance analysis on connected autos promises maximum control over each movement. When a semi departs the shipping docks, the Internet of Things (IoT) software gauges driver behavior, manages fuel usage and monitors the actual condition of the container. The IoT prevents downtime by detecting which part inside the truck is likely to fail. Moreover, along any point during the journey, those using augmented reality can visually inspect any container and alert stakeholders to the overall condition of its contents.

In Arizona, where autonomous trucks are increasingly undertaking long-haul trips with minimal human intervention, there is more time to redirect energies to fleet management. “Electronic commerce has forced the logistics industry to change their networks,” said Spivey. As for actionable data where somebody can make real-time changes to ensure timely arrivals, “backlogs are clearing up.”

Two notable innovations are gaining traction across freight transportation and warehousing segments:

● Robotics will offset the shortage of skilled people to meet the demand for same-day orders. In theory, by integrating stationary picking robots with their mobile counterparts via two-way communications, the heavy lifting becomes easier. However, Frost & Sullivan research warns that too much of an unstructured environment creates challenges for machine learning. While automated robotics have mastered rote tasks for years, intuitive machine learning to troubleshoot the sorting of irregular-sized packaged goods could prove counterproductive, unless collaborative robots work alongside humans.

● Decentralized production as a result of 3D printing and on-site on-demand printing eliminates long lead times to retool conventional machines. Localized 3D devices streamline complexity and encourage mass production. Parts manufacturers, Spivey says, could service the aftermarket for hard-to-find parts through product personalization. Professional installers or serious mechanics can ensure their own repairs without being forced to buy kits with more components than what they need. “It surprises me that no one is talking about this innovation,” lamented Spivey.

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