3 Reasons Drones Help with Supply Chain Management

When was the last time you thought about the journey goods take before arriving at their final destination? Most of the time, you probably don’t give it a single thought.

However, just because you don’t think about it doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

Supply and demand requires the movement of raw materials be shipped around the world. People use drones, trains, trucks, ships, aircraft, and nearly every other form of transportation to keep consumers’ appetites satisfied.

The responsibility for ensuring that flow of goods falls upon professionals in supply chain management. Globally, the supply chain management market is projected to be valued at $37.41 billion by 2027.

However, with an almost endless list of moving parts and variables to try and account for, supply chain managers have their hands full.

You may be wondering, “Can drones help the supply chain management industry?” The answer is a resounding yes.

In fact, drones are already an integral part of the process. And as regulators become more comfortable with UAV technology, you’ll likely see a massive adoption of drones in the future.

Let’s take a look at just three of the ways drones are solving supply chain problems. 

Inventory Control In the Supply Chain

Keeping track of on-hand inventory is a costly process.

The average size of an e-commerce warehouse is hundreds of thousands of square feet. Not only that, but it’s not uncommon for some e-commerce giants to have warehouses in excess of 1,000,000 square feet.

Maintaining a clear understanding of the items on hand and avoiding theft usually takes either multi-million-dollar automation or enormous human resources. However, another more effective solution is available.

For several years now, companies have turned to drones to avoid both huge capital investments and the need for small armies of workers.

Drones, combined with Radio Frequency ID (RFID) tags, are revolutionizing inventory control. Rather than teams of people scanning tags manually, drones fly through a warehouse quickly and provide an accurate inventory at much higher speeds than people can. As another benefit, drones don’t require ladders or lifts, keeping people safe from dangerous heights.

Without drones performing this function, many facilities would not be able to complete an inventory in a timely fashion.

Drones make it easy to monitor inventory levels, which in turn helps track and deter theft.

Increased Warehouse Efficiency

Warehouses are extremely complicated entities.

The endless low-hum of conveyor belts speeding packages around the world and the dance-like motions of workers as they pick, pack, and ship products – it’s a dizzying soiree.

However, machines break down, and people can become injured, bringing a halt to the entire operation. Drones help avoid these costly shutdowns by increasing the efficiency of inspections and monitoring employee safety.

Worker safety should always be the priority. As employees exert themselves, they can become injured or fall victim to life-threatening issues, such as heart attacks. And, given the size of some facilities, an injured worker may not be noticed right away.

Drones can provide a continuous overwatch to ensure safety incidents are addressed quickly, preserving life and keeping the operation moving smoothly.

UAVs are also capable of providing the same overwatch for machines. Rather than wait for a conveyor belt to jam or components to fail, drones can use thermal cameras to detect overheating and prevent significant damage before it occurs.

Last Mile

If you’ve ever dealt with the transportation side of supply chain management, you know the pain and complexity of the Last Mile. The Last Mile refers to the end of the logistics journey for goods arriving at their final destination.

Solving the Last Mile problem remains a hot topic in the industry.

As goods arrive in highly populated areas, it becomes more expensive to get them to the end-user. Trucks are expensive, sometimes even operating at a loss during the Last Mile.

Drone delivery looks to be the ideal solution for addressing many of these issues.

Technology is already strong enough to allow for drone delivery. Many test cases have proven the viability for delivering food, small items, and even human organs.

Once regulators accept the reliability and safety of UAV technology, drones just may solve the Last Mile problem once and for all.

The Takeaways

Supply chain management professionals have a tough job. Keeping the world supplied with the materials and products it needs is a challenging, but necessary task.

With all the problems businesses face, drones are quickly becoming an integral part of the industry. UAV technology continues to improve the global supply chain with increased efficiencies, better inventory management, and solutions to the Last Mile problem.

Drones aren’t just keeping an eye in the sky; they’re solving problems for businesses around the world.

So, which drone is right for you? And, how do you get started? Do you hire out or bring your drone program in-house?

At Consortiq, we help you find a better way with drones, from consultation and program implementation to actually doing the work for you.

Ready to learn more? Just complete the form below to schedule a risk-free consultation!

Picture of David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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