Organizations are beginning to adopt drones in improving their supply chain network. Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAV) have become popular because of its ability to tackle difficult terrains, reduce labor, and replace fleet of vehicles that require costly maintenance. This method of transportation reduces the emissions put off to a large extent when compared to combustion engines. It is said that the drone usage in manufacturing and logistics of the company is said to rise significantly in the next 5 years.
Today companies like FedEx and UPS are using drones to monitor traffic and improve efficiency in routes and are looking at using drones for delivery of the goods itself in the future, saving costs on fuel and improving the delivery speed.
Sichuan Tengden Technology, a startup company based out of Beijing has recently announced its development of a cargo drone capable of carrying 20 tons of cargo. This would become the world’s biggest unmanned aerial vehicle. DHL is developing its drone capabilities in order to capitalize on its cost advantages by using it to deliver goods to places not easily accessible.
Experts in the industry say in the future drones would complement traditional systems, adding value, increasing speed and improving efficiency in deliveries but without replacing traditional systems. The economics of using the drone is far more cost effective then operating a gas-powered vehicle.
For instance, electricity powered drones require less maintenance then fuel based vehicles. As rechargeable batteries last longer and is less expensive to replace. Drones currently can carry small payloads every flight.
And as the technology evolves, drones will be able to carry larger loads over greater distances. By using green energy in recharging the batteries of the drone this could have a major impact on the environment and would greatly reduce the carbon footprint compared to other modes of transport. Some experiments conducted show that smaller drones delivering to shorter distances have a significant positive impact on the environment. On the other hand, large drones were less efficient when compared to trucks. And this was in places where renewable energy was not easily available in the city. Therefore, fossil fuel and renewable energy has to work hand in hand to have optimum results on the environment.
The transport sector contributes to a quarter of the worlds carbon emissions. Rail is currently the most energy efficient mode of travel for passengers and freight. The rail industry is heavily regulated especially around safety and the industry is now focusing its efforts on environmental sustainability. The regions with the highest electric rail network lie in Europe, Japan and Russia. Major rail networks are implementing initiatives to maximize efficiency from the network. For instance, Regenerative braking is currently being implemented on the Amtrak wherein electric traction motors become generators, converting the energy of the train brake into usable power and this has accounted to 8% savings in energy consumption.
The Canadian National has further improved it efficiency by implementing a locomotive telemetry system that collects data across its fleet and this data is used to improve operations around the network. Furthermore, they have implemented a horsepower tonnage analyzer which uses the data they get from the telemetry system to optimize the horsepower per tonnage so that the train uses exactly the amount of power needed to move the amount of weight in the most efficient way possible. This has made the company use approximately 15% less fuel than the industry average. The industry is looking at a new way to replace traffic and congestion in the city faced by trucks.
The Freight Shuttles are currently being developed by Texas transportation institute, which applies technology that is readily available and would change the world of logistics. This system runs on emission free, electric powered systems that are efficient, green and cost effective. This network lies above the roads to transport freight between locations at ultra-high speed. This network is used as a feeder to other transport channels eliminating the use of trucks in inter-city travel. The future of Rail sustainability is achieved by implementing technologies and capitalizing on big data to improve savings and efficiency across network.