How Drones Will Impact the Shipping Industry

Jul 5, 2018Supply Chain Management

Drone delivery is a fascinating shift in how items are being delivered, and not just for those late-night Amazon Prime purchases.

Besides creating instant gratification for consumers, we anticipate drone delivery having big impacts on shipping operations and logistics companies such as ours:


Consumer Purchases

The first applications of drone delivery have been store-to-consumer purchases. Many companies are looking into, or have already integrated, drone delivery as a purchasing option for a variety of products from recreational, retail, grocery, pharmaceuticals, and more.

Eliminating the middle-man, catalyzing the shipping process, and decreasing emission use are just a few of the benefits. We will continue to see a decrease in the need for air and road shipping in the years to come as drone delivery becomes an option for more and more companies and purchases.



Another form of drone delivery becoming more and more common is inventory fulfillment. Companies are starting to use drones to transport supplies between locations or stores as needed, making it much easier to stay on top of inventory.

Rather than depending on an outside party, companies with drones have complete control over their delivery schedules and the liberty to expedite the process.



Not only are drones being tested for consumer purchases and company inventories, but one company in California is developing a 30-foot drone prototype that will be able to move freight across the Pacific Ocean. Ideally, this will be both quicker and cheaper than cargo planes and cargo ships.

The plan is for the drone to take off from the water without requiring landing gear and landing strips. It will then land in the water miles from port, be taxied into the dock, and unloaded by cargo cranes. With no crew to pay, shipping overseas by drone could potentially cost half as much as shipping by piloted cargo planes or ships.

So, what’s the catch? If drones are quicker, cheaper, and more emission-efficient, why aren’t we seeing more of them? The issue is that drones are extremely vulnerable. They are still a very new development, and the technology hasn’t been fully mastered yet, so the risk of hackers is prevalent.

Currently, drones are limited to small packages and short distances as technicians are still finessing the technicalities. Additionally, no established air routes have been made for drones yet, and the government is still trying to catchup on defining drone regulations and policies.

As a logistics leader, we will continue to watch this technology develop and anticipate the impacts to provide our clients with the best service available.


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