How Technology is Changing the Logistics and Freight Management Industry

You may be wondering - is there any room for logistics technology in this dynamic and old-school industry? Can we really replace the human element in this high touch, human intensive industry? We took a look just some of the ways things could be changing for the freight and logistics industry sooner than you think.  Here are 8 ways technology is advancing in 3PL.

1. Self-Driving Trucks

Tech companies are making driverless trucks a reality with Uber having recently acquired Otto and completed the first autonomous truck delivery in the U. S. The idea of self-driving vehicles is no longer in the realm of sci-fi; we have the software and hardware available now. The White House estimates that 2.5 million US jobs may be rendered obsolete by trucking automation.

2. Uber for Trucking

This year Uber launched its new service Uber Freight to help reduce excess capacity and make trucking more efficient overall by streamlining the process and minimizing time spend awaiting confirmation and communication. Rapid on-demand delivery combines the convenience of ordering products from anywhere with the immediate product availability of brick and mortar stores.

3. Automation and Robots

Since e-commerce has revolutionized shopping, retailers have needed to employ armies of workers for order picking to be able to get their orders out of the door. The manual picking of orders is not only expensive, but no value is added by having people do this job instead of automation. Amazon already had their own robotics division and they host an annual robotic picking challenge where robots perform tasks of restocking shelves and picking orders. Currently, the speed of automation does not compare to a human doing the same work but with technology rapidly advancing we are probably not too far off.

4. Drone Delivery

The FAA moved quickly to establish aerial drone testing regulations with Amazon, 7-Eleven, Google’s Project Wing and other making commercial drone delivery firsts this year. There may also eventually be ground delivery bots swarming the streets if Starship Technologies has its way.

5. Freight Booking Online

Online freight was limited to US domestic trucking for years until 2016 when online booking finally landed in Europe with a uShip/DB sSchednker partnership. International freight quoting is moving online too, with major progress by enterprise providers and start-ups as partnerships between top tier logistics companies and tech industries are growing,

6. Tracking

International ocean shipping has been devoid of courier-style tracking but that is also changing as MSC and CMA CGM (who collectively own 25% of the global container capacity) both invested in TRAXENS, a global container tracking solution. The founder of a supply chain intelligence company also launched a start-up for global pallet tracking and on the port site, the Port of Los Angeles and GE teamed up to improve uploading and tracking.

7. Customer’s Time

The urgency for fulfillment is speeding up with customers expecting quicker and more efficient service more so now than ever. After owning two day shipping, Amazon launched one hour Prime Now delivery and are creating the potential to drop that hour commitment further still with drone delivery. Walmart started two day ShippingPass program to help compete with the urgency for order fulfillment and Uber launched UberRUSH (a third-party fulfillment program).

8. Augmented Reality

This technology superimposes a computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data into a user’s real view of the world and is rapidly becoming an important technology bridging the divide between the digital and physical world. Shipping company DHL has piloted AR in Europe and the US, equipping warehouse workers with AR smart glasses that guide them through order picking. This is very beneficial to any worker who is not at a desk and needs hands-free access to information, and is shown to result in higher efficiency, reduced errors, an optimized use of labor and reducing the need for training.