Logistics management has long been a mysteriously tricky field. It is tedious, crucial, demanding, and challenging all at once. Since the rise of global travel and trade, logistics has become an increasingly complicated job, requiring multiple people on different posts with several skill sets to oversee the conduction of the array of processes that any specific shipment requires. For most of its history, right up till recent times, logistics has been handled manually.
Filing reports, sorting out the listings, inquiring about new shipments, and many other procedures have required constant vigilance, especially in large trading and shipment sites. As it became pretty obvious, these responsibilities were far beyond the scope of human efficiency. Instead, they suffered at the hands of manual errors, poor judgments, financial mishaps, and a variety of similar issues.
Automating Logistics: What You Need To Know
The automation wave across trade, commerce, business, and other fields lined to logistics, made the automation of logistics inevitable. The automation in logistics took place at roughly the same time as the development of personal computers and the world wide web.
This meant that most, if not all, of logistical handling would shift to data handling software programs, robotics, Cloud storage systems, and other virtual facilities. The handling of the actual, tangible logistical facilities would be in virtual handler facilities and services.
Fast-forwarding to now, we can safely say that the automation of logistics has revolutionized the field. On the whole, it is much more errorless, way more organized, and systemized. However, logistical management has also grown steadily more competitive, which means that logistics CFO's need to invest more keenly and carefully in handling their operations if they want to stay afloat.
The level of technologies in logistics automation is the same, but innovative use of these technological trends is what makes or breaks your future in this regime.
7 Trends You Need to Know to Stay Competitive
With that said, here are a few trends in automating logistics that are the key ingredients to designing an ironclad logistics department!
1. Internet Transparency
The internet in logistics is a replica of whatever is happening in real-time. Therefore, the internet has enabled supply chain managers, logistics project managers, & program directors to ensure a smoother chain of processes from the beginning to the end.
The Internet of Things here refers to internet-based monitoring and management systems where you can get real-time updates on your logistical processes via the internet. From the manufacturing deadline to inventory updates, shipment schedules, dispatch dates, and right up to deliverance to the end-customer's front, the internet of things allows you to keep yourself up-to-date with all the latest developments in your logistics company!
2. Robot Processing Automation
Keeping aside the actual purpose of any logistics facility, you need to attend to a dozen other occupations and formalities. These include documenting shipments, dispatching payments, arranging for warehouse spaces, surveillance of the attendants and visitors, meeting memos, and all other tasks that make up a bulk of work at any logistics company.
Hiring a manual workforce to carry out these tasks seems like a mountain of erroneous uncertainty. But, on the contrary, logistical work requires timeliness and accuracy. Besides, with your primary logistical functions automated, a manual workforce tailing along will be a severe setback for your administrative and operational efficiency.
To curtail this backlog, RPA has taken over many secondary functions at numerous logistical facilities. As a result, you can speed up most of the procedures at entrances, exits, security clearances, form filing, and so on!
3. Inventory Forecasting
Keeping your inventory optimally stocked is a high-priority task for almost all logistical facilities, and with good reason. You do not want your contenders to take over your share of the market when you run out of a particular item that is in high demand. On the other hand, you also do not want to have a failed product lying in large batches at the corner of your warehouse since that would be a waste of your capital, storage capacity, human effort, and countless other resources.
Inventory forecasting is an automation feature that can have an overwhelming influence on how you deal with your inventory. For one, the most apparent task seems to keep you updated on what is available at which aisle in which quantity and quality, how long it will stay good for, and what conditions you need to maintain inside your inventory to keep a particular product safe.
Beyond these simplistic observations, your inventory forecaster has some other jobs, too. You can connect an automated inventory monitor to weather forecasts and check what trade routes might be affected in dispatch and arrival. In addition, you can have a stock market surveillance system to check how your products and brands might do in the next couple of days and weeks, which can help you plan whether to clear out or restock your inventory!
4. Process Mining Tools
When you automate a process, you make it more efficient because it gives you the opportunity to weed out any inefficiencies. Process mining tools allow you to see how a certain task is completed. They give you a complete in-depth view of the process, which allows you to see if there are any particular steps slowing the whole process down.
In other words, automation via process mining tools allows you to effectively identify inefficiencies in your process and fix them. Once you know what is not working right, you can simply focus on fixing that particular step. Hence, process mining tools save you a considerable amount of time.
5. Combinatory Optimizers
Working in the logistics industry, you will know how challenging it is to find the best shipping quotes. Shippers tend to change their rates frequently, and rates differ drastically according to vehicle types too. Having to search for and compare shipping rates every time you need to send out a shipment can be very time-consuming. Instead, you can use combinatory optimizers.
Combinatory optimizers are software automation tools that take a look at all possible shipping methods to find the best one for you – in terms of both time and money. They take all possible variables into consideration (such as the size of shipment and distance of delivery) to find the most efficient shipment method.
What makes this automation trend excellent is that it gets better the more you use it. Combinatory optimizers use machine learning to operate. So, the more you use them, the more they learn and the smarter they get.
6. Supply Chain Planning
Did you know that you can use artificial intelligence to build your supply chain? Using AI, some software can build supply databases and select the most suitable and logical business rules for you. They use simple drag and drop technology that allows you to easily build your supply chain.
The artificial intelligence tools save you a large amount of time when you are creating your supply chain. These tools are also capable of generating a mathematical model of your supply chain that allows you to make quick optimizations.
You may also be able to use this technology to tap into existing networks of businesses and supply chains. By doing so, you can gain access to a large number of suppliers and other vendors that may be able to help your business.
7. Hardware Automation
There is no denying that human error can slow down work a lot, but when you have employees, the chance of human error is always there. If you are looking to reduce any hiccups in your warehouse processes, consider warehouse automation. Through this automation trend, you can actually increase the efficiency and speed of your processes and increase employee productivity too.
So, how can you automate your warehouse? You can use a variety of technologies, such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and robotic picking. AGVs are essentially transport machines used in warehouses to move cargo, but they do not need to be operated by a human.
If you are completely new to automation, we recommend sticking with software automation for a start. Hardware automation is a bit trickier and more expensive, whereas software automation is simpler to start with. But when it comes to software automation, there is a lot to choose from so let us see which one you should be using.
What Automation Software Should You Be Using?
If you are looking to optimize your business processes, software automation is the perfect first step. It will allow you to build a hybrid workforce, using both humans and robots - a perfect blend of the two.
At Integratz, we help build automation software that meets all your needs. We will help you identify the business processes that need optimization and create an automation that can produce high-quality and sustainable results.
If that is something you are interested in, you can book a free consultation with a member of our team today. Our automation experts are waiting at hand to help you optimize your work!