The benefits of logistics automation | How digitisation, process automation and IoT have evolved

May 27 2021 | General, Logistics

 

Logistics is an ever-evolving, growing industry that’s often considered the lifeblood of a well-functioning economy.

The world has gone from the simple ‘horse and cart’ to the international sprawl of the world’s e-commerce giants in just over a century. These seismic technological advances have streamlined once time-consuming processes, and have helped to connect suppliers and customers in ways they never could have imagined.

With that connection has come the next step: increased digitisation, process automation, and continuing IoT evolution.

But if you haven’t yet climbed on board with these technologies, why should you consider exploring them? And what are the core benefits of logistics automation in our increasingly connected world?

 

A giant shift towards smoother operations

As new and emerging technology adoption gains unprecedented momentum, it affects all industries across the globe. And logistics and fleet management are no exceptions.

Businesses look for new ways to ensure a smarter, outcomes-focused supply chain, using digital technologies to establish a clear path to a modern logistics landscape. It’s one that moves beyond the old operational paradigms, where you can monitor every situation and update your operators with real-time data and pinpoint accuracy.

Gone are the days of monitoring where your asset is, simply because regulations require it. Now, using predictive analytics for fleet management, you can automate both the most strenuous and the most tedious tasks to increase safety, save money, elevate customer satisfaction and reduce risk.

So what does this look like in the field?

Logistics companies now have access to advanced IoT fleet management devices and onboard telemetry data. These allow decision-makers to leverage streams of previously unavailable information and maintain complete visibility of all assets at all times.

Modern GPS devices can now fully integrate with third-party data analytics and user-based telemetry applications to ingest, manage and analyse significantly more data.

For businesses with a constantly moving fleet, this integration provides a greater, more customised insight into the nitty-gritty of logistics and transport operations, including:

  •       optimum tyre pressure to weight ratio
  •       changes in driver behaviour
  •       cargo doors and security fail-safes
  •       engine failures and predictive diagnostics.

That’s vastly more than what used to be possible.

A specific fleet management IoT use case…

If a truck’s engine fails unexpectedly or may be about to fail, that information is now visible and available to analyse in real time. This means decision-makers can advise the driver on how to respond, potentially saving time, money and even possibly lives. It also means the company can avoid any similar issues that may occur in the future.

Incorporating the information into your greater data pool then makes automating subsequent workflows simple. The days of unrealistically tight routing and lost time on the road are gone. With IoT assets and third-party, customer-informed data, you can always have fully functional fleet vehicles in the right place at the right time.

 

Notice the immediate benefits of automated processes

Only six years ago, GPS was a 3G-powered, bare-bones technology that did little more than allow companies to comply with regulatory standards. Back then, deploying it seemed like an unwarranted and forced expense. And a fair chunk of fleet managers called it ‘an unused cost with little to no ROI’.

So, what’s different now?

Well, most importantly, 3G’s time is almost up. In fact, here in Australia, it has an expiry date of June 2024.

So for diehard 3G fans, time is quickly running out.

But if you understand why truly embracing digital evolution requires data fusion, and want to invest in a front-running solution like Perspio™, the potential savings are huge. And the immediate cost savings to your supply chain can create a healthy ROI in just a matter of months.

That said, while savings are always a benefit, it’s your operators’ newfound productivity that will prove hardest to ignore. When you seamlessly automate data sets you once had to manually input into your workflow, everyone benefits. You’ll better position your staff – and your business as a whole – to focus on the parts of your operations that genuinely require a human touch.

 

Top logistics automation trends for the future

The 21st century has brought with it the greatest technological advances in history. Businesses must adapt at an ever-increasing pace – and those who fail to do so, often fail to sustain themselves.

Our rising dependence on technology has effectively ‘shrunk’ the world, and globalisation has expanded trade into previously uncharted territories. Such rapid growth has created a need for reliable, efficient and – most importantly – modern logistical solutions.

But against the background of this growth, how will data analytics, digitisation, robotics, automation and IoT influence the way we push forward? And which logistics automation trends will replace the outdated standards of the past to become best practice? 

Let’s have a look. 

Supply chain transparency

At the start of the century, supply chain transparency was virtually unheard of. In the two decades since, it’s become a hot button issue for a broad range of companies.

So why is that?

Companies worldwide are now under immense pressure from consumers, governments and NGOs to disclose more information about their supply chains. Those who don’t – or can’t – risk damaging their public reputation and the social licence under which they operate.

As the world of IoT, data analytics and telemetry makes that information more visible and easier to access, companies will need to leverage it to:

  •       collect information on performance and productivity
  •       understand the flow of goods and source of origin
  •       expose any information gaps 
  •       automate risk (both labour-related and environmental) prevention through safer, more sustainable logistics solutions.

Insuring secure transit 

Whether a customer is moving house or sending precious cargo across the country, insurance plays a vital role in creating peace of mind around freight transport.

Plus, as ecommerce broadens its reach and embeds itself into consumers’ everyday lives, they expect to know the location and condition of their purchases at all times. In fact, in some cases, providing this information is a legal requirement.

And from the business’s perspective, having access to greater amounts of real-time telemetry data is a fundamental component of keeping fleets on the road and cargo safe.

A prime example of this is in the arts sector, which often needs to transport highly sensitive cargo. Freight companies can now use telemetry with a range of data points to help move valuable artworks between museums. 

Adding sensors in with the artwork means you can now monitor and relay data to help automate:

  •       optimised temperature and humidity during transit
  •       a larger number of accessible data points than have ever been possible before
  •       fleet management and preferred routes for the safest possible transport.

All this newly accessible information decreases the insurance premiums that both museums and collectors must pay. These organisations understand that the specific expenses related to transporting fragile freight will always be necessary and ongoing. But reducing any further overheads while increasing transit safety for those items is a welcome development.

 

IoT fleet management user cases

Refrigeration on the road

IoT and predictive data analytics can help businesses to move products more efficiently and keep transportation costs to a minimum. One area of the supply chain where more detailed data can have a much more positive impact is the cold chain.

Transporting perishable goods such as food and medication requires a significantly closer level of technological attention. Mess it up, and money is quickly lost.

And maintaining the product temperatures is no easy task. Operators need to measure, record and lodge all information that relates to keeping chilled goods stable. But having to manually enter each piece of data into a system is an onerous, time-consuming task.

By feeding the right data back into the relevant automation processes, businesses can streamline their cold chain supply management for near-guaranteed positive outcomes.

Integrating temperature records and automation with traditional supply chain telemetric data enables businesses to maintain a solid audit trail and reduce their risks by monitoring:

  •       Truck failure points: quickly identifying any failures and reacting appropriately (eg. by replacing the truck) minimises – or even avoids – product losses.
  •       Truck predictive signals: if a truck shows any sign of a potential failure, the system can automate a swift dispatch with no human input.
  •       Route management: the system can efficiently plot all drop-offs and pickups on a detailed map instead of a list. Then, if it identifies real-time events (eg. traffic or weather) that jeopardise delivery times, the system can intelligently reroute on the map, reducing overall transit time.

Keeping armoured vehicles secure

To keep cash flowing safely between premises, logistics companies now seek out dynamic IoT technologies to get a clear, accurate picture of where their trucks are at all times.

Streamlining automated processes in the armoured transport industry has reduced attacks on cash-in-transit teams. At the same time, it has seamlessly foiled anybody who tried to override either the mechanical or signals-based protection of any valuables in transit.

This means the cash-in-transit teams (and the general public) can now enjoy greater safety due to increased data points from monitoring not only GPS, but also:

  • malfunctions
  • system failures
  • traffic 
  • a slew of other individual customer-based data sets.

Using predictive analytics with their armoured fleets enables companies to integrate advanced IoT concepts with state-of-the-art telemetry data. The result is greater safety via real-time monitoring and automated management responses. And operators can easily plan or swap out routes to avoid traffic and any dangerous situations.

This digital evolution has put a stop to cellular jamming, isolating vehicles from the cloud and the resulting potential harm to workers.

No more going dark on the road. 

No more unnecessary risk.

And, of course, no more lost cash.

Best of all, the combination of telemetry, customer and public data sources now gives fleet managers access to unparalleled visibility across all assets. Combining this with the ever-expanding array of automated processes now available effectively gives armoured fleets a new layer of security that meets the modern industry’s demands.

 

The next step forward

Logistics businesses are on the frontlines of connecting the most vital parts of our daily lives.

Their ability to make quick, informed decisions is essential to overcoming complex, ever-evolving situations. Combining access to the right data with the ability to automate processes is the next step towards a fluent, efficient workflow.

And a detailed data fusion platform like Perspio™ can help fleet management businesses to stay on top of all their critical operations. As a core centre of logic for the business, Perspio™ can easily remove a lot of human involvement – boosting efficiency and saving both time and money.

At Inauro, we believe the future is bright for digitisation, process automation and IoT in the industry as a whole. The benefits of logistics automation are progressing at a rate that’s just never been possible before.

Want to find out how Inauro can bring you up to speed and automate your processes in a way that’s 100% unique to your business?

Reach out and take the next step forward with us today.