How is Big Data Affecting the Logistics Industry?

Many industries are undergoing positive changes with the emergence of big data and the varied ways it can be used to their advantages. It only makes sense that businesses within the logistics industry, one that relies on a lot of data, from delivery addresses to stock levels and so much more, begins to utilise this efficiently. Across the supply chain, big data is changing the logistics industry in many ways, including through parcel tracking, automation and more.

Optimising the Last Mile

The last mile is a highly important yet challenging aspect of every supply chain. Some common issues with the last mile include:

  • Some items must be signed for to be delivered
  • Large delivery vans can find it hard to park in certain areas
  • The last mile can cost up to 28% of the total delivery

Through using GPS sensors, scanners and smartphones, businesses can now track the entire delivery process, including the last mile. While this enables customers to be aware of when their delivery is nearby, logistics firms can use all such data to spot common problems and improve this section of the process.

Automating Warehouses

Big data can be used to implement automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) across various parts of the logistics industry. One of the most obvious places for this to be developed is in warehouses. Using the likes of RFID tags and sensors, it’s easy to imagine robots interacting with these to move around warehouses, locate what they need to and pick the items.

Advancements of self-driving cars and their technology is developing at a rapid rate and current proof of what the technology can achieve. If it can drive around humans, why not perform simpler tasks like picking products for delivery? The use of big data is key here, as it can be streamlined to instruct robots of what is needed, where and when.

Creating Efficient Delivery Routes

In a similar vein to improving the last mile, big data can be used to help create the most efficient delivery routes for drivers. Not only will this save on time and ensure more deliveries can be made a day, it should help reduce fuel costs, or at least make them more efficient.

Sensors on vans can gather weather data, real time fleet information, a vehicle’s condition and more. This can be used to highlight problems with vans before they become too serious or costly, prevent your fleet from using certain roads that cause problems or slow deliveries and more.

Improving Supply Chain Management

Across the wider supply chain there are many factors that can impact on the success of the process; number of stock, vehicle and machinery condition, weather and the people involved. Much of this can be quantified as big data and used to reduce problems, such as with stock levels that can now be easily monitored to prevent them falling too low.

Where all the different parts of the supply chain and big data used are linked, the whole process from start to finish should run a lot smoother. These are still only the early days of big data being used in the logistics industry though, and there’s plenty of time for further development and change for the better.