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  May 20th, 2016 | Written by

Hypermodal Systems to Bring Internet Speeds to Transportation and Logistics

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  • Transportation and logistics is inefficient in time, energy, labor, and capital, and is underutilized in capacity.
  • New modes of transportation, from drones to self-driving cars, are preparing to revolutionize logistics.
  • The internet of things is at the stage of a dial-up modem.

The rapid emergence of advanced analytics, along with new modes of transport like autonomous vehicles, will bring internet-like speeds and efficiencies to transportation and logistics, saving time and trillions of dollars, according to a report from Lux Research.

Transportation and logistics, among the slowest-changing industries, is inefficient in time, energy, labor, and capital, as well as underutilized in terms of capacity. However, new modes of transport, from drones to self-driving cars, are preparing to enter the mix, while advanced analytics bring intelligence, capturing and analyzing vast amounts of data that today’s systems ignore.

“The internet of things is at the stage of a dial-up modem in the evolution of the internet, but as it evolves, intermodal and intelligent technologies will create a hypermodal system that moves not just goods, but supply, demand, and means of production,” said Mark Bünger, Lux Research Vice President and lead author of the Lux report.

Lux Research analysts studied the potential impact of emerging transportation and logistics technologies on industry. Among their findings, they found that smart containers are on the way. With door sensors, GPS, and RFID transponders, smart containers are being developed by firms like GE and Maersk and startups such as Israel’s Loginno and France’s Traxen. They can detect vibration, temperature and chemicals, incorporate refrigeration and are connected to the cloud to provide timely alerts.

Last-mile delivery is getting more efficient. Giants like Google and Amazon, and startups like Matternet, Flirtey, and Starship Technologies have begun using drones for same-day delivery of small packages, establishing new benchmarks in last-mile efficiency. The first commercial delivery by drone occurred in the U.S. in early 2016, while Singapore and Switzerland are among countries experimenting with drone mail delivery.

Distributed manufacturing is taking shape. Production and logistics are closely linked, so distributed manufacturing goes hand-in-hand with hypermodal transportation. Small, local factories using flexible machinery such as 3-D printers and computerized numerical control (CNC) machines, flexible components, and multi-skilled labor, achieve economies of scope, rather than scale.

Lux Research provides strategic advice and ongoing intelligence for emerging technologies. The report, titled “Towards Intelligent Intermodal Trade: Industrial Big Data and Analytics in Transportation and Logistics,” is part of the Lux Research Industrial Big Data and Analytics Intelligence service.