5 Software Trends in Mobility and Supply Chain Industry

5 Software Trends in Mobility and Supply Chain Industry

November 30, 2021
frontpage, Tech
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Many of the software trends in mobility and supply chain industry are also trends in other industries. This is because new or upgraded technology has the potential to bring value in many aspects. I tried to capture specific examples from the mobility and supply chain industry to illustrate how new technologies improve logistics.

Machine Learning Algorithms

One of the software trends in mobility is the usage of machine learning or ML. In order to understand how ML helps the industry, we need to get familiar with the problems first. For instance, one parameter affecting the supply chains through oceans is the turnaround time. This parameter indicates the time taken between the arrival of a vessel and its departure. The reduction of the turnaround time can be very beneficial. Essentially, the bottlenecks in the ports are not only problems of the ports, they are issues of the ecosystem. 

Thankfully, we humans have mastered the art of optimizing our surroundings and work processes to boost effectiveness and improve outcomes. In 2019, Statista reported that the median time container ships spent in ports is around 0.70 days with Japan having the fastest turnaround time of 0.35 days and Australia respectively the slowest with a mean of 1.18 days. This year, experts estimate that the port delays have increased by 11% globally and we can all remember the six-day Suez Canal blockage and its massive consequences. Thus, the reduction of turnaround time by optimizing the port calls (intermediate ship stops) through better planning is a preferred strategy. This is where machine learning algorithms shine the brightest. They help make better predictions of estimated times of arrival (ETAs) and departure. With better ETAs, operations and capacity can be planned better in the harbours which leads to faster turnaround time.

Holistic Decision Making

What is meant by holistic decision making is making decisions based on broader data input. The collection and analysis of data from various sources е.g. warehouses, transport management systems for roads, air and sea, data from ports, airports and others. Combining all this information leads to a better decision-making process. Naturally, whenever we have access to more information, we get to minimize risks and secure planned business results.

For example, if a company optimizes the processes in a warehouse and then separately improves processes in the transportation, this will, most likely, yield lesser results compared to optimizing the warehouse and transportation processes based on combined data from both. This principle applied to the whole ecosystem will lead to huge improvements.

Internet of Things (IOT)

Another software trend in supply chain management is the usage of data from IOT sensors. The sensors are used to provide real-time information, which helps optimize the routes of the trucks and reduce the transit times. Another usage of sensors is to track the temperature of the shipments. This is especially useful for perishable goods and big companies are already using such solutions. For example, global logistics leader DHL is planning to have 10,000 IOT-enabled trucks by 2028.

IoT sensors can also be used for proactive maintenance. The sensors can report potential problems before they actually happen and help the companies plan the maintenance work on the vehicles before they break down. Many experts believe that this is the future of maintenance as it will help companies secure business continuity, avoid downtimes and financial loss. 

Autonomous Vehicles

With the improvement of AI technology, many companies like Tesla, Uber or Waymo embraced the challenge to create fully autonomous vehicles. You can imagine how autonomous trucks for example can impact the supply chain industry. The smart vehicles won’t need to stop for a break or to get a coffee. As the pandemic showed us, disrupted supply chain shortages can cause lots of trouble such as empty gas stations and supermarkets. The value of essential workers has also been raising media attention.

Although it is too soon to get excited about autonomous vehicles, car accidents are happening all the time and I think we have to fix those problems first. Reasons for car accidents are often bad road markings, missing signs and bad infrastructure. To find a generic approach to driving I think we should first have a more stable environment if we want to rely on computers to do our job. 

Cloud Solutions

A Gartner report from this year regarding transport management systems states that cloud solutions are on the rise and they are dominating at the moment. This is triggered by the need for scalability. Scalability is a characteristic of the software systems to increase performance with additional resources. I observe this trend in our current Dreamix projects as well.

For example, I’ve recently had a discussion with a colleague about how important the performance is and how much money it can cause or save.  We’ve been talking about specific use cases where the printing of labels that are put on the shipments takes about 1 second and how an implementation detail can increase this time to 3 seconds. Imagine if we multiply the 2 seconds difference by all the shipments that a given depo processes each day. Now, imagine if we multiply this by all the depos. This is the time that a single change in the code can cause for the business. That is why it is crucial to be able to easily scale the applications and be prepared for bigger system loads.

Those are the trends that I am familiar with and that I notice from my practice. What other software trends do you know about related to the mobility and supply chain industry?

Veselin Pavlov

Dev Manager and Partner at Dreamix

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