Dear Prevenblog reader: Look closely at the computer or mobile device with which you are reading this post. Mentally dissect its parts, one by one, and carry out an exercise asking yourself the journey it would have needed to take to reach you. Surely, like me, you would find it impossible. The paths of consumer goods are inscrutable.
At present, the logistics industry moves exorbitant figures: it absorbs around 15% of global GDP, generates 45,000 million euros a year, representing 10% on determining the final price of the finished products and causing 50% of CO2 emissions reaching the atmosphere. That said, far from being a trivial matter, the transport of merchandise is an intrinsic phenomenon in our global system of trade that heavily effects our way and quality of life.
Nevertheless, the improvement in the system of the distribution of material goods has been bogged down for years… This is partly due to the blurring caused by the overwhelming progress of intangible technology: Internet, instant messaging, mobile applications, virtual reality, social networks … This unilateral development has ended up resulting in a huge gap in the exchange of information and physical goods understood as such.
In 2004, a study in the UK dissected in detail the tasks performed by 1,000 truckers in 24 hours of activity. The results of the work mentioned in the prestigious journal Science and recently in El País yield conclusions that call for at least reflection: only 10% of the time was used for transporting goods. The rest was remaining out of service (25%), loading and unloading (14%), travelling with an empty truck (16%) and other unproductive tasks. Can you imagine today a lack of efficiency of such proportions in the exchange of information?
This marked inefficiency produced in supply chains is not exclusive to road transport. Similar situations are repeated on ships, trains and planes that sometimes carry more air than materials, therefore contributing to cost overruns and air pollution that are avoidable in part. Under such conditions, an elite of experts from the Internet of things (whose importance we have discussed in previous posts) met recently at the University of Laval (Québec) to find a solution, and it seems that they have found it: apply the operation of Internet systems for the distribution and exchange of goods and consumer goods.
Big problems, simple solutions. Given the complexity surrounding the physical delivery networks, the three keys that promise to revolutionize the logistics sector are quite simple in concept, but not in terms of implementation.
- Different companies, same resources
Let’s say that two American technology companies must supply a batch of stock to their European subsidiaries for subsequent sale to consumers. In this case, the fact of having mechanisms between the two companies to coordinate both items over a single transport would not only imply a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide, but it would also result in a nice reduction in bilateral shipping costs.
Equipping this in the system of virtual networks, would be equivalent to the cloud in which we deposit content, so that it is subsequently taken advantage of by the user. This does not mean competing organizations (it does not necessarily need to be a competitive relationship) wrestle in a relationship of mutual complicity. They can continue to exercise a wild competition between them if they want! What is does mean is maintaining a coherent competition, beginning when it really should be: once the product is in the eyes of potential consumers.
- Adapted and adaptable software
The realization of this degree of coordination is through the creation of a joint free-access platform that allows companies to consult packages pending shipment from other companies in common locations and their stock. Obviously this requires a huge medium that allows the analysis of a vast amount of information from a wide variety of sources at a very high speed. We are talking about Big Data technology, whose advantages are already benefiting thousands of companies worldwide.
Although the implementation of a medium of these magnitudes can be an extremely complex task, the basic foundation could not be simpler. It’s the same thing that can be applied by five youths who contact each other on the Internet to carpool to the same destination and thus divide expenses.
- A universal container
Another of the three pillars that the experts addressed for the disruption intended in the system. It involves designing a container, a container that can be carried by ships, cars, motorcycles, airplanes and trains. Which can be filled with mobile devices as well as avocados. Which serve to greatly speed up the time from product manufacturing to marketing. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to create a customizable package for all means of transport or if they will be the ones who must conform to it.
Few are the times when you can greatly protect the environment and in turn increase the profit margin in organizations. For this reason, we strongly believe that the Internet of Things will eventually be applied to the logistics sector and many others. Nobody can deny that the unstoppable development which we are experiencing has been perpetrated from the irresponsible consumption of natural resources. For years, technology has maintained an outstanding account with the environment and this should start to be paid.
PrevenControl es la firma especializada en seguridad y salud laboral que propone soluciones eficaces e innovadoras para la mejora del negocio y la reputación de sus clientes a través de la consultoría, el uso de la tecnología y la formación.