Supply Chain Managers Cannot Ignore the Potential of Drones

When some people hear the word “drone”, their gut reaction might be rather negative, whether they’re thinking about drones being used as deadly weapons or picturing those annoying toys the neighbor kids use to spy on them relaxing in their yard. However, supply chain strategists are finding nothing but positives when it comes to drones. Amazon is hoping to use them for its 30-minute Prime deliveries. It’s not just the big players like Amazon that are going to find some potential here, however; many businesses across the spectrum will find benefits from embracing drone technology.

Drone logistics systems maker Matternet is working on a package handling system based out of Mercedes-Benz vans that will allow drones to operate from the vehicle’s roof, sort of like fighter jets being operated from aircraft carriers. This can help solve problems such as range, battery life, safety, service and payload limitations. The partnership with Daimler-Benz gives them access to their driverless vehicle research, including GPS tracking, machine vision, data analytics and motion sensing.

One manifestation of this could be a van full of packages parked in a busy downtown area, from which a collection of drones would pick up the boxes and drop them on balconies, for example.

Drones are an Important Strategic Move

In a recent survey, nearly one third of supply chain professionals said that drones were not only disruptive but also very important parts of their strategies going forward. This marks a threefold increase over those who answered the same way a short two years ago. Some of the issues that drones can be used to tackle include inaccessible locations and driver hour limitations.

As businesses continue to lobby for regulatory approval and investments bring about increasingly safe ways to control them, drones look set to play an indispensable role in the future of supply chains.

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