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Drones – The Future of the Logistics Industry?

Drones – The Future of the Logistics Industry?
August 03, 2015

Many of us would have heard stories of flying objects, in our childhood. This is now becoming a reality with the advent of Drones. Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that may /may not be remotely controlled through software and GPS.

Drones are generally used by Defense organizations for the purpose of monitoring personnel or activities.  In 1990, the U.S. used remote enabled Drones in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Drones for Logistics?

According to a recent survey, 42 per cent of logistics operators believe that they will use unmanned Drones to ship cargo in the future; and most believe that this will happen within 15 years. A survey taken by the National Aeronautical Centre (NAC) found that one third of all 3PLs are interested in investing in Drone deliveries.

Drones in Logistics

A patent granted to Amazon reveals its plans for delivery Drones, the BBC reports. Filed in September last year and granted at the end of the last month, U.S. Patent No. 20150120094 relates to the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) configured to autonomously deliver items of inventory to various destinations.

The patent seems to fit well with what we already know of Amazon’s Drone intentions. The UAVs may be able to deliver to a variety of locations, and may even follow customers using GPS to deliver to them no matter where they are.

DHL also plans to start Drone delivery for small shipments. DHL has already commenced trials on Drone delivery in collaboration with Audi. The interesting part is that parcels can be delivered to the car of the customer.

Drone delivery can be implemented for critical small shipments and for medicines.

The 3PL industry could use Drone deliveries for a number of reasons; some include:

  • Express delivery
  • Ambient intelligence
  • Process automation
  • Technology upgrades

Drones can also be used in big factories, to deliver parts from the mother warehouse to the factory supermarket or to the production line.

Here are some common, day-to-day operational issues that 3PL companies face:

  • Delay in delivery
  • Resource productivity
  • Manual intervention in SCM
  • Quality issues with time bound shipments
  • Technology transfer/upgrade

A majority of these issues can easily be fixed through Drone delivery; but it will take some time for its implementation, especially considering the law of the land.


Since Drone delivery is an emerging trend in contract logistics and distribution, hi-tech solutions can radically overcome such challenges faced by 3PLs. HCL is building new logistics solutions and propositions to meet increasing customer expectations, through new age technologies for the 3PL industry.