Tag Archives: technology

What Are Cobots and How Do They Impact Logistics?

Technology is diving deeper inside the logistics sector, and it isn’t limited to just IoT and blockchain. There are many technology applications now available that can significantly benefit the performance of logistics companies. Although most of the innovations are utilized to enhance tracking, data analytics, and digital operations, there are additional fields of the logistics industry where optimization is much needed. The transportation industry is beginning to move away from depending on manual operation, especially in the context of fulfillment, sorting, packing, etc. One of the newer tools created to solve these issues are cobots, also known as collaborative robots.

What are cobots?

Cobots are devices whose main role is to assist human employees with manual tasks. Cobots are mainly used for sorting and packing orders, handling heavy and dangerous freight, and other manual warehousing tasks. The main purpose of cobots is not to replace human jobs, but to help them with execution and live up to their name of helping cooperating safely with people.

What are the opportunities and benefits of using cobots?

Many giant retailers like Amazon have already been utilizing cobots for a long time. In 2012, the company acquired Kiva Systems, a provider of mobile robotics fulfillment systems. According to the IDC report, at the end of 2018, nearly 45% of 200 of the world’s largest e-commerce companies have been deploying robotic technology. This means that the cobots market is about to accelerate in the next few years and has some comprehensive benefits to offer businesses.

  • Performing repetitive tasks, which increases general productivity. Some of the simplest tasks can be fully executed by cobots. Robotic assistance can help escalate processes drastically as the cobot can be taught to perform a certain task quickly without errors. According to Forbes, bots from 6 River Systems increase the pick-to-cart rate from 90 units per hour to 200 units per hour. Robots can also be particularly useful in sorting freight or parcels of different sizes and types, as the implemented pattern allows them to do so.
  • Reducing costs. Naturally, you don’t need to pay robots for work except for the investment to buy the robotic technology. However, the payoff won’t make you wait for a long time. WDP states that the average cost recovery period for part-automation is between 1.6 and 1.7 years. If production speeds up and the error rate decreases, it ultimately results in a higher profit.
  • No place for error. One of the most comprehensive benefits of cobots is their resistance to making mistakes compared to humans. Machines are faster at performing repetitive manual tasks and are less prone to errors.
  • Handling heavy loads. There are different types of cobots, and some of them can assist in picking up or handling heavy or dangerous freight, therefore helping prevent human injuries.

Ultimately, robotic devices are becoming a part of the logistics industry. Companies like have successfully deployed cobots and have boosted their productivity at their logistics facility. The growing awareness of collaborative systems means they certainly have a bright future and real, rewarding benefits.

A Look into 2019 Logistics

A Look into 2019 Logistics

2018 has brought some major changes to the logistics industry. We can expect to see a continued focus on technology and innovations, which will bring the most significant changes in the upcoming year.

The Influence of Big Data Will Grow

Companies try to incorporate IT resources into their supply chain to increase productivity, efficiency, and safety, and this trend will continue to grow in 2019. Technology allows small and midsize businesses to compete with larger players and take their performance to the next level. Apart from blockchain, big data is estimated to play the most significant role in improving logistics and supply chain management. The deployment of big data and data-centered innovations like IoT has already gained significant popularity within the industry. Data analysis and proper interpretation enable logistics managers to figure out gaps in the supply chain and implement working strategies to boost the company’s performance. Big data deployment is a huge step towards reaching freight visibility and understanding how to eliminate waste from the supply chain. In combination with IoT, it allows companies to track and analyze freight conditions, truck characteristics and other important measures that impact transportation. The experts forecast almost a three times growth in connected devices usage from 2018 and estimate it to reach 75 billion. This means the Internet of Things and big data will become game changers in the logistics industry in 2019. Apart from big data and IoT, other technology like blockchain and AI will also invade the transportation industry.

The Driver Shortage and Capacity C May Become a Permanent Problem

In 2018, there has been a lot of talk about the capacity crunch and issue of the driver shortage. There’s no wonder that shortage problem is still in effect as the demand for drivers increases and the core of trucking workforce plans to retire in 10-15 years. According to the World Bank of Data, the United States’ import and export traffic almost doubled between the years 2000 and 2016, but the number of truck drivers didn’t. As the global economy is growing faster, the problem of the shortage will become permanent despite the fact that solutions are coming to help. Driverless trucks and new technology for route optimization will roll into 2019 to eliminate the pain from the capacity crunch and shortage.

Improved Payment Systems and Cybersecurity

In the new age of digitalization, logistics companies need to provide more flexibility and transparency into payment systems. Blockchain technology and the usage of cryptocurrency lets companies simplify the process of sending and receiving payments and provide protection for online transactions. Increased attention to cyber security is another predicted trend in the industry for 2019. As digitalization continues to effect various industries and businesses, it is especially important for logistics and transportation companies to steer towards increased safety of their databases and websites. The devastating ransomware in Maersk in 2017 has shown that even industry giants are in jeopardy of cyber attacks.

Consolidation Among Companies

Competition between companies becomes fiercer every year. In 2018, many shipping giants have joined forces and formed the alliances, and the rate of consolidation will be even higher in throughout 2019. The trend of consolidation is especially popular among ocean shipping companies. For instance, A.P. Moller Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, MSC and Ocean Network Express (ONE) recently confirmed their plan to set a global association. The main point of merging is to balance prices on the market and let smaller businesses operate.

To sum it up, 2019 will be a year full of technology and optimization. Improved supply chain and inventory management, data analysis, technology, better freight visibility and a focus on cyber security will be the main game changers in the logistics industry.

How to Optimize Your Oil and Gas Supply Chain

The oil and gas industry are an irreplaceable part of people’s lives: it warms houses and offices, fuels cars and other vehicles and makes the world go around. It is incredible how many processes depend on energy supplies. The logistics behind the oil and gas industry has many moving parts. Logistics providers help companies maintain the efficiency of their supply chains to help keep projects and shipments in order. Oil and gas industry can be complicated when it comes to logistics due to shipping items like bulky equipment, hazardous supplies, and strict delivery deadlines. Although it can be complicated, there are many ways to optimize an energy supply chain.

Due to constant changes in the transportation and logistics industry, it is even more important to be up-to-date with shifts and adjustments during energy services shipments. Here are some strategies that will help optimize your business:

Analyze

The first step of solving a problem is to define it. Run through all of your operations and use an expert help detect where you could possibly reduce costs, eliminate waste and increase productivity. Further investigation will give you a clear image of your company’s current situation, letting you make profitable decisions.

Use advanced technologies

Staying up to date with new technology innovations is essential for the progress of oil and gas logistics. Supply chain technology, such as transportation management systems (TMS) is an online system for companies to use for data storage and analysis. A TMS allows companies to save time, money and gain visibility into their supply chain processes. A robust TMS lets you see details and get insights about any part of the shipment. It is an excellent solution for oil and gas companies to use when managing their shipments and moving important loads from one location to the next.

Remain flexible

The energy services industry is a very fast-paced environment and experiences new shipment modifications all the time. Government regulations, including the import/export laws, drilling policies, and environmental regulations are vital things to track to renew offers for your customers and to function correctly.

Use effective communication

Getting feedback from your customers, suppliers and business partners will help you understand which parts of your operations are working well and which ones are going poorly. Be as transparent as possible on your shipments needs to ensure all involved parties understand goals clearly and work towards reaching them.

Working with experts and outsourcing energy logistics services is a smart decision for the companies who want to focus on their core goals and keep their supply chain running smoothly. We understand how critical time and precision is for oil and gas transportation, and offer customers various solutions for problems of any level of complexity.

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How Blockchain Impacts the Logistics Industry

There are many new technologies affecting the logistics industry, and one of the most promising among new technology is blockchain. Blockchain successfully changes many different industries that have nothing to do with cryptocurrency. Technology like blockchain is believed to dramatically change the company’s supply chains and save billions of costs on operations.

What is blockchain?

The blockchain is a digital register with advanced encryption mechanisms. It lets companies track and record transactions and securely store data, making it almost impossible to steal, delete or change information. Also, every transaction or record is a single block. After verification, it becomes a part of the sequence.

blockchain in logistics

This technology allows companies to keep every transaction, documentation and any manipulation made on an object in one place. This allows companies to have complete transparency on every single action or data unit. Also, it assures protection from ransomware and cyber attacks.

How can blockchain be used for supply chain needs?

A supply chain is a very complex structure with hundreds of transactions and modes of communication involved. Verifying and maintaining information that flows through the supply chain can be time-consuming and expensive. Blockchain technology allows companies to immediately verify and lock each data unit. This supplies robust protection against data stealing, deleting or unwanted modifications. In a nutshell, blockchain provides transparency on every transaction. Additionally, it allows managing the data in a systemized and easily accessible way. Any manufacturer, auditor or supplier can access required data or payment in no time, which makes operations processes much faster and more efficient. The difference in supply chain performance could potentially be incredible after the blockchain contribution. All because it drastically reduces extra interactions, increases data security and authenticity, apart from significant time and cost savings.

How it affects the logistics industry?

Apart from supply chain needs, blockchain can be utilized for many other needs of the logistics industry. Temperature-sensitive shipments often suffer from delays and temperature deviations, and lots of them may become damaged during transit. It happens because of poor temperature tracking, customs delays and more. Blockchain can help solve these problems. It allows fast access to any data and transaction on a certain shipment. When combined with connected devices (Internet of Things), the data from trackers is transmitted to the blockchain, where it is stored and used for analysis.

In conclusion, blockchain is one of the most up-and-coming innovations to grow, develop and enhance the performance of the logistics industry. Companies that invest in such technologies would certainly be ahead of the competitors and will save a significant amount of money.

How to Help Prevent Distracted Truck Drivers

Cell phones and different technology gadgets play a significant role in our daily lives. Almost all vital actions involve attention to a screen, and driving is no exception. According to a distracted driving survey, 88 percent of drivers are using their phones on the road. Along with high cell phone use, there are many other factors that are also distracting drivers from the road.

The issue of distracted drivers becomes worse every year, as there are several different types of distractions. A driver can be confused by both internal and external factors, and the distractions can be anything that involves taking eyes off the road or at least one hand off the wheel. Whether its holding food or beverages, billboards outside, smoking, using a cell phone or reaching out for an object, all of these things are considered a distraction. Other common causes of distraction while on the road is fatigue, daydreaming and other cognitive reasons. As truckers spend long hours on the road, they increase their chances of being more exhausted and prone to more distractions.

The National Highway Transportation Administration reports 28 percent of vehicular crashes involved distracted driving. The problem of distracted drivers is very prominent in today’s society, and should get more recognition to help reduce the risk of truck driver accidents due to distractions.

How to Reduce the Occurrence of Distracted Driving?

Institutions like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have already established penalties to bring attention to distracted driving in CMVs to resolve the problem. There is a $2,750 fine for drivers caught using cell phones and up to $11,000 for the fleet owners. Using hand-held devices and providing better resting conditions for drivers may improve the driving situation along with encouraging drivers not to use the phone while driving.

For fixing the problem, both drivers and carriers should make efforts to change the situation. Using a cell phone on the road increases the possibility of crash 20 times, and puts other people on the road in danger too. Supervision and hands-off devices for can help improve safe navigation, as well as consider reducing shifts for the truckers to avoid exhaustion. The new ELD mandate has made an effort to help truck drivers’ conditions by limiting the amount of hours a truck is allowed to drive, along with other regulations to help with driver safety.

There are many small things that drivers can do to become less distracted on the road. New technological advancements are constantly improving trucker technology, making it easier to use driver technology on the road without becoming too distracted. It will be interesting to see what new advancements are made in the comings years to continue to help improve trucker safety and prevent distracted driving.

Unexpected Support to Robotics in the Supply Chain

Logistics technology is increasingly valuable. Warehouses, trailers, and operators use technology to improve productivity, efficiency, and service. 

According to a WSJ Logistics Report, more than half of supply chain managers surveyed by Deloitte and MHI expect robotics and automation to have a significant impact on their business. Autonomous technologies are changing supply chain processes – influencing businesses to work faster, at a lower cost.

Companies are willing to make investments on new technologies in order to exceed customer service expectations, promote efficiency, improve consistency, reduce operating costs and decrease human error. Companies are looking for functional applications that will drive business value. For this reason, today’s intelligent robotics technology is gaining popularity.

About 35% of respondents claim to have already adopted robotics into their supply chains, and that number is set to grow to 74% in the next decade.

After all, robotics in the supply chain is nothing new; advanced intelligence introduces supply chains to machines that are smart, cooperative and productive. The robotics revolution started in the 1960s when the first robots were installed to help General Motors increase its production volume. Today, automakers depend on robotics and automation as a business method that increases volume, improves quality and reduce costs.

“The automotive industry did not buy robots to replace people, they did it to get consistent quality and grow the business,” said Henrik Christensen, PhD at College of Computing at GA Institute for Technology.

Amazon is a prime example of a company that supports robotics. It has 30,000 robots in its warehouses. The robot picks items from shelves and hands it off to a person. Because of these robots, orders are filled 2-3x faster than traditional methods. Robots are able to forecast what products are most used and place them closer to a picker, speeding up the entire process.

Structured

Robotics are used to increase the efficiency of day-to-day tasks like palletizing, loading/unloading, picking and packaging. Robots follow a programmed path at the same speed without deviation, for as long as needed, without intelligence.

Advanced

Robots are slowly obtaining senses. Vision systems enable them to locate specific shapes and objects. Single cameras regulate location, while laser triangulation and stereo systems add depth perception. Robotic systems can track parts on a moving conveyor, orienting the robot’s grippers to pick each one for packing or assembly.

Connected Intelligence: Future

The desire for robotics is strong. According to the International Federation of Robots, future industrial robot installations worldwide could be nearly 300,000 by the end of the decade – a figure nearly doubles the current number. 51% said robotics and automation are a source of disruption or competitive advantage (up from 39% last year).

The future of robotics continues to grow and improve supply chains. Although robotics has been around for a long time, their functionality and ability to collaborate will advance. Robots aren’t here to take away jobs and intimidate people, they’re here to streamline processes and eliminate mundane work.

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3PL Technology Helps Enhance Customer Experiences

3PLs and shippers work closely to form collaborative relationships, so they produce better customer experiences for the end-consumer. The relationship between shippers, suppliers, carriers and logistics experts is important, however, it’s complex. In a 3PL-shipper relationship, 3PLs deliver shippers a competitive advantage through integrated 3PL technology.

What is the 3PL technology?

3PL technology

3PLs use a transportation management system (TMS) to support supply chain procedures and transportation choices. Also, TMS software provides visibility into the shipper’s supply chain performance through data and reports. Moreover, TMS software enables real-time, tangible information that can be analyzed to identify problems and solutions within the supply chain. Creating solutions with insight gained from TMS data often results in better customer satisfaction.

Why does customer experience matter?

Improving customer satisfaction is the key to growth. What’s more, it is predicted that by 2020, customer experience will be more important than price, so the product or brand choice as a differentiator in purchasing decisions. Having insight into TMS-produced data might be the difference between a happy or unhappy customer.

Now, nearly half of Americans pay more attention to shipping as part of the overall shopping experience, compared to three years ago. On-time, quick deliveries are a necessity for positive customer experience. Undoubtfully failed or mistimed delivery will result in poor customer experience.

The data generated from a TMS allows shippers and their logistics provider to better plan for limited capacity, changing demand, fuel costs and/or shipment size.  Also, with big data, more metrics are available to recognize customer expectations. Ultimately, the goal is to meet all expectations (from the shipper to the end-consumer). As well, TMS technology reveals the successes and failures of a supply chain.

TMS is a 3PL technology, which typically documents data for:

  • Delivery tracking
  • Status update notifications
  • Lane analysis
  • On-time performance metrics
  • Volume trends
  • Cost

Shippers benefit from 3PLs who are able to generate and analyze this big data, so they find opportunities that drive success and improve the customer experience. According to an SDL survey and Econsultancy, as many as 80% of companies plan to increase their customer experience spending in 2015. Also, companies see more value and importance in delivering superior customer experience than ever before.

Final thoughts

Trucking companies, 3PLs, and shippers face a huge challenge in creating great customer experiences due to customer demands and an increasing number of retail channels. To grow and achieve positive customer associations, companies should integrate transportation management technology to enhance its supply chain.

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