Solving the last mile delivery challenge by Abhilasha Satpathy, DCMME Center Graduate Student Assistant

  1. Crowdsourcing

This model allows retailers and logistics partners to connect with local couriers who use their own transportation to make deliveries. In this gig economy, crowdsourcing is a great way to ensure customers get faster delivery and it also eliminates the possibility of repeat attempt deliveries by providing the option of on-demand and scheduled deliveries to customers.

  1. Brick-and-Mortar Distribution Centers

Some retailers are using their storefront as a solution to the quick delivery problem. They have transformed their stores into distribution centers so that options such as same-day delivery are available to the customers.

  1. Smart Technology

The advancements in technology have inspired solutions that are cost-effective and convenient for both the retailer, as well as the customer. They make use of smart technology like sensors to provide retailers information regarding temperature variation in packaging, weather conditions for route planning, etc.

  1. Data Analytics

Advanced analytics (such as machine learning) help retailers optimize their last mile delivery operations. Data analytics can inform the company (or logistics partners) regarding customer-specific delivery constraints. Studying GPS traces along with relevant insights into the availability of local infrastructures such as roads and parking spaces can help make the entire process more efficient.

  1. Futuristic Delivery

Many startups, retailers and logistics services, are discovering new ways to tackle last mile delivery. Drone delivery, for instance, can not only shorten the time spent on delivery but also reduce the expensive human workforce. This workforce can then be directed towards more complex tasks. Autonomous self-driving vehicles with lockers are predicted to be the most dominant form of last mile delivery in the future.

Reference:

6 Last Mile Delivery Challenges and Solutions in Today’s Market. (2018, December 28). Retrieved from https://volttech.io/last-mile-delivery-market/.

 Questions:

  1. What are the different ways to tackle the last mile delivery problem?
  2. How do brick and mortar stores help in solving the last mile delivery problems?
  3. What are the futuristic delivery options to solve the last mile delivery problems?

 

How drones will benefit supply chains by Abhilasha Satpathy, DCMME Center Graduate Student Assistant

Drones speed up operations and decrease delivery times for the end user while cutting down on supply chain costs.

Asset Management

Manually monitoring inventory can require workers to spend extraordinary amounts of time and resources to count products on shelves. Keeping track and monitoring inventory levels can be an exhaustive process when done periodically, especially during high order demand periods such as the holidays. The use of drones to scan and check inventory anywhere in the warehouse using OCR, RFID, and barcode readers can offer better inventory management, especially when the drone can move from warehouse to warehouse on the property in moments and deliver this information instantaneously to integrated warehouse management software.

Speeding up Deliveries Between Commercial Buildings

Raw materials can be moved from warehouse to manufacturing floor with the use of drones. Drones can also move finished products from warehouse shelves to store shelves, or place products on pallets for shipping to end users and retailers.

Monitoring Supply Chain Delivery Routes

Additional capabilities involve monitoring supply chain routes for disruptions that could impact truck deliveries. These drones can monitor road conditions, construction slow-downs and other hazards while reporting the information to logistics managers who can quickly select alternative shipping routes.

Reference:

Drones and Supply Chain: How they May Impact the Process. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ecsourcinggroup.com/drones-and-supply-chain-how-they-may-impact-the-process/.

Questions:

  1. How do drones impact supply chain?
  2. How will drones help cut supply chain costs?
  3. How will drones help in asset management?

 

 

DRONES IN GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS by Abhilasha Satpathy, DCMME Center Graduate Student Assistant

Two years ago, in an article in SCMR author Nick Vyas outlined real-life applications for drones in the healthcare industry, and predicted other use cases such as pipeline inspections or deliveries of parts and supplies in hard to access areas.

He also noted that “PINC, a provider of yard management systems, has deployed a solution that utilizes drones to identify the location of trailers, shipping containers, and other assets in hard to reach areas. Equipped to carry GPS, RFID, OCR, and barcode readers, the drones can fly overhead to quickly locate and identify assets that have been tagged in a yard or port.”

So, what is the state of drones in the supply chain today?

Companies are focused on improving inventory accuracy to achieve higher supply chain velocity. Tasks like taking inventory and cycle counting are still carried out by humans which can be done more than 300 times faster by drones.

What is the state of the technology? Today, the drone, or robot, flies autonomously in a gps-denied environment using advanced sensors. The company’s warehouse management system (WMS) feeds existing inventory information to the PINC application via integration. When the robot receives a task to count inventory – say the number of cartons on pallets in a storage bay – the software first creates the optimal path for the drone to travel based on mapping done previously.

The drone doesn’t need markers or lasers for guidance to navigate through warehouses. The robot is equipped with an optical system combined with computer vision and deep learning technologies. When it passes through an assigned location, which it knows by the X, Y and Z coordinates, it visually inspects inventory labels and takes photos of the inventory to be counted.

The digital images are processed in real time to generate a count, which is compared against the known count in the WMS system. Since the system manages by exception, after taking inventory, the application provides an exception report to the operator who can click on the exceptions, look at a photo to confirm a count and then, if needed, update the WMS.

Down the road, Yearling expects conversations about using drones in transportation to continue, if for no other reason than the amount of spend on transportation.

References:

https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/the_emerging_role_for_drones

 

Questions:

  1. How are drones being used in supply chain today?
  2. How do drones aid Warehouse Management Systems?
  3. How do drones improve inventory accuracy?

Interstellar Drones

In a recent article on the website, DailyMail, the development of extraterrestrial drones is discussed. On a distant Jupiter moon, Europa, there is believed to be oceans. NASA scientists and engineers are working to develop submersible drones that can gather data and detect microbial life by operating in these icy waters. A major requirement for these drones will be for them to operate autonomously and manage their own resources. Only time will tell if these drones will accomplish the mission NASA hopes for.

Smart Bulbs at Risk?

In a recent article on the website, govtech.com, the idea of cybersecurity for smart light bulbs is discussed. With regard to ZigBee and Z-Wave protocol, researchers have found major security flaws in smart light bulbs. Tests conducted on Phillips Hue light bulbs showed that they were able to be ‘infected’ with a code that can spread from lightbulb to light bulb. This is done by having a drone fly within a close proximity and transmit to the light bulbs and then control them remotely. How will companies in the IoT business combat these potential security breaches? Will this slow the growth of the IoT industry? What negative impacts will be felt?

Drone Patrol

In a recent article on the website, Digital Trends, a new type of drone based home security system is discussed. Drones are being used more and more in our day to day lives and these drones are providing extra security for our homes and families. Hi-tech sensors can be placed around the perimeter of your property and will provide updates and alerts based on what is going on within your property. You can then choose to further investigate these problems further, by deploying a drone for surveillance footage. Only time will tell if these becomes the next step in home security systems. Would you buy this? Will this type of system keep home invasions to a minimum? How reliable are these sensors?

Connecting for the Future

In a recent article on the website, Readwrite, the initiative to turn Singapore into a smart nation by 2025, is discussed. With the merging of two government agencies, Singapore has created IMDA to oversee the evolution of the country into a smart, connected nation. IMDA hopes to use IoT, drone technology, virtual reality, connected grids and other new technologies to bring Singapore to the forefront of the globally connected world. Singapore hopes to leverage its flexible economy, non-bureaucratic business environment, and experience with innovation and technology to accomplish these ambitious goals.