Behold the future of transportation

As business owners and entrepreneurs, we depend on technology to keep on top of the latest business intelligence and to streamline production.

We constantly check emails and messages on our smartphones, implement the latest operating systems and download the most recent software upgrades. Keeping one step ahead of the competition demands that you have communication and processes that are smarter, faster, more intuitive and user-friendly.

The field of supply chain logistics has always embraced technological advances, primarily those that keep shippers, drivers and customers informed.

When you purchase groceries or goods from a store, you are the end user of the traditional logistics chain; if you shop online, you bypass the conventional method of in-person purchasing in favor of ordering from your computer and having the item delivered to your home or office. And of course, you track your order online to see its delivery progress.

Jarrett Logistics has always invested significantly in state-of-the-art technology. Transportation management software (TMS) offers logistics customers complete supply chain visibility, with a Web-enabled TMS system that allows them to get rate quotes for shipments, submit a shipment request, produce a bill of lading and track the shipment.

Our PackShip Furniture Direct division employs a barcode system and upgraded handheld scanning devices for real-time delivery tracking; all drivers have an iPhone to check messages and keep in contact with the dispatcher and with each other.

Jarrett Fleet Services, our truck maintenance division, has implemented new Enterprise Resource Planning software that takes the customer’s order and processes it from start to finish — quoting the repair, providing status of the work, alerting the customer when the maintenance is complete and creating an invoice.

More changes on the way
Exciting new advances in supply chain logistics and delivery methods are just around the corner. While it may cause travelers some stress the first time a driverless semi is seen heading down the highway, autonomous (self-driving) trucks will become more common in the future.

Semi-automated platooning — two trucks connected via a wireless electronic communication system and Internet — can increase the productivity of a haul, reducing aerodynamic drag by decreasing the distance between the lead and trailing vehicle. In certain circumstances, the second truck can be completely automated, reducing labor costs.

Drone package delivery is another advancement that will increase transportation efficiency. The “final mile” of delivery is the most costly portion of the supply chain — traditionally, a package arrives via carrier, is offloaded onto a smaller truck and driven to its destination off the main roads, which costs time, labor, fuel and vehicle wear and tear.

With drone technology, parcels can be dropped right at the consumer’s door in a more convenient, efficient and timely manner.

Whether or not most folks are even aware, they participate in high-tech supply chain economics every day. Online or in-store, logistics technology plays an important role in the transportation and delivery of your purchase.

But embracing the benefits of technology should not come at the expense of losing touch with the human at the other end, whether it’s your customer or your employee. ●

Michael Jarrett is founder and president of Jarrett Logistics Systems and PackShip USA.