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Are we moving ahead of ourselves?

Let’s adopt some of the mobile technology we’ve got

I read this week that the Government is investing £22m in driverless vehicle technology. Yet it’s hard to imagine it being workable any time soon. I think making it reality is a lot further down the road than Government would like, especially given public resistance. Only last month Gallup reported that 62% of Americans would be uncomfortable sharing the road with self-driving trucks. It wouldn’t surprise me if British reactions were the same.

I understand that today’s driverless technology can get a lorry from one place to another. This is an incredible achievement, especially with our busy road infrastructure and standard of driving! But I’m not convinced that they’ve addressed what happens when it gets to its destination.

Seaports, airports, factories, distribution centres, warehouses, supermarkets all have their own unique system of vehicles docking and receiving goods in/out. And I’m not sure if that part of the puzzle is being developed in tandem. So, any labour/cost savings gained in the vehicle’s journey may be lost in the logistics challenges it faces once it arrives.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think we should be receptive to any technology that makes improvements within the supply chain. But it has to prove it’s workable, and doesn’t reverse gains already made. I think that before the sector starts wildly adopting prototype driverless technology, it should consider making best use of the innovations that are with us right now. Technology that can help with the supply chain as it looks now rather than how it could look in the future.

Mobile technology

I’m talking mobile technology specifically here. Thanks to the advances made, customers no longer need to second-guess where their delivery driver is. Plus, there is proof provided at both ends of the journey of the delivery, and drivers won’t ever get lost in unknown areas.

We live in unprecedented times where same-day delivery is expected as the normal. Where time-poor customers shop online and want efficient services. Failed deliveries cost businesses time and money and can tarnish reputations. In an online transaction, the only real human interaction is that of the delivery driver. And the difference between making that a good or bad experience relies increasingly on mobile technology.

  • Real-time updates ensure that information available to both driver and the warehouse on the content of the delivery are aligned
  • Customers adding to existing deliveries is now achievable through a quick ping to the driver’s mobile device
  • Digital signatures on mobile devices mean legible and trackable deliveries, no paperwork to get lost in transit or unreadable scrawls.

The sort of rugged technology to enable improvements in field delivery services and logistics generally is available now. If firms can’t afford the initial capital outlay to buy such devices they can always rent the hardware with service contracts to maintain and repair it.

Customers in the here and now want efficient delivery and we have the technology and capability now to make that happen. Customers aren’t yet convinced about driverless vehicles. So let’s not move ahead of ourselves, let’s satisfy customers now before we start worrying about their future happiness.

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