How to Improve Reverse Logistics in an Era of Free E-Commerce Returns

How to Improve Reverse Logistics in an Era of Free E-Commerce Returns

We are living in the era of e-commerce, which, as it turns out, could be both beneficial and challenging for today’s businesses. With online shopping more popular than ever before, RBC Capital predicts online sales will account for 24% of total sales by 2027. As free online shipping has become the predominant practice for e-commerce businesses and even brick-and-mortar stores with an online presence, consumers have been experiencing increasingly better customer service. Yet, e-commerce businesses are more strapped for resources than ever as they must ensure that all aspects from purchase to return are seamless and smooth.

The Evolution of Delivery Drones in Logistics

delivery drones

Over the past decade, drones have evolved from an underdeveloped pipe dream to being on the cusp of its own mainstream logistics sector. Drones, known more formally as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (AEVs), are small, autonomous robots that can be controlled either remotely or by following an internal flight path on its own.

Let’s take a quick look at how drones have evolved in recent years. While drones have been used for military purposes for decades, the first US commercial drone permits were issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration back in 2006, allowing drones to be flown for business purposes for the first time ever. Just a few years later in 2010, French startup Parrot released the Parrot AR Drone, the first drone to be controlled by Wi-Fi and smartphones — a huge step for drone development for both consumers and businesses. In 2013, Amazon swooped in with its concept for a drone-based delivery system, although the company is still yet to release details on when it will actually start making large-scale commercial shipments via drone. In 2016, DJI released its Phantom 4 Drone, the first to incorporate machine learning technology to intelligently track objects in place of following a GPS signal or programmed route. This brings us to today’s drone climate, with dozens of new drone startups popping up worldwide in an effort to bring drone delivery to everyday life.

Applying Digital Twins in Logistics

Digital Twins in Logistics

Continual advancements in the logistics industry have created new opportunities for disruption, but one of the most intriguing comes in the form of digital twin technology. If you haven’t yet heard about this innovation, there is no doubt it will be spoken about as one of the most popular logistics trends of 2020.

If you’re not already familiar with the concept, let us explain: Traditional computer modeling of parts and machines doesn’t currently take into account the way in which parts wear out and are replaced; how fatigue accumulates within different structures, or how often owners make modifications to adapt to their changing needs. However, the advent of digital twins technology is changing this process drastically: Parts and structures that were once inaccessible by computer models are now able to be included in the digital world, allowing us to engage with the digital model of a physical object or part just like we would with their physical counterparts. This means that any changes made to the physical object are now also reflected in the digital model — something that was never possible in this manner until now. 

Best Logistics Articles of 2019

Best Logistics Articles of 2019

2019 has brought significant advancements for the logistics industry, thanks to actively developing artificial and augmented intelligence, advanced analytics, and automation, among other things. In addition to that, we’ve witnessed a great collaborating force rising in the sector and Digital Container Shipping Association is one of the best examples of that.

Since we’ve always kept our eyes open for the new technologies and innovative logistics trends, we’ve done our best to cover all the above-mentioned topics on Transmetrics Blog in 2019. The following articles proved to be the most engaging in 2019 among our readers.

10 Logistics and Supply Chain Events in Europe You Should Visit in 2020

logistics events

Picture Credit: Intermodal Europe

Each year thousands of professionals in the cargo transport industry are attending supply chain and logistics events. These events help attendees learn about the best practices in the industry today, and provide them with insights about the trends and technological developments of tomorrow. Each event is unique and important for diverse reasons. Unfortunately, it is challenging to attend all of the good logistics conferences due to busy schedules, limited time and budget. It makes it difficult to choose which events to prioritize.

To save you time, Transmetrics prepared a list of 10 best supply chain and logistics events taking place in Europe in 2020. We have selected some of the best conferences that will provide you with actionable insights that can guide you to make a real impact on your business, based on the latest trends and technologies in the industry:

Top 10 Supply Chain and Logistics Technology Trends in 2020

logistics technology trends

Increasing technology innovations are making big waves across industries, and logistics and the supply chain may be one of the most impacted sectors. Notorious for its heavy use of manual processes and large amounts of data stored in different ways and in different places, the logistics industry has perhaps the most to gain from implementing new technologies and following the most innovative Supply Chain and Logistics technology trends.

Recent years have seen massive advancement for the logistics industry in areas like artificial and augmented intelligence, advanced analytics, and automation, to name just a few. These technologies have evolved faster than ever while startups with even newer solutions and innovations continue popping up at a rapid rate. But attached to these innovations are new expectations and standards, forcing logistics companies to either adapt or fall behind. Much pressure comes from customers in the form of individuals and enterprises, all of who are demanding their products or services come faster and cheaper than ever before.

But advancements in technologies aren’t the only big changes influencing the industry. From new shipping regulations to growing global tensions and trade wars, and a predicted economic recession, logistics companies will need to be alert and prepared for 2020. For example, carriers are already working hard to meet the global 0.5% Sulphur cap, which goes into effect on January 1, 2020. It would affect up to 70,000 ships, according to IMO estimates, and could lead to a 20-30% increase in total fuel costs, which would ultimately be passed on to customers.

Global trade wars and tensions like that of China and the U.S. have continued affecting logistics operations. In 2018, trade tariffs affected $34 billion worth of Chinese products imported into the U.S., with China also taking costly countermeasures on U.S. imports. The European economy has also been going into a downturn as Brexit concerns continue weighing heavily on European countries, and the U.S. economy has also been growing weaker. All of these issues are signaling a possible global recession in 2020, which would make things much more difficult for logistics companies.

There is much to consider as 2020 quickly approaches. Companies within the logistics and supply chain sphere must continue getting ready for all of these bigger changes with innovations. From digital twins to blockchain to real-time supply chain visibility, Transmetrics has identified the Top 10 important logistics technology trends your company should be keeping an eye on in 2020: 

Two Approaches to Tackle the Repositioning of Empty Containers

Repositioning of Empty Containers

The global economy, as it functions today, has become completely dependent on container shipping to succeed. 95% of all manufactured goods in the world arrive at their destinations courtesy of this massive industry. But despite the growing reliance on container shipping, there’s one industry-wide problem that remains to be solved: the repositioning of empty containers. Unfortunately, one out of three containers being moved is empty — estimating around 60 million empty container moves per year at an annual cost of $20 billion to the industry. Apart from the enormous profit wastes, these empty containers are also come at a big cost to the environment, due to the extra fuel consumption, congestion, and shipping emissions.

Logistics Demand Forecasting: The Benefits of AI & How to Implement It

Logistics Demand Forecasting

For many logistics companies, the road to digital transformation and AI implementation is not an easy one. In an industry that has largely been run by pen, paper, and phone for decades, the transition to using modern software and tools can seem challenging and even overwhelming. What many of these companies don’t realize, however, is that they are creating an even bigger challenge for themselves by not implementing some of this cutting-edge technology into their operations. 

Companies who don’t use logistics demand forecasting find that it makes the operational planning of assets very difficult. The multi-faceted problem requires businesses to consider how many assets they need, whether or not those assets are positioned correctly at any given moment in time, and how to best plan the technical breaks.

This is a very complicated problem to solve, as it requires a large volume of interdependent information. Luckily, logistics companies already generate a tremendous amount of data internally and have access to even more data from public sources. Nevertheless, the challenge remains that only a few tools currently exist which allow companies to synthesize all of this information and enable data-driven decision-making in conjunction with the experience and instincts of their managers.

But with the help of modern predictive optimization tools, logistics companies can shift to an anticipatory strategy based on accurate demand forecasting, and thereby achieve far greater operational efficiency. Let’s take a look at what exactly logistics demand forecasting does, how it works and its many benefits for logistics companies.

Augmented Intelligence for Logistics Planning

Augmented Intelligence for Logistics

This article is based on the presentation by Asparuh Koev, Founder and CEO at Transmetrics, at the “Logistics meets Innovation” conference. The topic of the conference was “AI in Logistics: from Theory to Practice” and you can read the full overview of the event here: “AI in Logistics: from Theory to Practice” – Transmetrics’ Conference Summary.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already a widespread term in logistics, thanks to the implementation of exciting AI technologies like automated warehouses by Amazon, autonomous trucks by Einride, drone deliveries by Zipline, last-mile delivery robots by Starship, and more. These are the types of technologies that can potentially replace some manual jobs that don’t require complex skills (e.g. warehouse sorting, last-mile delivery person, truck driver, etc.).

However, the situation is different when Artificial Intelligence is used to deal with high-skilled positions like logistics planners. That’s where Augmented Intelligence enters the scene. By combining human intelligence with processes automated by AI, companies can save time, reduce operating expenses, and eliminate manual errors, while human employees can focus more on analytical and complex duties. In this article, we will uncover what exactly Augmented Intelligence is and how it can enhance logistics planning capabilities.

How Predictive Analytics Is Transforming Logistics and Supply Chain

Predictive Analytics

In an industry where time and resources can make or break a company’s bottom line, predictive analytics is no longer just a helpful bonus feature to have in logistics; it’s a necessity. The modern logistics market is more demanding than ever before: businesses across the supply chain are now expected to easily adjust to shipment patterns, predict customers’ buying behaviors, provide on-time deliveries through the most efficient routes possible, and reduce the risks of cargo inventory errors and miscalculations.

However, the introduction of predictive analytics is helping logistics and supply chain companies meet these increasing demands. In fact, the logistics industry has identified predictive analytics as having the biggest impact on the supply chain this decade. This movement towards anticipatory logistics is already widely accepted among industry decision-makers: A study by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals revealed that 93% of shippers and 98% of third-party logistics firms feel like data-driven decision-making is crucial to supply chain activities, and 71% of them believe that big data improves quality and performance. 

So what exactly is predictive analytics, and why has it become so important in logistics and supply chain? Predictive models use historical and transactional data to identify patterns for risks and opportunities within a particular set of conditions, which helps to guide decision-makers and anticipate specific future events. A predictive solution can serve a wide array of different needs but brings the most value when it’s tailored to a particular type of operations and based on a set of rules and restrictions made for that specific operation. These solutions can bring benefit to different levels, from a single warehouse to even an entire supply chain.

In this article we will go over a wide variety of predictive analytics use cases in logistics; deep dive into the predictive solutions developed by such logistics giants as DHL, Maersk, and UPS; and talk about the best predictive analytics tools offered by logistics startups.