Automation & Giant Aircraft – Revolutionising Logistics

As new technologies take hold across the supply chain, we take a look at the main disruptors revolutionising the logistics industry around the world.

Revolutionise Logistics

There seems to be two approaches to the next steps for organisations and disruptors revolutionising logistics – go automated, or go huge! From new technology for driverless trucks, to the soon-to-be-largest aircraft in the world taking off in the UK, there are game changing disruptions afoot in the logistics industry.

Plane vs. Blimp

In the past week, the world’s largest freight aircraft touched down in Australia, following a 14,000km journey around the world from the Czech Republic. But, even this huge plane looks set to be usurped by an even bigger aircraft, about to undergo flight tests in the UK.

The Antonov 225 Mriya, weighs in at an astonishing 175 tonnes, is 84 metres in length and needs six engines to help it get off the ground. It’s capable of carrying loads of up to 640 tonnes, and is the only one of its kind. Perhaps most surprising is that this behemoth is nearly 30 years old.

The plane has mostly been used in recent years in the logistics field to transport heavy commercial items, such as heavy mining equipment, around the world. It touched down for the first time in Australia earlier this week carrying a 117-tonnes mining generator to a customer in Western Australia.

However, it’s about to be surpassed in size (although not in load capacity) by a new aircraft hoping to carry out its first UK-based test flight in the coming weeks. The Airlander 10 stands at 92 metres long, and has required the world’s largest hangar to be constructed in order to allow it to be housed.

The key difference about the Airlander? It’s a blimp. While this currently limits its payload to 10 tonnes, it’s hoped that successful flight tests, and commercial use, will enable a larger craft, with a 50-tonnes payload to be manufactured.

While it’s never likely to rival the Antonov for capacity, the Airlander has a number of potential uses in the logistics field, including commercial, military and scientific research.

Driverless Big Rigs

From the giants of the air, to giants of the road, but with a difference. In the past 12 months, Mercedes, Volvo and Daimler have unveiled their own driverless trucks, with the intention of removing some of the potential danger from the trucking industry.

However, they may be overtaken by a new team on the market. Otto, a team formed by former engineers from Google, Apple, Tesla, and including Anthony Levandowski, the former leaders of Google’s self-driving car project, is approaching this issue from the other side.

Instead of designing autonomous trucks, the Otto team and aiming to create technology that can be fitted to trucks already on the road. The technology is aimed at increasing safety by allowing drivers the chance to sleep, while the truck drives itself along the long American highways.

While this might not seem as impressive, there are a number of benefits from this approach:

  • The technology can retrofitted to the majority of vehicles retrofitted to existing vehicles;
  • It’s cheaper than the outlay for a new truck in its own right;
  • It aims to help, rather than replace drivers, meaning there will be human control for some of the journey;
  • It doesn’t fall foul of legislation in a number of US states which require steering equipment, or a driver, to be in the vehicle cab.

The next steps in this area will be fascinating to see, particularly how the major manufacturers react to this, and potentially adapt their offerings to account for it.

Procurement Awards Season Here

We couldn’t let this week pass without congratulating some of the worthy winners of procurement awards around the world.

  • Johanne Rossi, CPO at Caltex, took home the ‘CPO of the Year‘ Award at The Faculty’s Asia-Pacific CPO Forum
  • Rising star Joanna Graham, Strategic Sourcing Manager (Asia Pacific) at BP, received the ‘Future Leaders in Procurement‘ Award at the same event
  • Timothy R Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., was awarded the 2016 J. Shipman Gold Medal Award, by ISM, in recognition of his distinguished service for the cause and advancement of the supply management profession.
  • Volvo, Flex, Roche and J&J were among the winners at the Procurement Leaders ‘World Procurement Awards‘. See a full list here.

Is bigger necessarily better in logistics? Could we see a combination of both larger size and automation for vehicles in the future? Let us know what you think below.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the headlines this week, giving you something to share over your morning coffee…

Gartner Reveal Supply Chain Top 25

  • Research firm Gartner has revealed its annual Supply Chain Top 25 for 2016, now in its 12th year
  • For the first time, Unilever has topped the list, ahead of McDonald’s (2), Amazon (3), Intel (4), and H&M (5)
  • Previous multiple winners Apple and P&G have been awarded a place on the ‘Masters’ list by Gartner, which celebrates 10 or more years of sustained supply chain leadership
  • New entries to the list include BMW and Schneider Electric, with both HP and GlaxoSmithKline returning after a few years’ absence

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

HP Release “Large-Scale” Manufacturing 3D Printer

  • HP have announced the release of the HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, the world’s first large-scale manufacturing 3D Printer.
  • The model prints items 10x faster than current machines, and one version offers an end-to-end solution (including software).
  • 9 companies, including Nike, BMW and J&J are currently testing the machines on a large scale
  • Stephen Nigro, who runs HP’s 3-D printing business, said that “Customers are looking at how to transform their (3-D printing) business from prototyping to production.”

Read more at USA Today

Procurement “Cut Off” Says Report

  • According to a new report, procurement teams in hotels are seen as not collaborating with other departments.
  • The Hotelier Middle East’s Hospitality Procurement Report 2016 shared the perception that procurement were “trying to do it cheap” from members across the region.
  • The report goes on to share some examples of best practice in getting procurement more involved.
  • These included having procurement represented at meetings with key suppliers, as well as in design meetings for major hotels.

Read more at Hotelier Middle East

UK SME Spend “Stalling”

  • A report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has claimed that efforts to direct more public spending to UK SMEs has stalled.
  • The current Government set a target of 33 per cent of overall spend to be with SMEs by 2020, though despite major efforts, it doesn’t appear to be working.
  • One issue the PAC highlighted was a lack of clarity on whether the money was being spent directly with SMEs, or via larger contractors.
  • The PAC has also disputed figures stating that spend with SMEs was up from 6.8 per cent in 2010-11 to 27.1 per cent in 2014-15

Read more at Supply Management