In recent decades, the logistics industry has undergone major changes. From being regarded as a sort of side-line operation, doing material management, material handling and transportation, the industry has expanded and has become an important and competitive critical factor, with a focus on business value through high-tech solutions. A good coordination and interconnection between the various team members and control centres during the work is an important factor in order to operate a safe and efficient logistics work.
Increasing freight flows and volumes makes the logistics industry grow at a rapid pace. Larger ships to meet these increasing volumes makes ports and terminals growing, which in turn increases the challenges for insurers, since just one accident can result in significantly increased costs. But by implementing active measurements, companies and logistics partners directly can reduce the risks of suffering major accidents.
In recent decades, the logistics industry has undergone major changes. From being regarded as a sort of side-line operation, doing material management, material handling and transportation, the industry has expanded and has become an important and competitive critical factor, with a focus on business value through high-tech solutions. The industry has also rapidly been digitized and received electronic transport orders and text-based solutions to improve traceability and efficiency.
Personal alarms are also important for staff working in the logistics sector, since they must be able to call the alarm if they feel unsafe or threatened while working, or if there is an accident.
A good coordination and interconnection between the various team members and control centres during the work is an important factor in order to operate a safe and efficient logistics work. However, many users in the logistics industry around the world still use traditional and out-dated two-way radios (walkie-talkies) with a momentary button to switch from voice reception mode to transmit mode, when communicating. Building radio networks, programming and providing two way radios is complicated and time consuming. This is ancient and inefficient communication technology, not suitable for an industry with low margins that also needs to be in the technological forefront, aiming to be secure, flexible, efficient and profitable.
Until now, development and deployment of efficient communication tools have been very costly and complicated. In some cases the technology has become out-dated before it has been completely rolled out. For smaller logistic companies this has not even been an option. For them it has been virtually impossible, for economic reasons, to get a modern communications solution with a good geographical coverage.
But this is about to change, since there is huge potential to improve communication between the members of the working team with more modern, yet simple and user friendly, technologies. An increasing number of logistic companies tend to abandon the ancient walkie-talkie communication solutions, replacing them with more modern communications solutions, based on digital models such as the push-to-talk (PTT) over cellular phones, a service that enables subscribers to use their phones as walkie-talkies with unlimited range over the existing mobile networks.
Many companies in the logistic industry have come to appreciate the flexibility in a solution that could be used on different staffing sizes, without having to make major new investments in communication systems. Being able to link staff in a communications network gives them an opportunity to share information and resources in a way that they have not been able to do with their previous traditional communications systems. This is a solution that not only provides the user with a flexible system and an integrated panic alarm in the service, but it also saves them money compared to if they were to purchase separate personal alarms for each and everyone in the staff. The use of smartphones facilitates location-based services and provides a dispatch with the ability to keep track of vehicles location on a map, which allows quick and seamless communication with the driver, based on where the vehicle is located.
Big logistic companies have the resources to be in the forefront and adopt new communication solutions, most of them are already rolling out smartphone based communications solutions. Interestingly, with the cloud based PTT services, the barrier to use the new solutions is virtually gone for companies of all sizes and the SMB (Small Medium Business) segment is a fast mover to leverage these solutions to get a competitive edge.
The solution has improved communication in the working process with results such as:
Logistics is perhaps one of the industries that can draw the most obvious benefits from the new advanced PTT group communications solutions. But PTT has also gained interest from organisations in other industries where instant group communications are instrumental, such as aviation, construction/infrastructure, security, energy and retail.
An increasing number of companies appreciate the fact that the new solutions are cost efficient, scalable and flexible, that allow staff of various sizes to communicate, without having to make major new investments in communication systems.
Being able to link people working together in what can be described as ‘time limited and clearly defined short projects’ in a user friendly communications network gives them an opportunity to share information and resources in a way that they have not been able to do with their previous traditional communication devices.
PTT solutions based on standard smartphones and tablets/laptops make task group communications faster, more flexible, secure – and, not least – more cost efficient. It might be the single most efficient and beneficial measure that the logistic industry can implement in their quest for improved packaged services and lower costs.
Magnus Hedberg is co-founder and CEO of GroupTalk, a leading provider of PTT and collaboration services. He was previously CEO of SatPoint, a satellite communications and IT services provider for maritime customers, which was acquired by Telenor Maritime.
Mr Hedberg is a serial entrepreneur, and one of the founders of Marratech, a Swedish company that produced software for e-meetings, later sold to Google. Magnus Hedberg has an MSc in Computer Science from the Luleå University of Technology in Sweden.