Fundamental Shifts in the Logistics Sector: The Role of Technology

Ever-expanding market size and coverage have made it imperative for major brands to create supply chains that are faster, capable of carrying greater volumes at lower costs and can maintain safety during transit.
Fundamental Shifts in the Logistics Sector: The Role of Technology

With the growth of digital technology, global trade barriers have ceased to exist in the last 15 years. Ever-expanding market size and coverage have made it imperative for major brands to create supply chains that are faster, capable of carrying greater volumes at lower costs and can maintain safety during transit. The outbreak of COVID-19 has only expedited the need for speed and efficiency in the logistics sector’s operations. 

The contagion necessitated the usage of cutting-edge technology in the logistics sector as conventional operations became increasingly difficult to carry out. In a country like India, the supply chains were severely disrupted at a time when people indulged in panic buying of necessities. The operational difficulties faced mid-pandemic were being felt by both sending and receiving parties. This created a need for a seamless, transparent, and profitable logistics ecosystem. We are witnessing the benchmarks of efficiency and delivery timelines go up significantly with the integration of technology in operations. 

Here are some of the fundamental changes that the digitization of supply chains has brought about in the post-pandemic normal.

Visibility in the Entire Logistics Chain: Traditional, manually-driven supply chains are time-consuming and provide very little visibility. Shippers, transporters, and end-receivers keep relying on telephonic conversations to ascertain the whereabouts of goods and to obtain various other details. In a retail landscape that is rapidly going online, such complexities and a lack of speed can break a business. Customers don’t want to wait for a product to take a week to reach their doorsteps. This is where IoT sensors and GPS monitoring devices enable stakeholders to track consignments in real-time and have a near-precise estimate of the delivery timelines. Such provisions promote accurate decision-making across all departments and help avoid last-minute setbacks.

Optimizing the Routes: Digital technologies are paving the way for leaner, more efficient, and capable logistics processes. Factors like rising fuel costs and the push for sustainability are making route optimization in the transportation sector imperative. Cutting-edge AI and data analytics tools are being used to evaluate the time, fuel, and other aspects of commute between two given points, providing optimized routes as an end result. This saves time, human effort, and fuel costs leading to greater success of operations.

Digital Processes: Paperless bills, digital documentation, generation of PDF receipts, and document imagery have become the new norm. Digital payments have further eliminated the need to carry and conduct cash transactions. Thus, everything becomes more streamlined, paper-free, and swift. Thanks to digital and potentially contact-less platforms, it is going to be possible for crew-less vehicles to ship goods across cities and states as all the transactions will be online and autonomous vehicles will simply load/ unload at designated points.

Adherence to Laws and Guidelines: Violation of norms and lack of adherence to laws such as loading capacities, pollution limits, speed limits, or driving rules, etc., can be curbed with modern technology. On-board IoT sensors can analyze a vehicle’s on-road performance, the load it is carrying and the emissions from the vehicle - ensuring no road rule is broken.

Vehicle Optimization: Conventional logistics operations also result in severe load mismanagement and poor utilization of vehicles, which lead to them remaining off-road for up to 2 weeks every month, on average. Oftentimes, trucks have to come back empty or half-filled after dropping off a load. For instance, a truck going to Himachal to load apples might not be utilized properly or return to base empty after dropping the apples in a city in southern India. However, the digitization of supply chains and the emergence of logistics marketplaces in India are now improving this situation. Lakhs of truckers are active on digital transport platforms and shippers get 24/7 access to reliable service providers. Transporters are able to market their vehicle’s availability in a better manner, in real-time. For instance, a truck heading to Chennai to drop a consignment can be advertised online and find a return load booking swiftly. Such facilities help truckers generate more business beforehand instead of reaching a destination and having to wait there for return loads. 

It is evident that technology is going to be crucial in improving every stage of the supply chain framework. Warehouses, trucks, manufacturing facilities, route planning, documenting, payment management, etc., are all rapidly getting automated and integrated. The accuracy, speed, and economy offered by such integrations are going to be the future of logistics globally!
 

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