As we move further into the 21st century, the products we use become more technologically advanced. In just one short decade, for instance, people shifted from using the indestructible, brick-like Nokia to the more sophisticated, touchscreen smartphone. Plus, the industry that ships these products has kept up with the times, too. Shipping, for instance, has advanced to the point where people can order from online catalogues and opt for same-day delivery.
And with the further rise of automation and artificial intelligence (AI), these innovations are appearing more rapidly than ever before. So with that in mind, here are 4 technologies changing the face of the freight industry for the better, and helping it on the road to being worth $12.97 billion by 2027.
Management systems with enhanced accuracy
Quite logically, customer feedback is more positive when customers are kept up-to-date on exactly where their packages are. But today’s advanced tracking systems can benefit freight companies, too.
With modern GPS technology providing pinpoint accuracy, tracking systems keep teams updated on the location of a package or shipment at any point in the supply chain — all in real-time. By doing so, supply chain managers can spot and act on inefficiencies almost immediately, increasing productivity and improving the customer experience.
However, current GPS tech can do more than just track shipments. It can help with transporting them, too. Since the freight industry operates in many controllable environments, like shipyards, they’ve been leading the rest of the world in testing out autonomous vehicles.
Out of these, self-driving trucks are the most advanced. While the truck’s GPS ensures it stays on course, a mix of cameras, radar, and LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology helps it “sense” its surroundings and avoid collisions. These devices use multiple PCB grids or printed circuit board layers, to support their complex functions, which include relying on the Internet of Things (IoT) to exchange information with one another. In using a multi-board PCB design, numerous circuit boards are assembled and connected together inside one shared housing. This multi-layered approach creates a more comprehensive, durable, and space-efficient machine. As a bonus, the added thickness of these PCBs helps protect their more sensitive components, so they rarely short-circuit.
But vehicle autonomy extends to drones, too. Though the tiny devices are commonly used for aerial photography and videography, more and more logistics companies are adapting them to deliver individual packages, especially in congested urban areas. In fact, the market for these drones is expected to reach $39 billion by 2030.
More automated processes
Meanwhile, automation can now be applied in almost all parts of the supply chain. When combined with AI — and, more specifically, machine learning — software can learn from collected data to increase efficiency and even find ways to cut down on costs. And one way freight companies have been automating tasks is with the help of robots.
With their ability to multitask, robots are nearly indispensable. The articulate robot, for instance, which is the robot arm that most commonly comes to mind when one visualizes a modern factory, can do everything from assembly to packaging. In fact, Amazon’s Kiva robots take 15 minutes to accomplish tasks that usually take people over an hour to do, and the company’s purchase of the machines even spurred what Bloomberg dubbed a “robot arms race” across multiple companies.
If you’re in the freight industry, don’t fret: Robots and AI won’t be phasing out the human aspect completely. In fact, today’s wearable technology helps augment worker capabilities instead of replacing them, and related innovations are well on their way to becoming a standard in the industry.
Digital eyewear, for one, can help workers perform more freely. With augmented reality (AR), glasses or lenses keep pertinent information in an employee’s line of sight, eliminating the need to carry around various documents or other paraphernalia.
Even scanners worn as rings can relieve weary workers from having to carry around a traditional scanner all day. And wearables will only improve over time, meaning that, along with all the other innovations on this list, this technology is here to stay — and grow.
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