The use of AI, machine learning and robotics is increasing every day. The recent news that Amazon has expanded the use of robots in its warehouses to undertake yet more tasks currently carried out by humans is just another tip of a very large iceberg.
AI and machine learning will revolutionise all aspects of life, and their impact on the operations and management of supply chains and the more granular elements of logistics will be no less revolutionary.
As the competitive logistics environment continues to evolve on an ever-faster basis, all aspects of the logistics process will need to become ever-more responsive, especially to reduce wastage, empty running, etc. This means that our transport managements systems (TMSs) will need to be able to cope with this incredible momentum of change. As we know, self-driving convoys have already been trialled on UK roads, and in fact research by the University of Oxford has found that the chance of robots taking over the jobs of HGV drivers in the next 15 years is 79% - and that’s just one aspect of the freight business that will be affected. Basically, the result of increasing complexity in logistics and freight operations will need to be dealt with as it occurs and only AI itself will be able to handle the rapid assimilation, calculation and distribution of information on the scale that is coming. And it’s not just drivers who should fear for their jobs - it seems freight agents, transport and distribution managers and planners are also in the firing (literally) line.
Of course, wholesale change to the entire industry will take some time but it’s important freight operators adapt to our turbulent business environment as quickly as possible, utilising those aspects of AI that are already embedded in transport planning and warehouse management systems to the best of their ability. Operators will need to deploy a TMS that already incorporates AI and machine learning in order to simplify and streamline tasks throughout the supply chain in areas such as transport planning, route optimisation and so on.