What shippers can expect in the coming year
Throughout the last few years, the freight industry has seen a tidal wave of technological advancements, from autonomous delivery vehicles to transportation management systems. Improvements in automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) have led to even more efficient shipping processes across the board — and that progress isn’t slowing down.
Market and research analysts at International Data Corporation (IDC) have narrowed down the top emerging trends for 2020’s supply chain digitization, and while all are poised to make a huge impact on the logistics industry as a whole, we found a few standouts that shippers will want to take particular note of this year. Here are three of the biggest digital supply chain trends that you’re likely to see in the shipping industry throughout the year.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence
According to IDC, 2020 should see a major rise in companies — particularly those in the manufacturing sector — turning to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to boost their supply chain management capabilities.
Using machine learning and AI, companies can pinpoint recurring patterns in their data that contribute to both successes and roadblocks, such as inventory levels, demand forecasting, and transportation management. This granular understanding leads to the ability to make faster, more accurate strategic decisions, sidestepping traditionally laborious and time-consuming human analysis.
How do these technologies help LTL companies and the shipping industry as whole? One example: Fuel costs. Machine learning and AI algorithms create different statistical models based on patterns within real-time data — and then learn from deviations within those analyses to make more accurate future predictions. This includes factoring in elements like weather and traffic in a given area at a specific time, helping you avoid routes that experience frequent slowdowns and save on fuel.
Another example: Natural language processing. This technology integrates with a transportation management system and learns speech patterns from analyzing emails, chats, texts, and phone calls. In turn, it helps with tasks such as auto-filling form fields and speeding up data entry.
As companies find themselves adding more and more third parties to their supply chain, processes like payment and shipping parts become even harder to organize and track quickly (or accurately). This year will see even more shipping companies embracing blockchain technology as part of their digital supply chains, creating a shared digital ledger for all parties to use across the board. This ledger is decentralized, so that it’s independent of any single part of the supply chain, yet functions as the single source of truth.
Blockchain offers total traceability from the beginning to the end of your supply chain, instantly recording and syncing all information across the system. Everyone can see, in real time, a full record of the chain of ownership for every piece of the process. You can use blockchain in nearly every aspect of your shipping business, from contracts to delivery tracking to payments made and received. The technology is also helpful when different partners within your supply chain follow disparate governing rules or processes — especially when your partners are global. It allows you to set an agreed-upon system for the entire network, offering a single source of truth to ensure compliance across the board.
Major companies and logistics powerhouses — like USPS and Walmart — have already seen success with blockchain, and it only follows that more companies will jump on board.
Digital freight marketplaces
As shippers, carriers, and brokers all begin to coexist within this digital space, more networks will emerge throughout the year. In these networks, algorithms and automation will connect each link of the digital supply chain. These digital marketplaces will bring each component together seamlessly, drastically reducing inefficiencies that result from manual matching.
Digital freight networks, like Convoy, use automation and machine learning to digitally connect shippers and carriers, while reducing the time and costs of manual labor. Rideshare powerhouse Uber utilizes algorithmic load matching with its Uber Freight transport service, automatically locating pickups that are closest to the previous delivery location to reduce empty miles and increase freight revenue.
One natural consequence of all of these enhancements brought about by a digital supply chain: Heightened client expectations for superior service. Customers are increasingly aware that the agility and accuracy of going digital should result in improved delivery times, better shipping transparency, lower freight costs, and top-notch customer service — and not all digital freight networks can guarantee all four at once. But not all digital networks are Flock Freight.
Flock Freight is reinventing the way shippers and carriers move freight. With our FlockDirect service, we algorithmically pool your freight to give your shipment shared truckload (STL) service at competitive LTL rates. Our cutting-edge technology uses automation and proprietary data in the Flock Platform to match your shipment with a carrier that’s traveling the same way, proposing shared truckloads that move on efficient lanes and bypass hub-and-spoke terminals altogether. As a result, your shipment avoids slowdowns and any risk of damage. Best of all, you maintain complete control over your pickup and delivery dates.
Plus, the digital Flock Platform offers full transparency of your order, including a digital BOL and updated tracking that you can access any time, in addition to a dedicated account manager that is available to you throughout the process — and it’s all because Flock Freight embraces technology that will push the supply chain into the future. Start shipping with us today, and see how the digital supply chain can work for you.