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Practical Use of A.I. in Transportation

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technology that fuels machines with human intelligence – machines that have AI capabilities can automate manual tasks and learn on the go just like humans. 

Such automation gets repetitive and time-consuming tasks under the AI-powered systems that learn with time and can eventually carry out critical tasks and make decisions on their own. 

Such unique potential drove the transportation businesses to start investing into AI technology to improve revenue and stay ahead of their competitors. 

Transportation industry has just begun to apply AI in critical tasks however the reliability and safety in transport are still under question. Major challenges in transport like safety, capacity issues, environmental pollution, reliability etc. provide a huge opportunity for AI innovation. 

No matter downfalls, AI in transportation is yet to reach 3.5 billion dollars by 2023

Source: techstreetonline.com

How can A.I. help transportation:

Transportation industry faces problems when a system functionality cannot form per predictable patterns which are affected by external elements like traffic, human errors or accidents.

A.I. uses data to predict decisions appropriately and it has been implemented in a variety of ways where some of examples include

  • public safety (e.g. tracking crime data in real time),
  • autonomous vehicles (e.g. self-driven vehicles),
  • pedestrian safety (e.g. tracking pedestrians/cyclists paths to minimize accidents),
  • traffic patterns (e.g. causes of delays, reduction of traffic congestion) and
  • corporate decision making (e.g. accurate prediction methods and forecasts). 
  • etc.

Benefits of AI in transport:

The best fit of AI and transport somehow came naturally as adoption of these technologies can have a massive impact on the entire industry although the application of AI still varies across geographies. 

Increased use of A.I. will ensure reduced labour costs while providing higher profits – fully automated fleets will be there to resolve an issue of long driving hours and breaks.

AI can also have a huge impact on safety and traffic accidents. Driving at night is a great issue and smart unmanned vehicles can significantly improve the problem. Auto-pilots or unmanned vehicles that can operate without a human can help the drivers to snooze without causing any traffic accidents.

Traffic management can also be more effective – AI methods enable us to forecast traffic by using traffic data and details about urban ongoing events as well as suggest alternative routes by automation. 

Complex infrastructures and various elements within cooperation chains can be improved with the help of AI through e.g. optimal route schedule, minimal waiting time, traffic detection in real time for adjusting the routes etc. 

Data analytics in logistics can also help upgrade transportation planning and increase safety in general. 

There are many more benefits to list yet AI is still growing and the benefits will too.  

Source: raconteur.net

Drawbacks of AI in transport:

Although AI can bring a plethora of benefits to any industry, there are also some drawbacks to pay attention to like creating transparency in AI decision making or safety issues within autonomous vehicles. 

One of drawbacks include job flow as it became a major issue for truck or taxi drivers and other industry members. Although social experts tried to explain that job skills can be shifted to other sectors, tensions remain. 

AI implementation can also represent drawbacks as undeveloped countries will face massive challenges in utilizing such solutions as their infrastructure is not capable of providing maintenance.  

Transport companies also face potential AI drawbacks as transportation costs contribute to the company revenue by up to 10%. All existing businesses will need to develop and implement AI technologies to remain competitive within their industry and the high cost of developing, repairing and maintaining the complex machines can be extremely high.

Ethic issues are also under revision – companies bringing AI to transportation will have to take the ethics of AI seriously if they want to win consumers’ trust. 

AI technology still needs significant improvement as it’s still far from a human level of intelligence. 

Source: zfort.com

AI in Transportation

We can already find the examples of AI being used within transportation. As Artificial Intelligence evolves and becomes more mature, it is certain that the number of roles where AI plays a major role will increase.

Some of the examples where AI is common in transport are:

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are already a reality within transportation. They represent the first step into a new future of autonomous transportation although it seemed quite a futuristic idea in the past.

A.I. uses its processing, control and optimization capabilities to power these driverless vehicles. With autonomous vehicles, real-time data transmission and processing is crucial and any confusion within these processes can cause fatal outcome.

In Tokyo, autonomous taxis have already begun operating but the driver sits in the car for safety reasons to be able to take control of the taxi in case of emergency situations. 

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/

The USA started to implement autonomous trucks as of 2018 as 65% of goods are carried via trucks globally. It has also been predicted that maintenance and administration costs can be reduced by around 45% with autonomous trucking. 

Waymo company has introduced self-driving minivans and trucks within a certain number of states for testing on public roads.

These types of projects are still in pilot versions while trying to make autonomous vehicles safe for passengers but as the technology evolves, autonomous vehicles will gain more reliability and become much more widespread. 

Passenger Transportation 

The safety of passengers, pedestrians and drivers has always been a number one issue for the transportation industry. 

The use case of AI was the autopilot system which is used in almost every commercial airplane today and it is a vital part of any air travel nowadays.

New York Times reported that only 7 minutes of an average Boeing flight is controlled by humans (takeoffs and landings) while the rest is being handled by an autopilot.

Public transportation will also be hugely affected by A.I. since there have been driverless buses recently transporting passengers with the help of sensors, cameras and GPS. 

Source: interestingengineering.com

A.I. technology can do so much for us – it can reduce the human errors within traffic, monitor the safety regulations compliance, review vehicle maintenance reports and manage transportation in such manner to decrease effects of driving risks in urban areas.

Smartphone Apps

Today, ‘there is an app for everything‘ – it includes AI powered real-time traffic updates through services like Google Maps or Waze

These applications use location data collected from smartphones to be able to analyze traffic conditions within your local area and inform the users better about the traffic. 

These apps may soon face competition in the form of autonomous vehicles as why would you need an app if the car itself already does the same work?

Source: techcrunch.com

Traffic Management

AI can be used to manage traffic systems due to its processing, control and optimization capabilities. In order to make the roads smarter, AI can be applied to traffic management to streamline the traffic. AI prediction ability to recognize the physical or environmental issues that may lead to heavy traffic or congestions is another great benefit. 

Source: interestingengineering.com

Sensors and cameras implemented on the roads collect large amounts of data related to traffic details. Such data is analyzed by big data and AI systems to reveal traffic patterns. 

The relevant insights assist commuters with details on traffic predictions, accidents or road blockages and provide suggestions on the shortest routes to their destinations.  

The example is Siemens Mobility which has tested a prototype A.I. monitoring system through traffic cameras – it alters the traffic lights based on real-time road congestions hence minimizing road congestion. 

This way, AI can reduce redundant traffic, improve road safety and reduce wait times. 

Source: bbc.com

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement is another area where A.I. is not being used to help law officers to identify people drinking or texting while driving, for example. Earlier, this represented an issue for human officers since vehicles move at high speed but A.I. has resolved this issue. 

Now, A.I. can detect quite accurately if a person drinks or texts while driving and sends an alert to any nearby officers to intercept them. 

One of those examples is Motorola Solution which brings AI voice assistants to law enforcement vehicles where police can just state a license plate and the system will look up the information and respond within a few seconds. 

Source: bbc.com

Delay Predictions

Another problem within transportation, especially air transportation, is the delays. As per the research paper by the University of California, Berkeley, flight delays can cost up to 39 million dollars in the USA. 

In order to overcome flight delays costs as well as passengers’ negative experience, AI comes to the air transport for rescue. 

Data analysis and computer vision come to assist and shorten passengers’ waiting time as AI can use its capabilities to predict anything from bad weather to a certain number of technical glitches which may cause flight delays. Computer vision systems can intermittently monitor the aircrafts while AI along with Machine Learning (ML) use and process real time aircraft data, records and weather information. 

Computation can reveal some hidden patterns helping the industry to gain valuable insights on possibilities that may cause delays or cancellations. 

Source: express.co.uk

Drone Taxis

Drones have already been used in delivery service systems but soon they could be used as taxis as well. Unmanned aerial vehicles represent a one-of-the-kind solution in fight against carbon emissions, traffic congestion or expensive infrastructure.

Drones as taxis will allow people to arrive at their destinations much faster while reducing their commuting time to a minimum at the same time. Regarding urban areas, drone taxis can be a real deal for solving the issues like urban planning and urban infrastructure development. 

Some recent examples of drone taxis was a display of an autonomous aerial vehicle in China, where 17 passengers had a chance to experience smart air mobility for the first time. 

A few years ago, Uber took a step forward to make autonomous ‘flying taxis’ a reality by signing a partnership with NASA to develop the software to operate them.  

These use cases indicate that similar future applications are about to be developed.  

Source: interestingengineering.com

FINALE

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become more than just a visionary idea – it is a part of our daily lives and we use it each day without even noticing. AI can be found in our mobile apps, in social media feeds or in the way how Grammarly checks our grammar mistakes.

Transportation industry has already used some AI solutions for a while but it won’t be long until the increase of AI within transportation and logistics.

As A.I. is getting more subtle with time, it is a matter of time when we will get to see the exciting future driven by AI!

6 Important Tips For Effective Logistics Performance

The key to running a successful business lies in its effective management. And when it comes to handling a logistics or supply chain business, it is important to ensure a smooth flow of information as well as the flow of the products through good management. 

Logistics management includes the management of everything in the supply chain from the raw material to its warehousing, the labor administration, the transportation of the final product to the information flow, all come under it.

Why is it Necessary:

An efficient logistics management with a proactive and a well-defined strategy can help build better customer relationships, add reliability across the whole supply chain and minimize the need for excess inventory

Along with improving delivery times and reducing errors, there are some additional things to improve in the supply chain.

Source: blog.tranzact.com

What to do?

In order to streamline the logistics operation and bring perfection within the network, you should consider various factors. 

Following some measures will not only help the organization to improve the output but will also help earning a competitive edge in the market.

Some of the suggestions are discussed below:

1. Proper Planning and Setting Goals

The first and foremost thing to consider is planning the whole logistics procedure.

Every step in the freight forwarding process should follow a proper vision. From manufacturing goods and storage facilities to their safety and timely delivery to the final customer – everything should be done according to a proper pre-planned scheme.

With proper planned management of time, transportation, and other parameters, the maximum profit can be earned. Most importantly, no compromises should be made when considering the standard. 

For better tracking, quality control, and timely delivery, the schedule should be followed strictly.

energenetics.com

What to Look Out For:

No matter how well planned the procedure is, the chances of unforeseen circumstances can’t be discarded.

Problems related to the products, transportation, time, etc. can always surface. It is always recommended to have a backup emergency plan to handle such situations.

2. Training of Staff

The success chances of the plan are majorly dependent on how efficient the company staff is. This takes us to the next important factor that can help an organization to maximize their profits i.e. a well-trained staff.

Role of HR:

The staff must be well trained in managing all orders and information by utilizing modern techniques. 

This can be achieved by a positive and active role of HR. This department is responsible for training the staff according to what is required and prepares the employees for it.

Source: mclogisticsllc.com

Notices And Flyers:

Moreover, brochures, paper notices posted on different walls of the workplace and frequent training sessions for the workers can prove beneficial for their performance and efficiency in their working ability. 

During the working process, it is necessary that each worker and official must be made aware of the new policies. Their understanding must be increased to the level that is easy for them to grasp so that any product related loss could be avoided.

Proper Handling Of Products:

The handling of edible goods, fragile items and chemicals is a really sensitive job. The handler must be conscious while the special items are being packed and being labeled. All these things must be carried out in an updated way.

3. Adoption of Technology

As time passes, new technology makes its way into the homes and markets. In order to keep up, it is necessary to incorporate the latest technology to handle modern-day problems and tackle modern-day demands. 

The AI and technology can assist in efficiently working in high volumes and low margins, as well as in performing multiple payments and meeting time-sensitive deadlines.

Blockchain:

Blockchain which is a modern technology that can help in handling larger amounts of data structured or unstructured collected at various stages of the supply chain. 

This can help in operating the cash control including the customer and supply cash control.

Voicebots and Chatbots:

Automated voice bots and chatbots are also playing a significant role in customer services as well as in classifying the conditions and provisions.

Source: datapine.com

Automation In Warehouses And Vehicle:

The automated warehouses and vehicles have made the handling of larger volumes of products much easier. Sorting, packaging, and organizing materials are much easier with the help of technology.

Inventory Management:

Nowadays, one of the useful technologies in the supply chain is the Radio Frequency Identification RFID. The tracking of the inventory has become more efficient as a chip is placed on each product thus improving visibility. It simplifies the whole process with reduced costs.

Source: qstockinventory.com

Accessibility:

The cloud application by securing all the data online can streamline your entire supply chain and as it is accessible through the Internet, you can access the report from anywhere in the world and keep everyone on the same page.

Use of Social Media:

Social media not only helps you to keep a better relationship with clients, but you can also analyze and get feedback from your clients or manufacturers, etc. 

4. Proper Warehouse And Inventory Management  

It is recommended for the logistics management to keep an inventory that is suitable for the type and quantity of products the company is handling. 

Suitable Environment:

Every warehouse should be designed in accordance with the type of goods that it is required to store. 

For instance, dairy products, medicines, and some food items often need a refrigerated environment and wheat products like grains need to be stored in a moisture-free place. 

The storage facilities should always satisfy the type of product.

Vertical Columns:

To utilize the maximum capacity of the warehouse, a well-organized product storage is a must. A vertical column storage is recommended for the efficient use of the space in the warehouse. 

Source: srs-i.com

Inventory Size:

If the inventory is smaller in size, it can lead to a supply shortage and also a delay in the orders. And if it’s too large, it will cost you a lot of extra money. 

Hence, a manageable and accurate size of the inventory is recommended to make the management profitable. Moreover, a good inventory management system can add efficiency in controlling the stock levels and help anticipate customer demands saving time, cost, and the customer loyalty. 

It should also follow the modern and up to dated packaging trends.

5. Use of Data and Predictive Analytics

To re-define the standard operating procedure, you should apply a check-and-examine method.

Metrics Analysis:

It is crucial to analyze the cost, cycle, and service metrics with the help of feedback and the latest software. The reports should be prepared and submitted to the relevant department on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis and they must be brief and highly analytical.

It will provide a guideline to the respective related department.

Source: datapine.com

Predictive Analysis:

The latest technology enables logistics companies to make predictive analysis assisting in managing unexpected situations and solve a number of problems that can rise in the process of freight forwarding.

Addressing Problems:

You need to revisit your freight-related problems and address them with a better understanding. 

Occasional assessment of the performance along with the critical evaluation of the entire operation process can guide you better to which areas require improvement. 

Besides that, the customer-related analysis can provide delivery reports and information regarding the popular demands which will help you in improving or introducing the policies.

6. Good and Efficient Customer Relationship

While a good and quick performance of the customer support not only leaves a better impression on the customer, it also enhances the credibility of the business impact. 

Source: giaohangtie.wordpress.com

Getting technical help can revolutionize productivity and profitability but improved communication with the customer and real-time delivery increases the credibility of the company and strengthens the loyalty with the customer. 

Applying some or all these tips will ultimately enhance the business scope on both ends.

How Will Coronavirus Impact the World’s Logistics and Supply Chains

Disruptions happen, but pandemic outbreaks are somewhat different – the epidemic affects access to staff, decreases productivity and changes people’s behaviour being their shopping habits and spending. 

Global transport and supply chain companies continue to feel the impact of the epidemic facing labor shortages and regulatory uncertainty. While companies prepare contingency plans, logistics and supply chains have to deal with this rapidly changing situation. 

Although it’s difficult to predict the exact consequences, the impact across the global supply chain is already felt and includes supply shortages, reduced labor capacities, travel restrictions, limitations in capacity for established supply networks, reduced consumers’ purchases and more. 

Based on the impact ratings within each aspect, it is clear that the overall impact on supply, transportation and logistics is severe. 

Leading supply chain and logistics businesses utilize an enhanced risk management processes which include continuously measuring key risk indicators, preparing scenarios for anticipated uncertainties and focusing on unforseen disruptions.

What are some of the impacts that we have seen in freight and logistics industries:

Affected industrial operations

During the epidemic, some government authorities prescribed the additional pandemic prevention measures which businesses must meet in order to continue operating. 

Some of these measures include setting up a prevention protocol, provision of protective equipment (masks, gloves, disinfectants), carrying out routine temperature controls and disinfection, social distancing and many more. 

The trouble with the time needed to perform these requests and the lack of clarity with the approval process already has a massive impact on manufacturers who want to resume operations. 

The cuts at foreign manufacturing plants have led to slow or temporarily locked imports where port delays are greatly due to reduced workforce.

Source: freightwaves.com

On the other hand, demand in medication, medical supplies and equipment and cleaning supplies have drastically increased so distributors are struggling to fulfill extra large orders from the related institutions thus straining the supply and logistics providers. 

Some industry experts are concerned that businesses will be more cautious in their spending after the outbreak resulting in cut outs on business travels and transportation services being limo or ride-sharing services. 

A bright spot for ride-share services is that once the situation begins to normalize and cities start to reopen, it is possible that the public will be reluctant to use the public transportation system –  it may lead to the increased demand for alternate transportation services like taxi and ride-hailing services. 

‘Force Majeure’ clause

The Coronavirus has given a new relevance to the legal term ‘force majeure’.

Besides the world’s economy temporarily being shut down due to the pandemic, companies that work with suppliers in China face legal ‘force majeure’ clauses that will be put into effect in case of non-performance protecting the suppliers from legal and financial liability. 

‘Force majeure’ is a French term literally meaning ‘greater force’ – it refers to unexpected external circumstances (natural disasters or human disasters like armed conflicts etc.) preventing one party from fulfilling its obligations. 

Epidemics are occasionally listed as ‘force majeure’ events though authorities are somewhat  inexperienced when deciding whether a specific disease fits the description. However, the coronavirus effects on the worldwide economy can be compared to those of any other large-scale natural disasters. 

There is another non-legal term ‘price majeure’ used as a joke among traders about some buyers that use such clauses as an excuse to walk away from a contract when prices move against their favour. 

As per some legal experts, although these certificates carry a significant weight, they do not exclude further negotiations. 

Work and supply congestion and shortage

Pandemic situation and the quarantine have led to work and supply shortages.

Various citywide restrictions like quarantines, temperature controls and vehicle inspections or disinfection have prevented the ability of workers to reach their workplaces causing a massive labour shortage. 

Source: news.yahoo.com

As many companies foster work-from-home recently due to Coronavirus, the transportation industry (e.g. taxi services) could experience a rush of bankruptcies as the revenues dry up.  

Due to such a situation, the work process takes a hit and results in huge delays or significantly reduced production and services. 

Travel restrictions and labour shortage caused backlogs in many worldwide ports while at the same time, iron and steel mills and mines struggled to move their key resources like zinc, copper etc. from their refineries to supply raw material.  

Manufacturers and supply chains are still struggling to reach the efficient work process as the congestion and shortages affect not only the time needed to perform the work but also the capacities for the same work to be done. 

Traffic delays aggravate the shortage

As the pandemic has spread, cross border traffic between many countries has been severely disrupted. Export and other goods have been delayed at the borders while some trucks at the largest worldwide border crossings waited for several days. 

As soon as the situation with Coronavirus became more than serious, the various authorities began to quarantine all citizens entering the country for at least 14 days to reduce the number of travellers. 

Source: straitstimes.com

Cross border truck drivers were not included in some areas and the deliveries were possible but with advance notice. Truck drivers were being asked to stay in their trucks at loading/unloading sites and to switch from paper to electronic methods for record deliveries and pickups, as per some trucking transportation companies and freight brokers. 

All these developments have led to delays and a rapid increase in the price of truck journeys. 

Limited freight capacity 

More than 50% of airfreight capacity have been cancelled along with other freight channels (air, rail, road etc.) which could lead to a 300-400% increase in air freight rates as per The Load Star

Regarding rail transport, the capacity problems have also affected this type of transport as well nevertheless this option is twice as fast as ocean shipping. Many train routes have been cancelled with containers left to wait for the better days. 

Source: container-mag.com

The difficulty of transporting freight by trucks leads to the reduced visibility of arrival times to any destination. 

As per National Limousine Association, companies dealing with ground transportation have experienced 90% decline in revenue.

Load demand in April decreased compared to the prior month within all major load categories –  for example specialty trailers and refrigerated demand are in better position when compared to dry van and flatbed loads. However, less idle traffic also lowers fuel consumption and costs for trucking companies. 

Industry experts are somewhat optimistic that freight volumes and rates may rebound as some countries try to ease lockdown restrictions and gradually reopen their economies. 

Affected overseas supply chains

The pandemic outbreak also had a massive impact on industrial production and global supply chains extending beyond China’s borders. 

No matter which industry you operate within, Covid-19 has led to a supply shortage caused by the outbreak – for example, the automotive sector has witnessed a supply shortage and some major car manufacturers (Hyundai, Kia Motors, Nissan etc.) had to temporarily suspend operations while seeking supplies from alternative markets.  Pharmaceutical industry was also hit hard as China had to retain some supplies of materials for certain medicines thus exported less to their other markets (USA, India etc.).

Domestic goods are also pretty slow to leave ports causing the production cuts. Distributors are challenged to balance the flow of goods from suppliers with the demand of the customers. 

Shipping companies have utilized empty runs of their ships. Empty runs refer to the situation where a shipowner cancels a planned stop in a particular port (or the entire route) due to a low demand. According to Sea Intelligence Maritime Consulting, the shipping companies cancelled approximately 54 departures for the trade between Asia and Europe by March 2020. 

Although some measures have been loosened, it is still to expect a delay of three to four weeks for arrival of containers, as per some shippers.  

Source: freightwaves.com

How to prepare for disruption?

As per Koray Köse, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner, there are some steps for supply and logistics companies to take to prepare for the impact on their value chain.  

Short term actions include developing programs for countries affected by the virus for supply chain disruption monitoring and response as well as potential supply chain exposure from tier 1 and below. Businesses should determine how customers’ spending may fluctuate and secure that all inventory is within the reach and outside the affected areas. Companies should consult legal and HR departments to understand any financial implications in case of failed supply and provide instructions for employees in the affected areas.  

Source: pei.com

Midterm actions should focus on balancing supply and demand and building up the strategic stock as well as review (or development) of the company’s overall risk management strategy. Internal shareholders and strategic suppliers can help to establish a consistent risk management approach in case of any potential material or manufacturing capacity shortages. 

Long term actions are all about predicting the next ‘when’ – conducting a scenario and developing action plans, developing alternative sources, working on strategic supplies where internal capacities (alternative inventory, sources, case reserves etc.) aren’t adequate to mitigate major disruption. The solution is being prepared as it can open new opportunities in case of any similar disruption. 

What’s Next

The global focus has shifted the priorities for all businesses on a global scale – being aware of the risks will be critical for all businesses moving forward and will help with developing the corporate strategies. Companies need to adjust and pivot their own production and business strategies to remain operational. 

It still remains difficult to predict the outbreak economic impact on the worldwide businesses and industries as some countries have implemented drastic measures to contain the pandemic outbreak. 

Considering the ongoing situation and the massive operational and financial impact within several industries, it may take several months or more to assess the impact. 

Using the correct data sets and forecasting tools will be crucial to businesses while navigating the current market and developing future strategic decisions.