As disruption becomes the new normal in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, leveraging the potential of technology and digitalization will be central to driving the growth of the logistics sector. Supply chains will need to upscale their functionalities with the integration of digital tools. Implementation of new-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) will play a key role in forming technologically advanced business models.
AI is playing a pivotal role in reshaping the functional dynamics of the logistics industry. Changes brought about by the emergence of empowering mobile technologies like AI is anticipated to be felt in terms of improved business perspective and enhanced consumer engagement. The power of Big Data is helping in forecasting accurate future outlooks, optimizing performance efficiencies and improving decision-making capabilities. The implementation of AI can facilitate the setting up of a robust route optimization system for channelizing cargo movements through the most speed-efficient routes. Integration of AI into operational processes can lead to supply chain transparency and lead to lower
transportation costs. Introduction of automated processes through AI and machine learning can boost the speed of warehousing activities and incorporate system management and control in the warehousing management system. Any talk of AI is incomplete without the mention of robotics which is embedded with deep learning algorithms. Robots help in streamlining operations and performing routine warehousing tasks like keeping a track of inventory, locating and moving it across the warehouse.
Use of technological tools like Predictive Analytics is expected to be pivotal to interpreting data trends for warehouse capacity optimization and improved asset utilization in the logistics industry.
The large-scale implementation of IoT has the potential to bolster efficiency across the length and breadth of supply chain activities. The latest advances in supply chain technology are expected to create smart warehousing hubs for addressing trade complexities. Internet-enabled devices comprising wearables on workers, installation of sensors and smart equipment are pertinent to tracking operational data in real-time environment and protection of core operational assets.
Advances in asset tracking technologies coupled with IoT-enabled solutions have completely revamped the functional paradigms of the logistics industry. IoT can provide customers with a credible tracking interface enabling them to monitor the movement of their goods from the purchase to the delivery stage. The adoption of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology by a large number of logistics players has been instrumental in streamlining supply chain operations. On-location data can be shared by RFID tags through a secure cloud connection, enabling the tracking of freight in a real-time milieu. Augmenting inventory accuracy levels and enhancing inventory tracking mechanisms in warehouses can be accomplished through deployment of RFID technology, also gaining substantial cost optimization benefits in the process. Enterprises can avail the benefits of sharing critical information on the cloud and create a sustainable roadmap for digitizing their operations.
The manual mode of work is a time-consuming and onerous task and has the propensity to spawn critical errors. To ensure that there is minimum product wastage, and fuel and time efficiencies are optimized, it is important to deploy automated asset tracking solutions.
In future, as logistics operations acquire a complex hue, companies in the logistics domain will need to create an in-house IoT Solutions Hub. The aim of the Hub will be to perform the task of a central registry to gain operational insights into crucial processes by leveraging the efficacies of IoT. It will also perform the task of an aggregator platform and create a viable information storage system for storing details regarding different shipments and inventories.
The IoT-empowered Hub will strengthen the proficiencies of existing organizational enterprise mechanisms and aid in extending critical end-to-end visibility to stakeholders across the supply chain spectrum.
The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing in its wake has brought digital tools and technology to the fore like never before. Running operations with a major chunk of the workforce operating remotely has accelerated the pace of digitalization even in the logistics sector, which has hitherto been considered a laggard when it comes to adopting modern technology.
It is now time for players across the logistics ecosystem to make the most of this paradigm shift and collaborate effectively to use digital tools and technology for reducing inefficiencies and optimizing delivery at every level of the logistics supply chain.
- Adarsh Hegde is Joint Managing Director, Allcargo Logistics. Views expressed are the author’s own.