Logistics and the Fourth Industrial RevolutionMarch 10th, 2020
What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
Wondering if we’re talking about another futuristic fantasy movie? Not this time. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is real and it’s already dawned. This is a seismic shift for societies and economies because it’s not just about one new technology. In fact, it’s many transformative advances coming together all at once, creating a perfect storm of opportunity… and challenge.
Some of the key developments powering the Fourth Industrial Revolution are in artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), genetic engineering, quantum computing, 3D printing and robotics. Collectively, they are creating ground-breaking new capabilities and opportunities in human life, work and our environment. We’re in the early stages of the transformation – but the pace of discovery is accelerating as these technologies and scientific discoveries enable each other to do more, to do it faster and more accessibly for more people and in more industries and activities.
The Revolution Has Already Begun
So far so conceptual. In practice, the green shoots of the Fourth Industrial Revolution first showed themselves in GPS systems dynamically routing us to our destinations in changing traffic
conditions, robotic keyhole surgery in remotely controlled operating theatres, online shopping portals that merchandise products and services based on a broad range of our interests and online activities, or Siri and Alexa interpreting voice commands to carry out a series of tasks, such as identifying a song, finding the right version available free online or in our music libraries and sharing it or playing it through the device we’re using at the volume we prefer.
These capabilities, which once seemed as though they belonged to the realm of science fiction, are commonplace today and have been readily embraced by generations and societies around the world.
The Impact on Industry – Speed and Agility are Everything
The effect on individuals’ ease and quality of life is only one side of the story. The Fourth Industrial Revolution augments both workers and managers with technology, producing productivity gains and changing the way businesses of all kinds operate. The impact of robotic automation has already been felt in factory production lines – now robotic process automation is having the same effect in service environments.
Digital twinning and AI mean businesses can rapidly predict, model and implement new processes that anticipate customer demand. Digital power to collate, analyse and draw conclusions from vast amounts of data in real time mean everything is speeded up, from production and communication to supply chain and logistics.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution for Logistics and Supply Chain
This acceleration of ideas, productivity and the movement of goods is why the Fourth Industrial Revolution is so important for the logistics industry. Customers will expect more personalised, automated and local services. Successful logistics operations won’t be defined by their well-controlled labour costs and economical vehicle fleets but by their ability to harness data of all kinds to predict and satisfy customer demand as it happens in the most efficient and convenient way, in every locality and sector where they operate. Using automation and AI, it’s now possible to process and interrogate complex and customised data sets to guide everyday planning and activity in a way that wasn’t possible using manual resources and human intelligence alone.
Self-guided vehicles and a range of technologically advanced transport methods, such as city hyperloops and drones, will become part of everyday delivery infrastructure. Meeting new safety and compliance regulations is one challenge for logistics organisations; others include recruiting people with the right skills to program and operate these autonomous modes of transport and creating a flexible and responsive fleet that can navigate modern urban and rural landscapes.
Logistics organisations need to embrace and influence the new digital supply chains that will adequately support business and consumer needs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Design-on-demand will cut lead times for parts and supplies. Individual specification will become the standard. Large inventories and slow-moving goods will be consigned to the past. Consumer and commercial expectations of delivery speed and accuracy will be exacting.
An Exciting Opportunity for Those Who Are Prepared
The challenge may sound overwhelming, when you consider your current technology and processes. The good news is that AI and automation technology is becoming more accessible and affordable to organisations of all sizes every day. The swelling volume of global data may seem impenetrable, but it too is accessible to SMEs as well as corporates. And specialist tools and expertise are available to help businesses access and deploy relevant information.
Combining your customer data with a range of external sources gives you the power to continually learn from focused and actionable insight, shaping both strategy and everyday operations in logistics and supply chain. As logistics data specialists, the CACI team is here to help you adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and sustain your success in a radically changing world.
Read more about redesigning digital supply chains in this thought-provoking article by Scott Price, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer at UPS.
If you’re exploring how your logistics organisation will perform and compete as the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes hold, talk to a CACI specialist about harnessing data to support your evolving operations.