In ancient history, runners and homing pigeons were used to deliver messages. Before the industrial revolution and the introduction of mechanized courier services, people rode horseback as a part of the famous Pony Express. Today, the courier and logistics industry employs hundreds of thousands of individuals, sends millions of parcels, and grosses billions of dollars every year.
The Aviation Effect
While the advent of the railway and automobile industry played vital roles in propelling the logistics industry into what it is today, its arguably the introduction of the first aircrafts that have had the most precedent effect. In a world brought closer together by the internet, it’s difficult to imagine not being able to easily access goods from around the globe in a timely manner. Transport planes meant that packages could be delivered by courier companies such as TNT UK to the other side of the world in 24 hours, as opposed to the weeks or months it took by boat.
The Power of the Cloud
With the sheer volume of parcels being sent on a daily basis, it’s crucial that each of these can be accounted for. For tracked packages, each shipment is fitted with a unique identifier represented by an individual barcode or a QR code. At each of the depots the shipment visits, it’s physically scanned, either manually with an RF scanner or by an automated system, before moving on. This scan data is then sent to a central data repository which, thanks to the technological advancements and power of the cloud, is now available to be viewed from anywhere in the world.
What the Future Holds
Like any industry, the logistics trade is not slowing down. Amazon has already showcased its own drone delivery technology with the intention of making same-day delivery to any location. The companys recent patents give us a further glance at the kind of future it imagines. The GPS technology that is now built-in to the typical smartphone could be used by Amazon’s drones to locate where a customer is at any given time, removing one of the common stumbling blocks of deliveries. This means that it could even track customers while on boats or in moving cars. The customer can then direct the drone to land in a specific location with just their smartphone.
Logistics affects each and every one of us whether we’re shopping online or not. It will be fascinating to see how the industry evolves in the near-future. It seems as though technology we once thought was decades away is now right around the corner.