I could go on, but you get the point. Or maybe you’re thinking these are merely the product of my own sci-fi fantasies? If so, you’d be wrong.
The fact is that these technological developments, and many more besides, are just about ripe for the market and they will make lasting changes to the logistics sector.
In logistics our job is to get the right goods to the right place at the right time – all the while ensuring that the quantity, condition and price are right. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But don’t be fooled. Behind the scenes you’ll find an enormously complex technological process, not to mention equally immense pressure within the global marketplace to deliver ever increasing efficiency. And if that wasn’t difficult enough, add our efforts to make our operations as transparent as possible. The concept may be simple, but the logistics business cannot function without technology.
Is technology the solution?
It is. But it has not always been easy to put cutting-edge technology into practice. Indeed, it has entailed considerable investment in the past. A mere operational trial is fraught with risks and obstacles in our highly networked and time-critical industry. If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that RFID is going to revolutionize logistics, I’d be a rich man. But even this highly mature technology is still not universal.
But the times they are a-changing. And they’re exciting times at that – after all, our sector is not exactly known for being a hotbed of rapid innovation. So, what changes can we expect? In the future, technical innovations that were originally developed for the consumer market will make the transition to the world of logistics at a much faster pace. This in turn will result in rapid changes within international supply chains. Indeed, the application of such innovations will make our business more cost-efficient and sustainable.
Out of your living room and into the global marketplace
The key word is consumerism, meaning technological products and ideas that were originally conceived for the consumer market are finding application in industry and the business world. The rapid rise of smartphones and their use in business is just one example. After all, employees want to work with up-to-date devices in the office, not the yesterday’s technology.
The Internet of Things will change the world
The digital mobile world is already on the rise. Be it for business or pleasure, around-the-clock internet access has become a universal user expectation. Indeed, more and more smartphones come standard with special sensors. We are experiencing a paradigm shift towards the “Internet of Things” or IoT.
Smartphones and tablets are already being used in logistics to monitor and manage all aspects of the supply chain – anytime, anyplace. For my money, I’m keeping my eye on the development of 3D image sensors and other affordable high performance sensors. They will open up entirely new horizons in terms of volume scanning and warehouse monitoring.
Using big data for competitive advantage
In the not too distant future, smart glasses (e.g. Google Glass) and smart watches (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Gear) will enable the use of augmented reality to increase the efficiency of logistics warehousing. The buzzword is wearable computing. The shift to the Internet of Things will mean the collection of more and more data, be it through the use of sensor systems or smart objects. Digital tracking along international supply networks is already a daily reality in our business. We track and trace the origin, destination, size, weight, contents and current location of millions of items on a daily basis. Big data analysis solutions translate into both increased efficiency and customer satisfaction – not to mention the development of entirely new business models.
The prospects for logistics and technology are truly exciting and will mean another quantum leap for the global economy. I, for one, can hardly wait to see what’s next.