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The Transformation of Logistics with Future Mobility Technologies

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Mobility is the ability to be moved freely and easily. The term ‘future mobility technology’ can be interpreted as ‘advanced technologies associated with mobility’. In this paper, I will be focusing on the following three aspects of mobility technology: (1) Transport mobility, (2) Information mobility and (3) Production mobility and their impact on logistics.

Transport Mobility

The advancement in autonomous technology will greatly increase transport mobility for the entire logistic industry. Autonomous technology is used in many areas. First, Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAVs) or drones will be used for deliveries in the near future. UAVs are capable to carry out repetitive tasks such as to process orders (pick and on-board for delivery) far more efficient than man. Drones will help to reduce delivery time and cost. Their computerized actions are more precise than man. They are also easy to track and monitor. Most importantly, unlike human beings, their performance will not be affected by darkness or fog as long as they are under computer control. Second, driverless trucks will be used to transport materials from one place to another in the future. This advanced vehicle technology will drastically reduce cost of transporting goods as the cost of employing truck drivers would be eliminated. Driverless trucks will be equipped with smart route planning, connected vehicle technology and pre-sense 360˚ safety system. Together, they provide the optimal route for the vehicle, connect all vehicles within the range and identify safety hazards or detect early warning signs to prevent collisions or road accidents.

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The trend for automation is expected to extend to the shipping industry. Autonomous technology in shipping, docking processes and material handling, for fleets, will replace manual labors currently employed, and as this technology evolves, labor costs will be drastically reduced. Example: ghost ship 2030However, Safety will be the main concern for vehicles going autonomous. If the computer system malfunctions or been hacked by others, vehicles cannot react properly, that could put others in danger. Also, autonomous vehicles pose an ethical dilemma. For instance, if a driverless truck has the choice to either crash into a person crossing the street, or crash into a wall killing two passers-by, which way should it go?

Third, battery power will replace the use of gas and oil as fuels. Electric Vehicles (EVs) will be used in every industry to reduce carbon-footprint. Battery operated fleets will significantly reduce air and water pollution currently caused by cargo ships.

Again, safety will be the main concern for transportation going electric. E.g. risk of battery explosion – If the explosion of a small battery from drone can burn down a house, image what the battery from a cargo ship is capable of. I

Information Mobility

The revolutionary technology – Internet of Things (IoT) is unquestionably a new way forward for mobility. This technology will enhance information mobility and data versatility. It will have enormous impact on the entire logistic industry. IoT connects all devices through an internet-like infrastructure, equipped with sensors, makes it viable to monitor ordering, manufacturing and warehousing chain. Embracing the IoT will transform logistics and supply chain into a new era.

During production, smart machines will communicate their requirements for new components or consumables before running out. With clearer demand signals, the supply chain will have to be more responsive. During warehousing, IoT has been performing exceptionally well in detecting dangers and avoiding mishaps. In distribution centers where the pickup or load boarding is done, IoT solutions assist to reduce damages and avoid collisions from uneven loads on pallets.

During transportation, IoT monitoring system are equipped to detect changes in temperature, vibration and other elements that affect the condition of the load. Not only will information about the truck and environment be captured, but IoT monitors can stay with a shipment across multiple international transportation methods, from shipping to truck to rail to steamship to yard storage to rail to truck to delivery. During asset lifecycle management, IoT helps logistic companies to keep their fleet in the best shape by diagnosing key areas of assets and take preventive measures such as maintenance and repairs even before the damages occur.

Information mobility is also going to change customer expectations. The advancement in information mobility will reshape the standard of customer service and manufacturing. Customers will expect to get shipments quicker, more flexible, less defect rates. and with more transparency at a lower price. This means that logistics and supply chain providers must greatly adapt if they want to stay competitive. Production Mobility Figure 5: The 3D Printing Factory3D printing will have multiple positive impacts on the logistics industry. This production mobility technology is going to reshape the way we manufacture merchandises and how we supply or receive those goods. Advancement in the 3D printing technology suggests that manufacturers will then be able to opt for the option of printing-on-demand. This will in turn significantly decrease the need to carry inventory and ultimately reducing holding costs and transportation costs.

In addition to that, with the assistance of 3D printing technology, complex things can be printed instead of carrying out various scheduling production process at the assembly lines in the factories. This will substantially cut back the need for high volume production. It will reduce the manufacturing time, changeover costs and costs associated with hiring labor for manual tasks.

Conclusion

It is easy to assume that every leap forward in technology is a leap forward in benefit, but this is not always the case. Technological innovation is always packed with possible benefits but also fraught with risk. Threat of computer malfunction and battery explosion will be an issue for transport going autonomous and electric. Cost will be a problem as well.

However, in my opinion, it will be myopic to reject technology advancements on the basis of the technology carries risk. Everything involves risk. Safety risk of driving cars always exist regardless of there are drivers or not. Moving from traditional automobile to driverless automobile is simply shifting the safety risk from the former to the later. Even at current technology, traditional automobiles involve safety hazard, not mentioning lithium battery of our mobile phones may cause explosion. If we glance back, would people say ‘handphones and cars should not be invented because it involves safety risk?’ No. Instead of afraid of it, we identify problem, we look for solution. We control quality to minimize risk. We teach drivers how to protect themselves. Lastly, I believe that in the future, when technology becomes more mature, more measures are in placed to ensure safety; General fear of the unknown decreases when people become more familiar with them, it is sensible to anticipate that xenophobic attitudes will change.

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