2 December 2022
2022 saw continued advances in logistics technology such as improvements to self-driving cars, smart fleets (including GPS fleet tracking), and other solutions that are changing the way shippers and carriers haul freight. Supply chains are becoming smarter with real-time data insights, and more companies are prioritizing sustainability as a key component of the future of logistics.
Moving into 2023, Flock Freight envisions a greater focus on sustainable tech and supply chain visibility through the use of cloud-based logistics systems, smart fleet management through IoT devices and freight tracking, and the continued use of AI and Blockchain to streamline accounting and business operations.
8 logistics technology trends to look out for
If you’re looking to drive down costs and drive up profits in 2023, here are some logistics technology trends the team at Flock Freight expects to see next year.
1. Cloud-based systems
The widespread adoption of cloud-based systems in logistics is ushering in a new era for shippers and carriers. Cloud-based systems pull together live data from multiple stakeholders in the logistics process. This information can be shared across teams to coordinate business decisions and day-to-day actions.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently launched a new Supply Chain application that allows customers to visualize their entire supply chain using real-time data from the field. This cloud-based application will allow users to spot risks and logistics issues immediately.
Cloud-based systems give shippers the ability to see their freight as it’s being hauled to their destination and when a logistic issue occurs or a route optimization is needed, they can respond in near real-time to avoid prolonged issues with on-time delivery.
Carriers can leverage cloud-based technology to instantly bid on freight or to improve the efficiency of their fleets and how well they are able to respond to traffic flows and issues on the road. Communication is also improved by cloud-based systems due to the ability of drivers to communicate with shippers on the go using mobile app technology.
While the landscape continues to evolve, cloud-based technology will continue to improve warehouse logistics, labor management, freight route optimization, and more.
Blockchain is a distributed, encrypted method of storing and tracking ownership and transaction data. Originally designed to be used solely in the financial space, this technology has since emerged as a powerful trend that multiple stakeholders in the supply chain have adopted.
For example, Mitsubishi Technologies has built a blockchain tracker to ensure the accurate and on-time delivery of pharmaceuticals. Data and distributed ledgers are tamper-proof when they are built on the blockchain (which is one of the benefits of using this technology). Mitsubishi hopes to expand the implementation of this technology to be used to cover deliveries from suppliers to hospitals (including eventually branching out into international shipping).
With blockchain, shippers are easily able to trace and track a product which saves time and effort. Blockchain gives shippers and carriers the benefit of access to real-time, tamper-free, transaction records—which extend to the ownership and movement records of freight as it moves from the warehouse to its intended destination.
Carriers who use blockchain can worry less about stolen or damaged goods and other logistics issues, and they can focus more on hauling and delivering freight at a faster pace.
3. Artificial intelligence
Technology in logistics has advanced leaps and bounds with the implementation of artificial intelligence. Applications of AI in freight logistics—such as automated vehicles and AI-powered robots in warehouses—can drive down labor costs.
Carrier Logistics Inc. (CLI) recently developed a new routing logic and planning optimization tool that leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to optimize freight routing to enable full terminal optimization. Fleets will now have the ability to automatically route and designate shipments for each and every customer who ordered.
AI (in the form of machine learning) can intelligently adapt and “learn” from past experiences and optimize how loads are routed and delivered as issues are discovered. Each of these innovations saves time and budget which allow shippers to scale their businesses faster and at a cheaper cost.
Smart routing logic and machine learning are also huge contributors to more efficient freight logistics. These AI solutions predict unfavorable traffic congestions and optimize routes as-needed, benefiting both shippers and carriers by improving on-time deliveries.
4. Internet of Things (IoT)
Internet of Things (IoT) connects devices to the Internet and creates a flow of information between them, easily allowing data-driven insights to accelerate logistics in real-time. Using the constant flow of logistics data from IoT-powered vehicles, carriers can more accurately predict and schedule fleet maintenance in real-time. One advancement provided by IoT-enabled fleets is that they can provide weather and traffic data to assist carriers in developing optimized routes, which will lower costs for both carriers and shippers.
In addition to asset tracking and warehouse management, Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices are ushering in a new era in logistics: drone-based deliveries. Amazon, UPS, and Dominos are investing in drone-based delivery technology (IoT devices) that will make deliveries faster and allow them to make major headway in their quest to improve customer service and satisfaction.
IoT devices like smart containers and smart pallets allow shippers the ability to instantly know when stock needs to be replenished. Additionally, AI could even replenish stock without human intervention.
Carriers are able to track their IoT-enabled fleets and generate actionable data-oriented insights in real-time that can save companies time and money.
5. Digital twins
One of the latest advances in logistics technology includes the use of digital twinning (virtual modeling) of physical assets. Twinning uses AI-powered machine learning algorithms to help companies evaluate and predict how the machines used in the supply chain will fare over time and when maintenance will need to be completed.
Digital twinning the supply chain is used for:
- Understanding supply chain agility and behavior
- Discovering and resolving logistics bottlenecks
- Testing supply chain design modifications
- Monitoring supply chain risk and testing contingencies
- Transportation planning
Duality Robotics, Lockheed Martin, and uCrowds are currently a few of the largest brands leveraging digital twinning technology to build models which simulate supply chains and manufacturing processes to predict real-world outcomes and measure operational risk. AWS SimSpace Weaver is one of the newest computer services that allows customers to “build, operate, and run large-scale spatial simulations.”
Virtual twinning enables shippers to test, monitor, and control machinery used in warehouses. Shippers are also now able to visualize their routes and any impending issues with freight delivery in real time and plot out how they may scale their business and how well the supply chain will hold up given increased stress.
Digital twinning allows carriers to monitor truck fleets and predict when maintenance is needed. This predictive modeling leads to lower costs due to less supply chain downtime and higher customer satisfaction overall.
6. Supply chain visibility
In 2023, there will likely be a continued focus on improving Supply Chain Visibility (SCV). Real-time data used to improve SCV includes traffic patterns, weather conditions, and inventory information. This real-time data allows shippers and carriers to sidestep logistics issues or inventory shortages.
Kraft-Heinz and truck-maker Daimler are among Microsoft’s first customers to adopt ‘Supply Chain Center’ which aims to help improve supply chain visibility including improving overall visibility and risk management as well as to help logistics companies remain compliant. The tool functions by assisting organizations to design efficient supply chains that are more agile, with processes ready for automation, and to encourage sustainability.
Supply chain visibility wouldn’t be possible without advancements in other logistics technology, such as IoT-powered devices and cloud-based systems, that connect all parties of the supply chain.
For greater supply chain visibility, shippers can leverage cloud-based tracking technology to improve customer service and to manage their inventory more effectively. Shippers can decide in real-time whether to purchase more goods from suppliers or hold off due to issues within the supply chain such as overstock.
Carriers can rely on cloud-based TMS systems and IoT devices to maintain supply chain visibility. This improves communications between shippers and carriers, and it empowers informed business decisions.
7. Advanced analytics
One of the most useful benefits of adopting new logistics technology is access to advanced analytics to identify and rectify issues in your supply chain. A close look at supply chain data—such as traffic flow data, fleet maintenance patterns, and much more—can be used to predict potential issues at any stage.
According to a McKinsey study focusing on issues in the supply chain, 85% of companies surveyed reported that they grappled with “insufficient digital technologies” in the supply chain. Wal-Mart recently installed tracking tables in the nearly 10k tractors within its private fleet to take advantage of enhanced fleet tracking and advanced analytics.
Shippers can use predictive analytics to help identify issues within the supply chain or en route. If any problems occur with a shipment, diagnostic analytics can help pinpoint what specifically went wrong. Put simply, advanced analytics from logistics tech allow shippers to gauge how well they might be able to meet customer demand at scale and how to rectify logistics issues as they occur.
Using a combination of descriptive and predictive analytics to address past business outcomes and possible future warehousing needs, carriers can better optimize their storage and delivery processes to identify the routes where more trucks and/or truck space is most likely needed.
8. Sustainability powered by tech
“Change does not typically occur quickly. So I guess my advice to people on the planet Earth is to dream bigger, have higher expectations. The next wave of innovators are going to be focused on neutralizing carbon. In doing so, they’ll be the beneficiaries of very valuable businesses that are also doing their part to save the world,” – Founder and CEO of Flock Freight, Oren Zaslansky
According to statistics shared by the Environmental Defense Fund, the average freight truck in the U.S. emits 161.8 grams of CO2 per ton-mile. Advancements in logistics technology, including the use of electric vehicles and shared truckload (STL) freight shipping, aim to alleviate this growing concern. In 2023, you can expect to see more companies following the lead of innovators like Amazon—who pledged to have 100,000 electric delivery vehicles on the road by 2030—and Flock Freight, the only company in freight using proprietary algorithms to pool freight from multiple customers at scale and slash carbon emissions.
As a leader in sustainable shipping, Flock Freight’s patented technology provides a shared truckload service that eliminates the need for transloading at terminals—reducing costly delays and damage. Flock Freight can reduce emissions by reducing the number of trucks we need to put on the road to move the same amount of freight.
By filling trucks with a combination of small and midsize freight, drivers can top off their trucks and make use of all their deck space, resulting in sky-high revenue. Hauling a shared truckload over a comparable one-pick, one-drop truckload can increase a trucking company’s revenue by 20% per haul.
How technology impacts logistics management
The future of logistics looks brighter with new advances in nearly all areas of legacy systems and technology—including the continued evolution of freight logistics platforms, AI-driven transportation management systems, and smart contracts that track parcel/freight movement. Both shippers and carriers are following the latest trends in logistics tech to ensure they remain competitive and provide the best quality experience to their customers.
Shipper technology has improved dramatically and continues to impact the supply chain management process for businesses. From transparent freight management systems enabling real-time tracking to cloud-based technology enabling shippers to book loads anytime—logistics technology streamlines operations, provides insights that empower business decisions, and drives down costs.
Carrier technology is changing the way carriers do business and how loads are being transported and managed. IoT-enabled devices now allow for geo-tracking of freight and fleet vehicles, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags track the movement and stock status of specific goods/products, and warehouses with smart robots are fed real-time data from the field. All these solutions help make carriers more effective at managing their fleet and increasing revenue for their business.
Determining which new tech is worth your investment
Deciding which logistics technology trends to implement can be difficult due to associated costs, implementation challenges, and integration concerns. You want to be confident of the positive impact to your business before you invest the time and/or money in a new solution.
Rather than replacing your current tech, Flock Freight is designed to work with your existing transportation management software (TMS) via API/EDI integrations. Our easy-to-use platform is better for scaling your logistics operations than working with a traditional freight broker or carrier load board. Learn more about tech-driven freight shipping with Flock Freight today.