The transport and logistics industry is facing an era of unprecedented change. Emerging technologies are enabling greater efficiency and more systematized operating models in the supply chain, allowing industry players to connect and collaborate on transport, storage and management of goods and services across borders with less costs and errors. In the years to come, new and more innovations are poised to bring a huge impact in the industry.

“The development of technology has led to greater rivalry between businesses worldwide as they compete to stay ahead of each other and in order to be the leader of the sector in which they operate. The same can be said about the logistics and transportation industry,” CNS IT Ltd., an IT services provider, said on its Web site.

The IT company explained that businesses within the logistics industry these days depend on technology systems in order to control daily operations accurately, including tracking of goods and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Technology has also contributed to the way in which materials are delivered to customers, CNS said. For instance, drivers are able to deliver the materials to customers within an allocated timeframe with the aid of GPS mapping software. It allows drivers to receive information on traffic and road incidents or closures along their scheduled route, enabling them to take an alternative way so they can reach their destination on time.

“It is clear that in this era, companies simply cannot operate efficiently without the use of technology,” CNS said.

One of the major technology advances that is shaping the transport and logistics industry today is the shipment tracking system.

Previously, customers booked shipments and wait until the goods were delivered. They needed to make a phone call to determine the status of the shipment.

At present, with the help of Internet and software advances, customers can access shipping and tracking systems 24/7 to monitor and manage their shipments. The systems feature shipment notifications and messages, customizable reporting, and customer accounts with information specific to the cargo destined to them.

According to global logistics firm Samuel Shapiro & Company, Inc. (Shapiro), this development not only enhances users’ experience, but also helps operating companies to save time and money.

Internet of Things (IoT) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) are also bringing significant changes in the industry, opening up many opportunities for transport and logistics firms, such as reducing costs and delays.

“Sensors are built into cabs, cargo ships, trains, etc., and connect to an alarm system or dispatcher that is monitoring and tracking. These sensors process and transmit the information to the crew who then gains insight into hidden risks and knowledge,” Shapiro said, explaining how IoT works on supply chain management.

Although IoT isn’t an entirely new technology, it continues to impact the future of logistics that allow for a more accurate in-transit visibility and delivery of goods, it added.

The RFID technology, on the other hand, is a popular labor-saving way that helps companies track their inventory.

“A tag or sensor is placed on the product and radio waves are sent out. The data is then received and processed by the company. Similar to RFID tags are barcodes, but the superior speed of information delivery and data processing of RFIDs is more appealing to businesses and the way technology is moving,” Shapiro explained.

Many companies are using RFID tags in their distribution warehouses to monitor containers. The technology is also being utilized in other industries, including apparel and major theme parks.

Robots are also changing the face of transport and logistics. Large companies are starting to spend big in robotic technology to increase supply chain efficiency. Some logistics firms use robots to work autonomously alongside workers, handling tasks on warehouse delivery, picking and packing.

According to LynnCo Supply Chain Solutions, a firm based in United States that enhances performance of complex supply chains, robots have been able to help humans perform heavy and complicated tasks.

“This evolution of task delegation results in fewer human injures from lifting and reaching and fewer products damaged,” LynnCo Supply Chain Solutions said.

Meanwhile, the power of social media is also optimizing the operations within the industry as a whole. Shapiro said that platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google + are becoming the easiest and most efficient way for companies to communicate with customers, conveying urgent information, industry news, and customer responses quickly.

Indeed, the evolution of technology is pushing transport and logistics firms to do business beyond their boundaries. Thus, keeping up with the latest technology is a must to remain competitive and enhance efficiency, Shapiro said.

“The logistics industry is benefiting immensely from the latest technology and will continue to grow as more advances are made. The breakthroughs in technology will continue to push the boundaries for years to come,” the firm added. — Mark Louis F. Ferrolino