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Smart Technologies for Smart Logistics

Robin Hensley, VP of IT, UPS
Robin Hensley, VP of IT, UPS

Robin Hensley, VP of IT, UPS

It seems humanly impossible to deliver tens of millions of packages on a normal day. But with eCommerce at $2.9 trillion-dollar and growing at 24 percent annually, that, and even more, is needed to deliver everything you need from toothbrushes to auto parts to medicines.

Powering the avalanche of package deliveries is logistics solutions, including Internet of Things, Sensors, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, drones, and data analytics. There has never been a better time to capture the value of fast and reliable package deliveries with advanced technologies. Let’s dive into a few.

Internet of Things Sensors

Sensors are widely used in transportation logistics from trucks to planes to track parts and service. Data recorded by sensors even supports adherence to safety methods such as driving within the speed limits and using seat belts. Delta Airlines is using RFID tags to track luggage from boarding to baggage claim. The field is wide open for future uses of sensor data within the logistics network.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality training has been used for years as part of multi-million-dollar airline simulators. Today companies like UPS are using lower cost VR goggles and real-world scenarios to train drivers in methods and safety. A picture is worth a thousand words, and virtual reality is more than ten times this. It can be an improvement over hundreds of thousands of words, hours of meetings, and mountains of documentation.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence and machine learning support automated processes where changes and exceptions are seamlessly handled. Imagine intelligent algorithms that can update package information within seconds of receiving information from a customer who wants to hold or redirect a package delivery due to the last minute change in their travel schedule.

 A picture is worth a thousand words, and virtual reality is more than ten times this. It can be an improvement over hundreds of thousands of words, hours of meetings, and mountains of documentation 

Drones

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, have moved from toys and novelties to real business value. Not only are drones being used to deliver medicines and light-weight packages, but all types of autonomous vehicles are being tested. Recently, UPS and Matternet announced a medical sample delivery service using unmanned drones.

Data Analytics

Collecting data, identifying patterns, and taking real-time actions is the core of logistics data analytics. Data Analytics with machine learning is used to make chat bots more intuitive and answer questions quickly, advanced algorithms are used to optimize delivery routes to save time, money, fuel and emissions, and to predict and optimize the volume of packages in route on any given day.

With no signs of slowing, the already $2.9 trillion-dollar eCommerce market is driving companies to invest in advanced technologies for logistics. There has never been a better time to partner with Universities and for students to develop the skills needed to fuel the growth.

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