Ever wondered if your supply chain could be made more efficient? Or feel like you’re drowning in resource allocation and supply chain planning rather than spending time to improve your systems?

With intelligent logistics you can automate your supply lines to spend more time developing your business, and leave the organisational work to the computers. Let’s see how intelligent logistics system works, and how it can benefit your business.

What is Intelligent Logistics?


Intelligent logistics defines the use of computers to analyse operation data and make decisions on behalf of a human operator. This might be something as simple as creating dispatch notices once orders reach a certain point in a packing line, or as involved as predicting warehouse throughput and automatically relocating stock.

The role of intelligent logistics system it ultimately to remove the human operator from the process, and harness the power of computers to make logistical operations more efficient.

Logistics is made intelligent through the use of data capture and analysis. The data can be generated through human input, or sensors that detect capacity, throughput, or task completion time, amongst other things.

This data is then analysed by computers, either in house, or more commonly on cloud computing networks. The analysis is focussed on decision making, and can be implemented to take reactive or predictive action depending on the level of intelligence of the system.

What are the advantages of Intelligent Logistics systems?

The primary benefits of intelligent logistical networks are:

Decreased operational cost – With the machines making the decisions and running the day-to-day logistical operations, you can reduce your operation cost.

Reduced bottlenecks in supply chains – Any bottleneck stops your product moving from A to B as fast as it could. Reducing bottlenecks or pinch points in logistical networks helps them run faster, and results in fewer errors.

Increased warehouse capacity and efficiency – large quantities of data capture can result in large amounts of analysis into trends, path optimisation, and frequency of bay access. This is critical for automated warehouses, but is also useful in traditional warehouses to help rearrange stock positions to reduce transit time from bay to packing station.

Predictive logistics – What’s better than reacting to a problem quickly? Not having a problem to react to in the first place. Intelligent logistics can analyse trends to predict shortages, stock levels, and future requirements.

Conversely, there is a set of challenges that comes with an intelligent logistical operation.

High capital cost – Implementation of an on-site intelligence network can be expensive, with the need for hardware, cabling, networking, and setup. However, with cloud computing, off-site data storage, and off the shelf software, the setup cost of intelligent logistics has decreased since its first adoption.

Security – Although a lot of security can be operated by a cloud provider, any networked computer is a computer that can be hacked.

Error tracking – With a system that is always evolving and creating models specific to its’ environment, error identification and tracking can be a problem with intelligent operations.

How do Intelligent Logistics work?

For a system to be truly intelligent, it must act on a set of inputs, without guidance from an operator.

To do this, it must have the following:

  • Data inputs – This can come from sensors, monitors, video feeds, or direct operator inputs.
  • Machine model – this is the brain of the operation. It takes the data, analyses it, and decides upon a course of action.
  • Autonomy – This is the ability, and authority, to execute the computers’ decided action.

In some cases, the autonomy of the intelligent system can be used replaced with a direction to an operator. However, including operators in the system reduces the scope of the benefits of an intelligent system.

The best intelligent logistical networks are designed with minimal human involvement, and can run day and night with little assistance.

Can my industry benefit from more intelligent logistics?

The logistics and distribution sectors can gain a lot from intelligent logistics, and when paired with automation, can significantly reduce operating cost and boost efficiency.

Intelligent systems are best suited to applications where they can make real-time adjustments based on live data. This means logistical operations that run continually can see huge benefits.

Systems that control traffic and large crowds have been long-standing users of machine assisted decision making, as there is a requirement for active management and demand forecasting.

Some other industry segments that have adopted intelligent logistics systems are:

  • Parcel logistics
  • Automated warehouses/fulfilment centres
  • Freight route optimisation
  • Autonomous delivery

Not only can these industries benefit from reduced operating cost and increased efficiency, they can also do good for the environment by helping pack trucks more efficiently, and reduce journey times for vehicles.

This means that many companies can benefit greatly – not only in terms of cost and efficiency – but in doing their bit towards helping make logistics a cleaner industry.

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