Driving change: the technology that could transform the future of logistics
The world of technological advancement is progressing faster than ever before, sparking a need for all industries to re-evaluate their own solutions to match growing expectations – and the realm of logistics is no exception.
With discoveries and inventions coming in thick and fast, technology breakthroughs are accelerating amongst all aspects of business and production; and, like us, most logistics companies are putting a greater focus and higher spend on transforming their IT solutions to keep up with the advancing world around us.
Here we take a peek at the technologies that could transform our sector in the coming decades and centuries – from artificial intelligence to supply chain solutions for new colonies on Mars…
An interplanetary supply chain?
Big name companies are planning ground-breaking innovations in space logistics, with companies such as Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk’s Space X and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin being huge contesters in what is commonly know as the new ‘Space Race’.
With a plan to reach Mars by 2022 and get a crew landed on Mars by 2024, Space X has the edge – the end game being to establish a thriving population on the Red Planet; whilst NASA-funded MIT is developing a supply chain management and logistics architecture framework to put interplanetary logistics in place.
Want to deliver to Mars in 2018? Space X is already offering a cargo service to Mars… as long as you’ve got a spare $62million to spend on it!
We can’t currently promise that we can get your pallet to Mars; but we can promise complete visibility at a cost-effective rate, whether you’re shipping from Manchester to Middlesbrough or Milton Keynes to Madrid!
"With discoveries and inventions coming in thick and fast, technology breakthroughs are accelerating amongst all aspects of business and production."
Increased automation in customer service though ChatBots
A boom in companies using ChatBots to solve simple customer queries was recorded in 2017; particularly on social media platforms such as Facebook Messenger.
Natural language generation tools are making ChatBots easier and more pleasant to communicate with. The rise of ChatBots is expected to continue to grow, especially with WhatsApp opening its platforms to bots this year.
Whilst it is predicted that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will not involve a human, ChatBots are currently in their primitive state. They struggle to express empathy, and can (ironically) be bad at problem-solving.
However, with more human input and machine learning algorithms to train them on communication using data input by consumers, ChatBots can and will improve quickly.
Soon, ChatBots may even be evolved enough to streamline the way customer service teams within haulage companies operate; reducing calls and wait times, and allowing the humans in the team to focus on the bigger, more complex customer queries.
But, for now, if you’ve got a query and you want to talk to a real live person you can always give our customer services team a call or try out our live chat function on our website.
In 2017, artificial intelligence (AI) made a huge step forward with Sophia the Robot being the first robot to be granted citizenship of a country. In part publicity stunt and a part indicator of what may be on the horizon, Sophia became an official citizen of Saudi Arabia.
With the ability to hold eye contact, understand human speech and recognise people that she has seen before, along with having a sense of humour, Sophia may not be a real human but she has grasped enough to make her appealing and compassionate to humans.
With the continuing evolution of robots such as Sophia, what could become a reality for the supply chain in a few hundred years? Maybe lorries with the intelligence of a human; or pallet delivery by a drone with empathy.
We may not have an operation that’s run by intelligent robots; but we do have one that is run by hard-working and dedicated individuals who work together to deliver award-winning results.
"It is predicted that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will not involve a human."
As experiments with self-driving cars have shown mixed results in America, self-driving lorry convoys are now awaiting extensive testing on roads in the UK and Europe.
These lines of automated lorries will be controlled by a human driver in the lead vehicle, with a number of self-driving vehicles behind being controlled through an application held by the human driver. The application will allow the lead vehicle to control the braking and acceleration of the vehicles behind.
Whilst the concept is there, there are large issues surrounding it. The platoon’s interaction with humans on the road, particularly at junctions, is currently the biggest challenge that needs to be tackled; along with self-driving vehicles needing to be able to mark their self-driving status clearly to human drivers on the road to ensure safety.
But, with time and research, will roads eventually be completely occupied by self-driving cars, buses, lorries, vans and bikes? In 1000 years, passing your driving test may not be a necessity in life, as large truck companies such as Scania continue to invest and develop self-driving technology. Vehicles aren’t quite flying high with drones, but they will be driven by artificial intelligence.
We’ve not quite got our very own Larry the Self-Driving Lorry, but with a network-wide ISO accreditation for quality, you can be sure that our human drivers deliver only the highest standards of service across the nation.
" In 1000 years, passing your driving test may not be a necessity in life, as large truck companies such as Scania continue to invest and develop self-driving technology."
A sky thick with drones
The National Aeronautical Centre, based in Wales, predicts that 42% of logistics providers plan to soon use drone technology for the distribution of cargo.
Drone technology is currently in its infancy and is at present mostly used for military, security and photography purposes. However, despite the technology not quite meeting the requirements of the logistics industry, large amounts of investment is being spent in creating bigger and faster drones.
Drone technology is the answer to many consumer demands. Customers want their orders quickly, on time, and arriving at a time which suits them – all of which could potentially become more viable and easier for logistics companies to cater to with the use of drones. Drones can even help customers return unwanted items efficiently and at their convenience.
As drone technology evolves, they are able to carry heavier loads over longer distances; but drone security isn’t quite up to scratch for the logistics industry just yet, with drones being vulnerable to hackers.
The future of science fiction feels like it’s not so far away: alongside roads filled with self-driving vehicles, will we also have a sky filled with drones?
We’re not quite ready to welcome drones to the pallet sector just yet; but we do pride ourselves on offering a secure, efficient, bespoke solution catered to your individual needs – including time-specific delivery options so that you get your consignment at the most convenient time for you.
End-to-end visibility through big data analysis
It seems like we are currently in the process of digitising everything. Automated systems and smart technologies are producing huge amounts of granular data, which is more accessible than ever before.
With more data available to collect and analyse, the supply chain gets closer to reaching true end-to-end visibility. This could include linking the supply chain with manufacturing processes, leading to a level of end-to-end visibility the industry has never had.
Data in logistics can also give amazing new insights into weather patterns, demand spikes and drops, the quality of delivery routes, supplier delays and general operational inefficiencies.
With each section of the supply chain continuing to collect growing amounts of data, the number of data lakes available to the industry continues to expand – perhaps to be more than human analysts can handle. But, with AI development, the sector will be able to analyse and combine vast data lakes efficiently to find trends and suggest actions for improvement.
Big data and automation will continue revolutionising logistics in the near and far future, from manufacturing to intelligent warehousing and route planning.
Our sector-leading Nexus GO application that allows customers to track their pallet delivery every step of its journey, with smart vehicle tracking technology and updates every two minutes.
Pall-Ex is committed to innovating its technology within the sector, and making sure that we’re not left behind.
Will Pall-Ex become the first pallet network on Mars? Will we see Pall-Ex drones delivering to people’s homes in the next few years? In an age of developing technology at an incredible pace, the possibilities are endless.
For the here and now our goal is simple: to become the number one quality network of choice for palletised freight distribution. Our focus is on ensuring we deliver the best service possible to our customers through our exceptional, quality-driven membership.
As the only pallet network with a network-wide ISO 9001:2015 for quality, we’re well on our way to achieving that goal – and, in time, we will set our sights on becoming the best palletised freight distribution network in the universe!