Smartphone apps and GPS technology have already made a tremendous improvement between warehouses and roads. Sophisticated tracking software has made it easier and faster to deliver shipments, manage schedules, monitor cargo, plan routes and avoid delays. This all results in faster, cheaper and more sustainable circulation of goods.
However, that’s not all. There are even more advanced logistics technologies that are fast approaching which may make the future of logistics look more promising. Here are three technologies that could have a significant impact:
Robotization of the Warehouse
E-commerce has revolutionized shopping and how purchases are delivered to customers. However, there still remains a serious bottleneck in the e-commerce logistics chain and that comes in the form of human stock pickers.
A lot of e-commerce companies depend on stock pickers who walk distances everyday through warehouses to gather goods for shipping. Amazon for example is set to hire more than 80 000 stock pickers during the Christmas period – making it a prime target for automation.
This is how the idea of robot stock pickers then begins and has already started to revolutionize warehouse logistics.
More than 15 000 Kiva System robots have started working through 10 of Amazon’s US warehouses, handling goods and helping workers reduce the distance they have to cover to find products. However so far, there has been no robot that can pick and pack products with the speed and reliability of a human in an unstructured environment.
We can expect that soon in the future, e-commerce purchases may arrive to customers faster and untouched by human hands.
Augmented Reality and Wearables
A lot of warehouses currently still use paper-based approach to stock picking which is slow and vulnerable to error. The next big invention in technology then has been wearable digital system that promises to reinvent the picking process in warehouses.
With augmented-reality system, workers are able to see the digital picking list in their field of vision through smart glasses. With the help of indoor navigation capabilities, they are able to figure out the best route to specific items and reduce the time spent navigating by planning a more efficient pathway.
The “vision picking” software gives off real-time object recognition, barcode reading and data integration with the warehouse management system to make sure that the correct items are being selected and picked.
“Uber-ization” of Trucking
A growing number of trucking companies have begun experimenting with apps that are similar to Uber and hope what has made Uber so successful can translate into large-scale commercial shipping. Juan Perez, Chief Information Officer at UPS says “Customers expect visibility and control of inventory and transportation in their supply chains. We’re continually on the lookout for new technologies that can give them more control so we both operate more efficiently”.
There are apps and services that already help shippers see trucks that are available nearby and book directly with a click instead of through a broker. The services are tied to online maps that keep track of the operator’s GPS position and update the shipper of arrival times, eliminate paper, phones, faxes and price haggling.
These apps are seeking to bring convenience, automation and price transparency to customers.
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