Modern tech is turning many industries on their heads at the moment, and courier services are especially well positioned to reap the benefits of cutting edge hardware and connected services.
This is all the more relevant in an age when online shopping is exploding in popularity and additional strains are being placed on traditional distribution networks.
Here is a look at the types of tech that are empowering couriers at the moment, improving customer satisfaction and profits in one fell swoop.
Intelligent route planning is becoming the norm
Route planning has been an important aspect of courier services for decades, but until recently it was both incredibly time-consuming and also unhelpfully inflexible.
Today, management software for deliveries has evolved to the point where intelligent route planning can be automated and orchestrated with ease, as well as offering the ability to adapt on the fly to changes so that the most efficient approach is always taken, no matter what obstacles lie in the path of drivers.
This means that couriers can complete routes in less time, with fewer unnecessary stops, lower levels of fuel consumption and thus greater profit margins for their employers.
Autonomous deliveries are entering the fray
Driverless vehicles are seen as the future of transport, and it is certainly true that they will have a role to play in shaping the future of delivery and distribution.
However, for last-mile delivery in urban environments, different types of autonomous devices are being championed.
Airborne drone-based delivery has been gestating for several years now, with e-commerce giants like Amazon seeking to connect customers and local distribution centers by unmanned quadcopters that can soar through the sky and drop off parcels in gardens and other green spaces.
At the other end of the spectrum in terms of speed and glamour are the land-based drones being trialed by Starship Technologies. These wheeled drones can trundle slowly but surely between food stores and customers’ homes, bringing them essential items ordered online and delivered the same day.
Additive manufacturing will change the game
In order for individuals and businesses to get access to products and materials, couriers have been the necessary intermediary between them and manufacturers. This is all set to change as the trend for additive manufacturing, otherwise known as 3D printing, gains traction.
The reason for this is simple; since 3D printers can be used to produce parts and components in-situ based on designs sent digitally, there is theoretically no need to physically ship products from a single manufacturing site, since they can instead be produced by machinery dotted more broadly around the country and the world.
This has obvious advantages in the distribution of replacement parts for the automotive industry, for example, meaning that repair shops can print out spares on the fly rather than having to order them from the manufacturer and wait for delivery.
The only question that is hard to answer is when these technologies will break through into the mainstream; intelligent route planning is the clear frontrunner, and so should be the one to watch for now.