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Logistics in the modern, digital age

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Change is afoot in the industry and if you are a stakeholder in it, the excitement is palpable enough to be felt in your daily working life. With sector getting an ‘infrastructure’ status, the rolling out of Goods and Services Tax (GST), and technological advancements, the industry today is set to make quantum leaps into the future. A few years later, I feel we won’t even recognise the Indian industry as it was – ignored, unorganised, with small players trying to minimise their operating costs and having to deal with daily fire fighting.

Logistics in the modern, digital age

The logistics industry in India is set to become more forward looking, and as per the Economic Survey 2017-18, is expected to reach $215 billion in 2020, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5 percent. A considerable degree of consolidation is in the offing, with larger warehouses, and a more organised setup. Fuelled by innovation and digitisation, the Indian logistics industry will encourage functional excellence with integration and collaboration to a large extent. In my opinion, the digital age will be so intertwined with the logistics industry, it will be difficult to separate the two.

Take Blockchain, for instance, one of the newer kids on the block. A distributed database that transfers information with a timestamp, the Blockchain will be able to pinpoint the source of the product and bring transparency to operations. As a matter of fact, in March 2019, India’s Coffee Board launched Blockchain-based coffee e-marketplace. Blockchain not only improves supply chain security and addresses probable fraudulent practices, but also makes processes seamless, with accurate recording of data and the ease of tracking updates in real time.

There is also the Internet of Things (IoT), which deserves all the praise that is heaped upon it. With the ability to transform entire businesses, IoT brings safety to supply chain management, sustainability in processes, supply chain visibility, warehouse optimisation, as well as effective fleet management with real-time tracking and the option to change course in case of roadblocks and congested traffic.

What has also led to the digital revolution is the correct use of data with the help of data mining and data analytics. Understanding data has led to a significant improvement in customer satisfaction, as well as increased efficiency and cost optimisation.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is another buzzword in the world of logistics and increases efficiencies in the areas of predictive demand and network planning. In the near future, it will be used in a significant way to anticipate events and avoid risks.

And one can’t talk about AI without robotics. My personal favourite – and probably because it excites the child in me who was obsessed with robots and sci-fi movies – robotics has already made a world of difference to warehouses by locating, tracking, moving and stacking inventory. Future robotics might even be deployed for last-mile delivery, among other things. Last year, a pilot project in Canberra, Australia, grabbed eyeballs when Google’s parent company, Alphabet, started its Project Wing to deliver coffee by drones. There’s more to come, I’m sure.
All in all, exciting times to be in the logistics industry!