The Use and Development of Drones in the Supply Chain

Posted by Yasmeen Hassoun 17 Jan, 2018



 The idea of drones becoming a crucial part of the supply chain is received with mixed views across the industry.  As technology has developed and continues to develop incredibly fast over the years, these initiatives have transformed from predictions into a reality. This article discusses how drones will change and develop throughout the supply chain.

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According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), drones “are now widely available for commercial use.” They also state that “some specific additional steps must be taken if a drone is being flown for commercial operations.”
Permission is required to carry out any commercial work using a drone, and laws must be followed. Amazon is one company that is working with the CAA, following these rules, and already has used drones to deliver within the UK from their Cambridge warehouse. According to Amazon, they have test centres in the US, UK, France and Israel. This marks the beginning of commercial use of drones, creating the ability to deliver items within an extremely fast timeframe, from the customer’s first click to front door delivery.


Drones and their use in logistics development

Traditional processes may well be a thing of the past; drones could create a massive shift for traditional transport for example ships, air and road transport. Using drones in the supply chain could drastically increase efficiency. In the near future, the days of items picked at warehouse and loaded onto a truck may well be long gone. With your TMS system and warehouse management software linked up, a customer will be able to order items online and instantly, drones will be directed to pick, load and deliver, without the challenges we face with current processes.

The delivery of small packages via road transport could eventually be brought to an end.  Drones are not able to carry heavy weight, but for small package delivery, big changes may perhaps be in store. Packages could be delivered within 30 minutes of the order being processed. With Amazon already fulfilling these initiatives, it won’t be long before customer needs change and the shift begins.

The future for drones

It has recently been reported that there is a new proposed law to ensure drone users are safety qualified, meaning that drone users will have to register and complete safety exams. This comes after a sweeping movement to regulate the use of drones. Other rules such as height limitations are also expected to be enforced by the government. This suggests that further development for the use of commercial drones will not come without its challenges. Overall, this has and will further create a change in customer expectations and demands which businesses will need to meet. 

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Topics: WMS, obs logistics, TMS, Warehouse Management System, transport management system, supply chain, drones