How quickly you get the product to the customer often affects their satisfaction as much as the quality of the product itself.
If the raw materials don’t hit the shelf quickly enough, the whole production stops and you’re looking at astronomical losses.
One thing that both of these statements have in common is that they heavily rely on your supply chain and improving it means improving your business. Here’s how we expect modern technology will help make these improvements possible.
Electric fleets are inevitable. The only question is whether our technology has reached the tipping point where they’re already financially viable for businesses of all sizes.
The thing that the majority of people get wrong about electric fleets and electric vehicles, in general, is that it’s just about the vehicle technology. At the same time, real breakthroughs are happening in the field of battery manufacturing and even battery software like Elysia.
Once battery analytics are more sophisticated, more and more fleet managers and operators will be willing to switch to fully electric fleets. Earlier on, phenomena like range anxiety really caused a lot of reluctance even to consider these ideas seriously. This is no longer the case.
Electric fleets are greener, which is a huge ethical advantage, but it’s not just the altruism that you need to focus on. Namely, with the government subsidizing green businesses and practices and fining non-eco-friendly methods, it’s only a matter of time before this switch is no longer optional.
One of the challenges, of course, is the downtime due to charging. With gas, the charging process took a few minutes per vehicle. This is no longer the case. This means that if you have charging stations in your own space, you need to schedule charging far more accurately. Not to mention that the grid of charging stations and a grid of gas stations across the country can’t really be made into a fair comparison.
Just keep in mind that these electric vehicles, batteries, and systems are getting better by the hour. Sure, you may want to wait a bit for them to get even more sophisticated, but this way, you miss out on the privilege of being early adopters.
Predictive analytics for demand forecasting
The biggest challenge in supply chain management is the importance of avoiding bottlenecks. If you can predict them, you have a chance to be proactive. This way, you’ll achieve the optimal use of your space and labor and avoid creating scenarios where there’s downtime due to lack of supply.
While everyone focuses exclusively on perishable goods, the truth is that these are just the tip of the iceberg. Sure, you’ll order perishables in the quantity you expect to spend in a short amount of time (even if you don’t have the tool, you’ll try to make your best guess), but what about non-perishables?
Wouldn’t it make the most sense to just stock up?
Well, both yes and no.
First of all, can you really spare all that space? We’re talking about months and months of occupied space that you have no idea when you’ll free up. Second, what about the capital that you’ll unnecessarily tie up? This can set up your cash flow management really behind.
Now, one thing worth mentioning is that this type of analytical software offers specific insights that could be valuable not just to you but to your competitors, as well. This is most troublesome and you have to figure out a way to keep your data safe.
Access restrictions are just one of the measures you could apply, but you need to make sure that your platforms are safe from external threats, as well. Outsource your cybersecurity and even consider a penetration testing service; this way, you’ll be able to tell that your platforms are truly secure.
Getting the insights you need and making sure that both insights and data are safe should be your top priority.
Innovations in the field of last-mile delivery
When it comes to the supply chain, it can all be divided into two massive fields – freighting and last-mile delivery. Now, this last-mile delivery is the final leg of the supply chain, and it’s one that has a direct impact on customer satisfaction.
While there are a lot of new technologies, like drones, robotic deliveries, and autonomous vehicles, that play a huge part in this process, the truth is that it’s still down to a human factor. A good fleet management platform and a veteran operator following Fleetio’s fleet managers manual can make a world of difference.
You see, when it comes to long-distance voyages and huge cargo containers, there’s not much you can do. After all, this is something that you’re outsourcing, and if your suppliers are overseas, chances are that you’re already notifying your customers that they’ll have to wait for a bit longer.
At the same time, when it comes to last-mile delivery, this is where route optimization makes all the difference. With the right AI-assisted tool that’s connected to the grid, you can get your traffic information in real-time.
Not only that but provided that you’re still taking the old-fashioned route with human drivers, with the help of driver behavior analytics (and machine learning), the tool can assess each driver. In other words, you’ll not just get the info on how long it will take for the cargo to get there; you’ll also get the info on how much it usually takes that particular driver to get there.
Also, and probably the most important part of it all, it does a far better job of assessing the risk level of every individual driver.
Robotic process automation (RPA) and IoT
Most of the time, your fleets are cruising down the same streets; in fact, since the platform just makes recommendations based on the developing situation in the field, couldn’t it just reroute the vehicles?
The main reason why humans did this in the past is because this choice of route was just one part of the equation. There were many business processes that led to the point at which this automation could take place, but now, with AI-enhanced automation systems and machine learning so deep that it understands processes better than some managers, things are different.
The thing is that, with time, these AI tools are also gaining “experience.” Sure, this is not an experience from the perspective of human consciousness, but with more data, the platform becomes “smarter” and more efficient.
With all of this in mind, it’s really no wonder some specialists speculate that the implementation of AI will be as big as the internet.
Then, there’s the fact that, in 2024, everything is connected to the internet.
You see, the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) has existed for a while now. The biggest bottleneck was always the fact that there were only a few objects that were connected to the internet all the time. Today, this is no longer an isolated case but a standard occurrence.
Every container and sometimes even every object is tracked and analyzed in real-time. This means that we now have more insight into the supply chain than ever before.
When it comes to the supply chain, you should never ignore the fact that it all starts with the warehouse.
Sure, you may choose to argue that you just want to focus on transportation, but even then, the amount of time that it takes to load these trucks may determine the speed of delivery.
Now, what does this speed depend on?
There are a lot of reasons why loading trucks doesn’t take as fast as it did the last time, even if there’s the same number of containers and the weight is approximately the same. Not all of your warehouse staff work at the same pace/efficiency. Sometimes, you’ll even be understaffed.
However, when you switch to robots, these things will never happen. Not only will your productivity become easier to predict, but your cost control will become simpler, too.
About 12 years ago, Amazon bought Kiva Systems for $775 million. At the time, the majority of the business world was shocked, believing that it could never pay off. Well, the history proved them wrong.
Robots are already used in warehouses all over the globe and it’s just a matter of time before this trend picks up even faster. We believe that 2024 will be the year.
In 2024, we have more insight and more control over the supply chain than ever before
All in all, 2024 will be a year of great innovation. The popularization of AI technology is already making huge ripples in analytics. With greater analytics, the cybersecurity burden will become even heavier. It’s also worth mentioning that the use of drones, self-driving vehicles, electric vehicles, and even warehouse robots might become substantially heavier this year.
By Srdjan Gombar
Veteran content writer, published author, and amateur boxer. Srdjan is a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature and is passionate about technology, pop culture, and self-improvement. His free time he spends reading, watching movies, and playing Super Mario Bros. with his son.