By Karen Reddington, President, Asia Pacific, FedEx Express
Rapid advances in technology are changing the way we manage logistics, and these improvements create new possibilities that have great potential for businesses and consumers.
As we enter Industry 4.0, the introduction of physical and artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming how computers and automation work together. These technological advancements have created new solutions such as the use of virtual assistants to enhance the customer online experience and AI and robotics to enhance loading and unloading cargo in warehouses.
Using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, FedEx SenseAware® service offers high visibility to customers that need it, such as those in the medical, aerospace, high-value and hi-tech industries. SenseAware monitors a range of variables including temperatures and humidity and sends alerts during shipments.
Another technology that has significant opportunity to improve supply chain efficiency is blockchain. Blockchain’s shared network or database (or chain of events, aka blocks) can track almost any kind of business activity – from financial transactions to medical records and patents.
When shipping goods, blockchain could help reduce risks and create cost and time efficiencies. Blockchain is suited to events that occur when moving something of value such as pharma or high-value shipments. When there’s a need for a trusted custodial chain, Blockchain offers customers greater visibility to their shipments throughout their journey.
In the logistics industry, innovative technologies are opening up new possibilities for raising efficiency and customer convenience. At FedEx, AI is being explored in a number of scenarios. For example, the FedEx online Virtual Assistant is already in action today serving customers on a daily basis with real-time answers to online customer queries.
AI is truly raising the bar in all areas of the logistics business today. The current rate of AI development will soon see customers placing shipment orders with a simple verbal instruction via digital personal assistants.
In addition, the logistics industry also is anticipating the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles in the shipping industry within 10 years, as well as further advancements in automation of large long-haul vehicles.
The logistics industry’s current investment in digitization and transformative tech is influenced by the growing number of customers looking for customization and convenience in the delivery service. Along with expanding overseas direct purchases, there has been increasing customized logistics services to meet changes in consumer lifestyle. For example, to support changing needs, solutions such as FedEx Delivery Manager® offer customers the ability to manage their packages from their mobile devices, to schedule deliveries and choose from several delivery options at their convenience.
As more state-of-art technology is introduced and the level of logistics infrastructure accelerates, the logistics efficiency of companies and the need to provide convenience for consumers will grow. Further innovations in the logistics industry will lead to more successful businesses and a more robust economy which helps connect customers to more possibilities around the world.