Surviving in business is often about successfully navigating the unknown. At any time, factors beyond your control can destroy or help your plans. A flood two states away can delay the arrival of your inventory. A war in another country could double the price of your raw materials. Against this backdrop, transportation and freight business owners are focused on making the smartest possible decisions. Data, as it turns out, is the key to smarter decisions.
The Role Of People
Right now, people move and manage freight. People drive trucks that transport inventory. Human workers remove cargo from vehicles and fill warehouse shelves. As one of Big Data’s most interesting innovations, automation is poised to change a number of industries. Today, transportation companies are experimenting with driverless trucks, and retail companies like Amazon are introducing robot warehouse attendees. Soon people in the freight industry will be relegated to managing the automation.
There were 450,000 crashes involving large trucks in 2017 (FMCSA). Hundreds of thousands of people are injured each year in warehouse accidents. By studying data on the most frequent causes of accidents, companies can eliminate some of the risks. That means fewer employees filing Worker’s Compensation claims and money saved on damaged inventory. Even if the trucks and ships of the future still have humans at the wheel, there will be fewer accidents and lost assets.
Smarter Inventory Flow
One of the biggest challenges of retail is knowing how much inventory you need in advance of that need. Forecasts regarding future inventory need determine warehouse size, frequency of product deliveries, and the details of the distribution network. While companies have always had access to their own data histories, the emerging world of Big Data could provide new pools of information. Imagine knowing how many refrigerators you will need next year based on the age of the appliances in your customer’s homes.
Taking the Guess Work Out Of Freight Surplus
Having access to information from every stage of the freight process will mean more efficient product purchases. Data analysts will be able to study traffic patterns, weather, and road conditions allowing faster and more frequent deliveries. Companies will be able to make better-informed decisions about how much product they need and when. Manufacturers may have access to the needs of final customers, meaning they can better anticipate future orders. Better information about future orders could mean a lower need to order surplus.
Managing Data Or Freight
As data analysis becomes more ubiquitous, it will eventually become less a specialized skill and more a normal management still. That means the most successful freight management companies would be those will the keenest insights into information. This trend could lead to freight companies becoming the leaders in information analysis about traffic and road conditions, vehicle maintenance, and a host of other subjects.