Logistics automation and Blockchain: What’s the potential?
2 Oct 2018 - by Adam Robinson
Up to 64% of supply chain leaders consider Big Data Analytics the best way to overcome supply chain challenges, asserts Antonio Renner of ComputerWorld but new technologies, such as logistics automation and blockchain, may hold much more opportunity than meets the eye. Logistics automation and blockchain have potential applicability to payment processing, freight location monitoring, order fulfillment, and more. Supply chain managers considering the possibilities of blockchain need to understand their existing limitations, the prospects for the future, and how these technologies will become integral to effective supply chain management.
The greatest barrier to successful implementation of logistics automation and blockchain is supply chain executives. Approximately 83% of supply chain entities have not leveraged big data analytics for supply chain management, and most businesses assume movement toward new technology requires small steps. As explained by Swisslog via Supply Chain 24/7, failure to embrace new technologies, including logistics automation and blockchain, will result in lost opportunities and greater costs to maintain a competitive advantage. In fact, the adoption problem affecting implementation of logistics automation and blockchain was noted by the 22nd Annual Third-Party Logistics Study, reports Penske Logistics. Although 30% of third-party logistics providers (3PLs) view blockchain as a potential application in the supply chain, engagement with the technology is still out of reach.
The opportunities for improvement through logistics automation and blockchain are evident in every corner of the industry. Autonomous trucks are becoming more accepted. Drone delivery is around the corner. Supply chain managers need ways to streamline operations and move more product. In logistics, companies have unlocked the potential of third-party logistics providers, as well as value-added services, like freight consolidation, invoice auditing, and small package handling. While the industry has grown to accept automation, including robotic systems and machine-learning to self-optimise processes, the application of blockchain technology is scarce. Unlike blockchain technology’s proven and applied use in managing currencies, particularly the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, the application of blockchain technology in logistics will take some time to sort out and plan. Over time, logistics automation and blockchain technology will merge into a single, traceable and standardised process.
Although blockchain technology may still be in the outfield, supply chain leaders agree that automation and digitisation of the supply chain will be the result of greater competitiveness. It’s the Amazon Effect on supply chains, and it will lead to the same path of moving toward blockchain.
Logistics automation is essential to success in the omnichannel world, and blockchain technology will further enhance your operation and reduce the stress with managing freight. The potential includes collaboration, cost reduction, efficiency, productivity, and more. The power of logistics automation and blockchain is only going to increase, and shippers should start considering exploring and implementing automated blockchain-based solutions now.
Adam Robinson is the marketing manager for logistics service provider Cerasis where he oversees the overall marketing strategy & execution for the company.