How connectivity and mobility are driving the multi-billion-dollar logistics industry boom
For an industry that’s as old as civilisation itself, logistics has evolved quickly over the last half a century to offer unimaginable levels of service. Connecting the unconnected. Reaching the unreachable. Centralising the remote.
And powering every radical change in how logistics serves the world: connectivity.
In fact, no sector is more familiar with the advantages of mobile, connected technology than transport and logistics. But where is the industry headed now? How is it adapting to the new challenges and emerging opportunities this decade presents? And what can businesses do to keep abreast of technological evolution?
The ‘Prime’ effect is driving consumer expectations skyward
First, we need to understand why the arrival and integration of new technologies matters within the logistics industry at all.
Today’s consumer doesn’t want to wait. They want their next drama series released all at once and ready to stream in an evening. They want their shopping available to click and collect inside an hour. And, yes, they want that parcel delivered next-day – even, in some cases, within the same day, or hour.
It goes without saying that these lightning-fast fulfilment times are only possible to uphold with the integration of high-performance connectivity, combined with extremely efficient working processes. From order generation to pick and pack; warehouse to last-mile – operations need to be smooth and seamless. Any lagging tech or system issues will cause delays for the entire chain.
‘High tech’ becomes the new normal
Being connected anywhere at any time means there’s no choice for logistics businesses: they need to push the boundaries of their operations and embrace new technology, or they’ll be left behind. So while logistics as a whole has traditionally been viewed as a slow-moving beast when it comes to tech innovation, new ways of working that were previously considered to be the realm of giants like Amazon, DHL and Kuehne + Nagel are now coming to the masses.
Often cited as the true benchmark of Industry 4.0, automation is set to explode across the next decade. And if businesses weren’t already taking this trend seriously, the impact of COVID-19 on workplace contact has compounded the need for them to act quickly.
Automated parcel-sorting. Automated inventory tracking. Automated storage and retrieval bots. Many of these AI-powered processes have become commonplace in warehousing environments, as have the robotics which support them. And where they’re used most successfully is when integrated with professional teams, who are then freed from menial tasks to perform more creative or problem-solving operations.
But automation isn’t just transforming the warehouse. One of the next big predictions for the industry is the transformation of last mile – or last 100 yards – of parcel delivery.
Beyond self-driving vehicles, drones and bots have both been tested for last-mile operations: Amazon, for example, patenting and testing a number of technologies which would transform last-mile delivery. The biggest benefit, apart from the speed and efficiency of such operations, is the ability to offer more remote customers to the same level of service as their city-centre counterparts.
With the right technology offering a seamless experience when it comes to managing, routing and deploying last-mile orders.
With huge advances in geolocation, asset tracking, connected vehicles and analytics – in many cases enabled by the IoT – businesses that embrace these new developments are the businesses that will succeed.
But you don’t need to invest in full warehouse automation, purchase a fleet of drones or recruit a robotic workforce to benefit from greater efficiency. You can take advantage of changing technology trends with the right connected technology.
Panasonic TOUGHBOOK mobile devices combine the best of handheld, smartphone and barcode-reading functionality in a single device. We’re the world leader when it comes to rugged technology, customised options and engineering technology that’s able to withstand the drops, vibrations and heavy loads of your day-to-day. Our products can handle extreme temperatures – ideal for cold chain working – with intelligent screen technology that means your teams can work clearly in all weathers.
Above all, our complementary software tools and unrivalled connectivity makes us the partner of choice for logistics businesses who are ready to transform their productivity.