Supply Chain Matters calls reader and market attention to a joint announcement from a drone logistics technology company that has matched a business need that can make on-demand drone delivery a reality for online businesses of multiple sizes and scope, especially those with time-sensitive delivery needs.

As a supply chain management industry analyst and observer for many years, I have often followed the hype cycle of new technologies, those which have immense long-term value and opportunity for industry supply chains. Too often, the technology community over promotes such technologies, and not until months or even years later when business value propositions align, does the adoption curve then begin to accelerate.  RFID enabled technology has been a textbook example, and years after its initial introduction, business case driven adoptions are now often prevalent, nearly ten years after initial introduction. The technology, the infrastructure and the business cases began to align based on various industry-specific business and/or supply chain business process needs.  

This particular posting reflects on drone-enabled delivery in online fulfillment, providing an example where a valid need seems to be matched by the technology.

Israeli based drone technology provider Flytrex, in partnership with Iceland’s prominent online marketplace AHA, have today jointly announced the launch of an on-demand autonomous urban drone delivery service. Flytrex’s CEO penned a blog post with an embedded video describing the achievement.

The airborne delivery system addresses a specific need related to the geography surrounding the city of Reykjavik. The city itself is separated by a large bay that requires in some cases, a 20-minute drive to circumvent by roads during peak travel times to reach certain addresses directly across this body of water. Online fulfillment of food orders, often requires the most expedient delivery response.

For its part, Flytrex boasts of its abilities to be a one-stop facilitator of the technology, to include facilitating regulatory processes, providing a Cloud-based management system, insurance, as well as providing and maintaining the drones. For an online business customer such as AHA, a marketplace to restaurants, retail and grocery stores, a more time-sensitive delivery process to attract various forms of food purveyors becomes an option at a competitive price point.

Admittedly, drone technology is still in its early phases of adoption with global online retailers or logistics providers such as Amazon, Wal-Mart or UPS having the deep pockets to nurture and test various business cases. Larger-scale adoption is many months away, depending on business needs. However, from our Supply Chain Matters lens, what makes today’s announcement more interesting is the access afforded to smaller retailers of fresh or prepared foods to drone delivery tailored to a specific need, with somewhat of a turn key approach. Not all urban centers have large geographic barriers like large bodies of water, but a city such as Reykjavik does. There may be others that eventually take the same route, namely online ordering providing a distinct and measurable value for the customer via a drone.

 

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