Executive Briefings

Some Not-So-Obvious Uses for Drones in the Supply Chain

The United States moved closer to legalizing the commercial use of drones in February, when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published proposed regulations. Although some criticized the rules as too restrictive (for example, drones would have to fly only during daylight and within sight of the operator), there is plenty of time for the FAA to change the regulations before they become final, in one to two years.

But regardless of the FAA, drones are already being used commercially, both in the U.S. – where it is still technically illegal – and around the world, where it may or may not be. Indeed, Colin Snow, founder and CEO of the Drone Analyst, estimates that there are already 2,000 to 3,000 illegal operators representing economic activity of $200m to $350m in the United States.

Drone vendors say that most Fortune 500 companies are investigating how they can use small drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, in their operations. Delivery is an obvious application. Both Google and Amazon Prime Air have tested drones for making deliveries. In fact, Google bought a drone company – Titan Aerospace - last year. And it's not hard to imagine how drones might help move small goods (such as electronics components) within a factory or warehouse.

However, there are some not-quite-so-obvious applications for the supply chain.

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But regardless of the FAA, drones are already being used commercially, both in the U.S. – where it is still technically illegal – and around the world, where it may or may not be. Indeed, Colin Snow, founder and CEO of the Drone Analyst, estimates that there are already 2,000 to 3,000 illegal operators representing economic activity of $200m to $350m in the United States.

Drone vendors say that most Fortune 500 companies are investigating how they can use small drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, in their operations. Delivery is an obvious application. Both Google and Amazon Prime Air have tested drones for making deliveries. In fact, Google bought a drone company – Titan Aerospace - last year. And it's not hard to imagine how drones might help move small goods (such as electronics components) within a factory or warehouse.

However, there are some not-quite-so-obvious applications for the supply chain.

Read Full Article