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Integrating Robotic Technology in Your Organization

Posted by Land Link on Jun 19, 2019 12:25:16 PM

Robotic applications in the manufacturing process is nothing new but until recently has been limited to simple repetitive processes. The implementation of more sophisticated robotic applications is well on its way in many commercial and retail environments. Self-driving forklifts and pic-and-pack robots are common in warehouses worldwide. Inside Amazon's warehouse in southern New Jersey, U.S., it isn't uncommon to find giant beetle-like robots moving around busily with vertical shelves stacked on them. In retail environments, Lowes is testing customer service robots that cruise the isles to direct and escort customers to what they seek. Walmart has two types of robots supporting inventory management, including shelf scanners and fast unloaders, machines which automatically scan and sort items unloaded from trucks based on priority and department. As robots increasingly move from warehouses to shop fronts, embedding Artificial Intelligence (AI) in them will allow retailers to dramatically transform their customer interactions. While a basic sensor-based robot can bring customers what they are looking for, an AI-led robot can offer personalized product recommendations. The robot's advice is invariably driven by analytical insights gleaned by combining data, such as customers' age and location, with their purchase histories. From logistics and supply chains to back-office operations, store operations, merchandising, sales and marketing, customer-facing experiences, and robotics can drive innovation and help boost top and bottom-line outcomes. Online retailers are developing systems that are user-individualized for customers at the front-end and business users at the back-end.

Making A Smooth Integration In The Workplace

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Topics: Industry Trends, Technology

You Can Now Hail A Helicopter From Your Smartphone

Posted by Land Link on Jun 12, 2019 12:22:05 PM

The Transportation industry has evolved dramatically in the last several years all thanks to the smartphone. Without it Uber and Lyft would not exist, nor would Uber Freight. It seems now you can request a Uber helicopter in New York City. Uber is adding regular helicopter air service to the heaviest users of its platform with Uber Copter; a new service line launched this month that will provide on-demand transportation from Lower Manhattan to JFK airport for, on average, between $200 and $225 per person, which includes car service to and from the helipad at each end. A ground transportation ride to the same destination is less than half the helicopter ride but the convenience and thrill may be worth it. Given the NYC traffic it may be worth the extra fare to not miss your flight. Plus, this isn’t something just anyone can access: It’s reserved for Platinum and Diamond members of Uber’s Rewards program, which means you’ll have to already be dropping a lot of cash on rides to even qualify for whirligig service. If you qualify, the rides are available either on-demand, or bookable up to five days ahead of time. Each helicopter has room for up to five passengers. In time the service will be available to anyone. The depths of service which technology has opened up is truly staggering.

Safety Is Always A concern

In the non asset world of transportation providers, we all depend upon equipment providers. Vetting these providers on behalf of our shippers is a primary responsibility. This is only one of the values of contracting with a 3Pl. A helicopter crashed this week in NYC which had previously dropped off passengers. The weather turned foggy over Manhattan that morning. Turns out the pilot did not have the required certificate that would have allowed him to legally fly when the visibility was less than 3 miles and where he could use the instruments on his chopper to guide him through the gloom and rain that enveloped the city. So the question here is who is vetting these helicopter pilots, weather private or for Uber. I question whether Uber, which is a mere child in the transportation industry at 7 years old, is schooled in the transportation vetting process which is necessary to provide safe cargo and personal conveyance in both inter and intra state transportation. It seems technology is setting such a pace that safety cannot keep up. Speed and convenience seems to have taken a back seat to safety.

How Much Risk Are You Willing To Take?

With the convenience of transactions comes risk. Sure you can hail a car, a helicopter, or who knows, even a boat to transport you or your loved ones. But how much do you know about who is picking up your precious cargo? It is also possible to hail a truck to transport your freight through Uber or several other apps...same question applies. Are you seriously going to trust your brand equity to some trucker you assume has been professionally vetted? While all of these conveniences have their acceptable levels of risk you must consider your options when the stakes are high. When you need a quick ride downtown or your late for the airport and want to take a helicopter ride that's your risk. But when you freight shipment is of high value or the client satisfaction is of great importance you need to consider everyone's risk. That's when you need to go with the experienced and proven freight transportation providers like Land Link Traffic Systems. We will provide the most reliable assets available and track the shipment throughout its journey. Satisfaction is guaranteed. Give us a call today for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Topics: Transportation News, Industry Trends, Technology

Technology Is Transforming Our Business

Posted by Land Link on Jun 6, 2019 4:03:59 PM

The transportation and logistics industry are currently going through some major transformations. The current metamorphosis is creating opportunities as well as challenges. Successful shippers are looking for ways to adjust to the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities. The economy, labor, and I believe, most dramatic, is the technology component which will be the game changer. Astonishingly what seemed like an unrealistic idea ten years ago, today, is now plausible because of technology. From robotics to radio frequency identification technology to block chain applications, the possibilities are intriguing to say the least. The challenge for supply chain professionals is how to stay current on these applications and how they can give your business the competitive edge that often makes the difference between black and red on the financial statements. Here are a few key areas in which every supply chain professional should have a firm understanding.

Economic Forecasts

Everyone is enjoying a robust economic environment at home even with the Trump administrations tariff threats. The domestic manufacturing economic forecast is a practical place to start in planning your logistics budget both operationally and financially. It's not all about the dollars.  Shippers need to assure themselves of available assets to deliver and receive goods.  The driver shortage is real, there are no significant players entering the asset-based transportation industry so capacity issues will be a common challenge. Existing carriers can only add as much capacity as drivers available to operate the equipment. Online retail spending is estimated to increase up to 20-30% over the next 3-4 years. These growth estimates will impact future freight distributions and patterns by creating additional density for retailer’s networks. Crowd sourced delivery options, much like Uber, will become a significant pool of delivery drivers.  Automated trucks will become more increasingly in demand as soon as the technology can be trusted.

The Labor Outlook

Driver positions are not the only area in logistics that are suffering shortages. Qualified warehouse personnel are also in demand. Particularly, as warehouse and distribution centers evolve into a more complex and technology driven environment. There are many reasons why labor is a problem, but two hurdles stand out. First, trucking has historically paid less than other business’ competing for the same potential employee. Second, the nature of the job requires drivers to be away from home in some cases for weeks at a time. As freight volume continues to grow labor will become an even bigger issue. To attract more recruits, some experts have proposed establishing more enticing industry standards such as a higher base pay and a flex time policy. Neither idea has yet to gain much traction. The simple fact is that truck driving as a career does not appeal to today's young people. On the operations side colleges and universities have historically offered somewhat limited programs in logistics as a science. I would expect the training options should improve as demand for these services increases.

Technology and Big Data

There is little doubt that data and the technology which allows us to interpret and leverage that data will be the future of supply chain management. It is well known that many transportation and logistics companies are late adapters of technology. Some are starting to be shut out of contracts if they cannot provide the data and technology required by customers, especially cyber security. Larger customers are adding minimum levels of cyber security to their contracts; this requirement will eventually become SOP.

Many carriers are even more behind in using analytics to make smart operational decisions. They do not understand the competitive edge analytics can give them even the simplest terms like route maximization. Successful shippers are thriving by seeking the guidance of logistics professionals who are trained in and equipped with the latest technology that mitigates risk to their supply chain and brand value. We are in the middle of a paradigm shift in the way transportation and logistics is executed. Adapt accordingly or die.

Count on the logistics professionals at Land Link Traffic Systems to navigate your company through what is certain to be some challenging supply chain waters in 2019 and beyond.

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Topics: Transportation News, Shipping News, Logistics News, Industry Trends, Technology

Leveraging Digital Applications To Open New Markets

Posted by Land Link on May 15, 2019 11:12:14 AM

Digitize Your Communication

In this era of rapid digital transformation, new technologies have opened up opportunities and created challenges, fundamentally transforming customer experiences, operating models and the work environment. Today's transportation providers need to explore their value added viability features to attract new customers and instill confidence in shippers. It has never been more important to provide real time tracking and tracing options for domestic and international shipments.  Shippers basically expect it in this market. Doing it at digital speed is the key. Digitalization is about leveraging technology to create, enable or transform a business process. The basic advantage of digital applications is data compression to improve the speed of transactions. Speed is king in today's logistics world in all facets of execution. Data automation also provides enhanced communication between shipper, consignee and any other interested party. All technologies aside, there is still a strong personal aspect to our business in terms of negotiating contracts, customer service and the commitment of everyone in the organization to be mistake free.

Cloud Technology

Cloud computing is really the internet as we know it today on a commercial scale. Cloud technologies help mitigate the need for physical IT infrastructure, and on-premise support personnel to manage computing capabilities, by running operations across server farms or data centers. Using cloud-based services providers, businesses can leverage IT assets as programmable resources, which are global and scalable on demand. This allows a business to access or lease computing resources and storage power far greater than what it may have been able to access on local infrastructure, while still being able to scale up or down in a cost-efficient manner. Simplicity, affordability and ease of expansion are all enhanced with cloud computing. Enterprise IT is among the fastest growing segment of computing easily set to replace on site systems.

Be Sure Of Your Needs

Everyone wants to utilize the latest technology to remain competitive. The race is on to define the industry’s future. With an estimated US$4.6 trillion of revenues at stake, companies can’t afford to sit back and watch; they need to adapt to changing markets proactively. Before rushing in, consult an industry export to provide the direction and pace of technology applications to stay on point and within budget. Like most other industries, transportation and logistics is currently confronting immense change; and like all change, this brings both risk and opportunity. New technology, new market entrants, new customer expectations, and new business models. There are many ways the sector could develop to meet these challenges, some evolutionary, others more revolutionary. These are indeed interesting times. And its in these times that the council of an expert is vital. For a consultation regarding your current supply chain protocols, please contact us today. To keep informed on these emerging topics and more subscribe to our weekly blog on our site.

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Topics: Logistics Business, Logistics News, Industry Trends, Technology

Kroger Introduces Automated Grocery Delivery In Houston

Posted by Land Link on Apr 24, 2019 4:25:05 PM

The grocery home delivery market is ultra competitive. The big grocery players like Giant, Shop Rite and Wegmans all offer home delivery via manned delivery vehicles. Kroger appears to be first in the autonomous grocery delivery service race. After successful testing last year in Scottsdale Arizona, Kroger, the nation’s largest grocer, has launched a self-driving grocery delivery service in Houston, the latest salvo in a massive grocery market that has supermarket chains investing heavily in new technology to win over online shoppers. Company officials this week showcased the first of dozens of autonomous delivery vehicles planned for Houston: Toyota Priuses outfitted with cameras, sensors and self-driving computer software. In today's competitive grocery market, companies are turning to autonomous vehicles, automation, robotics and artificial intelligence to stand out. Kroger is competing with Amazon, Walmart and other businesses to capture consumers who want fast deliveries without hassles. 

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Topics: Transportation News, Logistics News, Technology

Automated Vehicle Update; Some Hurdles Remain

Posted by Land Link on Apr 16, 2019 9:55:22 AM

Though field testing for automated vehicles has been relatively successful some hurdles to full implementation remain. Namely, consumer acceptance and comfort in riding in these vehicles. Also, alarming is the idea of an 80,000 lb commercial tractor-trailer rolling down the interstate on autopilot. Additional concerns include who will be servicing these vehicles and the threat of domestic terrorism by system hacking. 

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Topics: Transportation News, Technology

Using Data to Establish Accurate Pricing and Operational Efficiencies

Posted by Land Link on Mar 13, 2019 10:48:55 AM

The right pricing strategy is a critical component that companies can’t afford to overlook and is one of the most important aspects of maintaining profitability. In the manufacturer-distributor-customer value chain, one of the manufacturers most pressing challenges is being able to mark up prices in a way that helps maintain profitability while not pricing that customer out of the market. This balance is getting harder to achieve in the current B2B business environment, where the next competitor, price comparison or huge online retailer is literally one mouse click or screen tap away. 

Focused on serving their customers while maintaining healthy profit margins, manufacturers have to effectively balance the cost of manufacturing with the company's profit goals.  Goals that are hard to attain if the company isn’t using solid pricing strategies.

Integrating Data Your Pricing Strategy

As data continues to proliferate right along with the number of technology tools to help harness that data, companies are learning how to leverage that information across multiple departments for maximum success. Accurate data can more precisely reflect the cost of manufacturing by considering critical issues such as seasonal raw materials fluctuations, capital equipment depreciation and labor concerns.  Manufacturers should be generating these cost equations on a monthly basis to forecast cost fluctuations and react in plenty of time to adjust pricing. 

Gain an Edge on the Competition

Even those manufacturers that think they have the pricing game under control will surely face a new competitor, get hit with a new market trend or face another economic challenge in the near future. Look what Uber did to the taxi business.  Manufacturers of the future will also understand that effectively engaging customers requires true innovation in executing the value chain. Traditional approaches to inventory, logistics, pricing and rebates will be reimagined through the application of advanced analytics and technology innovations.  Given the importance of data, analytics and technology to both engaging customers and executing the value chain manufacturers will also need to leverage IT to truly energize, not just enable, their business. 

Data management is central to keeping track of your costs throughout the manufacturing process. If data is properly recorded and accessible to every link in the chain, managers can touch base with their product at every stage, helping maximize efficiency, address problems quickly, and improve customer satisfaction.

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Topics: Supply Chain Management, Logistics News, Industry Trends, Technology, Big Data

The Internet of Things (IoT) is Increasing its Footprint in the Manufacturing and Supply Chain Process

Posted by Land Link on Feb 28, 2019 10:19:13 AM

Digital technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) are driving transformation across the entire manufacturing process by disrupting all aspects of production, from research and development to engineering and design, factory operations, and sales and support. Ultimately these technologies will increase efficiency in the manufacturing process, reduce costs and reduce the product time to market.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Technology, Big Data

The Big Retailers Relying On Technology

Posted by Land Link on Feb 20, 2019 8:19:14 AM

A new generation of shopping options through e-Commerce and m-Commerce (mobile commerce) has made supply chain management a vital area of concern for many businesses. It is particularly critical for manufacturing companies, which are heavily dependent on the supply chain partners to deliver their products. With an increasing emphasis on technological advancements, as well as the changes in customer expectations, the need for integrated supply management has become increasingly important. In the retail environment particularly, where the margins are thin, technology is the key component between profit and loss. And in this market, the sharks are circling.

Wal-Mart Is Making Hi-Tech Moves

This July, a Walmart supply chain first is coming to Colton, California. A newly built, 340,000-square-foot high-tech consolidation center will be the first in Walmart’s supply chain to receive, sort and ship freight. This automated technology will enable three times more volume to flow throughout the center and helps Walmart deliver the right product to the right store, so customers can find the products they need.

Amazon Started This Fight

Back in 2005, Amazon launched its Amazon Prime service. Customers, paying an annual membership fee, received guaranteed two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of products. In fact, the introduction of two-day delivery was the game changer and established the dominance of Amazon in the online retail industry. When many other retailers started to catch up with that strategy by offering their own free two-day shipping, Amazon tipped the playing surface by offering a one-hour delivery with its Amazon Prime Now service. The fight now seems who can deliver product faster. The rub, however, is it has to be done at a profit.

The Latest Wal-Mart Approach

A massive Walmart-owned center, which will open in July with 150 full-time associates, can move three times as many cases. It will grow to employ more than 600 associates by 2021. With the combined might of people and world-class logistic technology, this facility will be the most efficient consolidation center in Walmart’s supply chain. Walmart continues to expand its portfolio of high-tech distribution centers. In October, Walmart announced that it had broken ground on a tech-enabled perishable grocery distribution center in Shafter, California.

Amazon Sets The Pace

I have to recuse myself of my opinion to some degree since Philadelphia was in the running for an Amazon Distribution Center Headquarters. Sadly, we didn't make the cut. There is one thing I have to admire about Amazon. Management may have adopted the Bill Bellecheck game plan of logistics protocol. They seem to have designed the playbook of online retail from order to fulfillment to the final mile. When Amazon made its official selection for the locations of its second headquarters, it was hardly a surprise to anyone following the lengthy HQ2 saga. But tucked into the announcement were tidbits we didn’t know, including information on what it took for the two sites to win out over the dozens of other bids.

How To Keep Up With The Competition

Target is lagging a distant third in the giant race for a retail giant of the world. The only strategy for small to mid-size retailers to break into this market is to be lean. Operational efficiencies will be crucial for anyone to be competitive. To keep up with your competition subscribe to our blog, or better yet, join the Land-Link.com client family and let us show you what a lean supply chain looks like.

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Topics: Logistics News, Industry Trends, Technology

Autonomy Is Taking Over The Warehouse

Posted by Land Link on Feb 7, 2019 12:51:48 AM

Automating simple, routine processes frees up workers for other tasks and reduces human error. A common reaction to the increase of automation is the fear of being replaced—but a more optimistic outlook sees robots enhancing human productivity through collaboration, rather than outright replacement.

Skilled workers are in high demand, so it’s important to make the most of the talent you have. Why waste an experienced employee’s valuable time hunting for tools or checking inventory?
ROBi, which stands for Robotically Optimized and Balanced inventory, aims to solve this problem by automating inventory and routine cycle counts to save time and enhance accuracy in automotive manufacturing and warehouse environments.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Technology, Big Data