How these 5 Emerging Technologies will Forever Change the Service Offerings of 3rd Party Logistics Providers

3D Printing will shorten the supply chain

The concept of 3D printing has been around since as far back as the 1980s. However, it was only recently that the technology turned into a reality and became available on a mass scale. This revolutionary technology makes it possible for anyone to create products or parts of products using metals, plastic, mixed materials and even human tissue.

So how is it going to affect logistics and supply chain management? Additive manufacturing will democratize the manufacturing process, according to Ed Morris, director of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII). It will enable manufacturers to "print" on demand, which will shorten the supply chain by making it unnecessary to have large quantities of finished products stacked in warehouses.

The implication of 3D printing for the logistics industry has potential upside implications. 3rd party logistics providers of the future will deliver raw materials instead of many finished products and may even provide 3D printing services at the point of delivery, which will be an additional source of revenue.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will increase transit visibility

Visibility is one of the biggest problems for goods in transit. The application of the Internet of Things (IoT) along with cloud-based GPS will make it possible to keep track of individual items and their conditions. IoT makes use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips that "talk" to each other. Chips attached to individual items will transmit data such as identification, location, temperature, pressure, and humidity.

The implication of this capability will be immense. Goods will no longer be lost or misplaced in transit since each product will transmit its location. With immediate notification comes direct action and the avoidance of damaged goods when the chip signals oncoming adverse weather conditions, such as high temperature or humidity. Not only that, they will also be able to transmit traffic conditions and drive-specific data, such as average speed and driving patterns back to the central office. As supply chain and transportation visibility is a hot topic for Logistics Managers and Directors, 3rd party logistics providers, who adopt this type of technology, are surely to reap the rewards of highly satisfied customers. 

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