Over the past decade, the world has begun to grow and become much more robust. Prior to the onset of the pandemic, globally we have evolved to be far more interconnected and dependent on one another to get the necessary resources and materials to the right place at the right time. The Smart Technology Revolution has become a pivoting point in logistics. Implementing new forms of technology increases the computerization of certain processes, limits the need for human contact, and is an overall increasing threat for smaller competing logistics corporations. Although many people may look at the Smart Technology Revolution in only a positive light, it has taken many positions away from humans as technology and robots can do things much faster at a cheaper cost.
One aspect of the Smart Technology Revolution that has had an impact on the evolution of logistics and transportation is the development of blockchains. A blockchain is a decentralized data storage system that keeps track of various elements using actual time throughout the transportation process. The use of blockchains can be for various aspects in the logistics and transportation industry. This includes transporting goods that need to be kept at certain temperatures, inspected at multiple points in the supply chain process, or have a high probability for fraud. In the past, individuals had to be physically in charge of materials or goods and had to manually keep track of these necessary features. Today something we are seeing very commonly with the administration of the new COVID-19 vaccine is the use of blockchains to monitor the transportation and distribution of vaccines. The cargo that is used to transport the COVID vaccines is encased with sensors that record data such as the temperature, disposition, current individual in charge of the product, and any other segment of information that may be necessary. With the use of these blockchains, all logistics personnel are responsible for facilitating and monitoring this information. These tools help to reduce risk and ensure parcels arrive on time in an efficient and effective manner (Tutterrow, B. 2018).
Aside from the implication of blockchains, the insinuation of robots has also played a major impact on logistics and transportation. Specifically, in warehouses, we have started to see a transition of complete human labor to a hybrid system of humans and robots working together (Tutterrow, B. 2018). One company that has been transiting to facilities completely run by robots is Amazon. Back in 2012 Amazon began investing in a company, Kiva Systems. Kiva has played a major role in the transition of Amazon becoming a more automated and robotized company. The robots being used in Amazon warehousing facilities maneuver their way around the warehouse transporting products and customer orders using barcodes and instructions on the floors of the building. Amazon’s competitive advantage over its contenders stems from its free prime delivery. Limiting the amount of distance a labor worker must travel around a facility daily can cut this transportation time in half (Simon Knowles, C. M. O. 2019). As Amazon makes this technological shift there then becomes less need to hire new employees. Currently, there are 200,000 plus automatic robots working within Amazon’s warehouses and distribution centers (Edwards, D. 2020).
An additional technological advancement that has altered the logistical process is the concept of 3D printing and self-driving vehicles. The introduction of 3D printing has allowed production to take a turn. If manufacturing is too high or low production can be easily altered to fit demand due to the simplicity and convenience of having manufacturing closer to its buyers. The use of 3D printing can decrease materials and products total distance traveled since production can be performed in the same facility it is warehoused (Tutterrow, B. 2018).
Since 3D printing is still evolving there is still a need for transporting goods using various land travel, water, and air passage. The invention of self-driving vehicles has been in the works for some time now but has been more recently been introduced into the logistics industry. We can see these components used within distribution centers and stockrooms but also driving alongside us on the highways. Trucks carrying cargo on the roads have started becoming semi-automatic meaning there is a fleet of trucks that follow an initial vehicle on the road powered by a human. The following trucks use various cameras and sensors to transport goods without the need for individual drivers (Tutterrow, B. 2018). There are many people that currently rely on their income from transporting goods via semitruck and other forms of land transportation. With the implication of semi-automatic vehicles these positions are being stripped from blue collar workers.
Overall, the Smart Technological Revolution has made many positive impacts on the systems and processes pertaining to transportation and logistics. However, at this rate, it is expected that by 2030 more than 73 million jobs in the United States could be at risk (Davidson, P. 2017). The introduction of blockchains, self-driving vehicles, 3D printing, robots, and various other technological advancements have helped shape the new global supply chain efforts. Although these components have many benefits it is important to understand the impact it is having on the employment of citizens all around the world.
Authored by: Molly Day
Davidson, P. (2017, December 1). Automation could KILL 73 Million us jobs by 2030. Transport Topics. Retrieved September 26, 2021, from https://www.ttnews.com/articles/automation-could-kill-73- million-us-jobs-2030.
Edwards, D. (2020, January 21). Amazon now has 200,000 robots working in its warehouses. Robotics & Automation News. Retrieved September 24, 2021, from https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2020/01/21/amazon-now-has-200000-robots-working-inits-warehouses/28840/.
Simon Knowles, C. M. O. (2019). Five ways 3d printing will impact the global supply chain. Five Ways 3D Printing Will Impact The Global Supply Chain. Retrieved September 24, 2021, from https://www.mainepointe.com/practical-insights/five-ways-3d-printing-will-impact-the-globalsupply-chain.
Tutterrow, B. (2018, November 27). Logistics and the smart technology revolution. DB Schenker. Retrieved September 24, 2021, from https://nowthatslogistics.com/logistics-and-the-smarttechnology-revolution/.