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Cutting edge technology in the shipping and delivery sector

How are innovative companies responding to the challenge to ship and deliver goods to a considerably higher standard than in the past?

amazon delivery boxes stacked on a porch
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

Around 79% of companies with high-performance supply chains (including shipping and delivery) obtain better-than-average revenue growth, 15% lower supply costs, and significantly speedier cash-to-cash cycles. Speedy and efficient shipping and delivery – two of the final links in the chain – are key at a moment in which almost 15% of all retail spending involves ecommerce.

The preference for online shopping is only predicted to rise, with research by Deloitte showing that around 56% of GenXers and 55% of millennials prefer online to physical stores. How are innovative companies responding to the challenge to ship and deliver goods to a considerably higher standard than in the past?

AI In Shipping

As stated by overnight delivery specialists, LSO, the demand for overnight delivery has surged, owing in no small part to current lockdowns and regulations limiting mobility and travel. In order to ensure that packages reach their destination with a high degree of reliability, a reliance on the predictive abilities of AI is vital.

Companies can accurately predict shipping time through machine learning, which analyzes aspects such as traffic and weather patterns, and makes necessary adjustments so that delivery companies can find the fastest or most efficient route.

Currently, many manufacturers (including Waymo, Embark, and Daimler) are also working on autonomous vehicles, drones, and robots, aimed at getting products to customers in a safe, timely, and accurate fashion. Embark, for instance, specializes in trucks that automate the part of a truck’s journey that takes place on a freeway. This enables only local deliveries to be handled by human drivers, thus reducing the margin of error. 

Crowdsourcing Delivery Apps

Millions of workers across the globe are increasing their income stream by working on ‘delivery gigs’, providing home delivery services on a freelance basis.

Today, various crowdsourcing apps enable local, non-professional couriers and messengers to deliver packages quickly – often on the same day or within an hour or two. Just a few companies setting standards are UberRUSH, Deliv, and Instacart. These apps are particularly effective in urban areas, where the demand for deliveries is high and requires optimal coordination.

Blockchain For Improved Efficiency

Blockchain can make deliveries more efficient via the use of smart contracts that make customs clearance and other bureaucratic procedures quicker and contactless. It can also facilitate the delivery of products in an optimal state.

Swiss firm SkyCell, for instance, uses blockchain-enabled refrigerated containers, which have reduced deviations in temperature to practically zero. Blockchain can additionally be used to record all the steps in the supply chain accurately to avoid container delivery being delayed or lost.

Smart Pallets

Companies such as USPS Delivers rely on so-called ‘smart pallets’, which boast ‘track and trace technology’ that is ideal when bulk shipments are involved. They contain radiofrequency chips that obtain a plethora of data – for instance temperature – while also tracking location and distance.

The information obtained allows companies to understand where problems arise and when. It can also make insurance matters easier, by providing more precise information regarding reasons for specific claims.

The logistics, supply chain and delivery sector is enjoying a healthy growth rate, despite the current global crisis. New technologies are rising to the challenge, making for speedier and more efficient shipping and delivery.

Some of the top technological aids relied upon by leading companies include AI, crowdsourcing apps, blockchain, and smart pallets. These are improving the quality and accuracy of various processes, ranging from analytics to quality control.

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