How AI Is Changing the Logistics Industry

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By Hemisphere

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the development of machines that are able to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. That includes such things as reasoning and making decisions, visual perception, speech recognition and translation, and self-correction (learning).

The world is being transformed as the possibilities and opportunities offered by AI are realised. The potential is enormous: research indicates the industry could be worth $1.3–$2 trillion annually. In terms of logistics, the sales of warehousing and logistics robots are projected to reach $22.4 billion by 2021.

This traffic isn’t just one way, either: Big Data insights in conjunction with AI saves UPS 10 million gallons of fuel a year.

So, what can we expect to see that will affect and benefit logistics? Here are six areas where we expect to see AI have an impact.

Smart roads

Smart roads employ technology to alert drivers about road conditions and hazards, so increasing safety. They can also monitor traffic volume and patterns, and identify when a vehicle leaves the road or is involved in an accident then alert the emergency services. This helps facilitate safer journeys and faster deliveries.

Self-driving cars

We’re a way off from seeing fully autonomous vehicles on the roads, but the technology has advanced enormously in recent years. Currently, self-driving vehicles are not allowed on the road unless under the control of a human driver, but full autonomy will undoubtedly come.

They won’t just be a feature on public roads, either. Businesses with large sites and warehouses will benefit from self-driving vehicles in many ways.

Intelligent and automated warehousing

It’s not too bold an assertion to say that in the very near future, a great many warehousing tasks will be carried out by robots and computers. From automated stock control systems to the delivery and retrieval of goods by robots, there is a great deal of scope for automation. Already both Ocado and Amazon rely heavily on robots to handle order fulfilment.

Predicting demand and improving customer experience

Very often, logistics operates in a reactive way. However, AI opens up the possibility to benefit from predictive intelligence, whether that means predicting air freight transit times, expected levels of global trade or shortages due to outside influences.

It’s even possible to anticipate demand based on Internet chatter, as trends may be identified and even anticipated based on the number of mentions of (e.g.) a film or a toy.

Satellite imaging and smart road technology can provide accurate information for predicting delivery times.

Big data

Big data refers to huge data sets – too large and unwieldy to be interpreted by humans – that may be analysed by computers to reveal patterns, trends and associations.

In logistics, big data can rev§eal such things as shipping volumes, weather patterns, expected political impact and more, helping companies to make informed decisions on issues that might otherwise be too amorphous to interpret.

Back office operations

There is a great deal of scope for AI to revolutionise back office operations. A lot of the functions carried out are repetitive but detail-orientated, which allows human error to occur when concentration lapses, whereas machines would handle such things effortlessly. The management of paperwork such as contracts, bills of lading, or customs documentation offers opportunities to save time and money.

AI is already having a huge impact on the logistics industry, and this trend is only set to continue. At Hemisphere Freight Services, we are constantly keeping an eye on the latest industry developments, ready to utilise suitable technologies for the benefit of our customers and employees. Contact us to discuss how HFS can assist with your shipping and logistics needs.