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Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Can Help “Future-Proof” Supply Chains

Over the past couple of months, most supply chains have weathered an unexpected storm. Rules and regulations are updated frequently in order for manufacturers, retailers and distributors to continue delivering. There’s no doubt that supply chains are feeling strained as they continue to adapt to these circumstances while operating efficiently and cost-effectively. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are two emerging technologies offering an exciting opportunity to supply chains looking to strengthen their operations.

Machine Learning Makes Way for Predictive Analytics

Integrating machine learning in logistics operations can help automate a number of repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Businesses are then able to focus on more delicate aspects of their operations that require more attention. Managing inventory is much simpler with the assistance of machine learning. Supply chain managers can optimize their inventory and ensure they’re making better informed decisions.

Additionally, machine learning gives companies access to predictive analytics. Through predictive analytics, machine learning models are able to identify patterns in historical data regarding demand. Companies can utilize the data to forecast demand as precisely as possible. Through accurate demand forecasting, businesses are able to make better informed decisions about how much inventory to hold and when to restock.

Artificial Intelligence Simplifies Warehouse Management

 Supply chains that utilize artificial intelligence are able to handle larger sets of data at a time and better inform those involved in decision making processes. Artificial intelligence applies advanced algorithms to a variety of data sets, producing results that lead to more effective strategizing. Using artificial intelligence helps businesses maximize operational efficiencies while minimizing costs.

Artificial intelligence is especially useful in both maintaining and managing warehouses. More advanced models are able to supervise unmanned warehouses and keep track of who’s coming in and out. Artificial intelligence eliminates the need to manually count inventory as it can scan the barcode of each item and count that way.

 Both machine learning and artificial intelligence help companies prepare for uncertainties the future may hold. While it is impossible to accurately predict everything that’s going to happen, machine learning enables predictive analytics to give companies a better idea of what to expect. The key to overcoming adversity in supply chains is to make sure that logistics teams are prepared.


Preparing your supply chain for what comes next starts with leveraging advanced technology with additional features to fit your company’s specific needs. By implementing a transportation management system (TMS) you can quickly add efficiencies to your supply chain through visibility, integrations, automation and optimization features.

Transportation management systems like Kuebix TMS can integrate with ERPs like Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, NetSuite or any other platform to further simplify logistics operations and drive cost savings. With Kuebix, you can even add order and route optimization for maximum efficiency. This technology empowers behavioral changes leading to dramatic cost savings. Kuebix’s Dock Scheduler even provides predictive learning to adjust scheduling estimates based on actual results and behaviors. Using technology to increase operational efficiencies can help even the most complex of supply chains stay informed and be prepared for the future!

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How Automation is Providing Businesses with a Way to Move Forward

The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically altered the traditional business model. Companies looking to resume business are searching for ways to operate at a normal pace while maintaining new standards regarding cleanliness and social distancing. While wide-scale automation has always seemed like an inevitable part of the future, the pandemic is undoubtedly accelerating the push.

According to ABI Research, more than 4 million commercial robots will be installed in over 50,000 warehouses in the world by 2025 as a result of worker shortages attributable to the pandemic. This is a significant increase from the under 4,000 warehouses that reported using commercial robots in 2018.

Locus Robotics, a Massachusetts-based robotics startup, has raised over $105 million in funds since April of last year. Their bin-moving robots are already well-received in the U.S. and they are starting to expand into global markets. In February, Locus Robotics announced that their robots have passed 100 million units picked. The company plans on continuing to support retail, industrial and healthcare businesses to help them emerge stronger on the other side of Covid-19.

While LocusBots work collaboratively with human associates, they still minimize walking and interaction between employees. Their ability to minimize the risk of exposure is becoming increasingly important as the world continues to social distance and businesses comply with new health regulations.

Many businesses may have ruled out robotics as a viable option for their supply chains at first, but the impact the pandemic will have on the future of the supply chain is changing their minds. Even before Covid-19, manufacturing had been looking at robotics as a potential solution to tight labor markets. The adoption rate for robotics and automation increased drastically between 2019 and 2020. Beyond taking the place of humans, robots like LocusBots can also improve operational efficiencies while reducing costs.

The future of the supply chain continues to change each day as the world navigates through Covid-19, but it is clear that robotics and automation are going to play a critical role in business operations. Technology continues to propel traditional business models forward into a new era.

Like automation in a warehouse, streamlining and automating logistics operations is another way companies can position themselves for success in a changed world. Companies looking to leverage technology to simplify operations should consider Kuebix TMS as a way to get started. Kuebix TMS enables customers, suppliers and carriers to collaborate on one platform. Power is given back to the shipper, giving them complete visibility and control of their shipping operations.

Kuebix is offering 60 Free Days of Kuebix Business Pro TMS to help businesses of all sizes expand capacity and manage supply chains remotely. For more information about the offer and how to get started, click here.

 

Woven City Toyota Kuebix TMS

Construction of Toyota’s ‘Smart City’ is Set to Begin in 2021

Artificial intelligence, robots and self-driving cars are establishing themselves within the transportation industry thanks to improved operational efficiencies and long-term benefits. These technologies are being adopted more commonly as their success stories continue to grow in number. Toyota, a Japanese automobile manufacturer recognized for their reliable and durable cars, has another plan to accelerate the development of this forward-thinking technology.

Toyota recently unveiled its plans for Woven City, a futuristic location dedicated to the testing and development of autonomous vehicles, smart technology and robot-assisted living. Woven City will be located in the foothills of Mount Fuji and about 60 miles away from Tokyo. The site is 175 acres and was previously home to a Toyota factory.

Woven City 2

Woven City will serve as a testing ground and give researchers and scientists the ability to test futuristic technology in a “real-life environment.” Toyota also revealed that the city will be powered exclusively by hydrogen fuel cells and rooftop solar panels.

This greener, technology-centered city provides an unparalleled opportunity for the growth and development of artificial intelligence products, robots, self-driving cars and other emerging technologies. Woven City’s dedication to testing real-life applications of these technologies will make it easier to identify and resolve problems. Their success stories and examples of everyday uses for the 2,000 individuals set to live there will serve as inspiration to those outside of the city.

Futuristic Technology in the Transportation Industry

The continued development of artificial intelligence, robotics and self-driving cars will unlock new levels of accuracy and efficiency for the transportation industry. Companies are using artificial intelligence and robotics to help with inventory, warehouse management and refining the skill sets of new truck drivers. Self-driving cars are a huge help in filling available truck driver positions.

While all of these different technologies have already started to prove their worth, it will be interesting to see how they continue to grow and collaborate with the transportation and supply chain industries!

USPS Is Testing Self-Driving Trucks With TuSimple Autonomous Technology Kuebix

USPS Is Testing Self-Driving Trucks With TuSimple Autonomous Technology

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has awarded autonomous-truck creator, TuSimple, a contract to conduct a 2-week pilot program of self-driving trucks starting on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. The self-driving truck startup reached “unicorn status” earlier this year with a $1 billion valuation.

This trial run will transport mail more than 1,000 miles each way between Phoenix and Dallas over the two week period and be used to gauge the affect self-driving trucks could have on delivery times and operational costs for the mail service. TuSimple will complete five round-trips, hauling USPS trailers from a distribution center in Phoenix to another in Dallas.

Each autonomous shipment will be accompanied by a safety engineer to ensure nothing goes wrong during the journey. TuSimple’s self-driving trucks are ranked as Level 4 autonomous, which means that they are capable of operating without the need for a human driver or monitor in certain conditions. Safety engineers will only be present during test runs and are not expected to be needed long term.

During the USPS pilot, the TuSimple trucks will autonomously navigate I-10, the southernmost cross-country interstate highway in the American Interstate Highway System. The I-10 is one of the busiest highways in the country and roughly 60% of all U.S. economic activity touches its pavement at some point.

TuSimple vehicles will also traverse the I-10 in the USPS pilot, indicating that road conditions are suitable for Level 4 autonomy. 60% of U.S. economic activity touches I-10 at some point, according to TuSimple’s press release announcing the contract. In addition to good operating conditions, the length of the route along with on OTD pressures makes it an ideal candidate for self-driving trucks to replace traditional, human-operated ones where drivers work in teams to relay shipments, often working overnights. These factors make it the ideal testing grounds for a long-haul pilot program.

“It is exciting to think that before many people will ride in a robo-taxi, their mail and packages may be carried in a self-driving truck,” said Xiaodi Hou, the founder, president and CTO of TuSimple.

TuSimple’s announcement comes after stalling news about autonomous trucks throughout the industry. Self-driving vehicle creators must battle challenges from regulations to different weather conditions nationwide before they can hope to begin selling to the public or government. TuSimple’s new contract with USPS to conduct a two-week pilot is seen as the next step in the process of making autonomous delivery a reality in the United States.

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How Virtual Reality is Transforming the Trucking Industry

Virtual reality (VR) is most commonly known for its recreational use in video games. However, the advanced application of technology is beginning to gain traction and be recognized for its improvement of training programs in a multitude of industries. Forbes Magazine reported that VR-based training programs can reduce the amount of time it takes to train a new hire by 40% and improve that employee’s performance by 70% in comparison to a traditionally trained new hire. Through the incorporation of programs involving VR, companies can cut costs and improve performance at the same time.

Virtual Reality in Trucking

The trucking industry is no exception to this steadily rising trend. UPS has estimated that by the end of 2018, they will have put 4,000 new package delivery van drivers through a training program that involves virtual reality.

With VR-based training programs, new hires have the ability to train for their new position as a driver without incurring costs related to insurance, gas, maintenance, or repairs. Traditional methods of training require either physical experience on the roads or watching videos of other people explaining the dos and don’ts of vehicle operation. While physical experience can be costly and tutorial-like videos can be disengaging, virtual reality eliminates both of these concerns and promotes a hands-on, remote method of training.

Companies who implement virtual reality into their standard training methods are also finding that it reduces the risk associated with traditional approaches. Potential accidents or vehicle damage that may happen during the training process are both costly and dangerous. Through VR-based training programs these two scenarios are avoided. In fact, programs can actually give new hires a chance to repeat dangerous situations that are rare and often times turn out to be costly. If the driver ends up in that situation or a similar one later down the line, they will be better equipped and feel more prepared for how to handle it.

According to a report by the American Trucking Associations, approximately 90,000 truck drivers need to be replaced each year for the next decade to combat the truck driver shortage the industry is experiencing throughout America. VR-based training programs teach new drivers quicker than traditional methods, getting them out on the roads faster while still being just as effective.

Not including the cost of accidents, traditional styles of training for truck driving can cost up to $7,000. Despite the growing need for more drivers in the industry, many companies cannot afford such a steep price. Companies adopting VR-based training are experiencing lower costs as well as better quality training programs that are finished in less time. Although it requires an initial investment, VR-based training programs are rapidly gaining traction in the trucking industry.

 

drone supply chain Kuebix

How Drone Technology is Going to Shape the Future of Supply Chain

What’s the Big Deal?

Drones are classified as “a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) which typically refers to a pilotless aircraft that operates through a combination of technologies, including computer vision, artificial intelligence, object avoidance tech, and others.” Their flexibility to perform virtually any report or inspection and easily collect and share data has allowed them to gain recognition as a much more valuable asset than many realized upon their entrance into the technology world. While they are most commonly recognized through their involvement with the military and recreational use, drones are working their way into a multitude of industries worldwide, including the supply chain.

Where are Drones Now?

Despite an initially negative connotation, drones have evolved and proved their worth through the benefits they provide to both personal and professional life. Drones have the ability to sharply capture significant moments in history such as life-altering political addresses and sports games that keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last second. NASA depends on them to collect footage of potentially dangerous areas in the universe and Amazon has started to use them to speed up the delivery process of small packages in certain regions.

How are They Evolving?

Drones are sold in a variety of shapes and sizes and offer an array of features such as cameras, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), navigation systems, sensors, and more. Models sold commercially are typically smaller in size and lightweight, allowing them to be launched out of hand and controlled via remote. As a result of their relatively simplistic goals, commercial drones are limited in battery life and how far they can travel. Advanced models that are used in the military or for mapping can fly for longer and be controlled from much further away.

What Does This Mean for the Supply Chain?

The continued progress in the development and use of drones has led to their successful implementation into supply chain operations from the warehouse to the road. Drones are collaborating with humans as well as operating in place of an individual. They are performing tasks such as delivering products from place-to-place in the warehouse, distribution center, or yard and transporting goods from densely packed storage areas to the proper station for the next step. Drones are being used to increase speed and efficiency and combat the 40% turnover rate warehouse operations are facing.

Drones are also increasingly being used in final-mile operations. Amazon has stated that they are working on a program where they use small drones capable of carrying up to five pounds’ worth of cargo to deliver products to end customers in as few as 30 minutes. Drone operations outside of contained locations (like warehouses) are more experimental at this time and come with governmental restrictions and worries about safety, so drone programs aren’t widely being employed at this time. With mega-companies such as Amazon working on drone delivery systems, however, it’s expected that drone technology will become common sights all across America in the next few years. This will drastically change the face of supply chain and add to already increasing customer expectations around the speed of delivery.

What Can We Do?

For the stability of the supply chain, utilizing the latest in technology is now more important than ever. Consumers want their products to reach them quickly and without error. Having an organized and efficient system is an essential part of preventing customers from turning to a competitor.  If drones continue to flourish within the supply chain and more companies start to integrate them into their operations, those who ignore the trend will face the consequences. Every company should actively make an effort to remain one step ahead of the competition in all things technology so that they can be prepared for future tech like drones when they finally become mainstream parts of the supply chain.