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AI based simulation provides end-to-end visibility of the logistics network: Pankaj Sachdeva, Pitney Bowes

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The logistics industry is heading towards a data and tech driven, predictive, on-demand and automated industry working on new operating models, with AI expected to play a huge role, opines Pankaj Sachdeva, Vice President, Innovation and India Site Leader at Pitney Bowes

Some edited excerpts:

What is the role of AI in logistics?
AI is supporting businesses across the value chain of logistics. It analyzes client data, package journey data, capacity, and other related data to predict, optimize, and automate logistics operations. One of the most common use cases is Volume Prediction based on historic data and patterns, which allows better planning of resources. Similarly, AI can be used for package return prediction, downtime prediction, delivery route optimization, among others.

AI is helping improve customer experience through recommendation for saving time and money and enables companies to offer new services to clients such as near Same Day Delivery, Delivery date guarantee. AI based simulation provides end-to-end visibility of the logistics network which enables companies to understand potential bottlenecks for scale. Therefore, AI in logistics is helping add to both the top line through better client experience and newer services and to the bottom line through reduced cost such as of labour and transportation.

What is the depth of expertise in the logistics domain in India?
India has seen tremendous growth in the last two decades owing to the global technology adoption and the acquired skill sets. The quality of work has matured from backend support to the design and development of the entire product lifecycle. However, we still lack crucial business and domain knowledge. Any project, especially the upcoming data science projects, is incomplete without the depth of domain. For instance, in the logistics simulation example I gave earlier, you can write algorithms to analyse data that provides some results, but you wouldn’t know about the quality of results until you understand your business end to end. Besides that, having a deep knowledge of domain and business helps the understand the client requirements, their workflows and constraints better. It is crucial for us to up our game to understand domain besides continuously upskilling our technology expertise.

How is Pitney Bowes changing the landscape of automated deliveries?
Pitney Bowes Smart Lockers are redefining the landscape of deliveries. The Smart Lockers offer safe, secure, and contactless delivery with the convenience of 24/7 self-service access. The operator delivers packages to lockers triggering recipient notifications with access barcodes. The recipient scans the access barcode at the locker, verifies their identity and the assigned locker opens for the recipient. The automated delivery solution is mitigating the risk of packages getting lost, misplaced or stolen, and is thus enhancing both carriers’ and the clients’ experience.
Our receiving solutions automate the logging and tracking of inbound mail and parcels. Additionally, Pitney Bowes is leveraging robotics in the fulfilment / delivery centers, making the operations automated and cost efficient.

Where is the logistics industry headed?
The logistic industry is heading towards a data and tech driven, predictive, on-demand and automated industry working on new operating models. E-commerce, especially Direct to Consumer (D2C) uptick will give rise to greater volumes and micro-warehousing. The change in consumer behavior will continue to lead one-day delivery and hyperlocal logistics. Robotics, IoT and AI will enable efficiency in fulfilment and ensure minimum downtime of the warehouse equipment and of fleet. PUDO (pick-up and drop off) and Lockers will become a significant base for last-mile delivery. And autonomous vehicles and drone delivery will disrupt the industry.

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