Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Impact of Logistics Technologies

Logistics is a division in which companies continuously pool in investments to equipment and solutions that help them operate in an increasingly untethered world. Whether they’re equipping delivery drivers with ruggedized devices, using handheld computers to track inventory, or relying on mobile devices to monitor the temperature of refrigerated goods as they make their way through the supply chain, it seems that today’s logistics professionals have come to both understand and appreciate the value of a wireless world. 

“Some of the largest mobile and wireless deployments we’ve seen to date have been instituted by the logistics and transportation segment,” says Krebs, vice president of enterprise mobility and connected devices at VDC Research.

The following trends are poised to make great impacts (Some of them are already used extensively),
Real-time communications capability:
To make real-time tracking of goods, logistic information systems of business partners should have real-time communications capability such as the ability to change in dynamic routing and scheduling system when the vehicles are already out on the road. Any last minute changes in routing and scheduling system or constant tracking has been possible only with real-time communications ability of the respective systems. 
People capability enhancing software:
Technology that empowers people to analyze, find, use, collaborate, and share data to maximize efficiency and workflow. It helps to tap into the power of the people and utilize them effectively.
The smart phone is carving out a place for itself in the supply chain:
Sure, they’re still not as physically robust as their ruggedized counterparts, but today’s smart phones - whether they are provided by the company or brought in by workers on a “BYOD” (bring your own device) basis - are staking a bigger claim in supply chain operations these days.
Wireless crystal ball:
Going forward, all of the analysts interviewed for this article say mobility will play an increasingly important role in supply chain management. Being able to “cut the wires,” it seems, can create substantial benefit across the supply chain and allow shippers more freedom to optimize their operations and improve visibility.
Consolidation shipment of modular units:
Smaller consignments are consolidated at a warehouse and subsequently despatched as a volume shipment.Consolidation may be in-house or provided by a third party. Freight forwarders offer consolidated services, particularly in international shipping. There is usually an element of storage in consolidation, whilst awaiting departure of the consolidated consignment. The main advantage of consolidation is the saving of transport costs by sending volume or full-load shipments.

Future research areas:
Collaborative technologies for supporting e-logistics would greatly enhance the future logistics. Multi-agent systems (MAS) provide an interesting avenue of research that is applicable for supporting logistics technologies on the internet. Intelligent software agents can be used to assess the bids offered by multiple third-party logistics operators. More empirical evidence will be preferred to establish the direct link between organizational performance and logistics information systems. Researchers can seek to examine the complex relationships between logistics technologies and performance from different paradigms and theories. The perspective of organizational learning can be used to evaluate the performance gained by employing logistics information systems. 

Final comments:
We have reached a stage where there are continuous evolutions in the logistics space (some are forced and others are natural). But it seems like a new wave of disruptive Artificial Technologies coming our way. Will it change the logistics game forever?

1. http://www.unescap.org/ttdw/Publications/TFS_pubs/pub_2457/pub_2457_ch2.pdf
2. http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/defining-technology-trends/
3. http://swdsi.org/swdsi06/Proceedings06/Papers/SP03.pdf
4. http://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/supply_chain_and_logistics_technology_8_trends_taking_us_closer_to_visibili

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