Before understanding the working of the Transportation Industry, and its benefits, let me start with the very basics. What are the various means of transport? Well, the answer to this question is extremely simple – Airways, railways, roadways and waterways.
The transportation industry is basically involved in the movement of people or goods from one place to another with the help of these four modes of transport. Now imagine, what would have happened if these modes of transport were unavailable – How can you travel to a far off place, or how can you send a gift or any article to a friend or a relative who is in a distant city? There is no doubt that transport has definitely made our lives much better, but the new features which are being introduced by this industry are also helpful to a great extent.
For example, the introduction of new airlines connecting different cities or countries has greatly helped people to an extent- such that long distances can be covered in a short period of time. Similarly, the concept of courier or postal services delivering essential goods or articles to faraway places in a limited span of time has proved to be very beneficial. Let us see in detail what the transportation industry has to offer.
What the transportation industry offers at present
- Metro rail: Lately, in many big cities (in India), Metro rail has been introduced. These trains are air-conditioned with comfortable spacing designed to suit the needs of people. This has definitely reduced the travel stress and time of many people (especially during peak hours). Many people travelling to work in distant places have benefitted a lot from this. Presently, the following cities in India have this Metro rail facility:
- Cochin (Kochi)
- Introduction of new railway lines: Many new rail lines have been introduced between different places and the existing railway system has also improved to a great level.
- Introduction of many new airlines: In the past few years, the airline industry has introduced many new airlines-both for domestic as well as international travel. This has definitely made travelling to distant countries quite easier. Due to the introduction of many new airlines between many new cities, connectivity has definitely improved a lot and people don’t have to worry about travelling long distances. Also, air cargo has made people’s lives a lot more comfortable carrying parcels/cargo between different cities and countries.
- Increase in trucking companies: Many trucking companies have come up. They are basically used to shift goods and freight from one place to another, they cannot move people. Example – a person shifting base from one city to another can do so with the help of a trucking company. These companies help you to shift your stuff from one place to another at reasonable prices.
- Greater business opportunities for traders: Businessmen can import the stocks and goods needed for them through either cargo ships or through freight carriers. Example: Suppose a person in India is looking forward to expanding his business in certain electronic products which may not available here. He can do so by importing the required stuff from wherever it is available (from any country) either through cargo ships or air cargo.
- Marine industry: Many shipping companies have come up recently which provide ships to move cargo. Some of the major shipping companies as on today are:
- A.P. Moller- Maersk group (Danish-based company)
- Meditteranean Shipping company (MSC, which is a Geneva-based, Italian shipping company)
- COSCO (Chinese carrier)
- CMA CGM Group (French company, founded in 1996)
These are just a few of the shipping companies listed. There are a lot of many.
- Increased employment opportunities: Owing to the expansion of the transportation industry in almost all areas, it offers a wide range of employment opportunities to the people involved in these areas. Example: shipping companies will need many sailors to drive their ships between different countries. At the same time, marine engineers will be required to work on their ships. Likewise, people looking for employment opportunities in the aviation sector, railways and trucking companies will have many job prospects.
Apart from the benefits listed above, some of the latest trends in the transportation industry are as follows:
- Truck Platooning: It is the process of connecting 2 or more trucks together with the assistance of artificial intelligence systems and the latest connectivity technologies. This concept does not require much of driver assistance, the truck which is present in the front acts as the guide for the remaining tracks which follow suit. This system is expected to save fuel usage and at the same time reduce the carbon dioxide emissions to some extent, thereby reducing pollution.
- Electricity based trucks: As the rate of pollution is increasing rapidly, many trucking companies in the US have come up with this concept of electric trucks. This is expected to reduce the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby proving to be environment-friendly.
- Electric buses: With the demand for public transport system increasing all over the world, more vehicles are being introduced every day. Most of the buses run on diesel, which again implies that a lot of air pollutants (like carbon dioxide) are released into the atmosphere. Again, these electric buses will turn out to be environment-friendly. Many countries have set their carbon dioxide emission targets. With implementations like these, one can definitely hope that CO2 emission targets are achieved pretty soon.
- Intelligent Public Transportation: Due to the problems of increased fuel prices and traffic congestion, many people are concentrating on integrated mobility solutions. This system will include everything like journey search, mode of transport which is available, checking the schedule and also managing the bookings and payment. These systems will include CCTV cameras, Wi-Fi networks, digital displays and station announcements when a particular stop arrives. The upcoming latest features in transportation will definitely look forward to having intelligent systems.
- Autonomous Driving: Owing to artificial intelligence, the concept of driverless buses and cars is being given a thought. This is being done due to a shortage of drivers. This is likely to reduce the number of road accidents. It is expected that this technology will be implemented very soon.
So with all the above information, most of us have got a very good idea about the transportation industry, how it works, what are the benefits and what will be future developments in this area.
Role of IT in the Transportation industry
Over the past two decades, Information Technology (IT) has definitely made a lot of advancement in many areas. Now it has progressed so much such that it has spread its wings in many areas such as science, engineering, communications and many more. Even in the transportation industry, IT has a major role to play.
All of us know this that the transportation industry is made up of four sectors, namely- railways, roadways, aviation and the shipping or marine sector. Over the past few years, a lot of developments have happened in the transportation sector. Be it the introduction of metro rail lines at many places, to the evolution of many new shipping companies in the marine sector. In the aviation sector too, many new features have been implemented. So, what exactly is the role of Information Technology in the transportation industry? Let us have a look.
- Intelligent Transportation Systems: This is by far, the most important IT implementation in the transportation industry. The main objective of intelligent transportation systems is to provide better transportation facilities for all modes of transport: railways, roadways, airways and waterways. Primarily, it focuses on travel safety. Although, it is meant to be implemented in all the transportation sectors, so far, it has been used in the field of road travel only. It is expected to improve transport efficiency in terms of road transport, road traffic management, etc.
The following are some of the applications of Intelligent Transportation Systems which are done using IT:
- Reduced computer processors in a vehicle: In the early 2000s, there used to be manycomputer processors in a vehicle. These processors had non-real operating systems. With the progress of IT, now there are much lesser computer processors, however, the cost is on the higher side. These contain real-time operating systems and allow for hardware memory management. With these platforms, more software applications can be developed which include artificial intelligence and model-based process control.
- System to avoid collisions: Japan has implemented this technology wherein sensors are installed on highways which inform the drivers of possible danger ahead, example, of a vehicle being stalled.
- Vehicle sensing technologies: Applications are developed using both telecommunications and IT in order to detect vehicle movements when they are moving in critical zones or in case of an emergency.
- Road enforcement technologies: This technology has been implemented in many countries. Speed cameras are installed to find out vehicles which exceed permissible speed limits in certain areas. The vehicle number plate is identified and the person is notified through email regarding his offence. Red-light cameras are installed which monitor the entry of certain vehicles into restrictive zones which might be the reason for certain accidents.
- Driverless vehicles: This technology is yet to be implemented; however, certain countries are considering in implementing this pretty soon.A driverless vehicle could be a car or a truck which does not need anyone for driving it. Certain software applications are programmed such that the vehicle can sense directions and navigate on its own.
- Transport Management System: A Transport Management System (commonly known as TMS) is a part of Supply Chain management that involves in the planning, execution and optimization of goods. These goods are mainly freight which is transported from one place to another, which could either be domestic or international. It consists of a logistics platform that helps users to manage their transport fleets. TMS strives to improve shipping efficiency, reduce costs in order to provide the best of customer services. There are many software applications that are integrated with TMS.
Some of the benefits of the Transport Management System are as follows:
- Planning and execution of the entire transportation system: There are various systems such as order management system, warehouse management system, purchasing systems, customer relationship management system and so on. Many software applications are involved in designing these systems. TMS is connected with all these systems which are very useful in planning and handling both domestic and international shipments and in determining the cheapest and the most cost-effective carrier.
- Inventory Management and control: TMS uses the inventory in order to detect the lifecycle of goods and orders based on real-time. It is also helpful in the tracking and managing of orders. The status of every order is displayed. For instance, if a particular order has been delivered to the required location, then its status will be updated as “Delivered” and so on. All the order details are very well-maintained in the inventory. The entire inventory is designed, updated and maintained with the help SAP software.
- Reduction in invoice error: With the help of TMS, the invoice errors which may be caused due to manual work are liable to be very less. This can be done by automating the freight payments and audit processes.
- There are many TMS software which gives a detailed update about freight data and metrics so that, if there are any errors, they can get resolved. With the help of this data, users can take the required steps so that there is a drastic improvement in delivery of services along with cost reduction. Reports can also be generated.
Transport Management Systems exist on cloud known as SaaS (Software as a Service).
Listed above are some of the benefits which involve various software applications and techniques in order to implement the same. However, once must keep in mind that along with these uses, there might be certain risks involved too:
- Software Failure : The most important risk is the failure of software at any point in time. Imagine if this happens in the functionality of driverless vehicles. It could lead to a major accident if not controlled on time.
- Increased costs : Many of these applications may be expensive, that is, it may not be possible for everyone to adopt and implement the same.
- Standards and guidelines : All the software which has been designed must follow all the prescribed standards and guidelines.
With this, we can definitely hope that the transportation industry is definitely striving to become better day-by-day and offer its best what it can to everyone. Hope that all of us greatly get benefitted with these implementations in transport!!!