Supply Chains Are More Digital Than You Think

The technological landscape has evolved rapidly over the last decade, and in recent months that evolution has accelerated – the Internet of things, generative AI (artificial intelligence), and the sheer quantity of available data have changed the way businesses and consumers around the world operate.

When it comes to end-to-end logistics, at XPO Logistics, we have invested heavily in these progressive technologies. That includes both off-the-shelf systems and equipment and XPO Connect, the digital platform developed by our own team of world-class in-house technical talent – these are investments we have made (and continue to make) with the goal of advancing our core value of providing an industry-leading service for each of our customers.

Better Connections, Improved Logistics

Our clients, whether they are international manufacturers or retailers, have a number of key stakeholders, all of whom have a vested interest in the delivery and distribution process – including suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and of course, end-customers.

So, with so many moving parts, how can we better utilise data to optimise our service? The answer lies in the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI: sensors on pallets, products, and vehicles mean that there is a constant stream of data for us to work with. When we implement analytical AI alongside this data, we can all make better decisions based on the actionable output. We can forecast demand and optimise costs, processes, and logistics flow.

There are often concerns around this type of data-sharing, but when all parts of the ecosystem can agree to a data-sharing plan and the correct type of secure technology platforms are used – those risks can be mitigated, and the full benefits of better connections can be realised. In addition to tracking, at XPO Logistics, we are also using data analysis to better project requirements – and then work to match those needs in advance.

We are also beginning to trial low code technology within the central integrations team. This will allow us to speed up integrations with partners, customers and our own internal systems, and overall will give customers a more seamless and streamlined connection experience.

Enhanced Logistics Visibility for Everyone

Gone are the days of a customer arranging a delivery and then not hearing anything until the proof of delivery comes through. Now, with increased two-way communication and advances in track and trace technology, every stakeholder in the logistics journey has an up-to-the-minute, accurate view of the shipment.

This is better for everyone: customers benefit from being able to precisely plan collections and deliveries, drivers can minimise missed deliveries as customers know exactly when to expect their orders (and can rearrange as necessary), and we can provide a more environmentally-friendly service as a result. We firmly believe that incorporating track and trace technology with IoT devices is the vital ingredient in ensuring seamless customer service and improving overall operations and sustainability.

Constant Innovation in Delivery Experience

Artificial Intelligence has been a hot topic across a range of industries for several months now, and as the technology iterates, it becomes more and more accessible and reliable.

For our part, XPO Logistics has recently launched our AI-powered chatbot to provide further value to our customers, specifically in the last-mile delivery service. Now, the final recipient of delivery will receive an automated phone call to alert them of the exact time and place for their delivery – the chatbot utilises Google Maps to plan the route and assess the time to deliver and then makes the call to alert the recipient.

Not only does this allow the end-user to better plan for their delivery, but they are also able to cancel it if they need to – a feature that is already reducing the number of failed or missed deliveries (and improving our emissions as a result).

This is just one example of how our technical team is working with cutting-edge tools to boost the service that we deliver: our customers can rely on further improvements and implementations in the future.

Driverless vehicles are already making a small impact on the way deliveries are made. Other type of minimal human intervention we are currently use is, for example, the use of drones particularly for real time inventories in our warehouse, with customers benefiting from round-the-clock operations, higher levels of efficiency, and reductions in human error.

Safety and Sustainability: Technology With a Purpose

While we take great pride in investing in new technologies to provide a better service to our customers, that technology has to be the right fit for our sector and our strategic goals – notably, safety and sustainability.

For example, on the safety front, we are using drone and robot technology to improve distribution centre safety by adding automation and reducing the necessity for personnel to work at heights. Our drivers are also now being trained using virtual reality systems to reduce the risk of accidents and allow them to practice securing different loads in a risk-free environment, and they also benefit from a raft of on-board technology, including:

  • Blind spot sensors
  • Collision warning
  • Electronic stability control
  • 360-degree cameras

Our teams are also currently trialling AI-supported driving to help improve their safety on the roads. This technology makes use of front-facing camerasx to read road signs and alert the driver of any issues – for example, low bridges.

With regard to our sustainability targets, we have deployed technology that better plans out routes (incorporating machine learning and algorithmic decision-making), sensors that automatically read tyre pressures when driven over (therefore allowing us to reduce fuel consumption), and computerised management systems – these in addition to our use of intelligent LED lighting throughout our sites.

The New Era of Logistics

As you can see, we are already in a new, technology-empowered era of logistics. The Internet of Things, AI, data and consumer expectations are all working together to change the way that we operate as an end-to-end logistics provider, and I believe XPO Logistics is well-placed to create a competitive edge for our clients – through improved efficiencies, increased safety and sustainability and the overall customer experience.

You can see for yourself: get in touch with your local XPO Logistics team today to discuss your project needs and how we can provide you with the type of service that both you and your customers will love.