Technology and the Changing Face of Logistics
As businesses and logistics providers know, every process in the supply chain is an opportunity for improvement. Technology and the information age vastly changed – and continue to morph, in enthralling ways – the logistics industry, providing countless opportunities for process optimization. Shifting expectations accompany those changes. Customers now can anticipate one-hour deliveries from leading e-commerce retailers like Amazon. Businesses can retain more control over their supply chains through real-time inventory updates, carrier tracking and increasingly detailed online shipment information from carriers like FedEx and UPS. The federal government is also onboard the technology train, offering unprecedented electronic submission of all U.S. Customs and Border Protection shipping documents via EDI, through the joint-venture Automated Export System.
For businesses seeking greater control of their supply chains, cloud-based Software-as-a-Service is another innovation in the logistics industry. Cloud-based logistics SaaS packages like 360data’s afford 3PLS, retailers, manufacturers and other supply chain-concerned companies complete visibility of their business processes, from order entry to the customer’s door.
That nebulous buzzword concept, the “Internet of Things,” increasingly changes the face of supply chains. As humans don wearable devices and radio frequency chips accompany shipments, the interaction of data and information between objects – rather than people – becomes extremely useful for supply chain visibility. For example, a driver wears an internet-capable device, which submits reports of any transportation issues (e.g. traffic, accidents) and all carrier stops and starts to its customer’s – a retailer’s – transportation management system. The communication between wearable technology and a remote server provides 360-degree visibility of the retailer’s current transportation situation and capabilities. 360data can incorporate these wearable technologies into customized TMS, warehouse management system, order management system and B2B collaboration solutions.
At warehouse facilities, touchscreen tablets on lift trucks can integrate with a 360data OMS or B2B system. As technology evolves and the logistics industry increasingly expands in complexity, more wearable technologies like smart glasses – Google Glass and Epson Moverio’s Android-based product come to mind – and finger-trigger gloves likely will find their way into warehouses. Introduced judiciously and with safety kept foremost in mind, wearable tech can improve warehouse worker efficiency from 10 to 20 percent, according to a recent DC Velocity analysis. 360data would be prepared to incorporate these technologies into its clients’ customized solutions, allowing for seamless integration of smart glass technology with a client’s WMS, for example.
On the unwearable side of warehouse technology, advanced barcode scanning and labeling, while now commonplace in most warehouses, have innovated the industry in myriad ways. Barcode “license plating,” developed for a large group of items shipped as a single unit, helps warehouses and businesses tightly manage inventory, loads and shipments. A WMS like 360data’s and the ability to order and invoice through Electronic Data Interchange allow for seamless order entry, processing, picking, loading and distribution. The increased efficiency guaranteed by these technologies assures customers their products are getting to market on time and in the correct quantities.
As 360data launches the new iteration of its cloud-based logistics SaaS business in 2016, we not only look to the future, but rely on what the future can bring. During this exciting time of increased data technology and devices, all of us at 360data will keep abreast of these technologies and remain flexible to our marketplace’s changing demands. Currently seeking B2B logistics software? Explore our 360data website for more information.