New technology is constantly being marketed to logistics businesses. Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between marketing tactics and real solutions. In this article, we’ll discuss the latest in warehouse, transportation, and delivery tech during the past year that has made a real impact in 2022.
Warehouses and distribution centers are the heart of the logistics industry. Finding the right tech to keep your warehouse moving smoothly and as efficiently as possible is a great way to improve your overall business. Two technologies that are proven winners in this space are AI and robotics.
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is the ability of a computer to complete tasks that are typically done by humans by imitating human intelligence. AI has extremely broad applications and is especially apt for use in the logistics and warehouse industries.
One of the best ways AI tech can be used in a warehouse is through its ability to support inventory management. AI can do this in several ways via software like a WMS or other solutions. This includes spotting defective products and packaging, as well as maximizing warehouse efficiencies, ranging from the placement of products to automating replenishments and adjusting inventory levels. Finally, AI via warehouse management software can evaluate factors such as seasonal trends, marketplace environments, and other historical data to predict demand.
Robots are not new, especially in the manufacturing world. However, we’ve come a long way from the first industrial robot “the Unimate” as seen in this promotional video from 1961. Today, robots continue to play a similar role by assisting and/or replacing tasks that are repetitive, manual, or dangerous. Their role in the logistics industry is just getting started.
The leading ways robots are being used are via automated retrieval and storage systems (AV/AS) which retrieve goods for pick and pack and can return items to storage locations. Additionally, Automated Guided Vehicles and Carts (AGV/C) include self-driving forklifts, carts, or other transport vehicles which can rely on tracks or magnetic strips within the warehouse to move inventory.
A promising company on the horizon is the Canada-based company, Attabotics. They state that the inspiration for their robotic fulfillment management system came from ant colonies. The company reduces space requirements of traditional warehouses by creating single, vertical storage structures inside which a robotic shuttle moves to deliver goods to workers on the outside of the structure. The company touts that this technology can reduce a company’s warehouse space needs by 85%. Keep an eye on this company in 2023.
Our take on robotics? We’re curious about how they will continue to impact the industry and how they will compare over the long term to all manual labor.
If warehouses are the heart of the logistics industry, transportation is the legs. Once your product is shipped, it’s in your transportation teams’ hands to provide your customer with a great experience. Two pieces of tech that are improving transportation systems are IoT and TMS.
The Internet of Things, IoT, describes physical devices that have sensors, software, or other technology that allows users to gather real-time information about the physical condition of inventory, vehicles, or machinery. This can give users insight into the item’s geographical location, maintenance insights, and environmental data which is communicated via telecommunications networks that allow users to access this information remotely.
Like AI, IoT devices have broad applications in logistics, especially in warehouse and transportation management. Several top applications of IoT technology are in end-to-end product tracking, real-time vehicle visibility, route optimization, and safety improvements.
A Transportation Management Solution (TMS) can be integrated into existing processes and helps shippers manage the transportation aspect of their business. TMS software is a great way to advance your tech for a relatively low cost and keep your business processes running efficiently.
Each system features different attributes to help your business. Common features include batch printing, pick and pack, inventory management, and pre-built integrations. ShipCaddie TWMS is the first-to-market software that combines the capabilities of traditional WMS and TMS solutions. You can check out ShipCaddie here.
Focusing on your company’s delivery experience is a great way to ‘wow’ your customers at their doorsteps. It’s also a great way to attract and retain customers. Two outstanding pieces of in this space are RFID chips and drone technology.
Like IoT, RFID chips can give quick access to information about a product. Unlike a barcode, an RIFD tag does not need to be within the line of site of a reader, so it can be embedded in the tracked object. Used in concurrence with tracking numbers, you can provide your customers with the most accurate information about the status of their delivery. RFID technologies are becoming more affordable and accessible. Now may be the time to incorporate this tech into your delivery experience.
Amazon has been a long-standing leader in warehouse and delivery technology. Drone technology is no exception. With their most recent design, announced earlier this month, drone delivery is closer than ever. The company announced customers in Lockeford, CA, and College Station, TX, will be among the first customers to receive their packages via drone delivery. A company spokesperson said the deliveries should begin by the end of the year.
Investing in technology can improve warehouse and transportation efficiency and safety and allow for greater visibility throughout the supply chain. Knowing the emerging tech in the logistics industry allows business owners to differentiate between marketing tactics and tech that will make a genuine impact.
ShipCaddie TWMS can improve your warehouse and transportation operations through an easy-to-implement and affordable platform. To request a free demo, reach out here.