26 September 2019

What’s next in bulk logistics digitisation?

Managing a bulk logistics operation digitally, as well as leveraging the data that a digital solution collects and generates, is becoming more vital by the day. According to PwC, more industry experts name transport and logistics (T&L) as the sector to which data and analytics will be most impactful. Despite this, only 28 percent of T&L companies rate themselves as ‘advanced’ on digitisation.

Technology’s impact on industry shows no sign of slowing, and there’s never been a better time to make the switch from paper-based management to a digitised bulk logistics system. So, what can bulk logistics firms expect next from digital optimisation? Here’s what is likely to be around the corner for bulk logistics digitisation.

Effective partnership will maximise digital optimisation We no longer need to own the things we use, and this is especially true in terms of technology. Digital systems advance so quickly with new capabilities and functionality, it no longer makes business sense for small or medium-sized logistics operations to develop and purchase their own bespoke solutions, along with all the physical equipment to run them. Instead, forward-thinking bulk logistics firms will begin to favour digital partnership over digital ownership, capitalising on cloud-based, scalable, agile optimisation systems from specialist suppliers with which they can form long-term relationships.

Recent research suggests that only about one-third of companies (33 percent) say they currently outsource the majority or a significant portion of their logistics, supply chain and transport operations/needs. But going forward, 61 percent say they will be relying significantly more on external sources—including technology providers—to meet their fast-evolving supply chain, transportation and logistics needs.

Automation will give vendors control over inventory replenishment   

Traditionally, bulk stock replenishment has always been a bit of a guessing game. Bulk logistics operators have had to rely on their clients to let them know when stock is low in order to provide the next delivery, leaving clients at risk of running out completely in the interim and operators working reactively rather than proactively. Now though, artificially-intelligent (AI) logistics optimisation technology is giving operators the visibility to digitally pre-empt replenishment needs – known as Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI).

Within a VMI-enabled system, specially-designed sensors take a consumer-facing company’s bulk stock levels every hour which, over time, builds a highly accurate record of sales. Using fuel as an example, VMI triggers an automatic stock replenishment order when the company’s fuel tanks hit a set minimum level, even taking into account when the next product drop can be made, so that customers are never in danger of running out of fuel and operators make the most cost and time-efficient deliveries. And all without human intervention.

Here at Touchstar, we are set to provide a VMI application within our digital solutions for our bulk fuel customers soon. 

Logistics optimisation will be key in boosting sustainability

Last year, the government outlined an ambitious plan to reduce vehicle emissions over the coming decades – the Road to Zero Strategy. Needless to say, the plan includes heavy good vehicles (HGVs) which, despite forming the lifeblood of the UK economy, “account for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions and 13% of nitrogen oxide emissions for road transport”.

In the long term, we can expect to see more investment in the design and development of zero emission HGVs but until then, there’s much that digital technology can do to help bulk logistics firms operate more sustainably. For example, telematics and tachograph sensors within vehicles generate invaluable data about driver behaviour, average speed and distances covered, so that bulk logistics companies can uphold safer, more economical and ultimately greener driving habits. Software solutions automate vehicle service schedules for optimum tyre efficiency, while vehicle load optimisation functionality ensures no vehicle leaves base under or overloaded. Maximising load space reduces the number of journeys bulk logistics operators have to make, resulting in less time on the road and less environmental impact.

Get ready for the next stage of bulk logistics optimisation with Touchstar

As the bulk logistics industry continues to realise the power of digitisation, there’s vast opportunity on offer for the companies ready to embrace it. As a specialist bulk logistics technology partner, we’re on hand to help our clients revolutionise their operations through digital technology. We continuously work on our logistics optimisation solutions in order to make them as future-ready as possible for our clients, in the ways we’ve talked about here, plus many more. Get in touch to find out more about how we could help your business seize the power of digitisation.       

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