Innovative Trends and Digitalization Taking Place in the Logistics Sector in 2018
The logistics sector is inexorably facing digitalization and the adoption of new technologies. To meet the demands of the global market and remain competitive, companies must adjust to new trends in the sector.
The application of robotization, the use of autonomous vehicles, drones or 3-D printing in business logistics are a reality in the making and are without a doubt the most visible part of the change. However, the present and the future are marked by the constant improvement of the supply chain’s internal processes in order to optimize services and make them faster, transparent, and economical for the final customer.
In this sense, different analyses about the future of the logistics sector highlight the following trends in a generalized way:
Supply Chain Visibility (SCV) or visibility of the supply chain. The application of technological solutions optimizes distribution channels between partners and the final customers. Through electronic data interchange (EDI) solutions it is possible to monitor the load and its traceability, so that the entities involved know the information about the merchandise at all times and can validate it. EDI solutions allow for the exchange of information through different messages (ORDERS, INSDES, OSPRTP, RECADV, INVRPT).
SCV is able to control the merchandise 24 hours a day. It improves operations because real time information allows us to correct unexpected problems in the supply flow or respond to variations in relation to demand. It also reduces costs and has a positive impact on the customer’s experience and level of satisfaction.
Automation of manual processes. The complexity of the logistics sector in which a large number of operations are carried out and different entitles intervene makes this sector prone to digital transformation. Today, it is unthinkable to perform this huge task without the help of EDI solutions. Companies in this field are very aware of the advantages that support the automation of their internal processes such as the generation, sending and recording of any electronic transactions interacting with their ERP systems so that orders, dispatch notices, electronic invoices etc. are processed without human intervention.
The improvements obtained by reducing processing times, increasing security and confidentiality or reducing costs, make working with EDI in B2B relationships a competitive advantage and companies that have it take it into account each time they choose partners because they look for companies that add value to the supply chain.
Data analysis. Information is power and it’s a fundamental resource in making business decisions in each of the aspects of business logistics: internal management, merchandise management or customer service. Big Data is one of the most important trends in business digitalization. Through the large-scale analysis of data generated daily in logistics operations, it is possible to produce reports that support business decision-making. EDI once again is a fundamental resource for data collection.
But also, the analysis of data on a smaller scale or in a certain area of the supply chain is a source of information that makes a business more efficient. For example, the CRP Flow tool developed by EDICOM facilitates the management of the continuous replenishment of the supply chain from end to end. This requires total synchronization between demand and supply throughout the supply chain through an exchange of data between the parties involved in the provision of the service (provider, distributor, logistics operator). The exchanged information undergoes complex mathematical analysis to estimate an adjusted demand that allows to process orders adapted to the real needs of the client.
Cloud Computing. The advantages offered by a service such as cloud computing or cloud services have made it one of the main investments in business digitalization for companies in any sector. It allows for the streamlining and redesigning of new processes and operations and can be adapted to company needs. Furthermore, this environment avoids excessive latencies and delays in communications as well as the minimization of lag or saturation of current networks.
Specifically for the logistics sector, the Saas system (Software as a Service) is emerging as a technological model with growing demand for its flexibility, scalability, and interoperability. This system allows users to access certain software through the cloud.
Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things. The technological innovations applied to the productive routines of logistics to improve the efficiency of the supply chain are also a trend of the present and future. For example, derived from the Internet of Things, RFID tags are fully extended in the logistics sector and will continue to be implemented. Chatbots, which belong to the so-called intelligent software or conversational platforms, will be part of daily operations.
Integration of formats. In the logistics sector, the diversity of formats in which the information of all partners is received is common. Getting systems to understand each other and making sure that information is consolidated is a challenge for the sector today. There are solutions called iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) that facilitate the integration of the system in which they receive the formats of the clients with the internal warehouse management system (WMS).
In these fields, the integration of these technologies with EDI solutions will become new advantages thanks to the automation of processes.
In short, there are trends that will take longer to be realized and standardized by the logistics sector. Perhaps having a chatbox system does not make the difference, a priori, between one operator and another, but undoubtedly, the transparency and visibility of the supply chain or the rapid response to an unforeseen event are current demands that will intensify in the future and become an essential requirement for operating in this sector.