May 11, 2021

Automation has arrived. Get ready for deployment.

Kyle Bertin

Director of Customer Strategy and Planning

The supply chain is no longer a component of your business — it’s the business. Technology, globalization, and changing consumer demand are putting tremendous pressure on traditional supply chains. To add even more fuel to this growing fire, the COVID-19 global pandemic has laid bare the increasing importance of developing nimble, sustainable, and resilient supply chains.

In fact, according to a 2020 report by McKinsey & Company, the pandemic catalyzed an unprecedented acceleration of omnichannel and e-commerce; in three months’ time, e-commerce channels saw growth that one might expect to have seen over the course of 10 years. And that demand isn’t slowing down.

Today, the supply chain is a huge revenue generator and profit center. Companies use the supply chain as a differentiator and value driver for customers — think same-day and overnight delivery.

Vast opportunities for forward-thinking and agile organizations have become apparent in light of these dynamics. And investors are taking notice. According to FreightWaves, $302 billion has been invested in supply chain tech since 2011. In 2020 alone, the total reached $52 billion, compared to just $2 billion in 2011 — a 2,500% increase.  And there are no signs of this easing up.

The supply chain has become a huge revenue generator and profit center that differentiates a brand. Companies now use supply chains (first mile to last mile) as a value driver — think two-day, overnight, and same-day delivery — for customers. These companies also use supply chains to mitigate costly risks, like the disruptions caused by COVID and the blockage of the Suez Canal.

What we’ve learned from these disruptions is that the supply chain needs to be more resilient; digitization and automation answer that call. Whether it’s digital freight brokerage, on-demand warehousing services, autonomous vehicles and robotics, or supply chain visibility software, just to name a few, the opportunities to future-proof the supply chain seem endless.

At Outrider, we exclusively focus on automating yard operations for logistics hubs. Distribution yards are a critical step in global supply chain operations, but the associated workflows and technologies haven’t evolved much over the decades to meet the demand. Today’s yards require repetitive, manual tasks to be performed in often hazardous, inhospitable conditions a huge drain on efficient, safe operations. Yet, yards play critical roles in getting more than 10 billion tons of freight annually from warehouses onto the open road. It’s time to re-think how distribution yards can be more efficient and safer while making the supply chain more sustainable and resilient. 

The Outrider System consists of three integrated parts — management software, autonomous vehicles, and site infrastructure — to move trailers between loading docks and parking spots. Using proprietary autonomy technology, the Outrider System hitches and un-hitches trailers, robotically connects and disconnects trailer brake lines, interacts with loading docks, tracks trailer locations, and centrally manages and monitors all system functions.  

Logistics-heavy enterprises, real estate firms, and transportation companies alike ask me weekly, “We’ve been waiting for yard automation for years, if not decades. How do we actually make it work?” There are three key areas to consider when planning for deployment: property, process, and people. Yard automation quickly plugs into purposefully built and configured properties (land and facility). Planning for automation also drives the evaluation of existing logistics processes. And, most importantly, people must be well-informed and trained to work alongside an autonomous system. You can learn more about preparing for yard automation in our latest white paper, “The 3Ps for Designing for Yard Automation.” 

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, digitization and automation of your supply chain will increasingly determine not only the velocity of the movement of goods, but also the success of your organization. Ultimately, these new technologies will lead to a more resilient, sustainable, and smarter supply chain — better able to manage fluctuations — major or minor, predictable or unforeseen.

Kyle Bertin, Director of Customer Strategy and Planning

Kyle leads the strategy and planning team at Outrider. He and his team are responsible for working with Outrider customers, employees, and partners to deliver the ultimate vision of autonomous yard operations. Kyle has a passion for using technology to make the supply chain more efficient and sustainable.

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