What 5G Means to the Logistics Industry
During the pandemic, supply chain issues created problems for everyone involved—from the manufacturer to the end user. However, there were issues present even before the onset of COVID-19, and 5G is predicted to eliminate many of those problems. Here are just a few of the ways 5G is changing the logistics industry.
Improved Routing and Tracking Options
In and past, and even now, most companies have been unable to track shipments with any precision. That means it’s been difficult to determine where shipments were and when they would arrive at their destinations. Using 5G will allow shippers (and customers) to track all shipments.
For years, it’s been virtually impossible to track shipments in areas where communications systems were substandard. There were significant dead zones, making it impossible to know where a given shipment was at any time. With 5G, real-time tracking will be possible, making it easier to identify the exact location of a shipment at any point during transit.
While it may not be a common issue, there are times when re-routing a shipment is necessary. That’s especially true during natural disasters, but altering a route can also save time and resources when any conditions change. With 5G, shippers can readily revise the route of a shipment.
Enhanced Performance of Devices
Users of 4G and earlier equipment are finding it difficult to find sufficient bandwidth for their devices. Older networks simply don’t have the capabilities required to meet the needs of today’s users. That means communications are delayed, which creates logistics nightmares for both shippers and customers.
Suppliers of 5G services contend the newer networks eliminate those issues. According to widely disseminated data, 5G connects thousands more devices than 4G or older systems. At the same time, those connections will be up to 100 times faster than existing options.
So, just what does that mean for users? Today, companies depend on communication devices to operate, and that trend is accelerating rapidly. The adoption of mobile devices has forever altered the way companies function. If those devices are unable to communicate, operations are delayed and productivity falters. However, by using 5G, companies can make use of more devices and, as a result, speed up their day-to-day operations.
Generate Better Inventory Controls
Using 5G devices enhances end-to-end visibility of products and significantly reduces the chances of shrinkage along the way. Inexpensive sensors make it possible to track even individual items as they move through the supply chain or a company’s own systems.
Newer tracking systems continue to be developed, which means shippers can expect to see additional performance improvements in the near future. Every enhancement further reduces the odds of shipping errors and shrinkage, which means companies can expect to see higher profits.
Move Toward Automated Trucking
One of the most important factors to consider when discussing the advantages of 5G systems is transportation. For years, driver shortages held back progress, as shipments languished throughout the supply chain. Autonomous trucks are currently undergoing testing, and shippers can expect to see them put in service soon.
Using 5G allows autonomous trucks to react quickly when necessary to adjust speed, avoid accidents, and reach their destination without mishaps. While eliminating drivers in the near term would be impractical, companies everywhere are exploring ways to use autonomous trucks to boost their productivity and improve customer service.
Speed Up Port Operations
Another common bottleneck is ports. Containers are offloaded and shuffled to areas where they can be sorted and stacked for pickup. Those types of operations tend to cause slowdowns that 5G can eliminate. Intelligent transportation systems are intended to speed up the loading and offloading of containers, which means those containers can reach their ultimate destinations faster.
Those types of systems can’t exist without fast, reliable connections, and only 5G networks currently have the capacity required for high-speed transportation systems to work. Testing of systems is currently underway, but it’s likely ports will start adopting them in the near future.
Provide Faster and More Accurate Picking
Errors during the order picking process are costly in many respects. Labor is wasted, and customers don’t receive the items they need. Incorrect picking costs money, and no one wants to spend more than absolutely necessary to fill and ship orders.
Systems using augmented reality options are already in use, but industry experts routinely state 5G networks will make it simpler to use a wide array of devices throughout the supply chain. Sensors, devices, and specialized cameras work in unison to communicate with unmanned vehicles and other equipment as needed to improve the quality and accuracy of inventory information.
How Will 5G Impact Your Organization?
Not all companies will be able to adopt 5G network capabilities quickly, but there are always ways to improve productivity and profitability now. In some cases, your partner in logistics will pick up the slack to move your organization forward today rather than waiting until later.
That doesn’t mean individual companies should delay exploring ways 5G networks can improve their operations. The ultimate goal is always to improve profits, and that requires doing whatever it takes to satisfy customers, regardless of where on the supply chain companies are.
In many instances, moving forward now makes perfect sense, as a company may have the ability to adopt 5G network options quickly. However, not all companies can currently access 5G networks, which means working with logistics partners will prove to be beneficial.
The obvious first step is to evaluate your company’s current options to determine when or how 5G network options can be utilized. Next, funding the upgrades presents obstacles for some operations. That means planning for upgrades may be necessary. However, the sooner 5G networks are in place and used, the better off the company will be.
If you’re ready to move your logistics systems forward, now is the time to act. As 5G becomes more available around the country (and the world), competitors are bound to take advantage of the benefits provided by the new systems. Rather than falling behind, start using available 5G logistics options now.