One of the 21st century’s key trends is the growth of automation and robotics in all spheres of human activity. Economic development is increasingly based not on capital and natural resources but rather on innovations and creative solutions. Value is built through digitizing and processing large amounts of information, i.e. Big Data. How relevant are these trends in logistics? We look for answers with AsstrA Chief Business Development Officer Vyacheslav Turejko.
Vyacheslav, process automation is an obvious trend in all industries. How does it affect the development of the logistics industry in particular?
Logistics is a unique industry. It plays an integral role in most other sectors of the economy, and vice versa. For example, trends affecting AsstrA clients affect the logistics industry.
An obvious trend in logistics in recent years has been the increasing use of robots and automated processes during transportation, handling, and other types of technical work.
In the near future, artificial intelligence will also play a key role in how optimal logistics solutions are selected so as to reduce costs for customers. On the one hand, low-barrier markets, the emergence of new technologies, the standardization and containerization of freight, and competitive new modes of transport all present new opportunities for logistics operators. On the other hand, they all require processing a large amount of information at high speed before delivering the best “transit time vs price” options for clients. The use of artificial intelligence to help solve these problems is already a modern requirement for logistics providers.
What automation tools does AsstrA use to optimize customer and partner interaction processes?
First of all, the company has prioritized automating information exchange processes. AsstrA is investing significant resource in the creation of individual Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) tools to automatically exchange information with clients. This allows you to minimize the risk of information distorted or lost due to human error. That means lower overhead costs for clients and less time spent working with information for requests, warrants, travel documents, etc. Information is processed through the order-service chain several times faster than with older data transmission tools like e-mail or the telephone.
Track & Trace is another automation tool AsstrA offers clients. It is an automated online application that allows clients to conveniently verify the safety and location of their cargo being transported and plan business processes based on its exact time of arrival.
To better work with partners, i.e. suppliers of logistics services, AsstrA experts actively use the AsstrA Supplier's Portal, a tool that automates procurement and order management business processes. With it our partners get access to AsstrA freight traffic RFPs, their orders, all relevant electronic documents, and various statistical reports. The main goal of Supplier’s Portal is to use automation to improve how AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG works with partners.
Internally, we also pay a lot of attention to ongoing systemic optimization around Lean Management principles. The focus here is on automating and improving internal processes that ultimately add value for customers.
It is also important to note that AsstrA uses far less paper and electricity thanks to automation and electronic document circulation. This is a top priority for us, as we pay close attention to compliance with environmental standards and adhering to the principles of Green Logistics.
The benefits of automating production processes are therefore fairly clear. But what about services? Do automated processes and robots leave room for personal communication and individual approaches?
It may seem that the automated processes supporting our work with clients, suppliers, and ourselves within the company will ultimately lead to adopting a “Machine-2-Machine” business model run entirely by robots. But it won’t. Automation and robots allow people to avoid mundane, repeatable technical operations and concentrate instead on work that requires non-standard, creative thinking. Artificial intelligence can help analyze large amounts of data and propose specific solutions to specific questions – but a person needs to decide what those questions should be. Creating solutions for clients’ unique challenges will always be more interesting, relevant, and – most importantly – more effective than taking a formulaic, robotic approach.