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ITE Transport and Logistics

Future now: 3 ultra-modern transport & logistics technologies to watch

We live in a time of amazing technological advancement. Seemingly every day, new gadgets and gizmos are released that make our lives that little bit easier. The global transport and logistics industry is no stranger to cutting edge tech either. Here, we take a look at three magnificent modern examples of technologies changing the face of logistics services throughout the world.

1. Augmented reality hits the transport & logistics industry

Augmented reality. Sounds slightly intimidating, no? Don’t worry. It is actually one of the most important productivity aids to hit the world of logistics for some time. So how does it work? AR tech, which is often wearable, adds to what the wearer/user sees in their reality. 

Units such as Microsoft HoloLens or Google’s returning Glass headwear are prime examples of AR tech. Supplying heads-up displays, which have been pioneered by the aeronautics and automotive industries for some time now, these pieces of headgear allow users to access information beamed directly in front of their eyes.

In terms of aiding logistics operations, AR tech can speed up fulfilment processes considerably. For example, rather relying on RF unit displays or pieces of paper, picking lists can be displayed directly on the AR headset. The technology can also scan barcodes, then suggest the next logical items to be picked to keep efficiency high. It also allows employers or specialists to see what the AR wearer can see via integrated cameras. Subsequently, any supply chain issues or equipment repairs can be resolved quickly and without hassle.

2. Sensors poised to revolutionise cargo handling and traceability

Monitoring the entire length of the supply chain with real time data has long been a goal for major carriers. On-board sensors, attached to containers, are on the cusp of changing the entire industry, data wise. Operators are hungry for that granular data to ensure that a) cargoes are easily traceable and b) transit operations are as smooth as possible. 

Now, sensors are nearing the point of cost effectiveness where their widespread adoption is pretty much guaranteed. “We hope in the next three to four years, there is a possibility that all containers can be equipped [with sensors],” Kuehne + Nagel’s Executive Vice President Otto Schact told JOC.com. “If the price comes down to less than $50, it would be a very good investment.” 

Jim Hayden, Executive Vice President of sensor pioneers Navi, claims we have already reached that point.

It is easy to see the advantages sensor-carrying cargoes offer. At a bare minimum, all containers should be visible, transparent and locatable; so says XPO Logistics CEO Bradley Jacobs.

Container-mounted sensors allow just that. Customers and operators will have direct access to location data without relying on legacy EDI systems to relay event information i.e. a ship arriving at port or containers leaving a terminal. Real-time data monitoring allows for many of the kinks of freight handling to be smoothed out. 

Sensors’ potential is such that major operators are investing in technology developers to provide them with the latest innovations. CMA CGM-Mediterranean Shipping Co., for example, is backing France’s Traxens to develop smart container chassis capable of capturing and sharing crucial data. With such huge backers, it goes to show just why sensors are being seen as potential game-changers when it comes to shipping data collection. 

3. Drones offer rapid delivery times

Amazon is no stranger to shaking up the warehousing, fulfilment and delivery game. And, when the internet retail behemoths declared its intentions to go ahead with Prime drone deliveries in February 2017, the entire transport and logistics world took notice.

Why drones? Simply put, they allow for incredibly fast delivery times. At least, that is what Amazon is claiming. The company has always struggled to counter the instant gratification bricks-and-mortar stores offer consumers compared with shopping online. With its drone service, Amazon is promising one hour delivery times in major cities initially – substantially reducing both delivery and wait times. 

DHL has tested its own Parcelcopter drone in 2016. The logistics giants tried out its drone unit in the mountainous Reit im Winkl on the German-Austrian border by getting select customers to drop off their goods at a special depot. The Parcelcopter, once loaded, would travel at speeds of up to 64 km/h to a site 8 kilometres away and drop off its cargo – in a time of under 8 minutes. A car would take up to 30 minutes to complete the same journey.

It is likely that drones will take a little longer than other technologies to reach wide spread adoption. At present, it is really only major operators with cash to splash who can afford to develop and deploy their own drone fleets. 

However, once drone delivery becomes more cost-effective, it is likely to substantially improve deliveries in countries with a large quantity of isolated areas. Indonesia, with its 6,000 inhabited islands, would be an ideal place for drone freight services. In theory, a drone could island hop between locales, dropping off goods and supplies to isolated communities, at a lower price point that current multi-modal models offer.

Technology continues to shape the transport & logistics sector

As the relentless pace of technology marches on, its up the transport and logistics industry to keep pace. The above technologies are just a small selection of those that are continuing to nfluence the way service providers handle and deliver the world’s cargoes. More tech trends are due to hit the industry as the decade roles on.

In order to check out the latest innovative technologies changing supply chains worldwide, be sure to visit an ITE Transport & Logistics exhibition. Head on over to our events page now to see our portfolio of world class transportation shows, showcasing the very best in logistics technologies and services.


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