If there is one industry right at the edge of a new technological revolution, it has to be the Transportation and Logistics industry. While traditionally a sector dependent on physical movement, it has adapted to the digital world remarkably well. From estimating goods’ location to minimizing manufacturing faults to even optimizing fuel consumption - there have been numerous data-driven advances in the sector. With the growth of data science, the internet of things, digital sensors, and intelligent mobile monitoring transforming the transportation landscape, the Transportation Analytics market is all set to reach 27.4 Bn USD by 2024.
This rapid advancement has only been made possible because of the rapid increase in systematic data collection from sources like sensors, cameras, geolocation, and intelligent integration of their insights into the decision-making processes. The data-driven transformation has impacted almost every aspect of travel, from railways and roadways to airways and even waterways. Let’s take a deeper look into the exact steps that the industry has taken.
Large-scale analysis of carriers is now commonplace with almost every transporter these days. Predicting faults in their most vulnerable parts even before manufacturing and timely detection of when they need to be serviced or replaced has helped carriers significantly improve the safety standards of fleets throughout the globe. The availability of real-time alerts in cases of excessive turbulence, overloading, or other possibly dangerous scenarios in airways and waterways has made it possible for transporters to vastly improve efficiency and minimize the risks of accidents.
By aggregating large amounts of geospatial, sensor, and GPS data, it has become possible to identify risky routes, optimize safety, time, and cost. By analyzing past travels, companies have started building a network of top trails to go from point A to B, and choosing the most optimal route based on the requirement has become automatic.
This was probably revolutionised by UPS some decades ago as they started using ORION, an acronym for On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation, in order to compute delivery routes based on distance, fuel consumption, and time-per-stop. When the algorithms were designed the company had one clear goal: reduce the total number of kilometers needed to go on a single delivery route.
Airlines were in the same optimisation-mode at the time and used lessons from the UPS case to reduce fuel consumption within their own fleets. Although this was decades ago, the real data-driven transformation is still in its infancy as artificial intelligence is taking data and automation to new levels.
Large-scale digitalisation of goods and carriers has vastly improved the ability of companies to track and monitor them. It has become possible to predict if there will be a delay, loss, or any other unwanted situation very early on. Proper systems, making it easy to provide carriers with alerts when refueling or drifting away from the track, have also been developed. Providing accurate estimates from images and sensor data and building a reliable strategy that has vastly improved their ability to diagnose faults, thereby improving performance, has helped carriers maintain goodwill and trust with their customers.
According to a recent McKinsey report, 43 percent of all travel-related requests and 23 percent of all logistics-related searches online come from smartphones, and the trend is likely to increase. Companies prioritize a "mobile-first" mindset, prioritizing quick and easy mobile interactions over the often slow and unreliable one-on-ones. Mobile phones are now packed with smart sensors and useful data, and there are many solutions now available to analyze user behavior to rate their trustworthiness. Not making offers to fraudsters and optimizing prices to make a competitive offer to the right customer is slowly becoming the norm these days. Companies invested in making the correct recommendations and discounts to the right customers also reported a significant boost in their sales.
Regardless of how well we plan for it, often, last-minute delays are unavoidable. If effectively managed, it is possible to tackle traffic as science and bring down any additional delays brought about by traffic to an absolute minimum. Systematic analysis and automated strategies using cameras, GPS, and audio receptors in airports, docks, and even parking spots have vastly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of transportation while managing real-life constraints and maintaining the safety of goods.
Managing digitalisation and using advanced modeling techniques in a tricky field like transportation and logistics has not been easy. Other than costs and logistics, there has also been a massive shift in mindset within companies without the bandwidth to develop in-house solutions, using third-party services to utilize digital features. However, it has proven to be extremely useful. According to the report of Inmarsat Research Programme, roughly 60 percent of those surveyed in the transportation sector believe the successful deployment of IoT-based solutions brings "better health and safety across the organisation", and about 55 percent think it brings "greater workforce productivity". We also agree with the 81 percent of respondents confident that IoT and data-driven decisions will revolutionize the transport sector.