Manufacturing and supply chain trends impacting freight shipping.

mfg supply chain blog post

Technological advances in the manufacturing and supply chain industries have the power to reshape the freight shipping industry. These progressions enable demand-driven supply chains and also usher in an era of smarter manufacturing operations.

In this post we will go over top industry trends, including:

  • Robotics
  • Cloud driven-analytics
  • Big data
  • Distributed manufacturing
  • 3D printing



The role of robots and their responsibilities in manufacturing plants have matured in today's markets. Robots initially were brought in for less intricate tasks such as lifting or welding in plants, but now they can be seen doing more complex jobs like working on engines.

Having robots on the floor optimizes business operations such as decreasing the possibility of human error. Robots also have the potential to decrease labor costs in manufacturing, states a Wall Street Journal article.

Additionally, there have been many mentions of robotics in the trucking industry. The first autonomous truck was cleared to drive on U.S. roads less than a year ago. Autonomous trucks have been a hot topic for quite some time and when car manufacturer, Daimler, introduced "The Inspiration" in Nevada, many were hopeful for the future of trucking. The use of self-driving trucks could lend to less accidents and reduced fuel costs, as well as better-rested drivers.


Cloud-driven analytics.

The cloud has been around in trucking for some time – making it even easier for shipments to be traced by the shipper. However, the need for real-time information is larger than before as both cloud technology and shippers' needs advance.

We have traditionally known connected fleets to involve capturing data through a central server which monitors trucks on the road, keeping all involved parties informed. As mobile technology has progressed - they have enhanced the connectivity of trucks and the network.

With the advent of certain apps, mobile devices can now be multifunctional and act as a scanner during the barcoding process upon arrivals and departures of shipments - eliminating a whole step while providing shipment status in real time, reports a Trucking Info article.


Big data.

Big data proves beneficial to trucking in multiple ways: accessibility to improved routing data information, cutting down on the use of traditional paper books and reducing costs. Traditional processes to maintain trucks can be limiting as they can only really address the problem once it becomes a major issue. Big data technology can provide invaluable insight into truck maintenance early on while the mishap is still minor. Addressing mechanical problems as early as possible can save fleets more money in the long run, suggests a Smart Data Collective post.


Distributed manufacturing.

The rise of data in almost all parts of trucking also facilitates the idea of distributed (or "local") manufacturing. This type of manufacturing is aimed to eliminate wasted space while producing the final product as close to the customer as possible. Furthermore, distributed manufacturing is meant to make the most efficient use of resources by substituting as much of the material supply chain as possible with digital information, according to a Forbes article.

Traditional manufacturing often involves sourcing raw materials from a central factory while distributed manufacturing calls for parts (and fabrication processes) to be sourced to local manufacturing hubs through cloud-based platforms, notes the article. This practice cuts down the needed energy and costs associated with transportation, states a Web Economic Forum article.


3D printing.

While 3D printing is not a new contender in the manufacturing world, its popularity is exceedingly on the rise and is not expected to slow down any time soon. "The 3D printing market globally will grow from $1.6B in 2015 to $13.4B in 2018, attaining a 103.1% CAGR," reports a Forbes article.

3D printing has the power to potentially alter the trucking industry dramatically by shifting existing opportunities. Goods and the materials needed to produce them will now be closer than before with the advent of 3D printing. According to a Strategy & Business article, while this could decrease the need to transport raw materials - experts don't believe it will be a harsh reality for businesses any time soon.


Final thoughts.

As the manufacturing and supply chain industries experience fluctuating market trends - the trucking industry will advance with the changing times to better serve shippers and their evolving needs.


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