Advances in technology
Ever newer and better information and communications technology (I&C technology)Last but not least, possibilities in modern logistics are expanding due to advances in information and communications technology (I&C technology). One powerful indirect result of these advances has already been discussed: I&C technologies are a prerequisite for and a driver of globalization, since globalization was only made possible by the widespread, low-cost availability of the internet and the ability of millions of computers to interact with one another through standardized data standards and software systems.
- Integrated tracking and tracing systems were originally implemented by international parcel and express cargo service providers. They represented a major breakthrough for the transport and logistics service industry and are now used by part-load networks and many other specialized logistics service providers, With the help of computers, the systems provide routing and control (tracking) as well as locating and monitoring (tracing) of shipments. Due to the information provided, they are also very useful for invoicing and productivity measurement at local facilities where shipments pass through. Monitoring is achieved by labeling the goods and documents with barcodes that are repeatedly scanned throughout the journey. Modern systems enable customers to check the status of their items at any time. The perfect "completion" of such systems, e.g. by equipping drivers and vehicles with mobile data registration devices and full-coverage utilization in European and worldwide systems is a task that will keep companies busy for many years to come.
- The direction of next developments is already becoming clear. Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology will make the monitoring of shipments even faster and more widespread than previously possible with barcodes and scanners. RFID technology is based on the use of low-cost labels that are able to automatically receive, save and resend data-carrying radio waves without coming into actual contact with other equipment. The location and the processing "history" of millions of parcels and cargo items, exchange pallets, swap bodies and containers can thus be automatically called up at any time and made available for other applications if such labels were affixed to them.
- Another development is in supply chain event management (SCEM) systems. The fundamental idea behind such systems is to eliminate the necessity for persons responsible for a supply process (or other process) to perform tracking and tracing for shipments or objects (such as vehicles, containers). Instead, they will automatically be provided with information should something unforeseen occur as the result of an unplanned event. The SCEM system may even be able to suggest how the unforeseen situation can be remedied and automatically initiate corrective measures.