Drone Delivery Pros
At a time when the worldwide logistics industry has been turned upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and logjams in the supply chain, companies are looking toward technology to solve problems. One new technology that has emerged recently as a potential solution is drones.
Companies are implementing delivery drones to carry products from one location to the next. In most cases, drone delivery must be done on a small-scale, due to the size of the drones themselves and what they are able to transport.
While there are obvious limitations to what a drone can do for delivery services, there are some potential upsides as well. Is drone delivery the wave of the future, ready to replace traditional logistics altogether? Or are they more of a supplemental service that can be used in conjunction with traditional logistics?
Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of drone delivery.
Drone delivery does provide some obvious advantages to the shippers, manufacturers and customers alike. Some of these pros include:
One of the main pros of drone delivery is that they are able to transport relatively small products from one location to the next. Their most common usage in this regard is taking a small package from a warehouse or retail store and delivering it right to the doorstep of a consumer.
This can save time and resources from traditional delivery drivers, who would have to navigate congested roads, using up fuel in the process, and taking time out of their day to manually drop off packages and scan them.
Drone delivery can remove many of these inefficient manual processes.
Time Efficiency and Savings
There are obviously some cargo that delivery drones simply cannot handle. That freight is best left to traditional methods of delivery such as semi-trucks.
However, by using drones as one part of the delivery process, it can help companies become more efficient and free up time for other processes. When drones are able to handle the simpler delivery tasks, humans are then freed up to focus on the important procedures in the delivery process.
The time savings delivery drones provide allow companies to re-deploy their workers in other ways that contribute better to the overall service. In addition, it helps to prevent against worker burnout.
Shorter deliver trips and frequent stops contribute to excess levels of carbon emissions. When box trucks and semi-trucks are forced to make multiple stops for smaller deliveries, they pump out even more emissions than if they were able to drive longer routes continuously.
Delivery drones, by contrast, emit much lower harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. They are much more energy-efficient, and allow diesel-powered vehicles to reduce their emissions as well.
Implementing delivery drones as part of the delivery chain could help to reduce the overall environmental impact of the industry.
Manual delivery of packages to homes and smaller deliveries to warehouses or stores can be quite dangerous for truck drivers and others on the road. These deliveries require frequent starts and stops, as well as a person exiting a vehicle to carry a package to someone's doorstep.
This can be dangerous in a number of different ways. Inclement weather, for instance, can make road conditions slippery and even the walk from the truck to the doorstep can be treacherous.
Delivery drones, by contrast, don't have to worry about this inclement weather or dangerous driving/walking conditions. They are able to bet set to very accurately deliver packages to their end destinations, removing the risk of danger in the process.
Drone Delivery Cons
At the same time, there are some drawbacks to drone delivery. Some of these cons include:
Delivery drones are relatively new still, and as such, they can be quite expensive. This is an upfront cost that many deliver companies may not be able to work into their budget, since it's an additional investment they aren't used to budgeting for.
Small drones can be as cheap as $50, but their range and capabilities are very limited. Larger drones could be as much as $500 or more.
In addition to the upfront cost, there are also concerns about ongoing costs for maintenance, as well as how often you'd have to replace them.
While delivery drones will remove a lot of manual work on employees, it's not as if they will completely operate on their own. Employees will still have to program the drones for delivery, set them up and make sure their batteries are charged consistently, for instance.
All of this requires new education and training, which obviously takes time and costs money. In addition, there are concerns about troubleshooting should anything go wrong. Will your employees know what to do if a drone isn't working properly? And what are even some of the things that could go wrong?
Delivery drones are a new concept, which makes them completely foreign compared to other long-standing parts of the delivery process.
Risk of Theft
Once operational, delivery drones simply suspend in the air and then land on the ground. There is no other human around to be there with the drone, which is the benefit of using them.
The downside to this, though, is that they are susceptible to being stolen. Anyone could come along and simply swipe the drone, if they are able to get their hands on it. That would be much easier to accomplish than, say, stealing a delivery truck that is idling on the street while the driver is making a delivery.
This may not be a massive concern for delivery companies, but it's certainly something that they need to consider. Drones are in high demand, and that could convince some bad actors to try to steal delivery drones if they can.