Intelligent Transportation System: Moulding the future of multi-modal logistics

The government has been encouraging the use of multimodal logistics as it gives fast, reliable, and flexible connections that carry a wide range of cargo. However, the efficient management of multimodal logistics would be difficult to achieve without the support of Intelligent Transportation System that enable more informed and safer, coordinated, and ‘smarter’ use of the transport networks. As India expands its multimodal logistical operations, we look into the challenges in its implementation, its benefits in application in multimodal logistics, and much more.

As logistics becomes complex and nations begin to perceive it as an important and major economic activity, there is a need to discover means to improve the levels of visibility, responsiveness, and efficiency in supply chains that rely on multi-modal transport operations.

Smart/Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) is just the thing that can polish and mould the future of multi-modal logistics.

But how can we define ITS?

ITS can be defined as combinations of technologies put together to increase efficiency in vehicular traffic. With its main focus on road transport, ITS can be applied to rail, water, and air transport, and includes navigational devices.

Rishi Sareen, Chief Information Technology Officer, Ecom Express Limited, says, “Among the many technologies that come together to form an ITS, IoT connectivity, traffic management networks, and traffic lights optimization are some of the emerging ones. There are a few other technologies under development such as solar powered roadways, interactive lights, electric priority lanes for charging electric vehicles, weather detection, etc.”

Adding to it, Nikhil Suresh, Director of Operations, Blowhorn says, “The most important technology powering ITS will be level 4,5 autonomy and smart city infrastructure which can accelerate the adoption. And this infrastructure is limited usually by 5G internet coverage.”

Wireless vehicular network is another technology used to support ITS, which represents a fundamental component that will influence future transportation and logistics operations.

Integration of wireless vehicular networks in the ITS can help overcome issues related to technology proliferation like reliability, connectivity, limited range, scalability, and security. ITS is, thus, becoming the next big initiative for transportation management.

Currently, India is testing the waters when it comes to Intelligent Transportation Systems, and many logistics and supply chain management companies are also prepping themselves and utilizing ITS through their operations – especially in the last mile – owing to the increased urban logistics and hype of e-commerce.

“ITS is not the future. It is already here. New-age logistics networks depend on ITS for visibility and planning. So, on the supply side or in smaller silos, many modern logistics companies have the infrastructure set up,” says Mr Suresh

Although, India is moving towards inculcating ITS in multimodal logistical operations there are a few missing links that hinder the vast adoption.

Hurdles in implementation

While implementing ITS in a developing nation like India, many challenges are identified to achieve a fully functional, practical, and integrated ITS network. Coordination with different stakeholders, adopting different countries’ ITS systems, keeping up with the technology, integration with existing systems, and budget constraints are some of the challenges which one has to face.

Mr Sareen, speaking on the challenges, points out: “One challenge to their adoption is the shortage of qualified personnel to monitor them. While a good ITS requires minimal human intervention, some human oversight will be necessary from time to time. In vast parts of India where ITS are needed, the local personnel (including police) lack the skills to operate such systems. The vastness and diversity of India also mean that ITS will need to be adapted to local conditions. Regions with different languages will require ITS that facilitate interaction in local languages.”

Furthermore, urban logistics is a major area that is in dire need of ITS, however, the infrastructural strains hinder yielding out the full potential of implementing ITS in cities. Looking at the unique challenges of a developing nation such as ours, adapting ITS which is currently being used in nations such as the UK, USA or Dubai might not be the best idea.

This is an abridged version of the original article that was published in the February edition of the Logistics Insider magazine. To read the complete article, get your copy of the magazine.

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