The era of technological innovation has revolutionised the way the world use to function. It has impacted every other industry we know and is helping to transform them at an unprecedented rate. The logistics sector has also been disrupted by this technological transformation as it is not only helping in reducing the friction in the world of logistics but is also making it a more efficient and automated process.
The new-age start-ups that are backed by technological advancements are able to adapt to emerging imperatives such as agility, customer centricity and the need to constantly innovate in a better and precise way. The use of technology has enabled them to drive efficiency and lower costs, as well as pursue new business opportunities. The digitalisation of the sector will also help customers to track their shipments in real-time, reduce inefficiencies and streamline operations. Switching from the age-old method of tracking orders on paper to the digital platform will leave lesser room for error. Today, for example, mobile application based shipments have made booking convenient and has reduced human intervention. In future, Robotics Process Automation can be used to introduce complete automation in logistics.
Sharing his views on the same, Mr. John HK Tang, who is the Director, South East Asia of an on-demand logistics company that connects customers and drivers through technology; Lalamove states that “ “Lalamove is taking huge strides in the Indian logistics sector with its on-demand logistics solution that connects customers and drivers through technology. Each one of our drivers is technologically trained and they have to clear a regular test before getting the clearance to go on-field. Our aim is to bring convenience, reliability, and efficiency to the Indian logistics industry and we want to overcome the vulnerability and unpredictability from the driver’s demand curve”. Today, Lalamove operates in 180+ cities across South East Asia and Latin America and unceasingly matches 15,000,000+ registered customers with a pool of 2 million trained and professional drivers.
This disruptive technological transformation is leading the logistics industry towards a sectorial revolution and the advancements can be broadly classified into four categories:
1 Data automation & transparency
Data has always been an integral part of the logistics sector, and new advances in data collection and analysis offers the opportunity for companies to meet their goals in a better way. Strategically, data can be used for optimising the route networks, optimising the number of trucks and drivers required each day for the assignment and for tracking deliveries in real time. Additionally, real-time, shareable and transparent data provides the ability to introduce new, game-changing technologies such as omniscient control towers (delivering end to-end visibility over the supply chain), artificial intelligence and augmented reality.
2 Innovative options for physical transportation
Pilot projects have started in India for using robots and drones for logistics operations. In the long term, this preposition will not only be cost effective as it will reduce the amount spent on man-power, fuel etc but will also provide a marketing edge to the companies using it.
3 Digital platforms
By enabling the sharing of capital expenses around areas such as warehouses and fleets, digital platforms represent the biggest disruption to the sector as it not only enables new, capex-free players to enter the ecosystem but also opens up new business-model opportunities. Today, new-age start-ups enable businesses to carry out last-mile deliveries and this has opened a whole new segment for the logistics sector.
4 New production methods
Techniques and methods such as 3D printing and additive manufacturing have the potential to change traditional logistics, enabling new decentralised business models. For example, the need for transportation of specific products could be replaced by an on-site 3D printing in some cases. This creates the opportunity for contract logistics providers to integrate 3D printing services into their offerings, thus providing last-mile customisation.