As futuristic as artificial intelligence may sound, the days of it being a distant sci-fi dream are long gone. Although we may not always notice it, artificial intelligence has become a key behind-the-scenes component of many aspects of our day-to-day lives, from the virtual personal assistant on your phone to the suggestions from your favourite music and TV subscription services. In essence, artificial intelligence just refers to the ability of machines to make data-driven decisions, and build upon real-time information to become more effective at doing so over time. But what does any of this have to do with logistical tasks that are still carried out by humans, such as courier work? Although AI may never replace some of these more manual jobs, it might already be able to do more of the heavy lifting than you think when it comes to making key operational decisions. |
Taking the Intelligent Route
One of the most obvious ways AI can make operational jobs like courier work more efficient is by planning out direct routes from the pick-up location to the destination. Of course, satellite navigation systems (otherwise known as Sat Navs) have already been helping with this for years, but often with varying results: in the past, they were not equipped to assimilate up-to-date information on road closures and traffic jams, instead making it harder for courier workers to reach their destination on time. The difference with the latest, more advanced forms of artificial intelligence is that they can learn as they go, building up ‘knowledge’ of likely periods of congestion and diversions while staying on top of real-time traffic updates. The resulting instructions can reduce the burden on couriers to think on their feet in unknown areas, and ultimately ensure that precious cargo gets to the customer or client without a hitch.
A Leg-Up for your Loading Bay
Navigational smarts aside, there is plenty that AI can do to take the hassle out of courier work before a delivery even hits the road. Using artificial intelligence to streamline loading bay procedures can help maximise capacity when your operations are stretched to their limit. With so many variables to take into account, tasks like manually allocating vehicles are enough to give even the best logistical brain a headache, yet this is where machine learning really comes into its own. Unlike a human employee, an artificially intelligent computer can take stock of all of the data that’s available at once, and even test different possibilities in order to determine the best outcome to get the job done on time. AI is All Around Forget what you heard about the human touch: artificial intelligence is the new most important factor for customer satisfaction. Because AI works with such a large amount of data, it is highly proficient at generating key measures like delivery ETAs, all of which contribute to a dependable service that ultimately keeps clients happy while saving money on repeat trips. While dealing with this kind of data in a meaningful way used to be a huge challenge for logistics companies, now you can use AI to navigate an information-rich field, weeding out inefficiencies and allowing your business to reap the rewards.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 5,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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