Logistics 4.0 appears as a result of Industry 4.0. Maintaining the logistics processes physically contradicts the principle of efficiency and leads to a decrease in competitive advantage. Setting up these activities with technological infrastructure makes it easier to reduce many expenses, accelerate and follow up processes. Thus, efficiency increases, delivery times are shortened, occupational accidents are prevented, damage rate decreases and planning becomes easier.
Logistics 1.0, the first phase of the concept of logistics, begins with the invention of steam engines. Thanks to steam machines, products have started to be transported from one point to another by sea and rail transportation. However, in this period, the most effective transportation method was still road transportation.
When we look at the age of Logistics 4.0, we can see that sea transportation is the backbone. The computer-aided system that came into our lives with Logistics 3.0 forms the basis of Logistics 4.0 applications. Developing technology allows us to make more realistic and efficient planning. It also minimizes human intervention. In this way, human-induced errors are prevented. The majority of the system is managed by the interpretation of historical and instant data and processed by autonomous robots.
So, what Logistics 4.0 actually is? It is necessary to know the components of the concept and what they are used for in order to answer this question in the best way. Among these components, technological developments such as Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printers, augmented reality (AR), big data and cloud computing affect Logistics 4.0.
Internet of things, that is, IoT is the system that allows objects to communicate with each other. Each object creates data and this data acts as the input of another object. In addition, improvements can be made in the system as a result of analyzing the patterns among the data.
Since all kinds of objects can communicate with each other through IoT technology, the need for human intervention is reduced.
IoT will be the cornerstone of logistics in the coming period. Managing all logistics processes (all activities such as storing, transporting, stock management, handling, etc. during the process from supply chain to consumption) through IoT will be the future of logistics. In this way, all activities can be monitored simultaneously, and all factors affecting functioning will be controlled. Moreover, performance can be measured instantly.
Today, the main input of the Internet of Things technology is RFID. RFID ensures the communication and integration between physical and digital elements in warehouses. Also, products in the warehouses can be separated according to the desired features thanks to the RFID system.
Although not much at the moment, we will see smart vehicles such as self-driving trucks, unmanned ships, pilotless planes in the future thanks to IoT. This situation will change the definition of logistics once again.
Big data is the name given to “very large” databases where information obtained through people, internet or other systems is collected. All data are converted into digital expressions and stored in the system. The biggest benefit of big data is that it facilitates instant decision making. Because the data enters to the system instantly and is stored ready for analysis. This allows companies to be more agile, so that both large losses can be prevented and opportunities are not missed.
Big data is also an important technology for system improvement. It ensures that many data required for system improvement are stored. It also provides instant collection of information on the competitive market. It also minimizes the margin of error in long-term demand estimation.
Big data ensures the storage of data required for Logistics 4.0
One of its most important benefits for the logistics industry is that it allows real-time
planning of routes in operations. Because, while classical route calculations are based on old data, big data use up-to-date data, making dynamic planning possible. This increases efficiency and reflects on profitability.
Big data can determine the optimum route by tracking traffic lights, closed roads, accidents and traffic density live. After the vehicle starts off, it can evaluate a business offer and add it to its program if appropriate. In this way, it saves fuel and time and increases efficiency.
Today, the world’s biggest brands develop their products, customer relations, efficiency and sales with the support of big data. It is stated by experts that this technology is still in its infancy. As data storage technology develops and the number of objects connected to the Internet increases, big data will open up new opportunities.
Successful systems have been established with robots, especially in storage and handling processes. However, these systems are still at the very beginning of the logistics goals of the future. Because these robots need humans to operate. However, in Industry 5.0, led by Japan, unmanned production can be made in factories. The logistics industry is not far from this technology. In the future, we will see more logistics processes that do not need humans and are managed by autonomous robots.
Thanks to autonomous robots, we have the potential to realize the warehouse management part of logistics activities without the need for people, with minimum error margin and maximum efficiency. The fact that there is no need to employ people allows us to deduct time limitations, breaks and holidays. In addition, this means lessening of occupational accidents. It also reduces the costs of air conditioning such as heating/cooling and lighting. Their error rates are lower than processes involving people.
Stock control can be performed with the help of sensors. When the level of a product in the warehouse falls below the determined level, they can notify the host computer.
3D printers, which come into our lives in many areas from medical to city planning, also affect the logistics industry. Effects such as the easier production of personalized products and the decrease in the need for storage will cause logistics planning to be reconsidered.
The cloud system reduces the cost and workforce of physically storing your data. Thanks to this technology, we are able to store more and more data at a cheaper price day by day. In addition, we can access these data from wherever we want.
IoT-based data need large data pools for storage. Cloud technology provides us with a system to collect and store incoming data from machines. It also has a structure that reduces security concerns to some extent.
When we look at the technologies associated with Logistics 4.0, we can see that they all support each other in some way. Robots host the IoT system and generate data. Cloud system stores the data. We convert the data stored by the cloud system into significant analysis with big data. Codes used by 3D printers are also stored in the cloud. We can see that logistics activities are evolving in a way that pushes people out of the system. However, how much the capacity of cloud technology can increase and the processing power of big data will determine this limit.
You can read our article named Logistics Trends – The Future of Logistics to take a look at the trends in the logistics industry.