Disruptive technologies reshaping logistics industry, stakeholders say

By Crista Quintos

At a forum organized by UPS Philippines last October 2 in Taguig City, industry players admitted that the logistics sector is currently undergoing an upheaval due to disruptive technologies such as drones, blockchain, and artificial intelligence (AI).

UPS Philippines managing director Chris Buono

At the event titled “The Realm of the Possible: Logistics and Disruptive Technology,” Rhenu Bhuller of market research company Frost & Sullivan said it is important for logistics firms to recognize and tap the transformative power of disruptive technologies.

“Disruptive technologies tend to develop first in niche areas and normally get overlooked by mainstream players. They tend to be unique, sometimes even quirky innovations, and require a certain level of risk and threshold of acceptance before they become widely accepted within an industry,” Bhuller explained.

She then went on to talk about the world of technological innovation and the ways that brand new technologies are disrupting the traditional sector. Bhuller said companies are now looking for fresh methods to keep up with the transformation that is currently reshaping the logistics industry.

UPS Philippines managing director Chris Buono, for his part, said the emergence of disruptive technologies like AI, blockchain, and smarter transportation should be seen as a tool to make logistics firms perform better.

“The logistics market is ripe for disruption with issues such as resource usage and urbanization now becoming major concerns,” Buono said.

With AI, Buono said UPS is able to push the limits of speed and efficiency when it comes to its business. AI, he said, can be most impactful when it comes to delivering a smoother e-commerce user experience and helping e-commerce platforms navigate the urban landscape.

As already seen by AI-powered traffic management systems, he said AI is definitely a helpful tool in predictive logistics that will help make UPS deliver faster and efficient service to its customers.

The company said it is also considering blockchain to potentially increase transparency and efficiency among shippers, carries, brokers, vendors, consumers and regulators. With blockchain, it becomes easier to manage documentation, the firm added.

Using blockchain “disrupts” the notion that supply chains are opaque, costly, time-consuming, controlled by multiple brokers, and vulnerable due to only having a single hub, according to the company.

Lastly, UPS said drones is another disruptive technology that it is currently using in developing countries like Ghana. Drone technology, the company said, fulfills its vision of the delivery vehicle of the future.

With the use of this technology, UPS said the delivery of packages can be done in a sustainable manner, overcoming obstacles such as distances and geography.

The company said drones it has been exploring drone deliveries in rural areas where they can be launched from the roof of a UPS truck. This would reduce the distance between the delivery stops and makes delivery vehicles more efficient by reducing miles and emissions.

Buono said UPS has targeted the isolated and remote areas that lack infrastructure because 90% of deaths related to child birth and child mortality occur in developing countries.

He said his company aims to bring closer together the supply chain to all those that need it around the world.

“The power of disruptive technology sparks our collective imagination, drives us to blaze new trails and seek out new solutions, and provide new products, services, and ways of working that would make a difference to the people who need it the most,” Buono said.

“It creates the conditions for a better quality of life, wherever you may be. For UPS to continue being successful, disruption has to become a part of the way we do things every single day. We adopt, we adapt, and then we become adept.”

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