The shipping world is changing – new technological advancements are automating and simplifying logistical processes. As a result, logistics companies are looking to stay ahead of their competition by remaining up to date on the industry’s latest developments. While there’s no way for certain to know what lies in store for the industry, there are some emerging trends worth noting in 2018.
- Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology was originally created as a tool for cryptocurrency systems, like Bitcoin, and serves as an open source peer-to-peer software solution that manages all transactions issued by creating a secure ledger. All financial transactions are logged and saved on network computers and processed as “blocks.” Once the data is stored as a block, it can’t be modified. No changes or deletions can occur unless the entire network is able to verify the changes. However, all parties involved in the transaction can easily read and access the data.
Shipping professionals are also using blockchain technology to log their contracts. This technology allows for more transparency and reduces the amount of necessary documentation in shipping transactions. For instance, when a shipping company chooses a smart contract with blockchain technology, algorithms can verify that services and digital signatures have been completed. Similarly, the technology can automatically send and verify payments to the shipper, distributor, and manufacturer. The implementation of blockchain technology throughout the shipping industry promises a more affordable and efficient way for companies to handle logistics.
- Autonomous Vehicles
While you probably won’t see driverless trucks dominating the highway any time soon, since the technology is still being tested and perfected, this reality is certainly on its way and will be heavily discussed in 2018.
Many car manufacturers have begun experimenting with driverless vehicles, and now the shipping industry is also working with the technology. Proponents of autonomous vehicles claim the technology will help in creating faster, safer deliveries.
This technology could decrease costs for carriers in the long run as they only must pay to acquire or use the vehicle, instead of paying the driver. Additionally, with the creation of the electronic logging device mandate (ELD), autonomous vehicles won’t need to adhere to standard driving regulations. Autonomous cars can also increase the amount of deliveries per truck, which will help with capacity issues.
- Last Mile Delivery
“Last mile” is the term used to describe the final leg of a shipment’s journey in which it arrives at its destination. For instance, the shipment of the product from a transportation hub to the consumer’s home or business. Last mile delivery services are expected to continue growing in 2018, as companies like Amazon and UPS look to create shorter delivery times.
Companies have turned to using additional methods such as drones, bikes, driverless vehicles, and the use of smart lockers for last mile deliveries. For those in the shipping industry who continue to use more traditional methods, it’s essential to provide not only the fastest possible delivery time, but to offer impeccable service and undamaged goods to offset more standard delivery times.
- The Internet of Things (IoT)
With in-home devices like Amazon’s Alexa, the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to expand into public consciousness – and the shipping industry isn’t immune to it. The Internet of Things refers to the interconnecting of devices via the Internet, including everyday objects, enabling them to receive and send data.
For shippers, this means that there is now technology that can track shipments and their conditions. IoT uses cloud-based GPS systems that use items like chips, scanners, and databases to log and monitor shipment data. As IoT technology continues to grow within the shipping industry, those on both the shipping and receiving end will have more clarity into the whereabouts and state of their freight. This tracking of goods in real time can greatly help when it comes to customer service relations and in providing documentation when a claim arises. What’s more, IoT technology can be integrated into transportation management software so that shippers can manage all their logistics operations in a single portal.
New innovations are constantly being introduced into the transportation and logistics industry to keep up with the market’s regulations and demands. Those who can adapt with the growing technology will be more equipped to succeed.