After investing in emerging technologies, shipping and logistics professionals will begin to reap the benefits of strategically updated supply chains.

In 2016, 75% of shipping industry executives regarded the digitization of their supply chains as a top priority. Fast forward to 2018, and supply chains have finally begun to bear the fruits of the industry’s investment in emerging technologies and top-to-bottom strategic planning.

From cost-effective sensors to improved machine learning, advanced infrastructure promises to disrupt the shipping and logistics status quo. For those who aren’t positioned to make the most of new technologies, such disruptions may pose serious risks to established business practices and hinder long-term growth. For well-prepared shippers and logistics providers, however, these innovative developments will drive growth, open new revenue streams, and empower supply chain managers to make more informed decisions at every level of their organization.

Improved Sensors Will Cost Less and Gather Better Data

2018’s most promising technologies will rely on accurate data from multiple touch points in the supply chain. Once cost-prohibitive to all but the most well-heeled shipping and logistics operations, sensor technology is now within reach of any company.

Supply chain managers can use sensors to maintain a more holistic overview of their logistical landscape by tracking products, monitoring equipment, and observing environmental conditions. For shippers and logistics providers moving sensitive materials such as perishables or pharmaceuticals, the ability to track products at every leg of shipping will boost overall supply chain performance and make it more responsive to unexpected challenges.

IoT Technology Will Put Accurate Information to Strategic Use

Backed by various Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities, interconnected networks of smart devices and vehicles will provide supply chain managers with up-to-date visibility over their moving assets. Industry professionals with IoT technology embedded throughout their operations can reduce bottlenecks, improve inventory management, and better communicate with partners at every stage of manufacturing and shipping. Bolstered by improved sensor technology, IoT capabilities will help warehouse personnel and fleet drivers maintain efficiency while assisting executives throughout key decision-making processes.

Robotics Will Support Warehouse and Factory Professionals

Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) have already begun to streamline warehouse and factory operations, but industry professionals can expect wider implementation of them in 2018. With advanced sensor technologies, automated vehicles can move on fixed paths or freely throughout a facility, assisting with picking, packing, and sorting. While robotic technology won’t replace experienced personnel en masse, it may begin to reframe just what roles professionals play on warehouse and factory floors.

AI and Machine Learning Will Drive Decision-Making Overhauls

Provided with valuable information from improved sensors and more sophisticated IoT networks, supply chain managers will increasingly rely on artificial intelligence (AI) to identify issues, anticipate problems, and execute big picture solutions. Interconnected devices, vehicles, and facilities will improve the number of data points available for AI to make informed, up-to-date decisions. Through machine learning, managers can rely on their technological infrastructure to handle multiple tasks simultaneously, thus allowing personnel to focus on qualitative improvements to their shipping and logistics operation.

Reliable Partnerships Will Boost Technology ROI

For shippers and logistics professionals alike, 2018 promises to be a disruptive year. Whether you’ve equipped your fleet with improved sensors or you’ve invested in AI in order to drive predictive analytics, managers can expect to see new capabilities leading to discernible gains for their operation. With that said, boosting your technology ROI is more complicated than integrating as much new hardware and software as possible into your operational infrastructure. Instead, it’s essential to take a strategic point of view that leverages new technology in order to improve, rather than remake, your business.

With a third-party logistics (3PL) partner or integrated logistics services provider (ISP), businesses can take advantage of the most cutting-edge technology in the industry without distracting from their own operations. At Primary Freight, we have more than two decades of experience in driving value for our clients. Let our team of proven industry professionals tailor custom solutions to your shipping and logistics needs — solutions that understand how technology can benefit, but never truly replace, experienced managers and personnel.

If you’d like to learn more about what makes Primary Freight an ideal shipping and logistics partner, give us a call today at (800) 635-0013.