Drones in Supply Chain: Are They Advantageous or Troublesome?

Suppy Chain Blog
Drones may be troublesome at some points in the supply chain. It can cause many hurdles and safety hazards. But what about the vast potential that drones carry to assist and even improve safety?

The topic of discussion in this blog revolves around drones in the supply chain. Are these advantageous or troublesome? The blog showcases both sides of the coin.

According to the global commercial drone market’s study, drones are expected to witness growth of 26%. It is going to reach a value of $10,738m by 2022. Aren’t these figures impressive?

While the pandemic has forced industries and businesses to increase touch-less mechanisms, the increasing demand for contactless deliveries has given drones a wide-ranging opportunity to be reliable. Did you know that over twenty thousand drones are registered for commercial use with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today? Many of which are already being used in the supply chain process.

A study by MarketsandMarkets indicates the drone package delivery market might surge from $528 million in 2020 to $39 billion in 2030 at a rate of 53.8%. Similarly, Gartner estimates that drone delivery will reduce delivery costs by 70%.

These show a promising future for drone technology to hover industries and would significantly affect customers across the globe.


How Exactly are Drones Changing Supply Chain Processes?

Automation is becoming a comprehensive solution in the distribution industry. A report by the Brookings Institute mentions that over 70% of jobs may be automated. In that case, drone technology is the main focus today.

On the other hand, some view automation as a threat. But with the help of automation, drones would make manual jobs redundant and destroy industries like aviation, transportation, production, and others involved throughout the global supply chain. However, several defenders of automation note that drone technology rarely replaces manual work. Instead, it tends to free up workers from a challenging workforce, reduces workloads and increases efficiency. As a result of this, companies become more productive.

In the realm of the supply chain process, drones offer the chance to completely change inventory management ways and shipping methods. And thus, companies can operate quicker and errorless management.
 

“As drones prove to be the next automation technology within the supply chain, businesses globally would do well. But to incur drone technology to their operations, they need to start investigating strategies to see if they would suitable their business model. My advice is to start looking for help from experts to understand the technological challenges, facts, and boundaries of using drones as part of your supply chain processes before going all-in too quickly.”

- Trish Young’s, UK Head of Business Consulting – Retail, Consumer Goods, Travel & Hospitality at Cognizant.

Let’s get into the advantages of drones that supply chain companies and industries are already reaping.


Advantages of Drones


Monitoring Supply Chain Delivery Courses
Drones in the supply chain assist in monitoring supply chain courses for barriers. Therefore, it could positively impact the entire delivery process via transport carriers . In addition, drones are used for monitoring road conditions and other hazards in the delivery process. In this way, a delivery operator can quickly select an alternative shipping process and make efforts to achieve a faster or on-time delivery.

Drones in Warehouses
Drones in warehouses can be used for inventory counting, improving safety before the supply process starts. Warehouses are full of products kept for supply or shipping to different locations via different modes of transport. In this case, using drones, the scanning of products and data will be faster by having barcodes. In addition, as drones are much safer, they eliminate the need for workers to scale up monitoring and thus save time. Here are some other ways drones can help warehouses in:
  • Providing better accuracy
  • Reducing human labor costs
  • Reducing workplace injuries
  • Streamline inventory tasks


Realistic Applications for Drones in Supply Chain


Skyward

Skyward is involved in developing the digital airspace infrastructure around industrial drones. In addition, the company is working on designing software for drones that will assist in the supply chain industries.

“I can tell you this from an engineering background that it is now possible to deliver goods using drones under five pounds, which is 86 percent of Amazon’s inventory, within a 30-minute of radius,”

- Jonathan Evans, the CEO of Skyward

Drones in the supply chain in demand due to its capabilities. Skyward determines the practical application of this technology and develops it for future purposes.


Amazon

Amazon’s Prime Air is a new drone technology-driven pilot program. Amazon is currently focusing on smaller packages under the 5lb range under its supply chain process. Amazon drone delivery is one of the most innovative services, and other companies are getting inspired to develop their drone-enabled supply chain program.


Walmart

Walmart is also taking the approach and reaping the advantages of drones. However, it is going miles apart in terms of using the technology for its supply chain process. Walmart has partnered with some prominent drone companies like Flytrex and Zipline. Flytrex and Zipline are currently doing pilot programs for supply chains and deliveries.


The Obstacles

As drone technology has already taken to the skies and is already operational, it is yet to be seen how quickly regulatory agencies allow the technology to operate without legal restrictions. More than one million drones are ready to take to the skies by 2022. But hurdles like safety risks, privacy issues, and security interference cannot be ignored. In addition, the military and commercial aircraft industry is posing valid concerns about sharing airspace and air interference. There are challenges like the susceptibility to hacking or theft, collision, and high insurance costs that have become a hurdle regarding drones in the supply chain process.

Further, the technology has many limitations that need to be highlighted. Limitations like limited battery life might restrict the operational duration. In addition, weather conditions also need to be taken into consideration. Whether drones can operate during high winds or rains. All these factors might impact supply chain management and may restrict the use of drones further.

However, the role of drones by supply chain companies is only going to ascend in the future. R&D companies are working hard to overcome significant challenges. They are working to provide more and more opportunities above all obstacles to optimize supply chain operations efficiently.


Frequently Asked Questions


How can drones be used efficiently in the supply chain?

Drones in the supply chain can be used efficiently to deliver at a low rate to rural areas. Also, it can eliminate the need for road transportation to save time, be more secure and faster.


How will drones impact the supply chain?

Drones in the supply chain will have a massive impact. Drones will improve service scenarios in industries and reduce costs, workforce, and capital. It can be helpful to manage and monitor inventory set up for products.


What kinds of jobs can drones replace?

Drones can replace five kinds of jobs. They are:
  • Capturing difficult footage
  • Enabling detailed monitoring
  • Spotting errors and implementing an error-free workflow
  • Assimilating huge data records

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Hanwha at WDS 2024: Pioneering Global Defense Capabilities and Partnerships for Vision 2030

PR Newswire | February 05, 2024

The defense affiliates of Hanwha Group, including Hanwha Aerospace, Hanwha Systems, and Hanwha Ocean, will be participating in the World Defense Show 2024 (WDS 2024), held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 4th to 8th Feb. With geopolitical crises increasing security demands in key Middle East regions, Hanwha Group is set to present defense capabilities on land, in the air, at sea and in space to protect customers from various threats. Under the slogan 'Opening the Future of Advanced Engine', Hanwha will explore long-term partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has made localization of the defense sector a key objective in Vision 2030. Hanwha will present its advanced aircraft engines, AESA radars, and aviation electronics equipment at the exhibition's center, as well as unveil a roadmap for the development and production of next generation engines beginning in the 2030s, leveraging the manufacturing capabilities accumulated over the previous 40 years. Hanwha aims to fortify a partnership that not only meets customer's immediate defense needs, but also foster long-term resilience and innovation in the defense sector. The company is committed to integrating advanced defense technologies into the customer's needs. An official from Hanwha stated, "The collaboration aims to significantly contribute to the growth and modernization of the local defense industry, while also fostering a mutually beneficial relationship. Hanwha takes pride in our ongoing commitment to delivering deterrence solutions to key regions with urgent needs." Amid escalating tensions in the Middle East region, Hanwha will present the cutting-edge submarine KSS-III, offering unparalleled capabilities to mitigate emerging threats to maritime security. Also, the unmanned underwater vehicles and unmanned surface ships will deliver innovative defense solutions to navigate the diverse security challenges in the region. In the face of rapidly changing regional security landscape, Hanwha will present the K9A1 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) equipped with exportable engine, multipurpose Unmanned Ground Vehicle(UGV), Redback armored vehicle, TIGON 6x6 wheeled armored vehicle, Chunmoo Multi Rocket Launcher, M-SAM and various air defense systems, meeting regional needs with its diverse portfolio of Land Systems solutions. Hanwha will also exhibit hyper connected tactical solutions to sensor and neutralize aerial threats, including Synthetic Aperture Radar(SAR), Multi-Function Radar(MFR), and anti-drone systems. The company will also showcase advanced air defense solutions equipped on Korean Fighter Jet, ranging from Active Electronically Scanned Array(AESA) Radar to Infra-Red Search and Track, strengthening defense capabilities to detect threats across different domains. Hanwha has decades of experience designing, developing, testing successfully manufacturing modern defense solutions. The company is adopting a cooperative approach to support the localization of key products, a private cooperation aimed at expediting the achievement of the customer's objectives.

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Air Transport, Cargo Management, Airport Management

Delta Cargo launches e-commerce solution DeliverDirect in collaboration with SmartKargo

PR Newswire | February 01, 2024

Delta Cargo is excited to announce the launch of its newest product, DeliverDirect, developed in collaboration with SmartKargo. DeliverDirect is a door-to-door delivery service for the U.S. market, offering a competitive and customizable solution for e-commerce retailers seeking to optimize their direct-to-consumer shipping solutions. With DeliverDirect, Delta Cargo pioneers an innovative domestic carrier approach, providing swift service with transparent pricing for e-commerce and small parcel delivery. From initial warehouse pickup to delivery at the end consumer's doorstep, DeliverDirect is a fast, seamless, end-to-end service that upgrades traditional ground or air shipping services utilized by most current e-tailers. Small package shippers will benefit from increased shipping speeds, an uncomplicated pricing structure, proactive alert management, transparent tracking and reporting, and access to Delta's vast domestic network. "We are thrilled to introduce DeliverDirect, our new offer for the small parcel delivery market," shared Alison Ricker, Managing Director, Delta Cargo Global Sales. "Through our strategic collaboration with SmartKargo, DeliverDirect gives e-tailers an alternative transportation solution that fits their customers' requirements, and we envision that this service will prove to be a fast, reliable and cost-effective solution." The DeliverDirect offering can be tailored to shippers' needs with a variety of service innovations that empower customers to customize according to their unique preferences. These service innovations include: personalized pick-up times, geo-fenced notifications for consumers, multiple delivery attempts, signature-required deliveries, proof of delivery with photos, and access to advanced reporting features for a complete comprehensive service that aligns seamlessly with a variety of needs. "E-commerce shippers are looking for simple, faster and more reliable alternatives to deliver their products to consumers. Delta Cargo has a vision for small package delivery that will transform the U.S. market and continue to diversify their already robust offering in the air cargo market. Their innovative approach makes them a fantastic partner for SmartKargo, and we look forward to growing this service together," stated Milind Tavshikar, CEO and Founder of SmartKargo.

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Commercial Aviation, Airport Management

Aviation Capital Group Announces Delivery of One A320neo to SAS

Business Wire | January 25, 2024

Aviation Capital Group LLC (ACG), a premier global full-service aircraft asset manager, announced the delivery of one new Airbus A320neo aircraft on long-term lease to Scandinavian Airlines (“SAS”). Featuring CFM International LEAP-1A engines, this is the ninth of ten aircraft scheduled to deliver to the airline as part of a multiple-aircraft sale-leaseback transaction between ACG and SAS. ACG specializes in commercial aircraft leasing and aviation finance. In addition to aircraft leasing services, we provide aircraft asset management solutions tailored to meet our customers’ fleet management needs. To learn more about the aircraft leasing and aircraft management services offered by ACG, visit www.aviationcapitalgroup.com. Forward-Looking Statements This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable federal securities laws. Any such statements, other than statements of historical fact, are based upon our current expectations and assumptions concerning future events, which are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated. Accordingly, such statements are not guarantees or assurances of any aspect of future performance. Except as required by applicable law, we do not undertake any obligation to, and will not, update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

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Events