Managed Mobility in Transporation & Logistics: Meeting Increased Demands from E-Commerce
The transportation industry has always been a vital pillar of the economy. But as 2020 unfolded, this became more apparent than ever as the transportation sector kept critical services and economies functioning. As people stayed home and factories paused production, transportation companies continued running to keep supply chains functioning around the globe.
Prior to the pandemic, the industry was already facing challenges from changing workforce dynamics, new e-commerce demands, the Amazon Effect and other shifts in the supply chain landscape. Innovative organizations were early adopters of emerging technology, integrating RFID, new platforms and the latest mobile devices throughout their workflows. The pandemic forced companies hesitant to move beyond paper systems to evaluate their current workflows and explore where technology could best support their enterprise.
In this article, we’ll explore how the transportation and logistics (T&L) industry is evolving to be more tech savvy and how the increased demand for fast, seamless delivery has expedited the timeline for adopting new equipment.
The Ever-Changing Transporation Landscape
E-commerce has grown exponentially over the last 12 months, forcing transportation and logistics organizations to evaluate how they use mobile devices and other emerging technologies to respond to these trends.
In a recent study, Zebra surveyed leaders of global organizations with revenue ranging from $10 million to $100 billion that specialize in field service, fleet management, field sales, direct store delivery and merchandise courier services. A resounding 70% of respondents said e-commerce is driving the need for faster field operations. To support this growing need, the same number say that 4G/5G network updates is one of the top factors driving field operations investments.
In addition to e-commerce, these three trends are driving operational shifts and illustrating the path towards improved efficiency:
Trend #1: Expectations regarding performance and convenience are growing
Trend #2: Mobile technology is replacing paper in the field
Trend #3: Emerging technologies and faster networks are disrupting existing tech programs
The Amazon Effect is Prompting Significant Changes
The transportation industry is no stranger to The Amazon Effect—the consumer demand for quick, convenient delivery of goods created by increased prevalence of online shopping. To meet customer demands, the best transportation companies are adapting to mobile-first operations, leveraging RFID technology and big data processing while also preparing for 5G wireless networks.
RFID and big data analytics play a significant role in helping distribution centers increase efficiency and effectiveness. From scanning pallets and products more efficiently to maintaining better inventory control, this technology ensures accuracy of orders and reduces losses due to theft or out-of-date products.
To keep up with demand, companies are also transforming supply chains from mass scale to more responsive and agile systems that can handle quicker, more individualized deliveries. These systems can also incorporate artificial intelligence to predict spikes in demand and allow organizations to adjust operations accordingly.
Mobile Device Logistics to Support Field Service Operations
Introducing the right mobile technology improves accuracy of inventory, repair and maintenance procedures, merchandising and last mile delivery. Many decision makers are planning to upgrade or add mobile devices by 2022 and beyond. Furthermore, 58% of enterprises surveyed named mobility investment as a priority to adapt to the 10.6 trillion-dollar growth reported in global e-commerce. Leveraging efficiencies provided by the right rugged devices allows organizations to keep workflows moving effectively in a wide range of environmental conditions.
Operational Challenges Present Opportunities
As market conditions force companies to rethink their technology, operational challenges also expedite the need to evolve. Customers want full transparency into the status of their delivery and treat expedited shipping as the new norm. Fuel costs are rising and there is added pressure to reduce emissions. With labor scarcity and competition increasing, technology advancements can increase productivity, achieve greater regulatory compliance and reduce expenses.
Solutions to Streamline Efficiencies in Warehouses
With an increase in shipments, transportation companies and warehouses are finding opportunities to partner together to reduce their carbon footprint. Technology that supports trailer load optimization ensures that companies can increase shipping volumes without the need to proportionally increase the size of their fleet. In fact, fifty-four percent of respondents said they are currently implementing trailer load optimization while an additional 40% plan to implement this by 2024.
Technology to Combat Labor Challenges
Between industry wide labor shortages and high turnover rates, labor costs are on the rise. According to a separate Zebra study, only a small number of organizations (16%) plan to pursue full automation with no human involvement. Most organizations recognize that employees will work side-by-side with technology to achieve peak operational efficiency. Investments in rugged tablets, industrial scanners, mobile printers and other wearable computers will ensure the right level of automation. Additionally, fifty-four percent of respondents plan to increase supply chain and technical training to retain labor and develop a career path for valued employees.
Compliance with Federal Regulations
For large scale truck inspections, maintaining compliance is critical to ensure both the driver and equipment are safe and prepared for transport. Unsecured cargo and fatigued drivers are a major safety hazard and liability to field operations. Furthermore, managers need technology that can support pre- and post-trip inspections to ensure ongoing compliance.
As a result, transportation companies are embedding passive RFID tags near every component on the inspection list. Before and after completing delivery routes, drivers inspect each listed component and read its tag using a rugged tablet. This process ensures compliance and combines vehicle operating data and inspection data to maximize fleet uptime.
Data Integration for Real-Time Visibility
Real-time visibility and asset tracking capabilities are more important than ever for companies who invest in cutting-edge tech. Real-time visibility is positioned to become one of the most transformative and disruptive technologies in global supply chains.
Live-information technology has been around for some time but has only recently reached maturity and started to be implemented by industry leaders. These technologies help companies track where their assets are and when repairs are needed. As a result, they are better able to protect their investments and keep operations in motion.
Consumers also expect to know exactly where a package is every step of the way, all while demanding cheaper shipping and faster delivery. Technology that helps effectively execute last mile delivery is imperative to keeping consumers satisfied.
Advancing Technology Powers the T&L Industry
Investing in emerging, business-ready mobile technology is key to achieving the right balance of efficiency, accuracy and cost management. At TRG, we have established a track record of success with T&L companies of all sizes — from regional carriers to companies with international fleets. If you’re looking to upgrade your mobile technology, optimize operations or explore new methods to streamline workflows, our experienced team of technology experts can help.
Learn about our full breadth of transportation technology services and solutions and contact us to find the right solution for your business.
TRG is a global managed solutions provider focused on mobility, point of sale and payments. With facilities across the United States, Canada and Europe, we provide the most comprehensive suite of lifecycle management services – from warehouse to boardroom and deployment to retirement. Our mission is to Make Technology Simple, helping customers accelerate projects, drive application success, improve employee/customer experience and maximize ROI. We’re relentless in our drive to find innovative, effective ways to enhance customer operations and challenge conventional thinking along the way. Learn more about why The Difference Is Us at www.trgsolutions.com.