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?

 

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?

 

 

Disruptive Innovations transforming  logistics by Abhilasha Satpathy, DCMME Center Graduate Student Assistant

Disruptive innovation and bid data can address many challenges in logistics. Some of them are:

  1. The Last Mile of Shipping Can Be Quickened – The last mile of a supply chain is notoriously inefficient, costing up to 28% of the overall delivery cost of a package.
  2. Reliability Will Be More Transparent – As sensors become more prevalent in transportation vehicles, shipping, and throughout the supply chain, they can provide data enabling greater transparency than has ever been possible.
  3. Routes Will Be Optimized – If you underestimate how many vehicles a particular route or delivery will require, then you run the risk of giving customers a late shipment, which negatively affects your client relationships and brand image. Optimizing saves money and avoids late shipments.
  4.  Sensitive Goods Are Shipped With Higher Quality – Keeping perishables fresh has been a constant challenge for logistics companies. However, big data and the Internet of Things could give delivery drivers and managers a much better idea of how they can prevent costs due to perished goods. A temperature sensor inside the truck could alert the driver, and suggest alternate routes.
  5.  Automation of Warehouses and The Supply Chain – The ability to accurately predict demand in every DC, retailer, and customer is the holy grail of being able to deploy inventory where and when it is needed.
  6.  Better inventory deployment and labor management – For retail store managers, planning shifts to meet customer demand is a sensitive task- overstaffing kills profitability, and understaffing results in angry customers.  Planning has always been done based on history.  One retailer took into account the following additional data:
  • New delivery times
  • Local circumstances and holidays
  • Road construction
  • Weather forecasts

Big data and predictive analytics gives logistics companies the extra edge they need to overcome these obstacles. Sensors on delivery trucks, weather data, road maintenance data, fleet maintenance schedules, real time fleet status indicators, and personnel schedules can all be integrated into a system that looks at the past historical trends and gives advice accordingly.

References:

Swingle, K. (2017, September 25). Disruptive Innovation in Logistics. Retrieved from https://www.spartanwarehouse.com/blog/spartan-logistics-understanding-big-date-and-how-its-revolutionizing-logistics.

Questions:

  1. What challenges can be fixed with big data and disruptive innovations in logistics?
  2. How does big data help in better inventory deployment?
  3. How does big data improve reliability in transportation?

 

Amazon delivery tents

by Maria Hartas, DCMME Graduate Assistant

When looking into ways to expand its logistics operations, Amazon is embracing a “carnival” tent solution. As the company races to keep up with competitors, such as UPS, FedEx and USPS, Amazon has set up fabric tents in at least eight states; Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Colorado, Louisiana, Kentucky and Idaho. These tents operate as temporary delivery stations used for housing and sorting packages before they’re final delivery.

 Why tents?

Amazon ships billions of items annually; the company reported 5 billion items shipped with Prime alone in 2017. According to Amazon’s SEC filling, the costs associated with the delivery of all online orders received are growing exponentially as eCommerce activity continues to increase. As Amazon has recruited more deliver service partners (DSPs) to grow the company’s last-mile logistics network, a tent that takes a couple weeks to build enables the rapid expansion in new areas.

The tents are large enough, starting up to 35 feet tall and ranging between 9,000 square feet and 18,000 square feet, and can adequately accommodate up to 300 people. With little-to-no property taxes and little maintenance required, tents are well positioning Amazon to compete in getting closer to customers.

What are the benefits of building tents?

Are tents solving last-mile delivery problems?

Can delivery tents offer Amazon a sustainable competitive advantage?

Sources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-pitches-carnival-tents-race-catch-up-ups-fedex-2019-4

https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/amazon-tents-logistics-delivery-footprint/552931/

How Augmented Reality is disrupting supply chains. – Abhilasha Satpathy

With over one billion AR enabled smartphones and tablets already in use, companies don’t have to wait for low-cost augmented reality glasses to start reaping the benefits of augmented reality. Here are five ways that AR is transforming the supply chain into a nimble tool for global distribution:

1) Pick-and-Pack Services

Augmented reality is being used in warehouses to more efficiently locate products and pack them in outgoing boxes. One of the costliest parts of running a “pick and pack” service is training new workers to navigate a large warehouse and find the one product they are searching for. AR glasses can paint an imaginary line on the warehouse floor to simplify the searching and training. During the peak holiday season, temporary workers need to be on-boarded quickly. AR shortens the learning curve by providing new hires with constant feedback on their glasses about how they are doing and what can be improved. Field tests of AR pick-and-pack systems have reduced errors by as much as 40%.

2) Collaborative Robotics

Robots are the ultimate human augmentation. Workers sitting comfortably at their desks can wear AR glasses that let them see what a robot in the warehouse sees. AR glasses can now chart the paths of robots through warehouses and use their strength to lift and move heavy cargo. Dangerous or repetitive tasks, such as loading a truck, can be delegated to robots that operate with human guidance when it comes to how to best load the items to achieve the maximum load. Additionally, logistics robots are able to scan each product for damage, check its weight, and abide by any package shipping instructions. By connecting robots with managers, customers can be automatically alerted if any products that aren’t available before the truck even leaves the warehouse.

3) Maintenance

Fixing a problem before it happens is the most cost-effective form of maintenance. With many aircraft engines now transmitting usage data via Wi-Fi when they are on the ground, augmented reality is assisting maintenance crews in reducing engine downtime by comparing engine data with the past history of other similar aircraft with avionics systems. These algorithms then suggest maintenance before a problem is likely to occur. For planes that spend most of their ground time at distant locations, AR can also enable more experienced maintenance teams at the airline’s hub to see what local technicians are dealing with and provide timely live support.

4) Last Mile Delivery

In logistics, the last-mile of delivery to customers is the most expensive. AR can save money by cutting the time spent on last-mile delivery nearly in half. According to a DHL report, drivers spend 40% to 60% of their day searching inside their own truck for the correct boxes to deliver next. Instead of having to remember how their truck was loaded that morning, augmented reality is used to identify, tag, sequence, and locate every parcel. Combined with artificial intelligence, AR glasses can also navigate the driver to the proper door or building gate for delivery. These systems will record each and every delivery so that new drivers will benefit from past driver experiences. In the near future, every driver will be given a graphic overlay of each building they encounter.

5) Procurement

The distributed ledger capability of blockchain is being combined with augmented reality to bring transparency and traceability to procurement. The entire supply chain falls apart when customers can’t be assured of a product’s origin or authenticity. Each year, billions of dollars’ worth of counterfeit pharmaceuticals are distributed to patients, and tens of thousands are dying. Using AR to identify and track each shipment from manufacturer to end user is a way to help solve this deadly problem. Recording each transfer of ownership on a blockchain can also assist in tracing the origin of fish or the source of harvested crops.

Big data drives the decision making behind the world’s distribution of products throughout the supply chain. Augmented reality is now poised to exponentially increase the speed at which data can be analyzed and acted on. The insights augmented reality bring to the supply chain can be used to power the next generation of the supply chain, which will feature autonomous vehicles and delivery drones.

References:

“5 Ways Augmented Reality Is Disrupting the Supply Chain.” Fortune, fortune.com/2018/03/01/5-ways-augmented-reality-is-disrupting-the-supply-chain/.

Questions:

  1. How does augmented reality help in reducing costs in supply chain?
  2. How is blockchain is being combined with augmented reality to bring transparency and traceability to procurement?
  3. How does augmented reality help in last-mile delivery?