Logistics undergoing digitization

Published: Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Global logistics provider DHL recently released a Trend Radar report, highlighting the impact of data-driven and autonomous supply chains which it says will provide an opportunity for ‘previously unimaginable levels of optimization’ in manufacturing, logistics, warehousing and last mile delivery.

The report further states such developments could become a reality in less than half a decade, despite high set-up costs deterring early adoption within the logistics industry.

Also according to the report these trends include machine-human interaction and collaboration, which essentially covers the use of augmented reality (AR) accessed via ‘smart glasses’ for order picking in logistics (also known as ‘vision picking’). A pilot program using vision picking by DHL showed a 25% efficiency increase as well as strong positive feedback from the users.

Robotics and automation is another area that DHL believes will see further adoption within the next five years, particularly ‘collaborative robots’ that work side-by-side with human employees, supporting repetitive and physically demanding tasks in logistics. DHL also said it has made inroads in logistics, with autonomous forklifts and other self-piloted equipment now ‘reaching a level of maturity’ in warehouse operations.

The next step for self-driving vehicles in logistics will be to overcome regulatory and security challenges to deploy autonomous vehicles on public roads, according to the report.

While the “Internet of Things” or ‘IoT’ will also play a large role in more ‘intelligent supply chains’ as well – a trend DHL noted in its trend report last year – security concerns regarding hacking, among other issues, is slowing down its adoption.