Automation in logistics is happening. New technologies are being tested and apply to all components of the supply chain processes and every new implementation is more amazing than the previous one. From simple applications such as Pick to light to more complex AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) and GTP (Goods to Person) systems are already an essential part of the solutions being implemented in warehouses all over the world.
In the same manner that computers, the internet, and mobile devices were introduced into our daily routines and work, drones have entered our lives. These UAVs (Unmanned Aired Vehicles) not only entertain us but are already being used in a variety of creative ways by different industries. Most of us have seen aerial shots of stadiums, forums, cities, etc. where the events are taking place, and bird’s eye view videos from mountain tops or over crowed pool parties. Advertisements, movies, tv-series, and more have incorporated the use of drones as a tool. Drones have taken such a role in our daily lives that now drone races are a growing sport.
Using Drones in Logistics
It was only a matter of time before logistic providers, integrators and multinational enterprises started to look for ways to take advantage of this new technology. Amazon, UPS, DHL and Zookal are only some of the companies who have tested drone deliveries. As with all emerging technologies, there is a long way to go before drone-delivery becomes a reality, especially with all the security measures concerning urban air space traffic. However, distribution and deliveries are not the only applications being tested out with drones. Within stores and warehouses, drones have been tasked with inventory counting, and security firms have explored the use of drones as aerial “sentinels.” Who knows what other applications will be tested out in years to come.
One big trend right know is cargo drones capable of substituting local distribution networks. Eventually they might also replace national and international networks.
Thoughts on the Future
Do drones represent a viable alternative right now? I believe we are still far from that future. Not only are the different aerial administration agencies still working on the fine details about drone traffic in urban areas, but the technology still needs to be standardized and developed further for it to be competitive and cost efficient in the long run. Also, the implementation of drone deliveries will impact jobs and labor, which we need to be conscious of. The only thing that is certain is that every day we get closer to seeing our skies filled with these artifacts.
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