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Logistics innovations in 2022 picked up an accelerated pace, with COOs and CSCOs starting to invest in digital transformation in their supply chains with more urgency. And it’s not only in response to persistent labor shortages. The move to reshore/nearshore operations closer to the customer, the challenges posed by e-commerce in both B2C and B2B realms, as well as chronic supply chain disruptions have all required operations leaders to look at cutting edge technologies to improve throughput, find efficiencies, and become more competitive long term.  

Here are the top 10 new technologies that were implemented in the logistics industry in 2022: 

  1. Autonomous vehicles: AVs offer several benefits in logistics, including improved safety, increased efficiency, lower costs, and enhanced flexibility. They can reduce accidents caused by human error, optimize routes and delivery times, operate 24/7, and respond quickly to changing demand. Examples of automated vehicles in logistics include self-driving trucks that transport goods without a human driver, delivery robots that can navigate sidewalks and cross streets safely, drones for package delivery to remote or hard-to-reach locations, and autonomous forklifts in warehouses that increase productivity and reduce the risk of accidents. At Vecna Robotics, we released the market’s first co-bot pallet jack. The CPJ is designed to move nimbly in cramped spaces and is optimized for tasks such as replenishment, waste and dunnage retrieval, consolidation of empty pallets, totes and carts, pick-to-packout, and other similar workflows. Rendering of a Vecna cobot pallet jack
  2. Internet of Things: IoT in logistics offers real-time tracking, monitoring, and analysis of goods and vehicles. The benefits of IoT in logistics include improved efficiency, cost reduction, enhanced customer service, and increased visibility and control over the supply chain. Examples of IoT in logistics include smart sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, and shock during transportation, GPS tracking devices that provide real-time location updates, and predictive analytics that help identify potential issues before they occur. Additionally, IoT can help optimize delivery routes, reduce fuel consumption, and minimize vehicle downtime, resulting in faster, more efficient, and cost-effective logistics operations. 
  3. Blockchain: Blockchain technology provides secure, transparent, and decentralized tracking and verification of goods and transactions. This increases efficiency, reduces costs, enhances security, and improves trust and accountability in the supply chain. Examples of blockchain in logistics include secure tracking of goods through the entire supply chain, automatic verification of customs documents, and smart contracts that automate payment and settlement processes. Blockchain can also help prevent counterfeiting and fraud, enable faster and more efficient cross-border transactions, and improve the overall transparency and accountability of logistics operations. Overall, blockchain technology offers significant potential to transform the logistics industry by improving efficiency, security, and transparency in supply chain operations. 
  4. Artificial Intelligence (AI): Artificial intelligence (AI) offers logistics companies predictive and prescriptive analytics, automated decision-making, and intelligent optimization of supply chain operations. Benefits include increased efficiency, improved accuracy, reduced costs, and enhanced customer service. Examples of AI in logistics include predictive maintenance of vehicles and equipment, intelligent routing and scheduling of shipments, automated inventory management, and chatbots that provide real-time customer support. AI can also help optimize warehouse layouts, improve last-mile delivery, and enable better risk management and contingency planning.  
  5. 3D Printing: 3D printing technology enables the on-demand production of spare parts, prototypes, and customized products, resulting in reduced lead times, lower inventory costs, and improved supply chain flexibility. The benefits of 3D printing in logistics include reduced waste, increased customization, enhanced speed-to-market, and lower transportation costs. Examples of 3D printing in logistics include the production of spare parts on-site, customized packaging, and the creation of prototypes and samples for product testing. Additionally, 3D printing can help reduce the carbon footprint of logistics operations by minimizing the transportation of products and materials. Overall, 3D printing provides more sustainable, cost-effective, and flexible solutions for production and supply chain operations. 
  6. Robotics: Robotics technology is used to automate warehouse and distribution operations, such as order fulfillment, material handling, and warehouse management. The benefits of robotics in logistics include reduced labor costs, increased speed and accuracy, improved safety, and enhanced productivity. Examples of robotics in logistics include autonomous mobile robots that transport goods within warehouses, robotic arms that automate order picking and packing, and drones that can deliver packages to remote or hard-to-reach locations. Additionally, robots can help optimize warehouse layouts, reduce inventory costs, and improve the overall efficiency of logistics operations.  
  7. Advanced Analytics: Logistics companies use advanced analytics to gain real-time, data-driven insights that enable better decision-making and optimization of supply chain operations. The benefits of advanced analytics in logistics include increased efficiency, reduced costs, improved customer service, and enhanced visibility and control over the supply chain. Examples of advanced analytics in logistics include demand forecasting, predictive maintenance, route optimization, and inventory optimization. Additionally, analytics can help identify potential issues before they occur, such as delays in transportation or stockouts, enabling logistics managers to take proactive measures to prevent them. 
  8. Augmented Reality (AR): Augmented reality (AR) may seem unexpected in logistics but its real-time visualization and interaction with physical objects and data offer the benefits of improved accuracy, reduced error rates, enhanced safety, and increased efficiency. Examples of AR in logistics include pick-by-vision systems that guide warehouse workers in selecting and packing items, remote maintenance and repair assistance using AR-enabled glasses or smartphones and real-time visualization of product assembly or packaging instructions. Additionally, AR can help optimize warehouse layouts, improve quality control, and enhance training and onboarding of logistics personnel. 
  9. Cloud computing: In logistics, cloud computing provides on-demand access to computing resources, data storage, and software applications from any location with an internet connection. This helps increase scalability, reduce capital expenditure, enhance collaboration, and improve data security. Examples of cloud computing in logistics include cloud-based transportation management systems (TMS) that provide real-time visibility into shipment status and optimize routing, cloud-based warehouse management systems (WMS) that automate inventory management and order fulfillment and cloud-based analytics platforms that provide real-time insights into supply chain performance. Additionally, cloud computing can help reduce the need for on-premise IT infrastructure, enabling logistics companies to focus on core business operations. All Vecna Robots are cloud-enabled solutions allowing for real-time remote monitoring and software updates. 
  10. Electric vehicles: Electric vehicles (EVs) are a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to the fossil fuel-powered vehicles traditionally used in logistics. They help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower fuel and maintenance costs, and increase operational efficiency. Examples of EVs in logistics include delivery vans, trucks, and even drones that use electric power to transport goods over shorter distances but some logistics companies have begun implementing electric-powered warehouse equipment such as forklifts and pallet jacks, further reducing their carbon footprint. 

These are just a few examples of the many new technologies that are being developed and implemented in the logistics industry.  Fortunately, Vecna Robotics has a wide range of pallet handling solutions that bring many of these new technologies together, like autonomous vehicles (of course!) along with cloud computing, AI, internet of things, and advanced analytics. For more information about how you can get started with your finished goods automation journey, go to our From No bot to Robot page, or can contact us today to schedule a consultation with a factory automation expert.