Autonomous Vehicles transforming supply chains by Abhilasha Satpathy, DCMME Center Graduate Student Assistant

Last Mile Delivery and Distribution Center Implications

The final mile of delivery is usually a bottleneck in the delivery process, both to suppliers and distributors alike. They result in delays frequently, even with the close proximity of the product to the end consumer. Thus, companies have begun experimenting with autonomous vehicles, that could deliver goods to the end costumer without the presence of a driver within the vehicle. Self-driven vehicles seem to affect coordination by decreasing costs and delays. They may to incredibly affect distribution and production centers as well. A common hone has been to construct these in cheaper areas, where good roads and human resources were available. With a move in customer prerequisites that presently call for speedier deliveries, these huge centers will have to be built closer to the end buyer. These centers will also have to be smaller in size, since companies want to be present near the end consumer at various places rather than being present in limited or central locations. This would increase the cost of real estate, warehouse costs and operational costs. However, these costs can be offset by the reduction in costs due to the implementation of these autonomous vehicles for the last mile deliveries. These vehicles can operate for longer hours, are less prone to accidents due to human errors, thus increasing operational efficiencies.

No drivers for long hauls

It is most likely that these autonomous vehicles will see their implementation in long distance travel first. Since driving on highways is more predictable than on city roads, it requires for lesser skills to navigate. Currently, a large chunk of the transportation costs arise from having to pay drivers. Also, drivers can only drive for a certain number of hours at a stretch and then need to rest. Thus, the vehicle lies idle for that duration. Hence, driverless vehicles would reduce these costs and improve efficiencies.

Corporations are also looking into “platooning”,  in which a group of trucks would travel together over long distances.  The lead vehicle would fix a speed and direction and the following vehicles would just have to follow it.During the last leg of the travel, or the last miles, these vehicles would go in their separate directions respectively. This would not only reduce the costs of having drivers, but also reduce the risk accidents and fuel costs.

Reference:

Impact of Autonomous Vehicles in Your Supply Chain – Bâton Global. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.batonglobal.com/post/impact-of-autonomous-vehicles-in-your-supply-chain.

Questions:

  1. How will autonomous vehicles change supply chain as we know?
  2. How will driverless vehicles solve the last mile delivery issue?
  3. How can driverless vehicles be used to reduce transportation costs?

 

 

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