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Logistics industry technology: what’s new, old and still far off?

logistics technologyFrom the invention of trailers and pallets all the way to modern transportation software, technology has repeatedly reinvented the logistics industry. Technology is the key to moving freight with speed, efficiency and safety, and there is not a single organization in the logistics industry that isn’t searching endlessly for new ways to leverage it. New devices and innovations are on everyone’s radar, but there is some uncertainty as to what new technology will actually have an impact on the industry.

When it comes to logistics technology, here are some new innovations that are making waves in the industry.

What’s technology is still far off?

There are many advancements that are still far off from becoming a reality in the logistics industry. These include:

  • Delivery by drone: although Amazon made waves last year with its announcement that it will try to have same-day delivery via drones, regulations and safety/security concerns have halted this technology. It doesn’t look like drones will be dropping off packages to consumers anytime soon.

 

  • Autonomous fleets: there are many reports of companies investing in driverless cars, and we’ve even seen a few hit the road with mixed results. Although we are inching closer to cars that can drive themselves, we are still a long way off from driverless trailers. Because of safety and reliability concerns, carriers will remain an integral part of the logistics industry for quite some time.

 

What technology has been stalled?

A few years ago, these pieces of technology were all the rage. Now, because of inefficiency, cost and quality issues, they seemed to have stalled. These include:

 

  • 3D printing: many businesses believed that substantial amounts of warehouse space could be saved as inventory could simply be printed when ordered. Although 3D printers have come down in price, they are still unable to produce anything more than simple objects. Traditional manufacturing and storage is still going to be the preferred method until the technology is developed.
  • Wearable technology: the picture was clear: businesses envisioned warehouse workers moving about while wearing smart glasses and watches with the ability to control operations on the flow. The wearable technology is here, but prices and functionality are still questionable. Not only have logistics professionals found ways to definitively use the technology, cost still remains a barrier for many companies, as well.

 

What’s here now?

Here is the technology that is currently making waves in the industry:

 

  • RFID: short for Radio-frequency identification, this technology first hit the logistics industry with sky-high prices. As the prices came down, shippers began using RFID chips to successfully track their shipments and improve their operations.

 

  • Cloud-based analytics: the idea of data storage in the Cloud is not exactly new, shippers are finding new ways to use the information that they store there. From route optimization to freight consolidation and carrier rate management, shippers are using cloud technology to store and analyze their data on the go.