For many companies, logistics and supply chain management is no longer a simple cost of doing business, but a way to generate competitive and operational advantages. Technology has become the perfect enabler for most advances in the supply chain.
Gartner, one of the most trustworthy voices in technology research today, published its list of top supply chain technology trends businesses should be watching. These technologies can help companies create leaner, faster and self-orchestrated logistics and supply chain operations.
Top 8 Supply Chain Technology Trends of 2018
1. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is an advanced technology that is already offering tremendous promise for the logistics and supply chain space. Gartner says, “The ability to apply AI to enhance and automate decision making, reinvent business models and ecosystems, and remake the customer experience could make many other emerging technology trends redundant.”
In logistics operations, businesses should be using a TMS (transportation management system) with AI technology as it will help optimize carrier selection, rating, routing, quality control processes and enable you to make faster and better business decisions.
At GlobalTranz, our mantra is “AI everywhere.” It’s one of our main areas of applied R&D, and we’re continuously identifying opportunities to help shippers automate as many logistics operations as possible using AI, and dedicate more time to growth-focused projects.
2. Advanced Analytics
Advanced analytics, notes Gartner, improves decision making in areas like logistics, and transportation. “Processes that previously relied on human judgment can be powered by predictive and prescriptive analytics that could have a significant impact on future demands for supply chain talent.”
At GlobalTranz, we’re developing tools that combine data across multiple systems (carrier networks, current and historical pricing environments, GPS data, traffic and weather patterns), and use advanced analytics technology to help businesses manage disruptions, reduce downtime, and effectively plan and budget logistics spend and operations.
3. Internet of Things (IoT)
End consumers are increasingly asking for detailed shipment tracking and transparency into the location of their purchases. IoT (Internet of Things) technology, like sensors and RFID, is helping to deliver real-time visibility to meet those consumer demands.
4. Intelligent Things
Intelligent things, such as robots or autonomous vehicles, are mostly being deployed in controlled environments like warehouses. Logistics service providers are using mobile robots in fulfillment operations to meet labor shortages and help businesses meet their same day and next-day delivery demands.
5. Conversational Systems
Conversational systems are chatbots and so-called virtual personal assistants (VPAs). These systems handle discovery questions and offer solutions without human involvement. Conversational systems enable transactions, handle payments, ensure delivery, and provide customer service. In the second half of 2018, GTZship and GTZcommand will include the ability to use voice commands to dispatch orders, retrieve status updates, modify shipment parameters, and pay invoices. These VPAs will also guide users through new features and interactive training material.
6. Robotic Process Automation
Also known as RPA, robotic process automation eliminates supply chain manual tasks and processes by automating them with something like structured data. “RPA allows supply chain leaders to cut costs, eliminate keying errors, speed up processes and link applications.”
7. Immersive Technologies
“Gartner estimates that immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR) will reach mainstream adoption in the next two to five years, with augmented reality (AR) going mainstream in the next five to 10 years.” In warehousing, AR technology, in the form of glasses, is being used as a hands-free system to display pick items for the employee filling an order, to help increase speed and accuracy.
Blockchain can create a more connected and efficient supply chain by enabling real-time, secure, and inalterable information sharing between manufacturers, shippers, carriers, brokers, consumers and more. Several companies are piloting blockchain technology within the supply chain, including Walmart and IBM.
Eventually, blockchain technology will impact logistics management, but today we’re in the infancy stages. In 2017, GlobalTranz became one of the first 3PLs to join BiTA (Blockchain in Trucking Alliance), to develop industry-specific standards and help grow and educate the logistics industry about this promising technology.
The Power of Technology
At GlobalTranz, we’re committed to pioneering the use of new technologies in logistics and supply chain management to help businesses drive operational efficiency and cost savings. We’re integrating enhancements like AI, advanced analytics and conversational systems into our TMS and logistics platforms and ultimately helping businesses create competitive advantage.