The State of Software and Applications in the Logistics Industry
The Logistics industry has changed drastically over the last decade. It used to be dominated by massive, centralized distribution centers, but now most distribution centers are smaller.
This change has been driven by e-commerce, which has reduced the amount of products that most distribution centers need to store at any given time. On the other hand, the market for virtual stores has grown sharply, creating a need for a new type of distribution center. These warehouses are small and mobile, and they are designed to quickly move products from a central warehouse to a customer's home.
Imagine that you are a logistics manager of a large corporation and are responsible for ensuring the timely delivery of the company's goods to their destinations. Your company owns an enormous fleet of trucks, trains, planes, and ships, and you rely heavily on the software that supports them.
Since you are responsible for an entire fleet of vehicles, you need to be able to track all of their locations and schedules through a single software tool. As a result of the size of your company, you need to be able to track the deliveries of your suppliers so that you can plan your own deliveries and be ready for anything. With all of these independently moving pieces, you need to be able to coordinate all of your the logistics in real time. And finally, as a growing company in an in-demand market, you also need to be able to scale your software to manage all of your deliveries.
These are just a few of the factors that managers and decision makers consider when they go about selecting a logistics management solution that will power their company. They need to consider the current state of their company's software and how it can be improved, the hardware that they'll use to run the software, and the long-term future of their business and how the software they select will support its growth.
This is why so many businesses in the logistics industry are turning to custom software solutions. Off-the-shelf software claims to be a one size fits all solution, but no two businesses are exactly alike, nor do they operate in exactly the same way.
With custom software, logistics teams can build systems that perfectly address the specific needs of their business. It can be used to improve communication, increase efficiency, manage customer service and increase responsiveness to customer demand, create more effective workflows, and optimize the processes that support their business.
In this article, we'll take a look at the different types of apps and software solutions available to the logistics industry and the features these apps should have.
The Market for Logistics Apps Today
In many ways, the market for logistics software and applications is growing faster than the broader software industry. As a matter of fact, data suggests that software built for the logistics market is poised to grow by $2.92 billion between 2021 and 2025 progressing at a CAGR of 10% during the forecast period. The increasing demand for affordable and reliable logistics software is driven by the fact that product life cycles are getting shorter and it is getting more difficult to service customers with physical products.
The market for logistics software is also experiencing a major shift from cloud-based to mobile solutions. This is because of the rapid increase of mobile users, and the fact that mobile users tend to be younger and more tech-savvy than average. Mobile users tend to expect new features and frequent updates, and they also demand the ability to interact with their logistics software on the go.
The Takeaway - If you're building applications and software in this space, it will benefit you greatly to design and build with a mobile-first mentality. Your app should be user-friendly and intuitive with a minimal learning curve in order to cater to a diverse group of users. Additionally, if you can create something that can be used offline—for those inevitable instances where drivers stray outside of the range of their service provider—it might set your product apart from those of your competitors.
Types of Logistics Apps Being Built Today
We've discussed some of the areas that applications and software can be useful in, and we've touched on what the market for this technology looks like. But what kind of apps are currently being built today, and how do they help professionals in the logistics industry? In this section, we'll breakdown some of the most popular application types in development for this industry.
Fleet Routing Software
Fleet Routing Software is a series of algorithms and programs used by logistics and transportation companies to determine the most efficient and cost-effective method of transporting goods. This is a highly competitive and rapidly changing field, and dozens of companies offer their own variations on the technology. This model accepts real-life fleet data about routes and deliveries and then generates a single-paragraph output for each piece of data.
Supply Chain Management Software
Supply Chain Management (SCM) software is a type of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software intended to help companies manage their supply chains, and it is designed to optimize the efficiency of moving goods from an origin of production to the end-consumer.
SCM software operates at multiple points in the supply chain, and companies can use it to manage their internal supply chain, their external supply chain, or both. Internal supply chain management is the process of managing product supply within a company, often with the goal of reducing costs and waste. Companies that operate in the same supply chain can also use SCM software to collaborate on product planning and logistics. External supply chain management is the process of managing a company's supply chain from the perspective of a large chain of suppliers and distributors.
The supply chain in a company spans a large number of moving parts, and SCM software helps companies track and maintain all of them. It can be used to track a multitude of different kinds of orders and also be used to provide a greater insight into a company's potential for growth. It can provide a snapshot of the company's current state and then use that data to build an algorithm to project a company's future state.
Route Optimization Software
Route optimization software is software designed to help logistics companies deliver goods to customers more efficiently. It optimizes routes based on real-time data from GPS devices and shipping schedules. It reduces costs by minimizing shipping times, eliminating idle waiting times, and reducing gas consumption.
Route optimization software is still a relatively new industry, but it is growing rapidly. As consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of shipping, they will also demand more efficient routes.
Real-Time Transportation Management Software
Real-Time transportation management software for the logistics industry is a cloud-based solution that automates the tracking of vehicles and assets. Real-Time solutions have been adopted by a large percentage of logistics companies in the United States, but many companies still use paper-based solutions to track their assets. These solutions are not only inefficient but also dangerous, because they can lead to theft, accidents, and even fatalities. To prevent this, some companies have resorted to tracking assets with GPS devices. However, this method requires an on-call staff that has access to the devices. Real-Time solutions are designed to eliminate the need for an on-call staff, which can reduce costs while also maximizing efficiency. This allows for smarter solutions that are designed to scale with your company's business.
Fleet Management Software
Fleet management software allows logistics companies to optimize the number of vehicles that they own and operate. It also allows them to optimize their routes by considering the vehicle's operating costs, its maximum payload, and the demand for the product that they are transporting.
This type of software can be beneficial to a transportation company in a number of ways. It helps companies find the best routes for each driver, predict future demand for their deliveries, and make the most efficient use of their fuel and other resources. The software can also help companies operate more safely. If a truck breaks down or if a driver has to stop for a traffic accident, then the application will alert the appropriate personnel, and the company will be able to replace the driver or repair the vehicle as quickly as possible. Additionally, it can help companies identify and document unsafe drivers.
Asset Tracking & Management Software
Asset tracking and management software is user-friendly computer applications that help clients monitor the movements of their assets. When used in the logistics industry, they can be useful to firms that rely on shipments of materials or products to bring in revenue. These applications track the location of products or shipments using global positioning systems, barcode scanners, or another similar technology. They are often used in conjunction with other software tools to help firms keep track of inventory, monitor their purchasing costs, and optimize their supply chain.
This type of software is beneficial to logistics firms because it simplifies the logistics process. It can help firms track products that are being shipped to them or track products that they are shipping to their customers and help them monitor their own inventory levels. Asset Tracking and Management software is especially convenient for firms that rely on third-party suppliers to deliver stock to them.
Real-Time Supply Chain Visibility Software
Real-time supply chain visibility software for the logistics industry is a web-based system that tracks the movement of products from the manufacturer to the consumer. It works by employing a network of sensors embedded in the products themselves to collect telemetry data about the product's location, its temperature, and its status. These sensors relay this information to a cloud-based data feed where it is processed by a software application. The software gathers telemetry data from all of the sensors in the network and uses it to provide a real-time stream of information to a variety of end users.
This software for the logistics industry is beneficial because it enables businesses to track their products in real-time. This means that companies can be notified when goods are damaged, when they are stuck at customs, or when they are stolen. They can also predict when they will run out of certain products or when they will need to restock. Businesses that rely heavily on logistics will be able to run more efficiently using this software.
Digital Twin Technology
A digital twin is a virtual representation that serves as the real-time digital counterpart of a physical object or process. This technology allows a company to track a product's performance, maintain a complete history of its use, and even predict future performance based on past performance.
Digital twin technology is useful in the logistics industry because logistics companies have the ability to create digital twins for all of the products that they ship. This allows them to track the performance of these products in the field. They can use this information to help them maximize the performance of their products. For example, they can determine when to perform maintenance, when to replace parts, and when to warn customers about potential issues.
Artificial & Augmented Intelligence Technology
Artificial and Augmented Intelligence (AI) is a program or computer system that can make decisions and take actions based on data and information and by applying some kind of logic and reasoning. It's currently the basis for self-driving cars, automated customer service chatbots, and predictive analytics. AI, in particular, is changing the logistics industry by improving the way companies deliver products and services to customers.
These technologies can be used to improve operations, cut costs, and increase efficiency. Some of the ways that companies are using AI include the use of drones and autonomous vehicles to deliver packages and other goods directly to customers.
Blockchain technology can be used in the logistics industry to increase transparency and efficiency within the supply chain. Blockchain technology is a distributed ledger that records transactions across a peer-to-peer network. It is decentralized, meaning that data is hosted on multiple computers, or nodes, that are all running the same software. Because the data is distributed across the network, transactions are visible to all participants.
This technology can be beneficial for logistics because it removes the middleman from transactions. A distributed ledger would allow for the instant tracking of where goods are located in the supply chain, making it easy to identify where issues occur. This would cut down on the time and costs associated with resolving issues. Blockchain technology would also allow for more accurate tracking of shipments, resulting in more efficiency. This would reduce the amount of time spent on the road by drivers, which would reduce traffic congestion.
Transportation Management System
A Transportation Management System (TMS) is a software application that automates the delivery of goods by trucks, railroads, ships, and airplanes. TMS applications are not created for any particular industry or type of product, but rather for companies that conduct the bulk of their business through shipping. A TMS application will automate many of the logistical tasks required to move a product from point A to point B, and it will create a single consolidated database for all shipping records, to which anyone in the company can contribute. The database will also automatically update all of the company's employees about any changes to the company's shipping schedule.
TMS applications can help companies cut costs by automating manual processes and eliminating human error. They can help companies boost their profits by ensuring that they stay on schedule and that they use the most efficient shipping methods.
Features That Logistics Apps Should Have
Logistics applications and software must have a variety of features in order to be truly useful in a business setting. These features should include:
- User-friendly - The software you develop should have a customizable user interface and be accessible from a variety of different devices. It should also offer some form of customer service and training and have a low learning curve.
- Real-time Communication - It is critical that communication between drivers and dispatchers be as near-real-time as possible. If drivers are hours or even minutes away from their next stop, then communication with dispatchers may be delayed. In this case, a delay of a few minutes can make a big difference in a delivery's efficiency.
- Actionable Notifications - If a driver is running behind schedule, a notification should be sent to the driver and their dispatcher without delay. If a driver makes a delivery before their scheduled time, a notification should be sent to the delivery's recipient. In either case, the notification should include information about the delivery's status.
- Customizable Communication - If a driver is unable to reach the delivery recipient they should be able to communicate with them via a number of communication channels. For instance, drivers might call recipients or send them a text message. It is also a good idea to give drivers the ability to send a link to a map where they can show recipients exactly where they are.
- Customizable Notifications - Notifications should be customizable so that they can be sent to a variety of communication channels. For instance, a notification sent to a mobile device should also appear as a notification on the mobile device's lock screen.
- Visualizations - It is important to be able to break down lots of data in a way that is easy to digest, and visualizations are a great way to accomplish this.
- Reporting & Integrations - Whatever software you build for a logistics company should have an extensive reporting suite that can be integrated with other software packages.
- Flexibility - Logistics software should always be flexible and have many ways to customize it to suit different business needs. It should have a large number of add-ons and add-ons that can be created by third-party developers.
- Accessibility - Logistics is a global industry, so software for it should have a global reach as well and be compatible with many different languages and currencies.
Build Custom Logistics Software Solutions with Crowdbotics
Crowdbotics is a full-service app development company with an abundance of experience working with enterprise clients to build the solutions that they need. Whether you're looking for applications to help you streamline your operations or more efficiently handle shipments, staff and inventory, and accounting, we can build the high-quality tools you need 3x faster than manual development. To learn more, get in touch with us today for a detailed estimate!