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Self-Driving Technology-Logistics Application.
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Unmanned aerial vehicles, also referred to as drones, should be increasingly explored in
various fields such as land surveys, mining, construction, supply chain management, and other
areas of operations. Conceivably, the rapid technological adoption of this technology may have
been driven by e-commerce growth, the changing consumer behaviors, the current population
growth, innovation, and the present sustainability growth attention. Conferring to Supply Chain
Management, the UAVs are increasingly being applied and particularly in logistics or
distribution facilities, warehousing, and inventory management. The use of drones promises to
enhance safety and security and promote the overall efficiency in supply chain management.
This assignment essay focuses on the usefulness of the UAV technology in logistics considering
its implications for business to consumer (b2c) transactions and business to business (b2b)
transactions. The paper further discusses the pros and cons of the deployment of UAV
technology in logistics.
UAVs in Logistics.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, after issuing hundreds of waivers to
companies in commercial drone use, UAVs are expected to generate $82 billion in economic
growth with over 100,000 employment opportunities in the United States. In logistics, a full
exploration of the technology intends to eliminate logistic challenges such as those related to
medical goods such as blood supplies between hospitals (b2b) and other medical supplies like
organs, diagnostic samples, medicines, vaccines, and others (Fernández-Caramés et al., 2019).
The utilization of technology is expected to cut across industries in its logistics applications.
Amazon, for example, has already unveiled its drone to support its delivery ambitions.
According to Amazon, the technology has enabled it to expand its delivery capabilities and
controls, as evidenced by its investment in fleet trucks that saw it roll out crowdsourced delivery
services with third parties drivers' networks, enabling Amazon to purchase its own branded
Boeing767. Amazon’s adoption of technology also sought to limit its reliance on external
companies and the congested roads. This follows a 2018 study that revealed drones’ delivery to
be more efficient than trucks. The study also found that efficiency increased when an electronic
drone is used instead of gasoline drones. In another business to a business transaction, the Swiss
Post has in place trials in Switzerland where drones are being used to transport samples of
laboratories between hospitals.
However, for the successful implementation of drones in logistics applications, there
must be complex sets of factors that need to be considered for technology selection. Firstly, there
is a need for considering the appropriateness of distance, size, weight, and requirements in the
transportation of the items (Rana, Praharaj, & Nanda, 2016). Also, organizations operating
business to business transactions such as Alibaba and those intending to use the technology for
business to consumer transactions, there is a great need for concern in terms of the regulations
for operating UAVs un logistics, given the that EU and many other European countries are still
formulating the guidelines with respect to the risks associated with the integration of the
technology. Organizations therefore, must ensure in addition to the regulation issue
stakeholders' acceptance, financial resources needed, human resources, and the operational
procedures to effectively utilize the technology within the existing logistic sector structures.
Applicably, some shipping firms such as UPS and FedEx are contemplating to use drones
to monitor traffic and optimize drivers’ routes based on real time data. This step would take
some hassles out of the end-stages of the supply chain DHL and Google are already
experimenting the use of drones especially in lightweight consumer goods to deliver even front
doors deliveries i.e., taking part in the business to consumer transaction. Drones are also being
used within organizations in moving small items more efficiently as opposed to the convention
use of forklifts and conveyor belt systems in transporting small boxes and other transitory
products or materials around distribution Centers. The technology is applied inside and outside
warehousing supply chain activities such as shipping of commodities between production
facilities and distribution centers; fundamentally, expediting order fulfilment (Rabta,
Wankmüller, & Reiner, 2018). Even though the technology is still developing, many companies
are finding it easy to use as they become readily available. The easiness of utilization the
technology in logistics relates to the existence of some drone-flying software as open source
making it easy for companies under B2C to create flight paths and deliver to consumers at
doorsteps. Logistics’ consideration of drones serves perfect particularly in where it is not easy to
reach consumers in a b2c transaction such as parcelcopter transaction between the sender and the
Pros of UAVs in Logistics.
In supply Chain Management, the UAVs or drones have always shown a divisive role,
However, the technology poses a myriad of advantages. In logistics, drones deliver products
quickly to virtually any location. The technology has proven to cut the cost of average delivery,
especially in locations that prove out of reach by the traditional delivery service systems in place
such as truck deliveries (Bamburry, 2015). Use of drones eliminate possible human errors in
terms of negligence, wrong recipient delivery, and those linked to willful acts that are commonly
associated with humans, thus benefit of lower margin of error. Speed is an undisputable
advantage of utilizing UAVs in logistics as proven by the DHL utilization in lightweight freight
services delivering in minutes. UAVs adoption allow logistic companies to divert their present
HR towards innovations and creativity pursuits that enhance logistics risk reduction. The electric
drones are however carbon effective in terms of their emission of carbon dioxide in the air. As
opposed to flights, drones are much more reliable to operate even in what could be termed as
unconducive weather conditions such as windy weather. Other cons correspond to the fact that
utilization of drones in logistics conserve energy, offer higher levels of efficiency, results to
positive effects to stakeholders, reduced consumption levels, and offer safer delivery system.
Cons of UAVs in Logistics.
Drones pose privacy or security issues and are prone to being gunned down especially if
they do not adhere local laws. Small logistic companies may find it very expensive to as the
adoption requires substantial investment for creation of drone network. There are also chances
for drone crashes especially near crowded places as well as the likelihood of failure and
malfunctioning during the delivery operations. It has also been found that due to complex urban
infrastructures, the technology’s network integration stands to offer challenges in its logistic
operations (Companik et al., 2018). Furthermore, lack of unified global aviation regulations with
respect to safety and security concerns, medical qualifications, and crew certification, among
others pose challenges for its adoption. Whenever delivery drones fail, business to consumer
organizations lose as customers’ complaints raise.
Organizations both in B2B and B2C transaction are beginning to adopt drones for supply
chain management. Though most are adopting the technology to center at logistics, much is mire
being integrated to other functions of supply chain management. This follows for example from
what the developers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are doing in terms of integrating
the technology to track inventory autonomously. The institute intends to apply UAVs in
inventory management by the use of RFID, IoT, and QR-codes for physical count of inventory. It
has therefore been observed that the UAV technology can be applied to various fields. But in
logistics, the technology proves to hold much pros as it enhances efficiency, speed, and
Fernández-Caramés, T. M., Blanco-Novoa, O., Froiz-Míguez, I., & Fraga-Lamas, P. (2019).
Towards an autonomous industry 4.0 warehouse: A UAV and blockchain-based system
for inventory and traceability applications in big data-driven supply chain management.
Sensors, 19(10), 2394.
Rana, K., Praharaj, S., & Nanda, T. (2016). Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): An Emerging
Technology for Logistics. International Journal of Business and Management Invention,
5(5), 86-92.
Bamburry, D. (2015). Drones: Designed for product delivery. Design Management Review,
26(1), 40-48.
Rabta, B., Wankmüller, C., & Reiner, G. (2018). A drone fleet model for last-mile distribution in
disaster relief operations. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 28, 107-112.
Companik, E., Gravier, M. J., & Farris II, M. T. (2018). Feasibility of warehouse drone adoption
and implementation. Journal of Transportation Management, 28(2), 5.