The latest cutting edge technologies in the transportation sector may still be somewhat immature, but given the colossal size of the U.S. transportation sector, they could save logistics firms millions of dollars if they improved efficiency by just a few percentage points, according to the research and analyst firm Gartner.

The three strategic technologies with the most potential to make that kind of impact include the internet of things (IoT), advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence, said Brock Johns, a principal research analyst in Gartner’s supply chain practice, in a session Wednesday at the firm’s Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo.

Those three specialities are among a group of seven “growth technologies” that have reached a mid-range of development, alongside intelligent autonomous things, 5G networks, immersive experience, and blockchain in supply chain, according to Gartner’s analysis. In comparison, a handful of other logistics concepts remain in the younger, “emerging technologies” category, such as: edge computing, governance and security, continuous intelligence, digital supply chain twin, and hyper automation, the firm says.

But according to Johns, those top three approaches already have such potential to improve operations that Gartner estimates more than 50% of global corporations will be using at least one of them by 2023.

Indeed, citing the statistic that U.S. business logistics costs totaled $1.63 trillion in 2019, as calculated in CSCMP’s 2020 State of Logistics Report, he pointed out that parcel shipments comprised some $100 billion of that total. That means that improving operational efficiency by merely 1% would generate savings of $1 million, Johns said.

Each one offers its own benefits to justify firms’ investments. First, IoT applications can help improve three areas, including visibility—such as location and condition tracking of temperature sensitive or high value goods—optimization of trucking routes, and automation of dispatching operations, he said. Thanks to those benefits, Gartner forecasts that more than 40% of freight containers and one-half of all pallets will be tagged with tracking technology by 2029.

Second, advanced analytics can provide improved transparency through data-based decision making, cost savings through better predictions, and improved customer relations through more accurate predictions of estimated time of arrival (ETA) timing.

And third, AI can support autonomous trucking and equipment, better customer experience through intelligent chat bots, and streamlined inventory flows through digitized freight networks, Johns said.


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