Logistics Automation Trends in the Context of Globalization
Globalization has significantly changed the way we live — and will keep on doing it every minute. The present world is interconnected more than ever. Under globalization are meant depth and breadth of countries’ integration with the rest of the world by their participation in international flows of products and services, capital, information, and people. According to DHL Global Connectedness Index counted since 2001 has a stable positive trend, interrupted in 2007–08 by a global financial crisis. In 2018, however, all four components positive trend — trade, capital, information, and people — was touched by a wave of economic nationalism.
Because of the movement towards national economy preservation and primarily to the minimization of customs duties, which are prohibitive for some products, corporations are ready to transfer assembly plants to sales regions. This tendency, on the one hand, reduces transport costs, on the other hand, makes logistics more and more competitive. 3PL (Third party logistics) providers as essential Supply Chain members felt the necessity for overall cost reduction through logistics and transportation processes automation under the pressure of changing circumstances.
There are several standing out logistic automation trends with high probability that will take place everywhere locally in the nearest future. Unfortunately, despite the fact of technological and software diversity, there are no global-wide solutions in logistics due to the total cost of deployment, security concerns, and an absence of standards in the fragmented logistics industry. That’s the reason why custom software development at the stage of technological growth has no particular alternatives and standardization in the coming years is not quite probable.
One can observe the following automation trends in logistics:
- fleet tracking and management systems (real-time transport visibility, predictive delivery, fuel management, security alerts, traffic density, cargo state monitoring, etc.)
- cloud logistics (real-time cloud-based systems covering all logistics processes for transportation often used by Supply Chain members to manage and automate the chain for further cost and time reduction, increase the transparency of logistics)
- artificial intelligence (computer vision, machine learning, decision-making on available data, prediction)
- augmented reality (augmented reality glasses providing visual guidance in a warehouse for speed and accuracy improvement)
- and many more.
Key manufacturing companies have also been implementing information systems for the management of all internal business processes for a long time. Often they use separate independent integrated systems, which have grown to manage different functions of the enterprise: accounting systems, CRM, analytic systems, and others. Big players are not willing to spend much time and efforts to integrate with numerous single-purpose services that are widely represented on the market. As well they pay much attention to data security and management, not often willing to store data on uncontrolled servers. This makes less powerful players adjust their systems to the bigger ones. Integration of information systems may include:
- Platform Integration (the platform on which the remaining components of the system operate, which includes hardware and software).
- Data integration (Data that the system works with. Consist of DBMS and databases)
- Application integration (Applications that implement the business logic for working with the data system. Consist of components of business logic, user interface, support components (framework), and server that provides storage and access to components).
- Business process integration (Business processes, which are scripts for users to work with the system).
Taking into account the increasing number of integrated subsystems in modern ERP software, it’s barely possible to implement new features without tons of rework. This is where the custom software development plays a big role, where solutions are developed embracing the existing system.
Fleet Tracking and Management Systems
Fleet tracking and management systems optimize operations via real-time fleet tracking systems. In various realizations, they may be used both by both for shipping companies and customers. Customers can control the state of transportation and condition of cargo. Parties that carry out transportation can manage the transportation process and fleet status to prevent undesirable effects like delays due to breakdowns, traffic jams, cargo thefts, etc.
Fleet management systems automatically gather data, store and visualize it in reports on fuel consumption, driver behaviour, vehicle location, condition, and many other technical slices in the real time.
This data may be used for an automatic audit of the fleet condition, technical inspection scheduling, and renewal.
Cloud logistics integrates many stakeholders on one platform which is available at any time from any device for all participants. The main result for participants is to have one place for decision making and the possibility to agree on mutually beneficial cooperation for efficient supply chain management based on open data sharing. Cloud logistics may help in reducing costs and improving efficiency by full vehicle loads, an increase of profitability of return hauls, scheduling deliveries, and deliveries on the production demands, etc.
Artificial intelligence in logistics can increase the performance and efficiency through automation in the following areas:
- customer support,
- research assistance,
- data input.
AI in Customer support allows automating customer interactions using voice messages or chatbots. Using chatbots and other virtual agents can be very effective for automating first-line support, which leads to better customer satisfaction due to reply time reduction and extra time freeing up for non-standard problems resolving.
Research assistance is that AI searches for the required data using automatic clustering, ontology, and visual recognition technology. This shortens the search time.
Data entry is used for automated pre-processing of emails, invoices, spreadsheets, presentations, PDF files, and other documents using machine learning.
Augment reality with the help of extra devices helps to combine real-world with data in an information system. In logistics and transportation, it may be used for quality and time improvement of loading operations by following the 3D model of stacking and securing cargo. Also, AR helps to correct load distribution on vehicle axles improving delivery and cargo safety.
Augment reality is used in warehouses to increase accuracy and speed of the picking process in distribution centers.
Logistics, as a whole, is a very complex industry that combines a variety of processes. And where processes exist, there is an opportunity for automation, control, and improvement what is proved by leading companies. Today’s technological advantage is tomorrow’s industry standard. Therefore, in order not to lose the market, it’s necessary to keep up the pace of development, including the area of information technology.
XB Software is a full-cycle custom software development and testing company from Eastern Europe. XB Software provides solutions that fully meet customers’ requirements. Our expertise is proven by over 150 successful projects were done throughout the globe and satisfied clients in USA, Canada, UK, and EU countries.
Domain expertise covers key industries: Logistics, Education, Business Services, Financial Services, Information Technology. Custom web application development for logistics and transportation includes GPS fleet tracking systems and management systems, ERP solutions, Logistics and Supply Chain Management Applications and other custom solutions developed for individual customer requirements.
To learn more about XB Software potentials in custom software development in logistics visit https://xbsoftware.com/case-studies-webdev/#logistics-transportation.