How Autonomous Vehicles Will Impact the Supply Chain

The supply chain has been the same for a long time; a driver, a rig, and the road. But, as times are changing, so are the promises for what’s in store for the industry – especially with advances such as autonomous cars on the horizon.

Much has been said about the effect these cars will have on the average driver, but what about those working in logistics? From managers to drivers, these vehicles will reshape the supply chain landscape that we know today. Touching upon elements of efficiency, staffing, logistics, and more, the rise of driverless cars will have a long-lasting effect on the way the supply chain is run.

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So, what impact are autonomous vehicles truly having on the supply chain market?

Cut Costs

As driverless cars become more commonplace, it’s safe to say that many businesses will embrace them with open arms. Of course, this change won’t’ happen overnight, but when it does it will be sure to bring with it many savings.

The initial cost of setting everything up is high but in the long run, this technology can actually help logistic companies to save millions of dollars. Driverless cars have the potential to lower supply chain expenses due to their ability to lower the need of drivers – and therefore, paying them wages – reduce the number of human-related accidents – and so liability and maintenance costs – and reduce fuel consumption, due to their ability to reach more areas faster.

All in all, logistics operators will have a higher value for their money, which, ultimately is a very strong incentive for businesses to embrace driverless vehicles.

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Error-Free Supply Chain

Did you know, 81% of the errors in the supply chain occur due to human mistakes? And, a whopping 94% of the errors will be eliminated with the coming of autonomous vehicles?

Errors and behaviors such as wrong turns on the road, bad driving habits, procrastination, and more all contribute to these numbers. Autonomous cars are built for one thing, to get from A to B. They do as they are programmed, therefore, they’ll follow quicker routes, consume less fuel, and exhibit less wear and tear on the road.

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Solve The Driver Shortage Problem

As time has gone on, there has been a steadily decreasing pool of available truck drivers to transport goods. This driver shortage problem is causing many issues, especially when faced with rising customer demands.

Autonomous vehicle technology is proving to be the solution the logistics industry is seeking. As these vehicles won’t be reliant on human drivers, they will be able to not only get to their intended destinations on time but also, work throughout the night – as, unlike humans, they don’t need breaks and don’t need to follow the HOS regulations for property-carrying drivers. This means these vehicles will be able to cover more ground and accomplish even more than their current human counterparts.

On the flip side, many people worry that these vehicles will take human jobs, but as indicated by the American Trucking Association, the industry is suffering from a shortage of nearly 50,000 drivers. Therefore, these self-driving cars will only be filling in the available gaps. Even more,  drivers will still be viable for a long time -even with fully autonomous vehicles- for safety purposes, as someone will need to be in the vehicle to override it, in the case of a problem.

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Final note

These are only but a few of the ways in which autonomous vehicles can and will impact the supply chain. Ultimately, this technology aims to shorten the distance between two points, cut costs drastically, and bring about operational efficiency to the whole supply chain.

As time goes on, we will discover how this shift will play out, but in the meantime, one thing is for certain – autonomous vehicles will bring about a huge transformation to the supply chain structure.

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