The Evolution of the Mobile Supply Chain

Posted by Land Link on Sep 18, 2019 3:19:26 PM

The aggressive progression to everything mobile has been obvious. The Smart Phone opened an opportunistic Pandora's Box that will never close again. Today, mobility is king. "Several key trends are driving mobility investments that support supply chain operations, and more specifically, in-field fleet/transportation,” says David Krebs, VDC Research’s executive vice president of enterprise mobility and connected devices. “These include the ELD mandate that came into effect in December 2017 (with a final deadline is December 16, 2019) and the transition by many operators from the legacy Windows-powered mobile device to Android.”

Trends Shippers Should Consider

The final ELD deadline is looming. With the December deadline to switch from grandfathered automatic onboard recording devices to mandated electronic logging devices coming into clearer view, carriers and drivers must make the switch in order to remain compliant. According to various industry surveys, many carriers are still holding onto their AOBRDs, an indicator that there may be a last-minute push to get compliant by the end of the year. Transitions can be problematic for operators as they negotiate the learning curve. Operational efficiency will suffer throughout this transition. Plan for service exceptions. 

Shippers Also Seeking More Mobility

Assessing the “bigger picture” trends and forces affecting supply chain operators right now, a lot of activity centers around being able to meet the fast delivery expectations of customers. With e-tailers like Amazon knocking delivery times down to a day or less, in some cases, both B2C and B2B shippers are feeling the pressure of ever-smaller delivery windows. If your gonna compete in the e-commerce arena, mobile technology will be an absolute requirement.  

Companies Want More Mobile Apps For Their Drivers

The days of the onboard computer are dwindling as more shippers integrate apps into their mobility strategies. All of these activities are being managed on handheld devices as opposed to using specialized equipment for the tasks. The devices include iPhones, Androids and other mobile devices that drivers use for multiple tasks. Where historically we’ve seen a lot of different custom equipment used by drivers, we’ve now seeing more interest in being able to use the same device for all of a driver’s mobility requirements, whether it’s proof of deliveries (PODs), getting intra-day instructions for the next pickup/delivery, or conducting inspections. This not only minimizes the amount of communication equipment that drivers have to interact with, but it also costs less money than specialized equipment and doesn’t require fleets to be out of service during installation.

Geofencing is Gaining Traction in the Mobile Supply Chain.

Geofencing is a digital barrier programmed along a gps route to alert operational and even customer personnel to deviations by the truck from that route. Geofencing is being used in more warehouse and DC yards, where information about trucks entering the space can be captured and factored into decision-making regarding loading times departure times and generating reliable ETA's based upon accurate departure data. Industry experts expect the geofencing trend to accelerate over the next year or so, and says some of that will be driven by the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors used for data collection. There are a lot of IoT-enabled devices collecting massive amounts of information right now, and much of it can be used to automate various yard-related activities that used to be handled manually.

As the mobile supply chain comes into clearer view, expect to see even more innovations making their way into the area outside of the warehouse and DC four walls. And while we’re already seeing significant progress in this area, technological advancement never sleeps, which means there’s always more around the next corner. To stay current on these topics and more, please subscribe to our blog.