In terms of global shipping and logistics services, the industry has seen a huge amount of change and development recently. The pandemic saw the challenges of surging demand for e-commerce and deliveries coupled with staff shortages and reduced man hours. Fortunately, high-tech software and hardware advances saved the day, and are continuing to revolutionise the logistics industry to this day.
What Technologies are Shaping the Future of Logistics Operations?
Robotics and machine learning powered by artificial intelligence (AI) are fuelling the bulk of the developments. For logistics services, a lot of the day-to-day tasks involve repetitive and often potentially dangerous tasks which take up valuable employee time. Automating chores like stock taking, inventory management, and loading and unloading heavy items, reduces risk to employees and reduces errors.
Robotics equipped with AI systems are capable of near-instantly processing a plethora of complex variables via algorithms. This means they can independently react to circumstances, as well as learn and execute new tasks. What’s more, they provide on-the-job data that clearly shows where improvements can be made, helping staff analyse and optimise their performance. Areas ranging from warehouse organisation, product retrieval, transfers, tracking, and even delivery are all benefitting from the dependable assistance of robots.
While the initial outlay on an industrial unit can seem expensive, robots need no time off and quickly pay for themselves. They have the ability to dramatically reduce operational costs while enormously improving productivity. Their superior agility and precision allow for speedier preparations of shipments, while the reduced potential for human error improves overall organisation.
Even better, they free your staff up from repetitive tasks to spend their valuable man-hours on more important matters. And robots can achieve all this while keeping your workforce safer on the job.
What Types of Robots are Operating in the Industry?
Robotic arms and automated machinery are some of the most commonplace technologies currently. They can manage, transfer, and arrange pallets and orders, or pack, unpack, and load shipments. They can be especially helpful in hard-to-reach areas of the warehouse, or when working with heavy, cumbersome cargo.
Inside warehouses, robotic vehicles like cars and airborne drones are also revolutionising logistics services. Termed cobots, short for collaborative robots, they are invaluable in managing stocks and inventories. They are able to move around independently, scan QR codes and RFID chips to identify and locate products, as well as move items easily. Coupled with product information management (PIM) software, they can rapidly process the data they collect, keeping track of inventories and shipments in real-time.
Automated cars and drones’ value isn’t confined to storage facilities though. Since 2016 when Amazon first started using drones to make deliveries, the potential for robots in facilitating shipments has been clear. Drones are easily capable of getting goods to customers unable to leave their houses and in harder-to-reach locations. Even better than this, they are far more environmentally friendly than petrol- or diesel-powered trucks too.
The advantages of the involvement of automated vehicles equipped with AI software in terms of shipping don’t stop there. By analysing location data, they can help avoid obstacles and hold-ups, as well as adapt to local weather conditions. By factoring all these variables in, the software can calculate the best routes for drivers to follow in real-time.
Beyond avoiding delays and reducing costs accordingly, such software can help improve customer confidence and satisfaction rates, too. The signals that location-tracking devices send back to the servers monitoring their progress can be monitored from anywhere. This means that customers can see the progress being made by their items along their route, as it’s happening. Levels of supply chain transparency like this only serve to enhance customer trust in the companies delivering their parcels.
From tracking to delivering to manually moving and packing, there are very few tasks that robots aren’t able to assist with. Both in the warehouse and all the way to the customer, robotics and automation truly are revolutionising and enhancing the logistics industry.