How Driverless or Autonomous Trucks Will Impact Your Supply Chain Strategy

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With companies paying an average of $180,000 a year to operate the average commercial truck, it’s one of the biggest expenses in the supply chain. As autonomous trucks start to be used by companies around the world, there are some major changes coming to the industry. Driverless trucks will speed up transportation in ways that we still can only speculate on.

Here are 5 ways that autonomous trucks will improve your supply chain and impact your strategy.

1. Insane Efficiency

If there’s one basic fact about drivers is that they get tired. The number of people required to fill a truck, drive a truck and then unload it not only requires lots of other support staff, but also a huge payroll investment.

When you’re dealing with autonomous trucks, especially when they go electric, you’re talking about no emissions and no cost to staff. The supply chain will become streamlined when nearly 300 pounds of items can be delivered by an electric van. You could deliver your items to hundreds of people at a time without any human intervention.

Whether you’re dealing with a highway full of self-driving vehicles or final mile deliveries, this technology has huge ramifications. You’ll see traffic and congestion clear up as efficiency is improved.

From fulfillment centers to consumers’ homes, deliveries will only be as limited as the limits volume.

2. Long Distance Improvements

There’s been a lot of progress when it comes to long distance driving. Long distance deliveries are being explored by lots of vehicle companies. Uber even acquired a self-driving truck company in 2017, seeking to be ahead of the pack when it comes time to get the technology off the ground.

While most of the self-driving vehicles are still “driver assisted”, they’re the first step on the path of truly autonomous trucks. As the drivers assisting them are able to do less and less to correct the driving, we will get closer to automatic driving.

While interstates are much more predictable than city driving, once trucks are able to drive on their own on highways, that will be the next frontier.

Supply chains are mostly impacted by long-distance driving as opposed to final mile trips, so this is the bigger hurdle when it comes to supply. Also, since most warehouses exist outside of cities, fixing interstate transport is the most important issue in autonomous driving.

3. Major Cost Savings

Autonomous vehicles will be a larger investment than buying a standard truck as they exist now. However, you’ll soon see savings as you’ll be paying less for staffing your trucks and covering all of the associated costs with having laborers.

Not only will you save on the cost of having driver, as stated above, but you’ll also be paying virtually nothing for fuel. Miles per gallon ratings on trucks aren’t very good compared to the cost of powering up electric vehicles.

On top of that, with automated systems and smart driving technology, you won’t be paying the kinds of insurance costs that are associated with transport. You’ll have to pay for insurance on drivers, liability insurance based on accidents, and even consider the disruption that accidents cause to productivity.

Automatic vehicles that are all in communication with one another can work together to prevent accidents and help improve supply chain efficiency.

4. Platooning

One of the biggest changes that could happen to improve the supply chain is the act of “platooning” your fleet. You could reduce your cost by tethering your vehicles together electronically.

While sometimes you have one part in one truck and another part in a second truck, you can ensure they all arrive together with platooning. Rather than having to have separate people manning separate trucks, with speeds and efficiency varying, you can keep your whole fleet on track.

One driver or crew member will manage the entire long-distance journey of your platoon, keeping your convoy from being split up. Once at a hub near the final location, you can have separate drivers direct everything to the final mile.

Platooning trials are being run all around the world now. In Singapore, they are able to move across four trucks on highways. In the U.S., trucks have been tested by Volvo to haul containers across California’s interstate highways.

5. Capacity Will Change

We’re sure to see a surge in freight capacity with the help of autonomous trucks. Since they can drive 24 hours a day, they can move for longer hours and change the math we use to understand how truck transport works.

Since they can be operated without consideration for driver schedules or their need for sleep, they can be driven at later hours, and significantly reduce congestion. This will mean that you’ll have a reduction in the cost of transport. Productivity changes open up the ability to improve and increase profits immensely.

The transportation sector will take up this technology eventually but it might take3 some time given the investment required. As autonomous trucks take over the roads, the supply chain may not be prepared for the improved efficiency.

There might not even be any reduction to staffing required. Staff will be redirected to distribution or at warehouses. As more product can come in and delivery takes less time, products can get into the hands of consumers fast.

Tracking will be improved, deadly accurate, and predictable in ways never expected before.

Autonomous Trucks Will Make Life Better

While some people predict that drivers will be out of a job once autonomous trucks become the norm. However, with that added efficiency, you’ll need staff to manage all of the product that will be at your doorstep. There will be just as much work to be done, just greater efficiency.

If you’re looking at shipment tracking software, check out our guide so you know what to look for.

The 7 Benefits of Supply Chain Intelligence For Your Business

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The costs of a poorly managed supply chain aren’t hard to imagine. You’ve got to pay for the space to hold your excess inventory, your vendors aren’t happy with the inconsistent orders, or you aren’t prepared with the right amount of product when the market demands it.

It’s essential to have a grasp on how to optimize your supply chain. If you don’t, you risk losing money and ruining relationships. This is why it’s so important to invest in supply chain intelligence.

As you’ll soon find out, the investment is well worth it.

The Importance of Supply Chain Intelligence

The supply chain is clearly important, but the wide-reaching effect that it has doesn’t come to mind clearly. Supply chain intelligence gives a systematic understanding of each level of your supply chain.

This means you know specific quantities and timeframes, and have the quantified data to refer to in the future. We’ve compiled a list of seven important benefits that supply chain intelligence gives.

1. Accurate Forecasting

When you’re able to see specifically how much product you use during certain periods, you’re able to have a pretty good grasp of what you should be expecting in the future. Accurate supply chain data will give you an extreme advantage in the market.

Some intelligence allows you to monitor any business changes or alterations at all points in your chain, which gives you the ability to prepare when issues arise. Any hiccup in the chain will trigger an alert that allows you to make adjustments when needed.

You’ll also be able to prepare for those times when your customers purchase the most and know how much you should expect to sell. All of this is streamlined when you have a close eye on your supply chain.

2. Faster Responses

Those hang-ups that we discussed in the previous section can cause serious delays at times. These delays can extend for as long as it takes for your vendors to fix the problem or for you to find someone else to replace that link in the chain.

This will establish you as a company that is reliable and trustworthy. The more faith that you can command, the more profitable your business will be.

3. Save Money in the Chain

Every link in the chain involves some kind of cost. Whether it’s the weight of the excess goods you ordered or the change in warehouse arrangement that you didn’t know about, small mistakes are going to add up in the long run.

Understanding as specifically as you can the details of the supply chain will help you eliminate costs you didn’t even know were there. Not to mention, the time that used to be tied up managing issues in the supply chain can now be used to do other productive things.

So not only are you saving money, you’re able to generate more with the time that is now free.

4. Make the Vendors Happy, Keep Relationships

As we’ve mentioned, each link in the chain costs money, involves a relationship, and needs to be reliable. If you are consistently on top of the data, you will not make nearly as many mistakes as you would if you just let things go casually.

You’ll develop a reputation as a reliable company that can be trusted, and this will make your friends. Reputation is huge, and if someone gives you a recommendation, you’d better thank the efficiency of your supply chain.

5. Have a Zero Waste Operation

Supply chain intelligence will also allow you to analyze the routes, locations, and delivery methods of all of your materials. This means that your route is going to be streamlined by incorporating the most efficient and convenient locations to stop.

That will save on fuel and man-hours, and the product will be at your door faster, freeing up time for you to make future plans.

6. Have the Ability to Plan Ahead Accurately

All of these things will culminate in a state of high-efficiency, one that is predictable and consistent. Freeing up all the spare time and money that you have floating around in your supply chain will allow you to make moves to expand the business.

Whether the time that you gain will allow you to spend time with your family, thereby improving your mood and everyone else’s, or you will toil away, making that perfect business plan, you’re going to have the option to do something new.

7. Be Able to Factor in Outside Forces

Some advanced supply chain technology is beginning to predict the effects that certain events might have on shipping demands or traffic hold-ups. Cultural influences are huge, and you want to be prepared for whatever comes your way.

It’s great because these services tailor their efforts to your business’ niche, your area, and your desires. The fact that these services exist also takes away a significant amount of risk. You have the ability to make better, more informed decisions about where your materials are going.

Whether your issue has been weather damages, poor relationships with shoddy suppliers, or issues that could impact your insurance and damages, supply chain intelligence will be able to give you a rough estimate as to how these things will affect you in the future.

Another factor that reduces risk is the ability to know when an issue arises, address it, and have a laundry list of alternative options to fall back on when you’re forced to make decisions. A lot of the damage comes in the time between the issue and reparations, which is why it’s essential to act quickly.

If you make the investment in supply chain intelligence, you will be able to react quickly, make vendors happy, streamline your chain, save time and man-hours, and gain the ability to look forward with your company.

Interested in Learning More?

You might be thinking, “how much is this going to cost?” Well, it’s likely not as much as you think. If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to reach out to us on our website.

Contact us and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about supply chain intelligence.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing: 4 Ways Machine Learning is Changing the Industry

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Artificial intelligence is set to change the manufacturing industry. Did you know that 800 million workers could be laid off in the next 12 years?

By 2030, industry experts believe that half of all jobs will be automatable. Artificial intelligence will optimize processes and make manufacturers more productive.

Read on for a greater understanding of the role of artificial intelligence in manufacturing. Explore 4 ways in which machine learning is changing the manufacturing industry for the better.

1. Improvements in Predictive Maintenance

Unscheduled maintenance is a cost driver on the assembly floor. Productivity also suffers when equipment is down and manufacturing cannot proceed.

To combat this negative trend, manufacturers are enlisting the support of machine learning. One method is to use analytical tools to improve predictive maintenance. This way, costly repairs can be stopped before they happen.

Currently, only 28% of manufacturing companies employ predictive maintenance through these means. Over the next 5 five years, that number is expected to climb by 10 percentage points.

2. Supply Chain Forecasting

Supply chain errors are costly in the manufacturing world. When the product is unavailable, the company loses sales as a result.

Here is where machine learning comes into play. For starters, artificial intelligence is leveraging external parts data to improve demand forecasting. This ensures the company has the parts quantity needed to meet sales demand.

Improved supply chain forecasting yields optimized inventory levels. Machine learning in the supply chain arena is producing impressive results.

Experts predict that machine learning will cut supply chain forecasting errors. Lost sales will be reduced as well.

3. Optimized In-Transit Inventory

Artificial intelligence is taking other factors into consideration like weather patterns and other transportation disruptions. For example, a nasty storm can delay parts flow.

Machine learning comes into play by optimizing the supply network. There are many operational dynamics at play that affect your company’s inventory like plane or truck movement.

To address this, companies are leveraging machine learning. Multiple public and proprietary datasets are accessed for live updates.

Companies are using the data to adjust transportation routes and avoid potential delays. The achieved objective is the optimization of in-transit inventory.

4. Optimizing the Production Process

A sure-fire way to reduce costs and improve the bottom line is optimizing the production process. By reducing labor hours and assembly time, your company can achieve this.

Machine learning involves the use of algorithms to determine the best combination of equipment during the production process. Another area of consideration is the equipment’s load level.

Using machine learning, equipment operators receive live data on how the level loads affect the production schedule. This data allows floor managers to make the best decisions in the name of productivity.

Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing – Wrapping It Up

Clearly, artificial intelligence has the capacity to revolutionize the manufacturing process. Companies are using machine learning to optimize in-transit inventory and production processes.

The goal is to improve productivity and reduce operating costs. If you want to learn more about artificial intelligence in manufacturing (and rest of the supply chain), contact us to see how we can help.

4 Reasons Why Supply Chain Forecasting Is Important

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It would be great if we all had a special ability to predict the future.

But since superpowers are out of the question, we must make do with what we have.

In the case of supply chain management, there’s supply chain forecasting. Here’s a rundown of four key reasons why supply chain forecasting is necessary for your business today.

Let’s jump in!

1. Supply Chain Forecasting Helps to Decrease Inventory Stockouts

Supply chain forecasting is essential even if you’re working in a just-in-time manufacturing system. That’s because it’ll assist you in timing your purchases of items to align with when sales have to be fulfilled.

The faster you get your inventory out of your warehouse, the less you’ll end up paying for it to simply sit there until it’s sold.

Forecasting is also critical if you’re working with suppliers who have long lead times, such as China or India.

If you’re purchasing from these types of suppliers, sending a forecast of customer demand is paramount so that your suppliers can easily arrange their raw material supplies in anticipation of your actual customer orders.

2. Enhance Promotion and Pricing Management

Let’s say that your business has many promotions running at the same time.

If you integrate forecasts and promotions at the distributor level, this will help you to enhance goods’ flow. Ultimately, you’ll experience better results for your stock fill rates and availability.

Likewise, improving your forecasting ability in the area of price changes will have a positive impact on your gross margin and revenue dollars.

3. Schedule Production in a More Effective Manner

This can be challenging, but it’s paramount to keep your business moving in the right direction.

An essential step in this is paying attention to how demand is shifting today before attempting to make predictions.

An adaptive manufacturer listens and watches closely to how customers are consuming its products. If you adapt and respond to such changes, you’ll be less dependent on prediction.

4. Reduce Your Safety Stock Requirements

The following are a few scenarios you should be planning for through supply chain forecasting:

  • Seasonal changes in demand
  • Promotional activities
  • The launch of a new product
  • Production requests going to manufacturing operations

If you forecast effectively in these areas, then carrying high safety stocks to manage these events will be unnecessary.

How We Can Help

We are passionate about helping any shipper to optimize its in-transit inventory through analyzing and tracking shipments’ movement across the globe.

We constantly look at data that is publicly available to monitor how external factors will impact your supply chain.

We can additionally leverage data from your enterprise resource planning system to determine the behavior of the supply chain nodes inside your company.

Also, our low-cost pallet tracker will allow you to assess how both your and your customer’s supply chains are behaving.

Get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help you to strengthen your bottom line through efficient supply chain forecasting.

4 Logistics Technology Trends Shaping the Future of the Transport Sector

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When you’re a logistics professional, you can’t be complacent and think you know everything about the industry.

No, you have to keep yourself updated on trends in the field. After all, technology continues to transform the handling of logistics around the world.

Yes, it can be frustrating. But it can also be exciting, offering great promise for improved supply chain management.

Here’s a rundown on four logistics technology trends that could impact your operations in the future.

Let’s jump in!

1. Logistics Technology Trend Includes the Growth of Autonomous Transportation

This is a trend you won’t want to overlook. Here’s why.

Autonomous transportation decreases the need to have human workers in warehousing. A such, it offers great potential for significant cost reduction as well as asset optimization.

The development of autonomous trucks has especially picked up steam within the past two years.

It may take some time for the makers of these vehicles to overcome the social acceptance, legal and safety issues tied to them. But when that happens, you can rest assured that you’ll start to see these vehicles widely used.

2. Automation

This is another logistics technology trend that is gaining popularity due to the ability to lower costs by eliminating human jobs.

In addition to reducing their human workforces, companies that take advantage of automation and robotics can greatly improve their efficiencies in warehousing and delivery.

What’s great about automation is that many companies can introduce it into their operations without having to make significant structural operations.

3. Social Responsibility

During the past three years or so, efforts to reduce a company’s carbon footprint have gained a lot more attention in the specific area of supply chain management.

As a result, you’ll likely hear the term “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) thrown around in the industry.

Most organizations’ CSR efforts up to now have been responses to the pressure that public opinion and legislation have placed on them.

These days, though, many organizations are taking a different approach to CSR. Instead of viewing it as something they have to do, they are considering it as something they want to do to help themselves.

For instance, CSR can be a way for companies to boost revenue, make their brands more appealing, and retain customers and employees.

As a result, this trend has become trendy, so to speak.

So, you can expect to see more logistics and supply chain professionals integrate social responsibility into their strategies going forward. For instance, they can use cutting-edge logistics technology to monitor, implement and report their sustainability efforts more efficiently.

4. Blockchain

This logistics technology trend is worth a look due to the many benefits it affords.

Blockchain is essentially a digitized public ledger featuring cryptocurrency transactions.

In the logistics world, using blockchain may improve the security of your supply chain by reducing fraud.

Blockchain can also reduce bottleneck and errors, as you no longer have to rely on paper to document transactions.

How We Can Help

ODYN helps large manufacturers optimize their in-transit inventory, leading to decreased working capital spend and increased customer service level. We do this by tracking and analyzing the movement of shipments around the world using our low-cost pallet tracking devices and predictive logistics intelligence suite.

Contact us to find out more about how our logistics technology can help your organization to be more efficient and profitable in the years ahead.

5 Things to Know about AI and Supply Chains

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Artificial intelligence is becoming more popular. According to cmo.com, 15% of businesses are currently using it and at least 31% say they would like to start using it within a year.

The reason artificial intelligence is becoming so popular is because of its ability to make tasks easier. This results in a reduction of manual labor and increased productivity.

All of this adds up to increased profits as well as more insight into what is working and what is not working for your supply chain. If you are ready to get on board with artificial intelligence, then here are five things you need to know about AI and supply chains management.

1. Plan Smarter

Artificial intelligence will look at your historical and present data. Its ability, to comprehend, perceive and form conclusions based on information received from several data sources, makes it an invaluable tool for planning how to run your supply chain.

2. AI and Supply Chain Disruptions

Disruptions in a supply chain can lead to a loss of profits for businesses. Artificial intelligence has the ability to predict where and when these disruptions will take place. It does this by analyzing data that is inputted into the system. It also draws conclusions about possible disruptions that may occur from news stories, weather forecasts, and social media.

3. Predict Product Demand

Knowing how much product you will or will not need at any given time is one of the keys to increasing profits. When you overstock you waste money. When you understock you lose money. Artificial intelligence will look at your data for new and old products. This helps it to determine how much or how little of a product is needed for distribution at any given time.

4. Take Corrective Action

Every supply chain will have its fair share of problems and AI applications can help. Artificial Intelligence will fix issues that are within its capability and provide detailed reports on how it went about correcting the problem. This reduces the need for manual intervention and results in increased visibility and productivity.

5. Communicate Findings

Artificial Intelligence will not only find the deficits in your supply chain management system. It will also send detailed reports of its analysis to all the right people, so you don’t have to waste time typing up emails or making phone calls.

Final Thoughts

The combination of AI and supply chains is a natural fit for increasing productivity and performance. However, before you dive into this bold new world of technology you should learn as much about it as you can.

There is no doubt that the ability of artificial intelligence to help you plan, analyze data, correct issues, and communicate problems to major stakeholders makes it an invaluable tool. However, it is important to learn how to monitor artificial intelligence, so you can get the most out of it. This means that you will need to spend time interacting with the people who are developing the technology.

If you would like to learn more about artificial intelligence and how it can foster productivity in your supply chain, please contact us. We are always willing and available to help you get the most out of AI for your supply chain.