Do you want to know more about the issues we have covered in this blog series and explore Vanderlande’s approach to digitalisation and the parcel industry? If the answer is “yes”, please contact us.
This blog series (part 1, part 2 and part 3) has highlighted the importance of digitalisation and the many opportunities it presents for courier, express and parcel (CEP) companies. So far, as is often the case when discussing digitalisation, we’ve focused on IT developments as well as potential ways to process and use data.
However, in an environment as complex as a parcel sortation centre, the importance of OT should not be overlooked. Used to monitor, control and manage equipment and processes, OT systems are crucial in laying the foundations for effective digital integration.
Less is more
With both software and hardware technologies evolving at a fast pace, a priority coming on up the horizon is for CEP companies to simplify their equipment and processes. In terms of OT, this means favouring leaner, more standardised solutions that will facilitate installation and maintenance activities.
When implementing digitalisation strategies, the right OT systems can also bridge the gap between legacy equipment and new digital solutions. The capability to integrate seamlessly with new technologies can help CEP companies future-proof their sortation facilities and ensure the integration of the entire end-to-end process.
As IT and OT converge – and connected machinery progresses in the parcel industry – we foresee that a more streamlined control architecture, with built-in diagnostic, troubleshooting and system health monitoring capabilities, will become the norm for optimal efficiency.
With increased connectivity, parcel handling systems can become more vulnerable to cyber threats and resulting operational disruptions. Advanced security technologies and regular assessments should be considered when developing OT networks to ensure they are protected from unauthorised access.
Looking to the future
As the demand for increased automation grows, OT systems will evolve and benefit from digital trends. The following are among those that have our attention at Vanderlande.
- Internet of Things (IoT): data is highly valuable, but first and foremost it must be made accessible. IoT enables data collection by connecting otherwise stand-alone physical devices to the internet.
- Cloud integration: although Cloud platforms are not yet widely adopted in parcel sortation centres, they can provide multiple benefits, such as cost efficiency and increased scalability. By integrating OT networks to Cloud platforms, OT data can be stored and analysed securely across multiple locations.
- Edge computing: while Cloud integration is a significant trend in OT development, localised processing capabilities remain critically important in fast-paced environments such as parcel handling facilities. By allowing for data to be processed closer to its source, Edge computing can complement the Cloud to reduce latency and use of bandwidth for increased reliability.
These digital trends have so much potential and could bring significant improvements to CEP companies. However, while new technologies mature, the priority should be to ensure a seamless integration between the sortation equipment, OT and IT layers for optimal efficiency and scalability.