From the ability to automatically generate reports from radio frequency identification (RFID) and Bluetooth-enabled devices, to the increasing focus on an omni-channel solution to acquiring new customers, technology in the logistics industry will continue to grow and improve in accuracy and function. Although some of these technologies have been around for a while, they are just now starting to be used optimally for the shipping industry.
It is quite easy to become overwhelmed thinking about the Internet of Things (IoT), radio frequency identification (RFID), and Automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) technologies for improving the order fulfilment process. However, these technologies have witnessed notable advancements and are becoming more popular and cost effective to use.
Radio Frequency Identification
The technology – RFID, is at the core of the IoT, and it has been revolutionising labelling and product packaging. With RFID, shipping companies have an opportunity to be at the cutting edge of a phenomenon that is changing the world. The cost of RFID sensors has decreased exponentially in recent years, and shipping providers are able to take advantage of these technologies without necessarily increasing the rate of shipping.
The RFID tagging at gates has been implemented at all major ports across the globe. This enables the seamless entry-exist of trucks and in-port movement to optimize cargo flow, besides enhancing security. Trucks as well as drivers’ entry-exist is recorded using the RFID card system, doing away with paperwork and thus reducing human interface.
Automatic Identification and Data Capture
Similarly, the AIDC technology will become more prevalent as RFID sensors and Bluetooth technologies are implemented throughout the logistics industry. Essentially, AIDC provides a non-human way to automatically provide updates to a shipment status as the shipment moves throughout the shipping process. This may be achieved through automatic and handheld scanners.
Automatic identification and data capture can be used to provide real-time insight into a shipment location, estimated time of delivery, explanation of delayed delivery, and many other factors. Furthermore, this technology will become increasingly used to help analyse the current logistics processes and determine alternative ways of ensuring a given shipment reaches the destination at the prescribed time.
Internet of Things
The IoT has been used for a great deal of communication between different technologies and machines to improve the production and efficiency of shipping processes in the logistics industry. This has helped to reduce downtime and enhance the workflow of shipment and providers’ processes.
As the world has become increasingly aware of the Internet of Things, the idea of non-data-driven (type of communications that do not require an internet connection or data package to run) communications seems irrelevant. However, manufacturers are starting to understand why a non-data driven device could hold significant promise as one of the technology trends in logistics for increasing accountability and quality control in logistics processes. Ultimately, the Internet of Things is still required for communication on a broad scale. However, low cost, low energy use devices, specifically Bluetooth technology, will further enhance logistics tracking and processing in years to come.
Bluetooth-enabled devices, which can be mounted on virtually any surface, such as on shipments, loaders, docks, and throughout the rest of the shipping process, as explained by Logistics Beacon, can be used to relate information about a given package’s proximity to the device. Ultimately, this will help increase shipment tracking and provide a real-time data update to the respective logistics provider’s tracking system, such as the transportation management system, which will help drive accuracy and timeliness in all logistics processes.
eCommerce and Omni-Channel Solutions
In recent years, businesses have grown increasingly reliant on other businesses and consumers to increase their customer bases. Unfortunately, this has led to somewhat of a stalemate for businesses in the digital age. The industry will see an increase in the number of businesses working with other organisations as customers (using B2B strategies), especially in the field of eCommerce.
According to Mark Johnson, CEO of Four51, millennials will overtake baby boomers as the occupants of the largest section of generation-owned businesses by five percent. As a result, the demand for a strong online presence will grow.
The use of APIs, or automated protocol integration, for eCommerce will become increasingly advanced. Similarly, the use of cloud-based platforms will become the common core aspect of any shipper’s strategy to grow their customer base. The cloud is the fundamental resource that makes working on mobile-based devices and rapid data processing and analysis through the IoT possible and cost-effective.