Innovations and Start-ups: Drones, Google Your Digital Twin, and Sustainability

Martijn Graat
Martijn Graat

Trends and innovations in supply chain and logistics. That’s what this blog is all bout. Therefore I bring you an overview of the news this week on logistics start-ups and innovations below. Follow @LogisticsMatter on Twitter to stay up to date with the latest news and the best background stories. The previous edition it was Wind-Powered Freight, Urban Logistics, and Blockchain. This edition it’s Drones, Sustainability, and Robots in the Warehouse.

Drones (~ Night Drive)

For years there have been many start-ups trying to disrupt delivery with drones. One of the first times I got excited about drone delivery was when I saw the TED Talk Andreas Raptopoulos gave in 2013. He spoke about using drones to get medical supplies to hard to reach places. To this day, Matternet focuses on medical supplies. The companies latest project is a city-wide medical drone network in Abu Dhabi.

It was long thought that drones were best suited to supply hard to reach areas. Wing has recently proved otherwise by successfully and safely making more than 100,000 drone deliveries in urban areas. Their drone delivery solution has been specifically designed for urban areas, promising to deliver in 6 minutes in a 6 miles range. Wing is developing the drones and software that will enable drones and manned aircraft to communicate and coordinate in the air.

A company with a similar dual approach of creating both the drone and software that enables the autonomous operation of drones is Volansi. Volansi is currently working with the US military. They are testing and improving their drones and software by delivering drones to ships. As one of the founders told Modern Shipper:

“If you think of the military as a market, it’s a very interesting market. It can pay for things at a higher price point, it can adopt things at a higher risk tolerance, it allows production in smaller quantities and it has completely different regulations than the commercial market. It’s perfect for the drone delivery industry,” he explained.

Twin (~ Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah)

Google is moving into the supply chain game. Google Cloud has launched The Supply Chain Twin. It will allow companies to create a digital twin of their supply chain. Google will enable companies to gather all relevant data from different sources and bring them together to form a complete picture of your supply chain. Companies can then use this Digital Twin to run scenarios that can predict how your supply chain would react, for example, in case of certain disruptions.

LogisticsMatter sponsor Ahlers has been helping its customers for years by using digital twins. Their Data Analytics Team uses a three-step plan to create contingency plans based on a company’s digital twin. A digital twin improves supply chain visibility and enables companies to run many different scenarios. Based on the results of these scenarios, companies can make strategic and operational decisions based on data.

A Forest (~ The Cure)

As Ahler’s CEO Stefan van Doorslaer put it in his guest blog earlier this week:

Sustainability is gaining more and more attention in supply chain and logistics. Many consumers already take action in their own homes, preferring sustainable options rather than harming the environment. This is a deliberate choice because the more sustainable option often used to be more expensive. In the business-to-business market, an increasing number of companies are choosing sustainable options. However, there is still room for improvement.

Many companies that transport cargo are trying to minimize or at least lower their carbon footprint. Canadian delivery company GoFor is taking this one step further: renewable delivery. GoFor is working together with the US-based start-up Pachama to offset their carbon emissions. Pachama has created a marketplace where companies can support forest projects aimed at restoring nature. Pachama uses AI and machine learning to measure the projects’ positive impact, guaranteeing that carbon emissions are offset.

Another company set on creating a greener and cleaner world is Korean carmaker Hyundai:

“Hyundai Motor Group’s vision is to apply hydrogen energy in all areas of life and industry such as our homes, workplaces and factories. The goal is to make hydrogen readily used for everyone, everything, and everywhere,” said Chairman Chung at the Hydrogen Wave online global forum. “We want to offer practical solutions for the sustainable development of humanity, and with these breakthroughs, we aim to help foster a worldwide Hydrogen Society by 2040.”

Do check out the new truck concept they unveiled together with their vision on hydrogen. I wrote about it in a post on the LogisticsMatter blog: Is This the Truck of the Future.

Header image: Photo by Ed van duijn on Unsplash

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