The shipping industry of 2016 is a gross misrepresentation of what was considered “normal” shipping practices in the 1980s or 1990s. This is due in part to significant changes and improvements in how the logistics industry perceives and responds to the demands of a growing customer base. Although the use of transportation management systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, and robotics, is dramatically changing the logistics landscape, several other technologies will become key players in the logistics industry in 2016. After taking a look at the automation technology trends in logistics from our first post, take a look at how these technology trends in logistics will grow and what impact they will have for the industry.
Increasing Use of RFID-, AIDC-, & IoT-Based Technologies
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about the Internet of Things (IoT), radio frequency identification (RFID), and AIDC technologies for improving the order fulfillment process. However, these technologies are becoming more popular and cost effective to use. As we talked about in the blog post explaining the hyperconnected era, these main connection technology trends in logistics are squarely focused on efficiency.
Once, RFID sensors were out of a reasonable range for most logistics providers and shipper to use throughout the shipment journey. However, the cost of RFID sensors has decreased exponentially in recent years, and shipping providers are able to take advantage of these technologies without necessarily increasing the rate of shipping.
Automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) technology will become more prevalent as RFID sensors and Bluetooth technologies are implemented throughout the logistics industry. Essentially, AIDC provides a non-human way to automatically provide updates to a shipment status as the shipment moves throughout the shipping process. This may be achieved through automatic, handheld scanners, as explained by Supply Chain Digest.
Automatic identification and data capture can be used to provide real-time insight into a shipment location, estimated time of delivery, explanation of delayed delivery, and many other factors. Furthermore, this technology will become increasingly used to help analyze current logistics processes and determine alternative ways of ensuring a given shipment reaches the destination at the prescribed time.
Similar to the technology in logistics trends, AIDC and RFID technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) will change in an unusual, profound ways in 2016. Previously, the IoT have been used to a lot of communication between different technologies and machines to improve the production and efficiency of shipping processes in the logistics industry. This has helped to reduce downtime and enhance the workflow of a given shipment and providers’ processes. In 2016, the IoT will start to take a more proactive approach in the overall management of shipping processes. For example, the Internet of Things will communicate with RFID, Bluetooth technologies, and other AIDC devices to rapidly identify what parts of a given shipment need to be changed to meet the providers’ and consumers’ demands. For some specific industries, such as those within the jurisdiction and governing authority of the FDA, may implement stronger IoT measures, such as temperature-monitoring, as explained in the white paper, “The Impact Of Supply Chain Intelligence and the Internet of Things.” This specific example may also be applied to a new concept in logistics, tracking shipments with Bluetooth technologies.
Increasing Use of Bluetooth Technologies
As the world has become increasingly aware of the Internet of Things, the idea of non-data-driven (a type of communications that do not require an internet connection or data package to run) communications seems irrelevant. However, manufacturers are starting to understand why a non-data driven device could hold significant promise as one of the technology trends in logistics for increasing accountability and quality control in logistics processes. Ultimately, the Internet of Things is still required for communication on a broad scale. However, low cost, low energy use devices, specifically Bluetooth technology, will further enhance logistics tracking and processing in 2016 too.
Bluetooth-enabled devices, which can be mounted on virtually any surface, such as on shipments, loaders, docks, and throughout the rest of the shipping journey, as explained by Logistics Beacon, can be used to relate information about a given packages proximity to the device. Ultimately, this will help increase shipment tracking and provide a real-time data update to the respective logistics provider’s tracking system, such as the transportation management system, which will help drive accuracy and timeliness in all logistics processes. For some specific industries, such as those within the jurisdiction and governing authority of the FDA, may implement these measures
Growth of eCommerce and Omni-Channel Solutions
In recent years, businesses have grown increasingly reliant on other businesses and consumers to increase their customer bases. Unfortunately, this is led to somewhat of a stalemate for businesses in the digital age. 2016 will see an increase in the number of business is working with other businesses as customers, otherwise as using B2B strategies, especially in the field of eCommerce. Of all the technology trends in logistics, e-commerce is not a new idea and has been prevelant in the B2C world for sometime. But, just now, are manufacturing companies seeking out more B2B options when it comes to commerce.
For businesses who have opted to avoid embracing the millennial revolution, this year will represent a defining moment in logistics. According to Mark Johnson, CEO of Four51, millennials will overtake baby boomers as the occupants of the largest section of generation-owned businesses by five percent. As a result, the demand for a strong online presence will grow. Additionally, if a business or other logistics provider has not already taken steps to optimize the organization’s website, 2016 will be the year in which to do so.
The use of APIs, or automated protocol integration, for eCommerce will become increasingly advanced. Similarly, the use of cloud-based platforms will become the common core aspect of any shipper’s strategy to grow their customer base. The cloud is the fundamental resource that makes working on mobile-based devices and rapid data processing and analysis through the IoT possible and cost-effective.
Since eCommerce is a major force in an omni channel (all-encompassing) solution to drive business growth, businesses, especially logistics providers, must understand how the focus of technology will shift. For Omni-channel solutions, technology will grow more focused on the value of a product or service, not just the end product. Essentially, logistics processes will become more important in maintaining and guaranteed customer satisfaction.
Putting It All Together
Few industries can claim to have a level of technology to equal that found in the logistics industry, and based on this post’s technology trends in logistics for 2016 and the trends in our first post, the year is set to reveal and generate some of the most significant technological changes in the industry throughout history. From the ability to automatically generate reports from RFID and Bluetooth-enabled devices to the increasing focus on an omni channel solution to acquiring new customers, technology in the logistics industry will continue to grow and improve in accuracy and function. Although some of these technologies have been around for a while, they are just now starting to be used to the best of their ability for the logistics industry in 2016.