• With the rapid improvements to technology, no industry will remain still for long - especially when it comes to logistics.

    • Three technologies shaping the future of the logistics industry

      The logistics industry is transforming to make way for the demands of the future. Continually looking for improvements to reduce travel times and increase efficiencies overall, technological advancements play a vital role in this transformation.

      Discover three technologies shaping distribution methods with their aim to promote growth and improve efficiencies.

      1. Internet of Things (IoT)

      The Internet of Things (IoT) are physical objects that are connected to the internet and can monitor, report on, send and receive data.

      Standardization is important to define specifications for the ability of computer systems or software to collect and use such data. Standards can define best practice use of the technology and present opportunities in new areas and markets. For example, IEEE 1547.3:2007 gives guidelines for monitoring, information exchange and control of distributed resources interconnected with electric power systems and TS 102 689:2.1.1 describes machine-to-machine (M2M) service requirements aimed at an efficient end-to-end delivery of M2M services.

      While the IoT doesn't just serve the logistics industry, it has had a major impact on the ability to track products throughout their distribution cycle, improve supply chain monitoring and even driver safety.

      Inventory and goods tracking 

      From raw materials, to storage containers, to the final product, IoT devices can identify the location of goods at any stage. This technology can provide accurate information to assist with managing the movement of goods, meeting deadlines and tracking deliveries. It can also play a vital role in monitoring conditions including temperature and light exposure for sensitive items that require specific storage conditions.

      Supply chain monitoring 

      Overall, the ability to monitor products throughout their movement in a supply chain can provide clearer tracking visibility, identify risks or issues and improve communication between all stakeholders. The IoT can assist with efficient supply chain monitoring and improve quality, risk, product and movement management.

      Driver safety 

      The IoT enables a connection between devices in order to gather and communicate data. It can obtain data such as driving behaviour, road conditions or even the need for infrastructure maintenance. Utilizing this technology can enhance driver safety, where predictions are used to make decisions that prioritize driver safety.

      2. Artificial and augmented intelligence  

      Artificial intelligence (AI) can pave the way for a logistics company to address and improve the most important objectives - achieving high volumes with lower margins on strict deadlines. AI can optimize functions across a business, even an entire network.  

      A standardized approach defines best practices in order to implement these technologies. For example, DIN SPEC 92001-1:2019 establishes life cycle processes and quality requirements of AI modules.  

      As artificial intelligence can make drastic changes within the logistics industry, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) are currently developing a range of Standards to assist in its implementation including framework for artificial intelligence (AI) systems using machine learning (ML), process management framework for Big data analytics, assessment of the robustness of neural networks and risk management. 

      With AI becoming more accessible and more importantly affordable, the logistics industry has embraced this technology to automate warehousing tasks, predict demands and improve back office operations. Alongside AI has also risen augmented intelligence - utilizing human expertise alongside AI - which is now making its mark on the industry.

      Warehousing tasks and operations 

      AI is transforming warehousing tasks, including inventory processing, moving products, sorting items and packing products for deliveries. It can even improve the use of space in a warehouse. Soon we can come to expect that as AI evolves, it can even improve organizing products and stock as well as automate quality control efforts.

      Predictive demand 

      AI technology can improve the accuracy of demand predictions while taking into consideration a variety of factors to enhance logistics demand forecasting. Improving predicting demands can assist with meeting strict deadlines and save in areas of delivery, maintenance and leasing costs. Staying on top of demand can also improve customer experience and satisfaction. 

      Back office operations 

      Back office operations should not be overlooked when implementing AI technology within a business. Areas including compliance, accounting and human resources can use the automation of tedious and repetitive tasks while benefiting from data accuracy and security to improve overall efficiencies.

      Augmented intelligence 

      Alongside artificial intelligence is the increased popularity of augmented intelligence. Rather than a standalone approach of machine learning, augmented intelligence has been designed to combine the insights and recommendations from AI and include the human aspect into the decision-making process. This sees an employee making the final decisions based on the accumulated knowledge. 

      • 3. 3D printing and manufacturing 

        3D printing is the process of working with material layer manufacturing to make a three-dimensional object, controlled by a digital file. Rather than starting with a raw material and taking away aspects no longer required, 3D printing and manufacturing adds the material as required to create the final product - therefore also known as additive manufacturing.  

        As 3D printing and manufacturing have become popular across a variety of industries, Standards help define and inform an approach to implement this practice into business operations. ISO ASTM 52900:2015 specifies terms used in 3D and additive manufacturing technology and ISO ASTM 52910:2018 provides requirements, guidelines and recommendations for using additive manufacturing (AM) in product design. There are also Standards outlining properties of materials to use in AM, such as ASTM F 3049:2014 which defines techniques for metal powder characterization useful in powder-based 3D manufacturing.  

        There are many benefits to additive manufacturing, with two important areas including on-demand manufacturing and the ability for increased customization.

        On-demand manufacturing 

        Many companies are now seeking on-demand manufacturing as an alternative to traditional methods to reduce inventory, production and transportation costs. While 3D printing is initially a large investment, its capabilities allow for the manufacturing of products and goods in previously difficult or remote areas, in much shorter timeframes.  

        On-demand manufacturing can also assist with reduced inventories where products are made to order. For example, spare parts can be made when needed reducing production costs and inventory space.  


        Alongside on-demand manufacturing, 3D printing has also presented the advantage for customization of products and goods. It may not be suitable for mass production, however presents an opportunity for customers to participate and influence the final product.  

        While the logistics industry will always need to support mass production of certain goods, some areas are shifting where there is value in producing lower volumes of certain products built specifically for the client or customer. 

        An industry always in transition 

        There is no doubt about the impact that technology is having on the logistics industry. The IoT, AI and 3D manufacturing technologies (and many others yet to be discovered) are helping to shape the industry and standardization of the technologies and the associated processes are helping organizations adopt best practice approaches.

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