Supply Chain & Logistics in Association with Google

By Rubal Jain, Managing Director, Safexpress

Recently Reuters reported that new Google-powered software will be used by the United Nations to address problems related to climate change, deforestation and food production. Called Open Foris, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) software developed by Google, will use high-resolution satellite images to monitor the environment, changes in land use, as well as the forest cover. What’s more, the software is free and can be used by anyone – from citizens who wish to monitor misuse of natural resources, to scientists or governments wanting to assess the carbon storage capacity of an area.

While this may be a milestone in Google Technology, those from the field of information technology (IT) will hardly be surprised at the new offering. IT experts, industry trackers and even novices have seen the search engine company move from strength to strength, as a result of which the company’s innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information on a daily basis.

Google’s investments in research and development (R&D) and engaging in disruptive technology is great news for businesses in general, and for supply chain and logistics, in particular. Why, think of how the supply chain & logistics world would be, if Google’s investments in autonomous vehicles pay off! Drone delivery vehicles could change the transportation bit forever. The company has also put its R&D strength behind projects as disparate as space elevators, wearable gadgets, robots, home automation, driverless cars, clean energy, to smart thermostats, and many of them cater to the supply chain and logistics industry so well they might as well be custom-made.

The IT company’s commitment to revolutionizing supply chain and logistics is known to all. It must be seen in the way it is relentlessly pursuing the science of robotics; its acquisition of robotics companies in the US and Japan is a clear indication of its intentions. It is not just about making supply chain and logistics more efficient and cost-effective. The use of robotics and innovative Google technology in the sector will also mean sustainable growth, with a smaller carbon footprint – the pertinent need of the hour.

The company is also aligning itself with the way the supply chain and logistics business is changing itself. Take technology, for instance, and mobile and tablet technology, in particular. With increased dependence on technology, supply chain and logistics executives, who are usually always on the go, rely on their phones and tablets to track consignments, firefight crises, send reports, and so on. Google’s development of Android and keeping it robust is almost a blessing for each one of us. Apps are the way to go in most businesses, and we in supply chain and logistics are no exception.

Industry experts also believe that 3D printing will revolutionize supply chain and logistics by helping businesses maintain lower levels of inventory, give a better idea of products to end-consumers, and that of raw material to manufacturers. Since 3D printing means a closer relationship between a product’s designs, engineering, manufacturing and marketing, working on the end-product becomes far easier. Not just that, repetitive tasks during the production process might be eliminated. Google’s interest in 3D printing since 2013 has grown manifold and its partnership with companies such as Shapeways and investment in a 3D printing startup such as Carbon3D (Google Ventures led the 100 million USD funding in the company last year) are proof enough.

And those who think wearable technology as merely a fad for geeks, you couldn’t be more wrong. Cloud technology works wonderfully for supply chain & logistics executives who have wearable gadgets on them. From order picking, routing, tracking, monitoring, to data collection, inventory management in real-time, these gadgets can do it all. Wearable devices such as, Google’s extremely popular Google Glass- an optical head-mounted display, can help you provide and transfer any and every kind of data. Armed with the internet of things (IoT), several warehouse and transportation functions not only become faster and more accurate, but also the functions get safer due to monitoring of the executive’s own vital signs.

In conclusion, Google and its technology have opened up a whole new world of how we do business, shop, save and, last but not the least, look for information. It is no exaggeration to say that any company that still hasn’t adapted itself to capitalize on it will always be participant, never the winner. Supply chain and logistics companies included.  

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