Airbus trials drone delivery to ships

Airbus has begun shore-to-ship trials in Singapore with its Skyways parcel delivery drone.
This marks the first time drone technology has been deployed in real port conditions to deliver a variety of small, time-critical maritime essentials to working vessels at anchorage.
The trials are being undertaken in conjunction with partner Wilhelmsen Ships Services,.
During the trials, Airbus’ Skyways drone will lift off from the pier with a payload capability of up to 4 kg, and navigate autonomously along pre-determined ‘aerial corridors’ to vessels as far as 3 km from the coast.
“We are thrilled to launch the first trial of its kind in the maritime world. Today’s accomplishment is a culmination of months of intense preparation by our dedicated team, and the strong collaboration with our partner, as we pursue a new terrain in the maritime industry,” A Leo Jeoh, Airbus’ Skyways lead said.
“We are also happy to be taking a step forward for Airbus’ urban air mobility endeavour, as we continue to explore and seek better understanding of what it takes to fly safe and reliable autonomous flying vehicles safely,” he added.
“The now proven, seamless operation of drone deliveries from shore to ship, in one of the world’s busiest ports proves the hard work, investment and faith we, and indeed our partners, placed in the Agency by Air project over the past two years was not misplaced,” Marius Johansen, Vice President Commercial, Ships Agency at Wilhelmsen Ships Services said.
“Delivery of essential spares, medical supplies and cash to master via launch boat, is an established part of our portfolio of husbandry services, which we provide day in and day out, in ports all over the world. Modern technology such as the unmanned aircraft systems, are just a new tool, albeit a very cool one, with which we can push our industry ever forward and improve how we serve our customers,” he added.

Boeing unveils Australian-developed unmanned drone

Boeing has introduced its newest unmanned platform, the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
Designed for global defense customers by Boeing Australia, it is the company’s largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft program outside the United States.
The aircraft will complement and extend airborne missions through smart teaming with existing military aircraft.
A model of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System was unveiled at the Australian International Airshow by the Australian Minister for Defence, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP.
As a research and development activity, the Australian Government and Boeing will produce a concept demonstrator called the Loyal Wingman – Advanced Development Program that will provide key learnings toward the production of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned/unmanned missions,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Boeing Autonomous Systems. “With its ability to reconfigure quickly and perform different types of missions in tandem with other aircraft, our newest addition to Boeing’s portfolio will truly be a force multiplier as it protects and projects air power.”
The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will:

  • Provide fighter-like performance, measuring 38 feet long (11.7m) and able to fly more than 2,000 nautical miles
  • Integrate sensor packages onboard to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and electronic warfare
  • Use artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft.

“This aircraft is a historic endeavor for Boeing. Not only is it developed outside the United States, it is also designed so that our global customers can integrate local content to meet their country-specific requirements,” said Marc Allen, president, Boeing International.
“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System provides a transformational capability in terms of defense, and our customers – led by Australia – effectively become partners on the program with the ability to grow their own sovereign capabilities to support it, including a high-tech workforce.”

Toll MD shares future leadership strategy

Speaking at ‘Developing the Millennial Generation: The Future of Leadership’, a breakfast event held in Melbourne this week, Michael Byrne, Managing Director of transportation and logistics company Toll Group, called for Australia’s senior leaders to rethink the way they approach millennials, training and future planning.
“We break up people into components and say they’re millennials, X Generation, that ethnicity, that religion,” said Byrne. “What I have learnt is – apart from a few outliers at the extremes – everyone is the same, and everyone wants the same things. We want a little bit better life than our parents, we want a little bit better life for our children, we want to eat a little bit better food, we want to drink a little bit better, we want a nice and safer life.”
Byrne noted that over the next decade, businesses will need to embrace and educate their young, “more technologically savvy” workers, as they will soon be at the helm.
“Millennials will make up 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025 – eight years away,” he said. “If you’re not designing your workplace, product or service around that thinking, you’re failing your business.”
Addressing the senior industry leaders gathered in the room, Byrne advised them to stop focusing solely on priorities for tomorrow, next week and next month, and instead to consider the trajectory of the business over the coming years, and who will support its growth.
“In the next decade, the decisions will start to be made by millennials,” he said. “We need to get with the program and think about that and how we shape our businesses. They are going to have the money, they are going to have the votes, they are going to shape our communities.”
Byrne added that many businesses at present are failing to realise the importance of investing in education. “Education is really one of the most important things we do as leaders,” he said. “We need to be investing in our young people – you can’t afford not to educate, train and develop.
“Education and safety are the two budgets you never cut – in fact, every year you double down because otherwise the pace of the economy, the world economy and GDP will defeat you,” he said. “You can’t hold back the tide.”

Freight forum focuses on urban NSW supply-chain strategy

At the Sydney Freight and Supply Chain Strategy Forum, held in late July in Eastern Creek by the Hargrave Institute and Regional Development Australia (RDA) – Sydney, a select group were invited to discuss urban freight supply chains in Sydney, the performance of the current freight system, and its projected future performance.
Simon O’Hara, General Manager of Road Freight New South Wales (RFNSW) shared several key takeaways from the event, noting that the value of products moved by freight in New South Wales is $200 billion, transport can make up 30 per cent of the final cost of commodities, freight’s value to the New South Wales economy is $66 billion, it accounts for 12 per cent of the state’s gross product and, perhaps most important of all, it is expected to double over the next four decades.
Freight challenges discussed included urban encroachment, last mile, rail access competition, freight facility access and heavy-vehicle regulations, he shared.
“There were discussions around disruptors to road freight like connected and autonomous vehicles, truck platooning and m2m (machine to machine)/telematics,” O’Hara added.
He stated that the increase of volumes at Port Botany and Port Kembla was also in focus. “The figures for the increase are extraordinary with a tripling of container volumes out to 2045,” he said. “It is worth noting 80 per cent of import containers through Port Botany are delivered with a 40km radius of the Port and will continue for the next 40 years.
“This means container volumes which sit at 2.3 million (TEU) stretch out to 7.5 TEU at the lower end or 8.4 million TEU at higher end by 2045.
The increases are projected based on strong population growth in Sydney and the Illawarra region.
“Importantly, infrastructure plays a key role in the requirements for this freight task through Sydney and Western Sydney,” O’Hara added. “Protected and efficient freight corridors are needed, as is a connection of Port Botany to WestConnex.”

How will transport succeed in a ‘higher expectation’ future?

What will transport look like in the future? Will people and governments ever accept driverless B-doubles careering through city streets? Will we see flying delivery vans? Near-instant drone deliveries, or delivery by particle beam, Star Trek- style?
Change won’t be smooth. Driverless trucks might be available, but the regulators will be well behind. All of these innovations raise serious questions about safety and security, which will become political as the regulators and the public weigh up the pros and cons.
Rather than focus too heavily on what might be coming, we need to step back and consider the principles which will drive future developments.
The big picture tells us transport is often a source of great angst in the supply chain, as it’s one of business’s greatest costs. It also tells us that both B2B and B2C customers are becoming more savvy, and expecting more.
Our ability to succeed in this ‘higher expectation’ future will come down to applying timeless principles of successful delivery transport: the ability to offer personalised service, efficiently.
We need to continually ask: are we able to meet or even surpass the consumer’s expectations? Already, supply chain innovation from global behemoths such as Amazon is having a knock-on effect across many industries. We all need to put ourselves in the mindset of the ‘want-it-now’ shopper.
Consumers see innovations like next-day or half-day delivery, or parcel delivery tracking, and it becomes a standard expectation. Can same-day delivery become same-hour delivery? If consumers come to expect it, we will need to figure it out.
A key principle is that the wrong transport option fundamentally affects a product’s cost viability to market and the customer experience, both of which determine future sales. This applies to driverless vehicles, drones or standard delivery methods. If driverless trucks require a babysitter driver for safety reasons there may be some efficiency gains regarding fewer accidents and better fuel efficiency, but will there be big savings? How do we measure the performance? No matter what the method, you need a mentality to continually question and analyse to get results.
Unfortunately, many organisations fall over at the first step – not fully understanding their transport costs since many variables need to be accounted for. While technological tools are available, the knowledge to use these tools to their potential is often missing. Without this crucial starting point, it’s difficult to keep tabs on how your transport costs can be reined in and performance improved.
Greater efficiency and responsiveness is key, which means greater flexibility across the supply chain is needed. Technology plays a key role – in transport we are seeing supply chains across the board benefit from telematics and RFID technology to track deliveries. QR codes are good for inventory and protecting against lost or misplaced goods and play a big role in customer service by automatically updating customers on a parcel’s delivery status. It’s now a standard expectation among both B2B and B2C customers.
We can expect more data-driven decision-making in a quest to become more efficient. New technologies such as blockchain, a distributed ledger system, may introduce greater transparency and security for contracts.
You don’t necessarily need to be first to the market and take undue risks, but you do need a finger on the pulse to understand the changes and be open to new ways of doing things.
We can expect refinements in areas aside from technology, including more specialists in the market, more collaboration with clients, 3PL providers being more integrated and accountable, and collaboration between specialist suppliers across the supply chain.
This may include insourcing specialist teams which include back-up personnel for when you have absentees or when you need to increase resources quickly, working untraditional hours to increase delivery efficiencies, re-evaluating whether outsourcing the warehousing, transport and other supply functions is better than doing it in-house. While insourcing is nothing new, it remains underutilised by many.
With mounting pressure to be faster and more traceable, and the competitive pressure of global markets encroaching on traditional local areas, companies will increasingly avoid running an entire end-to-end service themselves. Partnering with the correct suppliers who specialise in areas of the supply chain will be just as critical to a client’s success in the future as it is now. The delivery method – whether it be a plane, drone, train, truck, driverless car or pushbike – is still inefficient unless the cornerstones such as correct processes, systems, management and KPIs are in place.
The good news is that many of the solutions which make you more efficient are becoming more accessible. Insourcing a dedicated transport team makes you more responsive, and gives you more flexibility with costs, while telematics technology is now available to everyone via smartphone, whereas previously it was only accessible to the larger freight companies.
A healthy supply chain benefits business like a healthy cardiovascular system benefits an individual. It’s inseparable from business success. Whether the crucial transport delivery happens via flying van or particle beam will be fascinating to see.

Walter Scremin, General Manager, Ontime Group.
Walter Scremin, General Manager, Ontime Group.

Walter Scremin is General Manager of national delivery transport company Ontime Group, which provides tailored, agile delivery transport solutions to a range of clients including SMEs and large listed companies.
Walter is passionate about measuring performance and leveraging technology and has overseen several technology projects including Ontime’s unique Fleet X-Ray analysis software, a telematics tracking system and smartphone app designed to track vehicles and deliveries.

Let’s have a mature, calm conversation about driverless trucks and drone deliveries

If we are to believe the headlines, then driverless trucks and drones are about to revolutionise delivery transport. But how close are these developments, really?
These developments will likely be academic for years to come. There is more value in looking at what we can do now to improve efficiency with technology and processes which are already available.
Don’t get me wrong – technology will eventually have a huge impact and bring improvements. But we need to bring a healthy scepticism to the big claims currently being made.
Consider an extraordinary recent claim from a Stanford economist predicting petrol vehicles will vanish within eight years – what are we to make of such bold predictions, aside from its click-bait headline? The oil industry is a global behemoth, and internal combustion vehicles currently have a massive edge on power, distance, reliability and price point. Something incredible will need to happen to see all internal combustion engines replaced by electric vehicles with competitive prices and performance in a mere eight years.
Other headlines suggest we soon won’t need drivers at all. I think there needs to be an honest, mature conversation about self-driving vehicles.
The supposed economic gains raise as many questions as answers. We don’t know what the price point for purchasing a self-driving vehicle will be. We don’t know how the regulators will deal with them, don’t know the running costs (though there are claims they will cut down on fuel costs), and don’t know how insurers will view them.
The human factor is the big question. The driver is an expensive part of delivery transport, alongside fuel. If these vehicles require ‘babysitters’ who may be called upon to take control, then they need to be qualified drivers, with the appropriate licences and the appropriate pay levels. If a human is required to be present in a driverless vehicle, how deep will the cost savings be?
The most obvious use for self-driving vehicles is long-haul freight. There have been some fascinating moves, including a self-driving truck delivering Budweiser in the USA. Uber Technologies Inc. and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV collaborated to have an 18-wheeler travel 180 miles with a driver present in the sleeper cab, to make the first commercial delivery using the technology. Volvo also demonstrated a self-driving truck last year, on a short journey in a Swedish underground mine.
Before we get too excited about the self-driving capabilities, Gartner offers an interesting statistic – the IT research house predicts less than one per cent of long-haul freight will be carried by driverless trucks by 2021. This is a long-term game.
While we must monitor these developments, will there be any benefit in being an early adopter? There are many examples in business where it has paid to be conservative, let the early adopters make the early mistakes, and wait until prices come down. These vehicles may require a huge investment and still require somebody on board. We don’t even know what the regulators will do with this technology, though it’s bound to become political.
Safety concerns and potential widespread job losses will fuel much debate and we can expect heavy regulatory involvement.
Transport is statistically one of the most dangerous industries in Australia and worldwide – so we all have to work harder on safety. Self-driving vehicles could potentially make big in-roads into safety, but this seems most plausible on long haul, interstate routes, which are more predictable.
Self-driving vehicles in built-up, metro areas is another thing. Will people, and therefore governments, ever accept driverless semi-trailers or B-doubles in built-up areas?
Early research suggests widespread distrust of self-driving vehicles. A US survey of over 2,000 people found over 75 per cent thought they would never own a self-driving car. Everybody knows how technology can ‘crash’, how it can be hacked and corrupted. Those promoting self-driving vehicles need to persuade the public and the politicians they are safe.
Consider it this way: would you put your child in a self-driving car, on their own, without any other human supervision, for them to be driven to school?
Any incident involving a self-driving vehicle anywhere in the world will be headline news. The potential for PR disaster is huge. Yet we’ve lived with human error for a long time. We may not like it, but we understand it. Will people ever be so understanding of computer error?
Drones are another fascinating development, with Amazon investing in the technology. Drones have huge potential for parcel delivery, but don’t do away with your delivery fleets just yet.
The commercial application of drones faces considerable hurdles around airspace and public safety. Some of these drones weigh 25kg – add payload, and that’s a considerable weight to fly over built-up areas. If drones can achieve air clearance and cover off all safety problems, some serious number crunching will need to ascertain whether several drones controlled by people are more cost-efficient than a driver who may carry dozens of parcels in a van.
In my 30+ years in transport I’ve seen many innovations, which should have made bigger impact on efficiency: mobile communications, telematics, vehicle and parcel monitoring, and insourcing. Yet transport remains a top-five cost of doing business, and a continual source of angst in the supply chain.
Many companies could revolutionise their transport right now. Without any massive investment in technology or personnel, most transport divisions could cut their running costs by 10–15 per cent – just by being smarter in how they use their technology and personnel.
There needs to be more focus on what we’ve got. Properly utilising existing technology would be a huge step forward for many organisations.
Doing so would not just deliver immediate benefits, it provides clear thinking on these breakthrough technologies when they finally do become available – any organisation which clearly understands its costs and efficiencies is bound to make the best decisions on future investments.
Walter Scremin is General Manager of Ontime Delivery Solutions.

Digital innovation to support future supply chains

Companies are embracing digital innovation as a tool to help them manage future supply chains, as found by a recent global study carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in collaboration with Standard Chartered Bank.
The study surveyed individuals in senior executive, senior management and C-level or board roles in 13 countries in early 2017.
The report found that companies will pursue a stronger embrace of innovation over the next five years to help their businesses adapt to potential disruptions and intensifying competition.
‘Rebooting supply chains: Shorter, smarter and more sustainable?’ found that 93 per cent of companies surveyed recognise the importance of innovation in supply-chain management.
Furthermore, 55 per cent of companies described digitisation as either an important or very important five-year objective for their supply chains.
Companies also reported a need for greater visibility across their sourcing networks, with 54 per cent stating that achieving complete transparency about where and how their products are made is an important or very important goal.
Companies expect operational improvements and innovations will help them reduce the length and complexity of their supply chains. Forty-nine per cent of respondents said they expect their supply chains to become shorter and simpler in the next five years.
However, the study concluded that shorter supply chains may not necessarily be more simple, particularly for consumer-facing industries, where customisation and personalisation are becoming important trends.
Kevin Plumberg, Editor of the report, said, “We don’t expect supply-chain complexity to relent anytime soon when it comes to doing business internationally. However, digitisation of supply-chain information, increased transparency and more internal collaboration between functions can help companies with global supply chains become more efficient and effective.”
 

‘Sharing economy’ shaking up logistics, says DHL

Digital platforms and business models built around sharing not owning assets presents a significant future opportunity for the logistics industry according to the findings of the new Trend Report released by DHL.
The report, ‘Sharing Economy Logistics – Rethinking logistics with access over ownership’ provides insights into understanding the ‘sharing economy’, best practices in the sharing economy from other industries, and practical applications of the sharing economy within the logistics value chain.
“The concept of sharing is nothing new, but today people can share assets and use sharing services at the speed and scale of three billion smartphone users worldwide, said Matthias Heutger, Senior Vice President Strategy, Marketing & Innovation, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “Naturally this started with high-value assets like rooms and cars, but the underlying concept can be applied to almost anything now.
“Logistics providers can really benefit from sharing their own assets, as well as facilitate the sharing of goods that are a hassle to transport. Digital sharing platforms give instant access to what’s available from online networks of users, including but not limited to hotel rooms, taxis, construction equipment household items and even people’s personal time or skills. Logistics providers can leverage these developments via more cost-effective usage of warehouse space, more efficient transportation and delivery methods, or flexible staffing models.”
In a sharing economy, individual or organisation users get temporary access to an asset, service or skill owned by someone else and which would otherwise be underused. Not only does this maximise Return on Investment through greater utilisation, it also produces a new revenue stream in the form of rental fees for the asset owner. DHL asserts that sharing is good for the environment as it leads to fewer new assets being produced, and existing ones are being used more often.
In its early days, DHL employed an early form of crowd sourcing, offering free plane tickets to private travellers in exchange for giving up their baggage allowance to transport critical shipping documents. By delivering the original bill of lading by plane before the containers arrived by ship, DHL sped up the customs clearance process and paved the way for the express delivery industry, the company wrote in a press release.
“Today, the tremendous scale of digital sharing platforms and crowd-based access to already existing assets is redefining the concept of ‘sharing’ and reshaping the future of the logistics,” the release continued. “Sharing of warehousing space, transport capacities, operational data, and staffing are just some of the examples where the Sharing Economy could be effectively employed in logistics.
“According to research, one in four trucks on US and EU roads are driving empty or typically only half-loaded. Digital platforms provide an instant snapshot of availability and the ability to access spare capacity in almost any truck, including smaller delivery vehicles or even privately owned cars on a day-to-day basis.
DHL’s recently launched real-time freight brokerage platform Saloodo! uses the global network of smartphone users and real-time communications to reach a greater audience of shippers to take advantage of excess capacity.
Multi-customer warehouses could help third-party logistics providers achieve greater economies of scale by consolidating fulfilment, demand and know-how between several customers within a single site. Taking the concept of space sharing from the hospitality sector as a role model, sharing excess warehouse capacity would bring great financial and productivity benefits.
This opportunity for new business creation does not come without challenges – risk liability, transparency, insurance and workforce protection must all be considered. Also, the pace of technological innovation and social change often outpace regulatory frameworks.
“Collaboration between companies and policy makers is necessary to ensure development happens in a positive and productive way,” added Heutger. “With logistics perfectly placed to enable and benefit from this trend, it will play a key role in shaping the sharing economy and rewriting the rules of value creation.”

Amazon Senior VP speaks on emerging technology in the supply chain

Speaking at the University of Tennessee’s (UT) Haslam College of Business Supply Chain Forum in April, Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of worldwide operations at Amazon, said that in the next two decades, supply chains experts will drive businesses, due to the way emerging technology is revolutionising the way customers are served.
Tennessee Today, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’ news outlet, reported that Clark’s talk focused on new supply chain developments and Amazon’s latest developments, including robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“Across the supply chain, we’re moving into a place where technology is enabling us to move at a pace we never could before,” Clark said. “Five years from now the things that we thought were science fiction five years ago are going to be the norm.”
Clark leads Amazon’s global supply chain and logistics operations and oversees the management of Amazon’s transportation and delivery services, sustainability programs and operations technology.

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