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UPS, FEDEX, AMAZON, TARGET, WALMART AND BEST BUY ARE KILLING IT IN E-COMMERCE. HERE’S HOW.

e-commerce

UPS, FEDEX, AMAZON, TARGET, WALMART AND BEST BUY ARE KILLING IT IN E-COMMERCE. HERE’S HOW.

COVID-19 has sped up e-commerce adoption across all industries as many businesses emerge from the global pandemic battered and bruised. At the end of 2019, e-commerce represented 11.3 percent of total U.S. retail sales. This percentage inched up to 11.8 percent at the end of the first quarter of this year. For the second-quarter, some estimates suggest this percentage could double, at minimum, as businesses closed, and consumers stayed home because of COVID-19.

Indeed, while increased online sales is not a new phenomenon, the speed with which new generations of customers have gone online is and has led to a change in demand that is unlikely to reverse quickly according to McKinsey & Company’s latest COVID-19 Briefing Materials: Global Health and Crisis Response (June 1, 2020). McKinsey estimates that 20-60 percent more U.S. consumers are digital as a result of COVID-19. Stickiness of digital, localization, and selectiveness in spending are major trends that businesses will need to address as the pandemic alters the way business is conducted.

McKinsey also found that consumers are shopping online more and are more willing to switch across brands. This can be seen in one the biggest “winners:” groceries. According to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, online groceries grew 110 percent in daily sales between March and April. However, there were delays in last-mile deliveries as companies including Amazon, Walmart and Instacart had to hire more workers to assist with the increased consumer demand.

In March, Amazon had to restrict non-essential shipments from third-party sellers and other retail vendors and focus on receipt, restocking and delivery of essential products that were most in demand. Meanwhile, Walmart touted not only its online store capabilities but also curbside pickup. The result was a strong first-quarter earnings for the period ending April 30 with comparable-store sales up 10 percent and e-commerce sales up 74 percent. Strongest sales were in food, consumables, health, and wellness.

Retailer Target also noted strong first-quarter sales. While comparable-store sales increased only 0.9 percent in its first-quarter ending April 30, e-commerce sales jumped 141 percent with 80 percent of e-commerce orders fulfilled in Target’s stores. Food and beverages rose over 20 percent, essential and beauty 10 percent, and home rose in the single digits.

As more workers work from home, electronics and furniture sales also increased. Best Buy noted in the eight days ending March 20, sales jumped 25 percent as customers purchased work-from-home-related items. As stores closed, online sales increased more than 250 percent, with half of those orders using curbside service available at most Best Buy stores.

For small parcel carriers including FedEx and UPS, the e-commerce volumes proved to be a boon. Both carriers have been preparing for rising e-commerce volumes by introducing such service offerings as seven-day deliveries, faster delivery times, later pick-up times, returns solutions, fulfillment solutions designed for e-retailers, alternative delivery pick-up and drop off locations and more. By all accounts, FedEx and UPS appeared prepared to handle the sudden e-commerce volume increases.

Just as the COVID-19 impact was being felt in the U.S., UPS noted in its first-quarter earnings that March volumes were 70 percent business-to-consumer (B2C) with April trending similar. FedEx also noted a similar trend with higher than usual B2C volumes.

The result was a sharp increase in residential volumes for both carriers and delays occurred. It should be noted that residential deliveries are typically more costly for FedEx and UPS versus business-to-business moves in which batches of parcels can be picked up and delivered at once.

A number of consumers took to social media to voice their frustrations and share photos of overflowing packages at carriers’ facilities. However, not only were carriers faced with higher than normal volumes, but they were also dealing with the coronavirus itself, affecting an unknown number of FedEx and UPS employees who would otherwise be sorting packages, loading and unloading delivery vehicles and delivering packages. Networks slowed as a result.

Having temporarily suspended all service guarantees and implemented international peak surcharges in March to handle a surge in international volumes, FedEx and UPS introduced new temporary peak surcharges to address the U.S. domestic situation.

UPS’s latest surcharges took effect on May 31 and addressed Residential, SurePost, and Large Parcels. Meanwhile, FedEx’s domestic temporary peak surcharges took effect on June 8 and addressed Residential for FedEx Ground and FedEx Express parcels, SmartPost, and Oversize Parcels for FedEx Ground and FedEx Express parcels. Keep in mind, these temporary peak surcharges are in addition to already existing surcharges and individual shipper’s contracted rates.

Besides surcharges, FedEx also capped some shippers’ volumes. This is a similar approach to what the carrier does during the holiday season if a shipper exceeds agreed-upon volume commitments. However, this is not the traditional holiday season and many shippers were caught off guard by this tactic. UPS also took a page out of their holiday season playbook and dispersed managers and supervisors across the U.S. to pitch in and help at sorting facilities and deliver parcels.

The rapid increase in e-commerce parcels seemed to catch FedEx and UPS off-guard and significantly impact their lower margin service, Residential. Moving beyond the COVID-19 crisis, e-commerce will play a bigger role in B2C as well as B2B. Businesses will utilize a number of creative ways to handle the last mile – curbside pickup, buy online, pickup in-store, residential, third party locations for pickup and delivery, and more. FedEx and UPS will need to work closely with customers to share capacity availability and concerns.

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John Haber is the founder and CEO of Spend Management Experts. With more than 25 years of supply-chain experience, John has helped some of the world’s leading brands drive greater efficiencies through their supply-chain operations while reducing transportation, distribution and fulfillment costs. He began his career at UPS, where he held various executive level positions in corporate finance and corporate strategy and was instrumental in developing profitability and costing models. He also managed the carrier’s National Accounts Profitability Group where he audited the pricing and profitability of UPS’ top customers. John’s finance background combined with decades of experience working with high-volume shippers enables him to offer unique insights on strategic supply chain planning, including distribution model optimization, transportation cost analysis and carrier contract optimization and compliance.

logistics

Six Key Technologies for High-Performing Logistics

The fields of logistics, manufacturing, transportation, and supply chains are experiencing a rapid and unprecedented transformation today. The future development of these industries lies in innovation and technology improvement. Recently, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, drone delivery, and other modernizations that have become almost a reality, previously, have been the subject of science fiction. So, let us consider the most prominent implementations to high-performing logistics.

3D printing

“The concept of 3D printing itself has existed since the 1980s. However, only now this technology has become available on a relatively large-scale market. This revolutionary advancement allows almost any company to create devices or their parts from metals, plastics, mixed materials, and even from human fabrics without special expenses” – according to Noah Miller, CEO of PhotoRetouchingServices.NET who plan to provide a new 3D printing service in 2021.

How can this affect logistics and supply chain management?

1. 3D printing significantly expands the production process

2. Increases independence from specialized industries and enterprises

3. Reduces delivery times, eliminating the need to store a large number of finished products in warehouses

The use of 3D printing will lead to drastic changes in the logistics field. Companies will supply raw materials instead of many finished products. Therefore, they will be able to provide 3D printing services at delivery points, which will be an additional source of income.

Smart systems and the Internet of Things

By the end of 2020, the number of connected devices is expected to surpass 50 billion. A world of coupled things is a treasure trove of opportunities for all sectors of the economy, including the trucking industry. Smart devices, connected in one information space, can store important data. For example, technical requirements, customer names, and shipping addresses.

Smart pallets and long-distance containers will make it much easier to track or locate goods in transit. Such systems will not only make it easier for warehouse employees to find, distribute, and dispatch orders, but also help manufacturers to perform maintenance and processing of goods at the end of the expiry date with higher efficiency. Over time, most logistics processes can become semi-automatic.

Tracking shipments in transit with network-connected devices will remove shipping worries. Moreover, in this way, it will be possible to check if the vehicles are in need of repair and receive information about the mishandling of some goods.

At the moment, tracking goods and services on the road is one of the major problems of logistic services. The use of the Internet of Things, along with the use of cloud GPS-systems, will allow you to track individual consignments easily. 50% of logistics service providers are already using cloud services, while 20% are planning to do so.

As data moves to the cloud, logistics services become available through pay-on-demand. This means that small businesses no longer have to spend money on complex IT solutions. They only pay for what they need.

In its turn, the Internet of Things is based on the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, which communicate with each other. Chips attached to the individual elements of the consignment transmit data such as:

-product identification

-location

-temperature

-pressure and humidity

Once there is a notification of any negative action, it will be a trigger to promptly prevent any possible damage or theft. The chip can signal the onset of adverse weather conditions, such as high temperature or humidity. It can also transmit road condition data and info related to  specific parameters, such as average speed and traffic patterns, or return information.

Supply and transportation chain management is a relevant issue for logistics managers and directors. Therefore, logistics companies will benefit greatly from using this technology. Also, they will be able to get an increased number of satisfied customers.

Drone delivery

A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle. It can be either controlled remotely or fly autonomously, using programmed flight routes arranged in its system. Drones are small, light, and quite cheap to operate. They manage to fly where other means of transport fail to perform.

In the near future, operators will use drones to promptly deliver small packages in both cities and remote areas. Due to their high speed and accuracy, it is possible to reduce the supply chain and significantly decrease transportation expenses. As a result, courier companies may incur financial losses. There are certain obstacles that hinder the widespread use of this technology: the issue of government regulation, air traffic safety, the permitted size and weight of the drone.

e-AWB

The Electronic Air Waybill, e-AWB, is the first step towards digitalizing the industry. It is a standardized electronic version of the existing paper air waybill that accompanies cargo from shipper to delivery. E-AWB improves the efficiency of tracking and processing cargo data, as well as the transparency and safety of the route.

In addition, it reduces expenses and delays. The International Air Transport Association, IATA, announced the transition to e-AWB in early 2019. Major airlines such as Lufthansa and Emirates, have already implemented the electronic air waybill. Delta Airlines and United Airlines are likely to follow suit soon. Thus, by the end of 2020, 80% of air waybills will be electronic.

Blockchain

Since its advent in 2008, blockchain has never fallen off the radar in any industry. Unfortunately, the complex concept is difficult for many logisticians to understand. Despite its great potential, it has hardly evolved.

In addition, many logisticians are tired of the very frequent use of this term. As you know, blockchain is an open ledger of transactions distributed among computers on the network. Since everyone in the common blockchain has access to the same ledger of transactions, there is complete transparency that makes it impossible for users to hack the system. Thus, it eliminates the need for third parties.

In the logistics industry, blockchain can make it easier to exchange sensitive data for different carriers or shippers. Also, companies are able to create trade finance and supply chain finance solutions.

Digital twins

Digital twins, electronic copies of a physical object or process, are one of the most exciting trends in logistics technology to follow in 2020. Many logisticians know that products will never be the same as their computer models. However, the technology of digital twins changes it. Now, the physical and digital worlds can be combined into one, which allows us to interact with an e-model of an object or its part in the same way as with their physical counterparts.

The potential for using digital twins in logistics is enormous. In the transportation sector, this novelty can be used to collect products and packaging data. In this way, it uses the information to identify potential blind spots and recurring trends to improve future operations.

Web technologies, programs and transport management systems do not stop evolving. Currently, the logistics industry is experiencing yet another revolution. The latest technologies are mostly related to speed, accuracy, security, and continuous delivery.

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Marie Barnes is Marketing Communication Manager at Adsy guest post service and a writer for gearyoda. She is an enthusiastic blogger interested in writing about technology, social media, work, travel, lifestyle, and current affairs.

drones

THAT BUZZING IS THE SOUND OF FREEDOM: THANK THE DEFENSE INDUSTRY FOR THE RISE OF DRONES IN LOGISTICS AND TRANSPORTATION

The demand within the global drone logistics and transportation industry is rising at a stellar pace in recent times. The need for aviation and military drones has created a juggernaut of possibilities for growth within this market. Moreover, new applications of drones have come to the fore across several industries. This trend has paved way for increased investments to flow into the global drone logistics and transportation market.

That’s the conclusion of a recent review by Transparency Market Research (TMR), which decoded some of the leading factors pertaining to the growth of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). According to TMR, the importance of aerial inspection of terrains for a multitude of industries has driven market demand. Technological enhancements in the structuring and functionalities of UAVs have additionally impelled demand.

The TMR review is not confined solely to logistics and transportation, as it also delves into the relevance of drones across military, aviation, construction and entertainment sectors.

Advancements in Military Technologies. The use of drones in the defense sector has gathered momentum in recent times. The need for increased surveillance and reconnaissance in the military industry has played to the advantage of the vendors operating in the global market. Increasing anarchy among regional territories has also generated humongous demand within the global drone market, which can therefore count on increased revenues in the years to follow.

Use of Drones in Site Inspections. The construction industry has become a haven of new possibilities and technologies. Drones are extensively used to oversee operations in that sector, with the need to inspect terrains and unexplored lands creating a boatload of possibilities within the market.

UAVs in Logistics and Transportation is Looking Up. Recent drone developments in the sector cited in the TMR review include:

-Rising investments in drones by the likes of Amazon, Walmart, Uber, Google, FedEx and UPS are ushering in technological advancements and design innovations.

-Drone strategies being employed by Uber Technologies Inc., Flirtey, Zipline International, Drone Delivery Canada and Matternet. When it comes to just the latter two, Drone Delivery Canada has agreed to serve Moose Cree First Nation communities, while Matternet and Boeing HorizonX Ventures have partnered in drone delivery as well.

-A Beijing-based online business firm, which since 2016 has operated under an agreement to deliver commercial drones in four main regions spread over China, being online to have built 150 drone delivery services in the southwestern Sichuan region by the end of this year.

-The same firm planning to expand to Japan and Indonesia.

-India’s Zomato, which took over the drone startup TechEagle, developing a hub-to-hub transportation service supported by hybrid multi-rotor drones.

The Bottom Line. The revenue index of the drone logistics and transportation market is projected to improve in the times to come. Learn more about this, including industry challenges, at: https://www.transparencymarketresearch.com/drone-logistics-and-transportation-market.html.

More Drone Developments. Speaking of UPS, the Atlanta-based delivery and logistics giant earlier this year announced a series of new initiatives and partnerships aimed at upgrading its global logistics network that includes the expansion of drone operations in the healthcare sector. An initiative to test drone delivery use cases with Henry Schein, a worldwide distributor of medical and dental supplies, will allow UPS to focus on UAVs for one of its key business sectors. A huge factor in these tests will be ensuring successful deliveries of essential healthcare products to destinations where traditional road transport may be less effective or timely, such as remote communities or areas impacted by a natural disaster, according to UPS.

The UPS Flight Forward subsidiary drone business, which was only formed last year, received a highly-restricted air carrier certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that allows for approved UPS drones to fly over people, at night and out of the operator’s line of sight. After granting UPS Flight Forward the special certification, the FAA authorized the company to operate a drone delivery program at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. Meanwhile, UPS in February expanded its Flight Forward service to the University of California at San Diego Health. That’s the result of another Mountain View, California-based Matternet partnership. That drone program will be used to transport various medical products between health centers and labs, with the drones following predetermined flight paths within visual line of sight per FAA rules. (Matt Coker)

Thank the Military Again. Yates Electrospace Corp. (YEC), whose Silent Arrow platform is bringing disruptive innovation to the heavy payload, unmanned cargo delivery market, announced the design completion and specifications of a wide-body version of its successful GD-2000 cargo delivery drone. With a full-scale, flight-ready version of the latter having been shown off at the Defense & Security Equipment International show in London in September 2019, the coming out for the GD-2000’s bigger sister is set for the July 20-24 run of the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK (coronavirus willing, of course).

Aliso Viejo, California-based YEC responded to real-time demand from U.S. and allied foreign government Special Operators, including the U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), for the development of the new wide-body craft. It will be 60 percent larger than the standard Silent Arrow GD-2000, with a  2,000-pound gross weight; a 48-foot wingspan (among four spring-deployed wings that are stowed in a 3.5×3.5×13-foot fuselage); and a 140-cubic-foot cargo bay that can handle up to 1,250 pounds (or five times more weight in life-saving supplies, medicines and tactical cargo than the GD-2000).

“The YEC engineering team used current flight data from the inaugural GD-2000 product line along with extensive computational fluid dynamics analysis to optimize the aerodynamics and glide ratio of this rather massive cargo delivery platform,” says Chip Yates, YEC’s founder and CEO, who noted an accelerated schedule led to the delivery of development units by the end of this past March and the setting of 10 flight test units throughout the second and third quarters of 2020. Don’t be surprised if Yates’ latest creation is a hit: The original Silent Arrow was named one of six “Unmanned Cargo Aircraft to Watch” by Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine in their 2020 Aerospace & Defense issue. (MC)

crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing, Drones and Why I’ll Never Buy a Bugatti

Amazon has taught me I don’t have to wait for my next two-pack of ravioli cutter stamps, so if you can’t get them to me in under two hours, I know someone else who can. It’s 2019, and customers want what they want, when they want it. According to a recent report, the global last-mile market is now expected to hit $55.2 billion by 2025, up from $30.2 billion today – and it’s no wonder. Amazon’s deep investments in delivery continue to fuel a surge in e-commerce; meanwhile, customer expectations and the entire supply chain have been completely upended.

The good news is that the more retailers invest in delivery, the more their e-commerce revenue grows. For businesses who’ve made supply chain a top priority, it’s huge validation.

So where does that leave us in the race to the doorstep? Companies are throwing cash at everything, from drones to self-driving robots to crowdsourcing. Who’s got the best chance of success? How can each one lower costs, increase speed and mitigate risks? Can they disrupt the industry without being, well… disruptive?

Drones: The droids you’re looking for?

Drones entered the mainstream about five years ago as a cool photography gadget. Thanks to falling prices, they’re a hot item on every kid’s Christmas list this year, but they’ve also generated a lot of buzz about their potential applications for logistics.

In rural areas, drones have huge promise for parcel delivery. They’re already supplementing human workers in large warehouses – flying to far-flung corners to pick goods on high-up shelves. And they’re working out in the freight yard, too, helping to track and manage trucks, trailers and containers.

Companies like UPS, Amazon, Google and even Dominos are experimenting with drones in the last mile. One popular model uses a carrier van on the highway as a hub for an armada of drones that fly out of the back to deliver small parcels to nearby homes. It’s an impressive, futuristic version of hub and spoke. Can it work? At what cost?

Just like commercial aviation and the automobile, drones have major hurdles to navigate, especially when we think about how they’ll work at scale. We’ll need major regulatory oversight to address safety, noise and privacy concerns. We’ll need to build control towers, write better algorithms, improve GPS, and figure out what to do about the weather. But these challenges will likely all be worked out, given enough in time and investment.

Autonomous vehicles and robots: Bots with brains.

What about autonomous cars and robots? Are they more viable in the near term?

McKinsey predicts autonomous vehicles could slash last-mile delivery costs in urban areas by as much as 40 percent. And companies from FedEx to Bosch have made bets on sidewalk delivery bots, deploying prototypes in San Francisco office parks, where they’re tightly controlled.  Long-term, the potential is clear, and companies with the deep pockets to make early bets could save a lot of money in the long run.

Both autonomous cars and bots cost thousands of dollars per unit to manufacture, though, and depend heavily on human supervision and maintenance. When it comes to flexibility and scalability, is a sidewalk droid really that different from a truck? Both are rigid, asset-heavy systems that require a big capex investment upfront with even higher maintenance and upgrade costs over time.

Think of it this way: earlier this year, actor and comedian Tracy Morgan from Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock bought himself a sweet new supercar: a Bugatti. He forked out a cool $2 million for it. But later that day, he was sideswiped by a driver in a Honda CR-V. It was just a minor fender-bender, but it turns out fixing a scratch on a Bugatti costs more than the entire value of the car that hit him – somewhere to the tune of $32,000.

The truth is, even if I had the cash to buy a Bugatti, I could never afford to maintain it. Will a fleet of delivery droids be the same?

Whether it’s drones or robots or some other yet-to-emerge autonomous technology, asset-heavy logistics strategies will always suffer from the same Achilles heel: whether it’s changing wiper blades or switching from lithium batteries to solar – hardware is expensive. And if a new hardware solution can’t solve for the demands of flexibility in the last mile, there will still be a need for something that can.

This doesn’t even take into account all the regulatory hurdles, infrastructure dependencies and real-world obstacles from bikes to baby strollers, pranksters to potholes, larcenists to labor unions.

But what folks aren’t talking about, and what I find most interesting, is the inherent limitations that come with any fixed-asset system.

Drones and robots may well be efficient, and hopefully one day safer. But what happens when a last-minute order comes in and the customer needs delivery now? How do you adjust a pre-planned droid route at the last minute – when the droid has already left the store?

Crowdsourcing: Using an infrastructure that’s already there.

Robots may well be our future, but how do we solve the delivery challenges we have today? That’s where crowdsourcing comes in.

Crowdsourcing lets retailers leverage existing resources already on the road to make delivery faster, more efficient and more flexible. While others are making big bets on drones, our Roadie drivers are delivering gigantic garden gnomes. We’re delivering temperature-controlled medicine that won’t be ready for pickup until 9 p.m. We’re working with Walmart to save busy parents a trip to buy groceries. We’re returning your lost luggage from the airport, and bringing you the ladder you bought online at The Home Depot this morning.

Some of the biggest brands in retail are investing in crowdsourcing. Today, we’re partnering with SMBs and Fortune 100 retailers to deliver everything from makeup to mattresses, paint to puppy food. Businesses across virtually every industry are solving today’s delivery challenges with an asset-light strategy that allows them to experiment and learn. They’re addressing delivery demand today, without making new capital investments or locking themselves into a futures bet with complex hardware systems. And most importantly, they’re not disrupting their existing supply chain in a way that can’t be undone without a huge cost if and when the autonomous tech winners begin to emerge over the next decade or two.

And that’s really the point. Retailers need optionality. Customers want to personalize their delivery for each and every purchase at the point of sale. A great customer experience means having a delivery solution for every customer delivery problem, whether you’re scheduling a sofa delivery on Sunday or sending a rescue inhaler right now. Making that work in the real world means having an arsenal of tools in your delivery toolkit.

We’re solving the problems retailers are having today, at scale – not iterating on solutions that may work at a required scale years in the future. Crowdsourcing is a sustainable solution that ensures we’ll all be around to see what delivery looks like in the future.

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Don Pancho_University for Peace Visit

Marc Gorlin is the Founder and CEO of Roadie, a crowdsourced delivery service that works with consumers, small businesses and national companies across virtually every industry to provide a faster, cheaper, more scalable solution for scheduled, same-day and urgent delivery. With over 150,000 verified drivers, Roadie covers 89% of U.S. households — the largest local same-day delivery footprint in the nation.

ups flight forward

UPS Flight Forward Boasts First-Ever Part 135 Standard Certification

Drones continue to make news headlines with the latest announcement from UPS Flight Forward, Inc. confirming the first-ever government-approved Part 135 Standard certification awarded by the FAA earlier this week. This certification – which is known as the highest level, supports the UPS subsidiary to further opportunities in drone deliveries including operating drones beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS).

“This is history in the making, and we aren’t done yet,” said David Abney, UPS chief executive officer. “Our technology is opening doors for UPS and solving problems in unique ways for our customers. We will soon announce other steps to build out our infrastructure, expand services for healthcare customers and put drones to new uses in the future.”

UPS Flight Forward deployed the first BVLOS drone delivery to WakeMed’s hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina shortly after receiving the certification. The government-exempted BVLOS flight was carried out by Matternet’s M2 quadcopter. UPS partnered with drone creator Matternet earlier this year to expand supporting healthcare delivery operations specifically for WakeMed’s hospital campus. These operations further reiterate the demand for efficient, speedy deliveries for the medical industry and its patients.

“UPS Flight Forward is benefitting from our knowledge as one of the world’s leading airlines. The Flight Forward organization is building a full-scale drone operation based on the rigorous reliability, safety, and control requirements of the FAA,” Abney said.

The Part 135 Standard certification carries significant advantages with minimal restrictions to UPS, such as no limits on the scale of operations, unlimited numbers of drones and remote operators, cargo weights exceeding 55 pounds, and more. By obtaining this certification, common barriers associated with drone deliveries are eliminated.

“This is a big step forward in safely integrating unmanned aircraft systems into our airspace, expanding access to healthcare in North Carolina and building on the success of the national UAS Integration Pilot Program to maintain American leadership in unmanned aviation,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

delivery

The Advent of Smart Vehicles & Drones in Delivery

Consumers will almost always pick the company that delivers faster. Having the most efficient supply chain is now, more than ever, the key differentiator that sets companies apart from their competitors. But more than this, companies that can predict behavior are the ones that will stand out ahead of the pack.

Since the early 2000s, logistics, freight, delivery and service companies have been outfitting their fleets with GPS tracking systems to monitor the location, movement and status of their fleets. For many companies, GPS tracking is where logistics technology begins and ends, with businesses investing thousands of dollars into monitoring their vehicles and reacting to ‘what happened’. But companies that are positioning themselves for the future recognize that the real value lies not in just determining what happened, but rather in using data obtained through intelligent logistics solutions to predict future scenarios, mitigate risks and avoid adverse outcomes altogether.

By accessing data in real-time through internet of things (IoT) technology, businesses can anticipate their customers’ needs and desires before they do, enabling them to deploy resources more strategically and sharpening their competitive edge. Using the real-time data collected, which helps identify where to trim the fat or drop what’s not working, companies are now able to make quicker, bolder and more informed business decisions. And beyond helping companies streamline their logistical processes and distribution networks, IoT technology is also driving their expansion into new untapped markets with the advent of smart vehicles and drones.

Using smart vehicles and drones to expedite delivery

One of the key – and arguably most important – innovations in intelligent logistics is the development of the delivery drone. The immediate and obvious benefit of drones is faster delivery, enabling consumers to speedily receive products from vendors like Amazon, Sam’s Club and Whole Foods. Drones allow for expedited deployments; waiting for trucks to dispatch takes significantly longer. However, even more important is the impact drones are making on reaching developing societies that, up to now, have missed out on decades of infrastructure development.

Drones using IoT technology are connecting developing countries with limited infrastructure to the global village, thus enabling them to participate in the global economy. This is opening new markets for business that were previously closed to them in the past.

Smart logistics in vehicle fleet management

Delivery vehicles that get caught in traffic or take convoluted routes to their locations can cost businesses hours of lost productivity. But by using Real-Time Location System (RTLS) technology, IoT devices allow businesses to easily and precisely track driver locations.

Smart trucks that implement IoT tech do more than ensuring the driver is on task, on time and performing safely at optimum levels. IoT devices are also enabling businesses and their delivery fleets to gather even more valuable data, such as identifying the fastest route to avoid traffic, knowing when the trailer is unhitched or when the recipient has opened a dispatched package. Companies like McDonald’s are experimenting with delivery trucks that can map the fastest and most efficient routes on their own, thereby reducing emissions and speeding up delivery.

Drivers, too, benefit from IoT tech in their vehicles. Smart logistics tech can also monitor the environment on all four sides of a vehicle, which helps prevent costly mistakes and accidents.

By leveraging IoT technology, companies can now execute every step of the delivery process on-site. For a happy ending, wireless sensors notify companies when the order was opened, allowing company representatives to ‘wow’ customers with a text alert saying, “did you enjoy the product?”

Driverless vehicles: how can they help me?

Back in 2017, an English online grocery chain named Ocado released a self-driving delivery truck into the backstreets of London. The little truck was accompanied by two human monitors and delivered goods to London residents over the course of ten days, all by using its onboard IoT mapping software.

Ocado’s mini-truck was unable to carry as much cargo as its bigger, 18-wheeler brothers, but it did arrive at customer houses faster and with less hassle than larger vehicles could have. Online buyers, meanwhile, could use Ocado’s smartphone app to track their delivery and receive updates right as the Ocado van pulled up to their place of residence.

The Ocado van was the first in a continuing development of vehicles that can deliver goods quicker than traditional freighters, with more cost savings. Additionally, autonomous delivery vehicles can be scaled up more quickly; it’s easier to fit 20 small vans on the streets versus 20 diesel trucks.

IoT technology is future-proofing businesses for long-term returns

To today’s businesses, with the advent of smart vehicles and drones integrating IoT tech into supply chains may seem costly or even risky. But its striking long-term benefits and savings far outweigh the initial costs. Companies deploying intelligent logistics technologies within their fleets have fewer safety concerns, less staff compensation claims and more satisfied customers. With an eye on the long game, smart companies are employing IoT solutions to go beyond merely being ‘good’ at logistics: by mining IoT data, they’re investing in long-term returns for their businesses.

Gregg Abbate is the iLogistics key account manager of Advantech.

How Drones Could Transform Biopharmaceutical Supply Chain Innovation

Drones have made the news once again. This time, to aid in swift and reliable delivery of life-saving temperature-controlled medications required in emergency situations. A collaboration between Direct Relief, Merck (MSD outside the U.S. and Canada), Softbox, AT&T and Volans-i is pushing the boundaries and capabilities of UAVs- also known as drones, and confirmed a successful fourth pilot proof-of-concept mission was conducted in the Bahamas last week.

“This successful pilot demonstrates the potential of innovative UAV technology to aid in delivery of temperature-dependent medicines and vaccines to people who critically need them,” said Craig Kennedy, senior vice president, Supply Chain, at Merck. “The potential of UAV technology is just one of the many areas in which we are innovating across our business and our supply chain to maximize our ability to save and improve lives around the world.”

As the partners focus on biopharmaceutical supply chain innovation and strengthening humanitarian efforts,  concerns on how to  overcome challenges in global regulations are considered in order to solidify official application in various global markets. Previous test flights were conducted in Switzerland and Puerto Rico.

“Experience and research consistently show that those most at risk of health crisis in disasters live in communities which are likely to be cut off from essential health care due to disruption of transportation and communications,” said Andrew Schroeder, who, among other responsibilities, leads analytics programs, data visualization, and geospatial analytics for Direct Relief.

“Drone delivery is one of the most promising answers to this problem. More remains to be done to operationalize medical cargo drones in emergencies. But successful tests like this one demonstrate that remarkable new humanitarian capabilities are emerging quickly.”

Real-time data analysis and collection in conjunction with fully autonomous controlling enabled test flight success. Additionally, the cold-chain technology ensured temperatures as low as -70 degrees Celsius were maintained, all while providing accurate temperature tracking and reporting.

Photo credit: Direct Relief

“Our goal is to revolutionize the way goods and people move in the world,” said Hannan Parvizian, CEO and Co-Founder of Volans-i, in San Francisco. “Successfully demonstrating our ability to make temperature-controlled drone deliveries in various climate and terrain conditions across these pilots is a first step towards realizing our vision for a world in which no one should be deprived of access to life-saving medical supplies and vaccination due to lack of infrastructure and responsiveness of the transportation ecosystem.”

“This most recent proof-of-concept test has once again demonstrated the capabilities of the Softbox SKYPOD for the transportation of life saving medicines, this time at ultra-low temperatures,” added Richard Wood, Director, Digital Connected Technologies at Softbox. “To ensure full track and trace throughout the test flight Softbox utilized Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and data dashboard services provided by AT&T. The data collected during the successful flights has shown everybody involved the power of IoT to provide full visibility of the Cold Chain, even in the most extreme environments while using innovative transportation modes.”

“Through close collaboration with Direct Relief, Merck, Volans-I and AT&T, we have successfully proven the capabilities of this unique and ground-breaking combination of cutting-edge technologies and now will focus our efforts on completing subsequent pilot projects,” Wood concluded.

Deutsche Post DHL Inaugurates Drone Delivery Service

Berlin, Germany – Deutsche Post DHL has inaugurated the world’s first drone package delivery service with a 7.5-mile flight transporting medicine to a pharmacy on the North Sea island of Juist.

The company said the quad-rotor “DHL Paketkopter 2.0” will operate daily, carrying a maximum load of 1.2 kilograms – about 2.65 pounds – of medicine.

Juist has about 1,500 inhabitants and is served by one ferry per day and an occasional small-aircraft flight, depending on the weather.

The express package company said  will monitor each flight to the island, but the water, snow and dust-resistant drone will fly on autopilot to deliver the medicine — at no extra cost during the test.

The company says it currently has no concrete plans for full-scale regular drone deliveries.

Last December, DHL first tested the drone on a flight hauling a package of medicine from a pharmacy in Bonn to the company’s headquarters on the other side of the Rhine River.

All drone flights require permission from local and federal aviation authorities, the company said.

09/25/2014