How are Logistics Mobile Apps Transforming the Industry?

In the ancestry of the logistics mobile app, sits the mobile warehouse device. The predecessor of the smartphone app, a ruggedised mobile device, facilitates a productive workforce whereby nobody is tethered to a specific area. These ergonomic machines enable heightened accuracy and efficiency, linking wirelessly to computers and printers.

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With the birth of smartphone technology came the natural sequel to this device in the guise of the supply chain app. No longer just for warehouse use, apps can be integrated into every stage of the supply chain, from drivers to consumers.

It is this multi-functionality, a communication platform not only between members of an organisation but also between a business and customer, which has attracted companies to recruit app software developers.

Notoriously, the logistics industry has been considered relatively slow when adapting to digitalisation. However, with plenty of Millennials now employed in the industry, perception is changing with regards to new technologies.

How are mobile apps transformative to the field?

  • Perhaps the biggest advantage of mobile apps in logistics is the ability to supply information in real-time, to both business employees and the customer. In this way, the status of consignments can be accurately tracked and notifications can be sent automatically at each stage of transportation.
  • Naturally, this enables individual employees to be tracked with the GPS enabled technology built into the app. Managers will always have direct contact with their drivers.
  • Accurate PODs can be generated. Signatures can be collected and sent instantaneously back to managers as proof of delivery.
  • Apps can also be used to capture valuable data. Information can be stored and analysis can allow for more responsive business decisions.
  • Traffic management is a huge benefit. GPS 3VC9WOIB07technology can allow for real-time road updates and information can be sent to the driver to specify the best route to take. This saves both time and money, possibly securing future work with a client.
  • Aesthetically, a business may appear more stable. Customers may feel assured by the sophistication of app assisted deliveries.
  • They can be used to arrange bookings quickly without speaking to a phone operator. This enhances efficiency, especially for customers arranging simple home deliveries.
  • The customer service element of any company is vital. With the addition of an app, customers can track their shipments, find out about potentially pushed or premature ETAs, or even live chat with a company representative.
  • Businesses may also use the interface to communicate the latest offers with their customers; in a sense, this creates an exclusive club whereby app users can get the best deal.

The demand for app assisted logistics is increasing, with more and more companies developing software to meet it. Do you have experience using a logistics-specific app? Join the discussion in the comments below or on Twitter using #logisticsapps!

Thanks to:

  • Rapidsoft Technologies
  • Scandit
  • Common Time
  • Snappii
  • Inbound Logistics

Generating a Quick Quote with Apollo Cardiff could Actually Save you some Money

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When devising our new website, we opted to include a quick quote generator.

Traditionally, companies rely on the same couriers due to the intricacies of their logistics plan. However, plenty of these providers charge astronomical prices for a service which is frequently unreliable, expensive, and unlikely to be tailored around a business’ individual needs. At Apollo, we like to challenge the areas in which other companies tend to fall short.

Fill in our quick quote form and someone from our team of experts will get straight back to you with a bespoke quote based on what your business needs.

We toyed with the idea of an instant response based on your requirements. However, this seems contrary to our mission to deliver a bespoke service. Rather, we’d like to manage each request individually to ensure we craft a service to suit you.

Whether you have a particular time in mind for pick-up/delivery, specialist type of product, or out-of-hours schedule, you can trust Apollo to compile a list of competitive prices for a service that won’t let you down. Click here!

How is Advanced UAV Technology set to Shape the Future of Logistics? Apollo Cardiff Investigates

Add subtitle text (5) Drone technology: an attractive prospect for futurists. However, concerns voiced by those in opposition leave distribution companies in a quandary. With a proportion developing potentially practical drone solutions in the supply chain, will our skies soon be scattered with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)?  UAV technology is already being utilised (for example, in the military for surveillance), with further prototypes in development. Many believe that the notion of mass drone assisted delivery and collection is vital for the future of logistics. Apollo Cardiff asks whether the integration of advanced UAV technology in the field will become the norm.

The value of UAVs to deliver to remote locations is evident. Landscapes dominated by poor infrastructure and tough terrain have already reaped the rewards of drone technology. Hypothetically, developing communities in remote areas could connect with other villages through UAV networks which could eventually facilitate their inclusion in the wider economy. Suddenly, they are connected. Not only can vital goods be distributed, but information too. As a result, these communities are no longer isolated. They don’t stand alone. Rather, this potential future of logistics sees their communicative range broadened, overcoming many barriers that a lack of suitable infrastructure generates. It certainly wouldn’t be the formula for a complete revolution; however, a stronger economic positioning could be established, moving these communities towards a better supplied future in which they also no longer face communicative isolation.

Theoretically, this sounds like the ideal scenario. Nevertheless, a great number of people argue that it is just that. An idealised notion, which bypasses a long list of issues. As far as UAVs in use on a mass scale in logistics is concerned, these problems fit into two clear categories: Technology based risk and social anxiety.

Let’s first take the potential risks associated with the fundamental UAV technology. There are a number of associated risks with the use of these machines, especially when considering mass scale use in distribution. Many would argue that a choked urban environment could be assisted by drone solutions. The final leg of a delivery could be adopted by a UAV, thus alleviating both inner-city congestion as well as bearing environmental benefits. However, if our airspace is full of thousands of drone devices, how can we be sure of a 100% prevention rate regarding collisions? Airspace, particularly over cities, is already overcrowded. Potential faults in motion sensor technology could lead to drones crashing into each other, buildings, wildlife, and even citizens if such collisions render the drone hurtling towards the ground. Furthermore, colliding with an aircraft could result in hundreds of risked lives. In 2013, a pilot reported the sighting of a drone just 200 feet from his aircraft when making his final approach into JFK International Airport. This triggered further investigation as it could have brought the craft down. Of course, we can only speculate. Even at this point the failure of a UAV is relatively unlikely, but it still remains a real concern in the eyes of many. Human error is removed but the risks of relying on technology remain.

Social anxieties are evident. The word “drone” does seem to connote some sort of dystopia in which humankind is under constant surveillance. Perhaps this originates from the use of UAVs in the military as spy equipment. There are a great number who scrutinise the use of the camera and GPS technology on board. Supporters of advanced UAVs mark such opinion as a social paranoia which is preventing advancements in a potentially widely beneficial and revolutionary technology.

The logistics industry could be completely reshaped, with faster delivery times, even to the most remote locations that wouldn’t otherwise have the infrastructure to accept said goods. However, the anxiety regarding both their use to survey and potentially harm humankind must be treated seriously.

Of course, UAVs used outside of strict regulation have the potential to inflict much harm; however, correctly used by logistics providers, they have the prospect to reshape delivery networks for the better. Currently, regulations vary widely from country to country, firm legislation is predicted to be realised in the next few years, making adoption of the technology both easier for distribution companies and less of a public concern.

Other social apprehension comes from the cost of drone solutions. An estimate in 2013 cited the cost for Amazon, and other companies, to be around $50,000 per machine. However, MIT Technology Review made note of a drone delivery made to Haitian refugee camps. Here, life enabling products were distributed at a rate that was around five times cheaper than the normal truck delivery method. For logistics providers, the value of the goods on board clearly needs to be considered when calculating whether delivery by UAV is of benefit. Clearly, as aforementioned, in the instances of delivery to remote locations, or when providing precious life-saving goods, the advantages remain clear, perhaps regardless of extra costs.

Amazon’s UAV plans have by no means been a secret. Although grounded for the time being, much research into the future of logistics has led to the potentiality of a system by which consumers can make an online order which is delivered within 30 minutes. Amazon claim that this isn’t a future too far away, with CEO Jeff Bezos hinting at a 4-5 year waiting time in order to benefit their most loyal Prime customers. Fellow giant, Google, have recently revealed their UAV plans under the name of Project Wing. After two years of development, this project enables consumers to receive their goods in a matter of minutes. However, much like Amazon, it is years away from completion.

Despite much speculation, advanced UAV technology is racing towards realisation in the logistics field. With Amazon and Google as forerunners in their development, it seems feasible to envisage a future in which the supply chain is heavily influenced by drone solutions. Associated risks are of course prevalent, with much concentration needed on the regulative legislation in order to ensure such technology is born into a secure environment. It has been argued that the hesitation regarding these regulations exists due to mounting social anxiety. It could perhaps be said that social change is progressing at a slower rate than that of one of the technologies set to shape the future of logistics. How do you see the future of drones in distribution? Are UAVs set to disturb the supply chain as we know it? Let us know at Apollo Cardiff. Comment below or tweet us @ApolloCardiff to join the debate!

With thanks to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10713898

http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/global-logistics-october-2014/

http://www.dhl.com/content/dam/downloads/g0/about_us/logistics_insights/dhl_trend_report_uav.pdf

http://www.genco.com/insights/when-will-it-make-sense-to-use-drones-in-logistics/

http://www.intellitrack.net/are-drones-the-future-of-logistics.asp

Apollo Cardiff Discuss 3D Printing in Manufacturing

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Arguably, 3D printing is becoming more prevalent as a participant in the logistics industry, with potentially astronomical implications on the supply chain. Clearly, 3D printing is evolving rapidly; analysts predict that over the following four years the industry will be worth more than ten billion dollars.

But to what extent could this development affect the logistics industry as a whole? With its involvement in the supply chain at the primitive stages, will we see a 3D printing in manufacturing revolution in our life time? Apollo Cardiff investigates.

How does the process work?

Charles Hull developed the technology in the 1980s to facilitate the production of basic polymer objects. Plenty of industries, from aerospace to medicine, are now heavily investing in 3D printing.

The process relies on the build-up of incredibly thin layers. A printer computes a digital blueprint of the product and then a slow procedure commences in which material is dropped according to said product design. Despite the slow pace of the print, there is very little setup time. The possible intricacy of this technique has enabled extremely precise levels of detail, unachievable in other methods of product manufacture.

How does it affect the supply chain?

As a manufacturing technique, there are clearly positive and negative aspects which must undergo analysis.

Positive impacts on the supply chain:

  • More local production is facilitated. This minimises the costs of shipping goods around the globe. Furthermore, this is clearly environmentally beneficial.
  • Local production additionally allows customers to receive their orders quickly.
  • When products do need to be transported across long distances, the 3D print process often means said products are lighter. As a result, fuel consumption is reduced, leading to fewer CO2 emissions.
  • It is also environmentally efficient to cut out the delivery and assembly of materials at the initial stage, as it can be manufactured at one specific point.
  • Keeping simply blueprints in digital storage would cut down storage space for manufacturers. This will also reduce the amount of energy needed to maintain a warehouse.
  • Material consumption is lowered due to the fact that the process only uses the materials necessary, there is no excess.
  • Highly complex and detailed structures can be produced, that which cannot be constructed by other manufacturing techniques.

There are, of course, negative implications considered here:

  • What does this mean for those employed at each stage of the supply chain that could no longer exist if this technology becomes normality? Low level assembly workers, for example, become largely redundant.
  • Retraining workers in 3D printing in manufacturing is costly and time consuming. The current design software is incredibly complicated.
  • The current 3D technology is not yet anywhere near fast enough to compete with high-speed manufacturing machinery. In addition, it is also not well versed in a great number of materials.
  • The cost of printing in three dimensions is currently costly, not making practical sense for most manufacturers. 

After assessing the above points, Amazon have recently been investing in 3D printing technology, prototyping the notion of printing products on the customer’s doorstep. The way in which this works is with the use of “mobile manufacturing hubs.” These manufacturing hubs contain 3D printing machines which enable local production literally at the location of delivery.

Amazon argue that this method enables a much faster delivery, which additionally eliminates any potential for damage in transit. Warehouse space is also reduced, benefiting the company and bearing less environmental impact. As a result of these points, customer satisfaction is increased, which is clearly financially advantageous.

So what does this mean for the future of 3D printing?

Overall, we still remain in the very primitive stages of 3D printing in manufacturing. Whereas many see its potential to change product manufacture and therefore the supply chain as a whole, there are responses which suggest we’re not quite ready for the revolution yet.

In its current position, 3D printing is often less cost effective than present technique. However, many of these processes do not allow the same level of customisation, which is becoming increasingly more desirable.

The current impact on distribution is low, but this doesn’t necessary stand for the future of manufacturing. The question remains as to how far away we are from its saturation into the industry. Some argue that we will witness its influence on the supply chain within the decade, with the breakdown of a global supply chain and the initiation of high-tech systems of localised and connected suppliers.

Perhaps the most sensible suggestion is the presence of 3D printing alongside other methods of manufacture. It has clear benefits but it seems impossible to consider a total breakdown of the supply chain, at least at this stage of development.

What do you think? Are we miles away or closer than many suspect? Drop us a comment or a tweet @ApolloCardiff and join the debate! #3Dprinting #ApolloCardiff

With thanks to the following sources:

  • Eureka Magazine
  • Cerasis
  • The Verge
  • The Logistics Business
  • The Guardian
  • Robotics Tomorrow

Employment Opportunities in Logistics

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It has been documented by The Bureau of Labour Statistics that employment in the logistics industry is, based on current progression, expected to increase 26% by 2020. Interestingly, this is a growth exceeding the average for any profession.

But why? Instrumental to this swelling is Globalisation. This isn’t a new term and we’re all very much aware of its integrative implications. However, trade walls are continuing to dismantle, many ideological borders are disappearing, custom duties are being eliminated and industry specific technology is typically marching ahead. Accumulatively, this means that the demand for logistical services of the utmost efficiency is essential for businesses of all proportions.

Scope in alternate cities and countries is vital to financial success and a fully integrated global supply chain and logistics industry facilitates this. Additionally, the processing of documents has been greatly simplified and both communication and transport options are faster than ever. Overall, this enables companies to expand their field of expertise around the world.

The opportunities are clearly present to work abroad with the skills gained from a position in logistics- positions in such roles as: customer service, transportation, operations, purchasing, strategy, warehousing etc. Furthermore, foreign language skills are invaluable when embarking on such a career that has global prospects.

Are young people unaware of the career potentials in such a fast-paced industry? Andy Kaye, reporting for Transport and Logistics Online, thinks so. Many education programmes have been established in order to provide young people with a full 360 degree understanding of the logistics industry; many of these courses lead pupils straight into guaranteed employment. Kaye notes that students aren’t shown these opportunities and miss out on “fantastic career opportunities.”

Often, career prospects evolve from idealised notions seen in the media. T&L Online note the sharp increase in popularity in such degrees as Forensic Science emerging from television series such as CSI. In reality, there are few jobs in this sector. This is true of many romanticised positions and perhaps it is in the hands of careers advisors to equip young people with the further knowledge they need to make a more informed decision as to how they will move forward on their paths to adulthood.

What skills are important in the logistics industry in order to succeed? There are a wide variety of roles, all demanding different qualities. However, there are a core few which both students claim to hold and logistic employers deem necessary. Skills such as teamwork, practicality, accuracy, attention to detail, IT confidence and problem solving are all widely sought after. Computer literacy is incredibly important and key to the progression of the distribution industry. Typically responding well to digital advancements, many believe that young people are now vital to this field.

A huge number of varied roles are available, awaiting young and enthusiastic graduates begging for a career in a lucrative industry, predicted to inflate further as we move into the next lustrum. Would you consider a career in logistics? Let us know your thoughts and join the discussion using #logisticscareers on Twitter.

With thanks to:

  • DHL
  • Brazen Life
  • Transport and Logistics Online
  • Financial Times Lexicon

Happy Birthday to us!

We’ve had a typically busy week at Apollo HQ this week, furthered by the fact that it’s our birthday week! We’re leaving our teenage years behind us today and striding into our 20th year of unrivaled customer care and courier servicing.

Two decades worth of experience means we are in the best position of experience ever to provide our customers with the optimum service, tailored to their preferences – get in touch if you want a competitive quote to plot against your current courier or storage company!

We couldn’t possibly see in our 20th without some sort of editable landmark. A huge thank you to Thorntons for their sensational iced champagne bottle!

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In addition to our birthday celebrations, we’ve continued to bridge the frequently forgotten gap between distribution and Blue Peter (stay with me here) with our Valentines Day gifts. To mark the occasion, Apollo has been playing Cupid all week, distributing a different kind of package to our most loyal clients. Several balls of ribbon and boxes of Milk Tray later we arrived at this conclusion, a conclusion which seems to have gone down very nicely.

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We’ll be making the final few deliveries today, so keep an eager eye out for us, we might just be playing Cupid in your office this afternoon ❤

Why Pick Apollo?

There’s certainly a cacophony of courier companies ready to serve your business. What makes Apollo different? How would you benefit from picking us above another?

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We vow to put you first. Customer care is the vital cog to Apollo’s fiery machine and is the reason why our customers use our services recurrently. Our customers are loyal to us because we return that sentiment. Our booking clerks are available 24/7 to book your delivery, deal with any worries you might have, give you live updates and protect your consignments.

We’ll always go above and beyond what your current courier service does for you. The size of our team means that nothing will get lost in translation meaning the safe and secure delivery of your items. There’s nothing worse than uncertainty when you trust a distribution company with your goods, which is why we make sure to provide you with real-time updates and always secure proof of delivery for you.

Most companies operate utilising a call centre system. Which is annoying. Our team operate using one number across a number of lines. We communicate fully within the team regarding each and every existing and potential client. We’ll never lose sight of what you want from us.

Make a noncommittal phone call to our Welsh office today to find out a bit more about how we can shape our bespoke services and prices around your expectations. Meanwhile, I’m going to continue crafting some Valentines treats to deliver to a lucky few next week! We hope you’ll be our Valentine <3.

A Warm Welcome from Jasper and the Rest of the Apollo Team!

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Welcome to Apollo’s brand new blog; the intention of which is to share with you the vast number of bespoke services we can provide for you. I will additionally be commenting on industry specific topics; oh, and there will almost definitely be further guest appearances from our canine pals Jasper and Lily. It’s probably unfair to leave them out.

Existing as my first post, I’ll briefly give you a tour of our business. Apollo Distribution was founded as a family run business in 1995 within Cardiff City Centre, with other branches based throughout the UK. Although we are stationed separately, we utilise their services which enables us to provide Nationwide coverage. Apollo continues to function as a family today, with the exception of one new employee (me) to the team this January (I mean, I shockingly share the same surname so you’re very welcome to pretend we’re plotted on the same family tree).

I shan’t list every service we offer, take a good look at our website for a full list of how we can help you and/or your business: http://www.apollodistributioncardiff.co.uk/

However, needless to say we offer same day, next day, and international delivery and are on call 24/7, 365 days a year- should you ever need us at 3am on Christmas morning? I don’t know what your habits are.

We are HUGELY passionate about our customer care philosophy. Despite our online booking form, customers seem to prefer to speak to us, we’re just far too charming. Our booking clerks know the industry inside out and are able to meet you with the very best service in Cardiff the UK World – let us know your budget and potential logistical nightmare and we’ll endeavour to make everything ok.

Apollo continues to take great strides forward in 2015 and we have plenty of exciting things in the pipeline. So whether you’re genuinely interested in us or genuinely interested in images/anecdotes about dogs (I really hope it’s the former), subscribe to our blog right away! Check out our social media as well (links to the right), I promise not to be disappointing- we really can offer a fantastic service, making your life much easier!