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Freight Forwarders in the Autonomous Digital Future

Digital technology has greatly disrupted the freight industry, and in its wake new innovations have been embraced by freight companies.

Such innovations have brought about advanced technology and have immensely influenced logistics firms. From robots and forklifts in warehouses to drones and ocean cargo vessels for delivery and online fulfillment, a major transformation has erupted in the current supply chain. With the possibilities that artificial intelligence has presented, the supply chain holds the tendency to become fully autonomous and self-orchestrated.

Freight forwarders have now emerged and adopted digital measures to effectively carry out supply chain operations. Integration of supply chains and technology have proven to improve freight forwarding services. This has caused an increase in automation investment for different types of transportation vehicles as freight forwarders are looking for means to cut costs and operate more efficiently. Truck drivers, especially owner-operators and small fleets that rely on load boards now have more options than ever as a result of technology and the explosion of digital freight matching.

The logistics industry has been drastically changed by autonomous vehicles A lot of research is ongoing on various automated machines for use in supply chain operations. The drive to utilize more automated machines by the freight companies is largely influenced by the need to minimize costs but also comes with many environmental benefits.

The automation of ocean cargo vessels is part of the measures that are being put in place in the logistics industry to automate the movement of goods. Though this is a complex project, tech companies such as Rolls Royce, the manufacturers of luxury cars, is at the forefront of implementing this cutting-edge technology for large ocean carriers. Once this endeavor becomes a reality, massive changes will erupt in global supply chain operations and redefine the shipping industry. This way costs of operating cargo vessels and personnel management will be minimized greatly impacting the struggling industry.

As logistics experts seek ways to cut transportation costs, human driven trucks are gradually becoming replaced with automated ones, creating a big change in the trucking industry

Individual self-driving trucks are not the only way businesses are looking to decrease transportation costs. Tests with convoys have also been conducted, using Wi-Fi, sensors, GPS, and cameras to connect the trucks. The leading vehicle determines the speed and direction with the rest of the convoy automatically steering and changing speed.

The Uberization of the trucking systems in logistic firms employs the use of app-based technologies to make the most use of empty space in trucks. This concept could enable more shippers to take advantage of direct-to-trucker shipping rates. Companies such as Sleek Fleet are making waves in the industry by providing shippers that direct to trucker connection. Here, there is no middleman or additional fees involved.

Although the automation of shipments immensely influenced the freight industry, it could result in many difficulties as things can go wrong during the “digitalisation of shipments”, from small problems like: lack of equipment in time for loading/unloading cargo (Ramps, Forklifts, Side loaders) to some greater problems like cargo that require special care and handling

Shipment schedule and delayed cargo can affect manufacturing and distribution chains causing a greater loss then the savings on the digitalization of the shipment, it will be interesting to see how start-up companies like Uber are addressing those issues.

Conclusion: The supply chain of the future will be leaner, faster and most of all, self-orchestrated. This unprecedented change will be driven by digital technology that will be adopted cautiously into the industry over the years. Despite all these changes, the logistics industry will still fall back on logistics experts and offline infrastructures to provide efficient supply chain operations. The good news about the future of autonomous vehicle technology is that freight forwarders can offer their customers lower costs, data and reliability. Therefore, Freight Forwarders and Logistics Experts must adopt the digital transformation of the logistics business to thrive.

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