Can you imagine life without technology today? How could we live without downloading our favorite music straight to our smartphones? Planning which shows to binge-watch next at our own pace or reading our favorite books from our iPads or e-books has become intrinsic to our lives. How could we function without receiving whatever we shopped for online the next day? And traveling anywhere in the world has never been more accessible, thanks to technology.
These things sure sound quite normal to most people living in the 21st century. Without technology, many of us would be lost. But most technological breakthroughs and gadgets we have at our fingertips today weren’t even imaginable to most people many years ago. Well, except maybe to Jules Vern who predicted some of the technologies we use today.
In this post, we will explore how technology has changed the transportation and logistics industry. We will go over some of the most important technological advances in the history of logistics, delve into the current global trends. And finally, we’ll take a glimpse at the future of logistics technology and speculate where auto-transport fits in all of this. Keep on reading.
Technology that Changed Logistics
Aiming to operate more efficiently and make more profit many businesses and companies turned to technology. Let’s take a look at some key technology developments that contributed to logistics industry growth throughout the years.
The Steel Box
The shipping container as we know it today has changed the face of logistics. Invented by trucking entrepreneur Malcom McLean, the Steel Box has also played a very important role in globalization.
“As part of a series on 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy, BBC World Service traces the history of the shipping container, noting that its invention, rather than free trade agreements, has been ‘perhaps the biggest enabler of globalization’,” according to Truckinginfo
The steel box wasn’t a completely original invention. Something similar had been used since 1792. But according to BBC, the shipping containers of our modern world have come a long way. They have passed through several obstacles. You can find a few interesting facts about the steel box that changed global logistics here.
Game-changing electronic commerce, which has been growing rapidly in the past decades, is one of the most important technology advancements. E-commerce has had a huge impact on the logistics industry, bringing numerous new opportunities for consumers and shippers alike.
More and more people buy and sell goods and services over the Internet. Hence, online shopping continues to grow. Businesses strive to keep their clients satisfied, looking for ways of turning them into brand loyalists. How can they achieve that? To make sure the supply chain flows well, companies employ digital technology. The new technological developments help improve efficiency and quality of existing processes.
On the one hand, automation has reduced the number of staff member companies need to support everyday operations. On the other hand, it has provided companies with the opportunity to deliver in a faster and more efficient way.
Besides being one of the key factors that changed the logistics industry, automation has also helped companies cut costs by hiring fewer employees. Amazon, for example, has been using robots in some of its distribution centers. And Google has been testing technology that will result in driverless cars. Hence, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that sometime in the future we’ll start seeing a growing proportion of driverless trucks on the road.
Who would have thought years and years ago that you could track the journey of your shipment from any location with the Internet access? Sites like Track it Online, Bring, and Track-trace make it easier for you to track your packages at any time.
Shipment tracking is a huge advance for the logistics industry. It makes the industry more customer-friendly. Moreover, it gives you, as a consumer, a peace of mind by letting you track the journey of your shipments anytime, almost anywhere. You can even change delivery times and give specific delivery instructions. Various apps have been developed to give you, the customer, more control by offering more visibility of your shipments.
GPS Mapping Software and Communication
Since the implementation of GPS and bar codes, it started to become easier for companies to efficiently store the stock as well as track the goods efficiently. New technologies such as GPS mapping software allow the manufacturer-customer relation to become even better.
Communication means between companies and customers have also improved during the recent years. Customers can give feedback if there are any delays or thank the company for their great service. Any feedback, good or bad is good for businesses. It can either help to fix certain issues or inspire to offer an even better service, which will attract more customers in the long run.
Current Global Trends
In October 2015, Google’s self-driving car gave the first, fully autonomous ride in Austin, Texas. Although self-driving cars’ journey has just begun, Google plans to introduce autonomous driving by 2019-2024.
“The car is partway through what we call a graduation,” John Krafcik, chief executive of Google’s self-driving car division, said at the Nikkei Innovation Forum in Palo Alto last year. “We are moving out of X . . . The self-driving car project, like Verily, will soon be its own independent entity in the world.”
Autonomous driving means a big deal for logistics. See it for yourself. According to Freightos, $1.3 trillion was spent on logistics in the United States in 2013. “While Amazon may have automated forklifts, trains, ships, trucks, and planes are still driven by humans (for now). Despite much talk about automating all modes, this may be the first real glimpse into the future of shipping, whether freight or parcel.”
Same-day shipping has become a real thing during the last few years. But as companies love to move forward and customers expect to get their deliveries as soon as possible, same day shipping isn’t really that impressive nowadays. People’s expectations keep getting higher and higher as technology makes its advances. This domino effect is putting a lot of pressure on eCommerce sites.
Even though Elon Musk himself admitted to shareholders that Tesla Roadster was a complete disaster, Tesla’s next Roadster is expected to be one of the quickest cars in the world.
“With Ludicrous mode engaged, the Model S is capable of hitting 60 mph from a standstill in just 2.5 seconds, a figure that makes it the fastest regular-production four-door sedan on the planet. If Tesla keeps its promise, the next Roadster will be able to sprint from zero to 60 mph faster than the sold-out McLaren P1,” according to Digital Trends.
This list wouldn’t be complete without drones. People have been getting hyped about drone deliveries since 2013 when Amazon announced company’s plans to start drone delivery by 2018. Even though 2018 isn’t here yet, Amazon’s latest beta test Prime Air managed to deliver two packages via drones on December 14, 2016. The two lucky customers who live in the UK received their TV streaming stick and a bag of popcorn by fully autonomous drone straight to their home.
“The breakthrough suggests that autonomous aerial delivery could become a viable business sooner than thought, albeit only for customers with huge gardens, who live close to the delivery depot and want items weighing less than 2.6kg. Additionally, while deliveries will be available seven days a week, the drones can only fly in daylight hours and clement weather,” according to The Guardian.
Amazon still hopes to reach their 2018 goal and expand within the UK and beyond. Can Amazon conquer the sky? Let’s wait and see.
Bluetooth technology is expected to gain more popularity in the coming years. As Bluetooth-enabled devices can be connected to almost anything, this technology is going to change the logistics tracking for the better.
Self-driving cars and trucks
Aiming to reduce operation costs and minimize human mistakes, many logistics companies have been considering using driverless vehicles to deliver their services more effectively at all times. But before autonomous vehicles overtake public roads and highways, automakers and tech companies have to resolve a few issues with human-autonomous vehicle interaction.
3D Printing for our multi-dimensional world
In our multi-dimensional world, we are taking first baby steps in 3D Printing. But with time, more companies will start incorporating this futuristic technology. Whole parts of production processes will be spared in the future.
“3D printing has been used in the transportation industry for some time – it’s perfect for the development of prototypes. […] The 3D printing technology can be used effectively to design and manufacture a wide range of components. This opportunity will speed up repairs and decrease the cost of maintaining a fleet significantly,” according to Ryan Walker, Director and Executive Headhunter at Walker Recruitment.
Robotic technology and drones
The use of robots to conduct jobs previously made by humans will also be something that will change the industry for the better in the future. Even though it may reduce job vacancies, it will make the logistics industry run faster and more efficiently.
Drones, as mentioned above, are already shaping the future of logistics industry. A lot of people are drawn to drones already. In the meantime, several countries are drafting regulations regarding commercial drone operations. But we have yet to see where drone delivery will lead the industry in the near future.
Where Does Auto Transport Fit in All of This?
Auto transport is a crucial part of transportation and logistics industry. As such, it has and will continue to advance hand in hand with logistics. Technology will continue to affect the logistics industry. And it will also have a great impact on the future of auto transport.
As more companies start using robotic technology, automation technology, 3D printing, and so on, the industry itself will be able to operate faster and deliver quicker. This, in turn, will continue to raise customers’ expectations. Our world keeps moving faster and faster. We continuously invent new technologies which will have a greater impact on the auto transport industry. Customers will expect their package delivery to arrive not only on the same day but as soon as possible. Consumers will ‘push’ auto-transport companies to move faster and deliver faster.
Technology seems to have an effect on everything it touches, directly and indirectly. It has been changing the logistics industry all along. It provides solutions to the auto transport industry, enabling businesses to carry out their work in a much more efficient manner. Technological advances will continue to make it more efficient, more customer-oriented. And who knows? We might even see driverless trucks autonomously delivering cars to respective owners one day.
If you are amazed by today’s technology, wait for the next advances to be revealed in the future. Let the excitement begin!