Filling the Technological Gap in Logistics
The urgency to revolutionize the logistics industry overnight is not only unrealistic, but completely void of a linear thought process in regards to freight forwarding. Complete automation is the goal but the steps to get there add up to more than any current system can climb. It is naïve to think that industry wide autonomy is not the future of transportation. It will happen; however, it is unrealistic to assume that it will happen with one single system within the next 12-18 months.
Logistics and transportation management has yet to see substantial promise of an all-encompassing software for logistical digitalization.
The logistics industry is often wrongly compared to a one-stop-shopping system much like the types that have been adopted by travel agencies. The ease with which a person can schedule a vacation is conceptually misleading when that person then attempts to book or schedule a shipment. Two contrarily differing tasks.
When a vacation is booked, the booking component is the only factor left unknown by the individual. Meaning, finding airline rates is the one variable that the individual cannot complete on their own.
The individual is the commodity in this paralleled comparison.
Individual takes themselves to the airport
Individual gets themselves on a plane
Individual takes themselves off the plane
Individual takes a car to the hotel
Individual enjoys vacation in a self-sufficient manner
The booking of their vacation online with one of these aforementioned systems is 10% of their travel.
On the other side of this comparison, when a shipper is attempting to book transportation for a specific commodity, with a system completely derived from the likes of a personal travel reservation, the work flow changes. The booking is now 90% of the movement.
Shipper finds air export rates online
Weight, dimensions, commodity, origin and destination are all immediately needed
Is this shipment hazardous?
Are you a known shipper or an unknown shipper?
Is shipment subject to TSCA filings?
Do you have EPA and FDA documentation?
All of this information is needed within the initial steps of booking.
Where in the previous setting the individual takes care of loading, pickup and delivery (of themselves), it is now up to a perfectly timed and coordinated chain of forwarders and logistics providers to:
Schedule a truck to pick up commodity from a warehouse
Drop shipment off at airline
Airline employee loads shipment on freight
Air craft lands
Airline employee unloads freight
Freight clears customs
Destination truck picks up and delivers to consignee
As you can see, complete autonomy in a system as meticulous as freight forwarding would require advanced technology not yet developed or even invented. Worth noting, the previous depiction is consequential to a best-case scenario shipment. A shipment without time delays, bad weather, miscommunications, flaws or missed steps of any kind. Again, “in theory”, the conceptual vision of supply chain automation is grand, on the fore-thought of technological evolution, and distinctively revolutionary. While all of this is true, “in theory”, the reality and detailed logistics of full automation implementation industry wide will remain in the future, until further notice.