Let’s take a break from the Covid-9 effect on the Logistics industry. Things are slowing opening back up. Hopefully, the trend continues with no significant spikes in infection rates. That being said let’s look at some industry trends we should all be aware of this year.
Artificial Intelligence is Becoming a Significant Element in the Future of Logistics Programming
Research shows that artificial intelligence (AI) is better at predicting outcomes and making projections than unaided human cognition. Richard Nisbett and Lee Ross, two cognitive scientists, are explicit on this point, claiming, “Human judges are not merely worse than optimal regression equations; they are worse than almost any regression equation.”
The human element is inherently more complicated in decision making due to its emotional and societal effects on decision making. AI programmed decisions simply don’t have those cognitive challenges. Perhaps Mr. Spock from Star Trek was right. Humans can be illogical. It remains to be seen however how well AI can deduce an appropriate decision if it had not been previously programmed to some extent. AI’s claim to fame is that it learns from every experience, but it would have to have some programmed base scenario from which to base its’ decisions. It is complicated stuff but has a hugely significant benefit in the future of decision making at a speed at which humans cannot possibly compete.
A vast amount of opportunities exists to put AI to work in shipping and logistics, including:
- More accurate predictions for customer demand mean more lead time and opportunities for distributors and shippers to engage in predictive shipping.
- Substantial predictive insights into back-office functions, such as looking for potentially risky language in business contracts.
- Optimizing shipping routes and making last-mile delivery more efficient, helping companies save money on fuel costs.
Automation Applications Will Advance in the AI and Blockchain Technology Environments
Over the past few years, the adoption of warehouse automation has been based on several factors. There is the growing consumer demand for faster and cheaper online delivery options which has seen many retailers investing in warehouse automation to reduce order processing times and to cope with the increasingly complex network of distribution channels. I think we all understand the only way to meet this demand is through automation and technology.
Warehouses and distribution centers have a great deal to gain from automating critical processes, such as:
- Machine vision inspections significantly reduce the rate of errors, including cutting down on the likelihood of shipping damaged, incomplete, or incorrect items to customers.
- Robotic automated guided vehicles (AGVs) reduce repetitive motion and lifting injuries in warehouses by raising, transporting and preparing heavy shipments without human intervention.
- Compared with human warehouse workers, robotic order-pickers can locate bins and identify products faster and with greater accuracy.
What is disconcerting about the direction of technology in our industry is the potential displacement of people. Training in this technology may well be a wise investment in one’s career advancement opportunities moving forward.
Green Initiatives Are Here to Stay
There are federal and state dollars available in the form of grants and tax breaks for Green Initiative applications and I suspect they will be available for years to come, depending somewhat upon the future political power structure. So is born the circular supply chain.
Companies everywhere are heeding consumer demand for greener products and processes. Research shows that products marketed as sustainable accounted for half of the growth of the consumer packaged goods market between 2013 and 2018. Therefore, the world’s supply chains are becoming circular rather than linear. For instance, manufacturers are looking at ways to improve product longevity and the ease with which they can recover, repair, and resell goods. Who knows, the virtual milkman delivering to your door and picking up the empties may re-emerge.
Stay Safe Everyone.
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