Written for tgal.us by guest contributor Jem Breem
Last year was a great year for the logistics and transportation industry around the world. In the US alone, an SJ Consulting Group estimate puts the packages delivered domestically to be around 8.6 billion. The staggering growth of e-commerce and increased domestic spending has led to this unprecedented boom in logistics companies. This is despite some of the risks and roadblocks the industry has faced including increased tariffs and changing market regulations.
As we enter a new decade, digital transformation continues to drive growth in the industry. The introduction of emerging technologies and business processes has restructured the way logistics and transportation has operated, and this trend will likely continue beyond 2020, especially as technological innovation will lead to sustained growth.
In this article, we will look at the top trends that will likely shape the logistics and transportation industry this year and beyond.
Artificial Intelligence and Big Data
The use of data in planning and managing logistics will continue to be the main driver of innovation in the industry. Already, logistics and transportation companies are integrating machine learning algorithms in their systems to improve routes and, to an extent, predict demand in specific markets. Beyond 2020, organizations will continue to increase their use of AI and Big Data, which has the capacity for advanced geocoding abilities, route optimization, demand prediction, warehouse automation and more. One innovative new trend logistic companies will be looking more closely at is digital twin technologies, which is when a digital replica of a physical entity is created in order to be analyzed. With this, enterprises in the supply chain can plan delivery routes and networks efficiently, prepare for problems before they even occur, speed up operations, and even plan activities for the future.
Visibility and Anti-Theft GPS
Retailers and commerce companies are now focusing on increased visibility as direct-to-consumer marketing takes center stage this year. Tracking technology will continue to evolve to reflect the increasing demand of consumers for increased traceability and visibility along logistics routes. A feature by Verizon Connect on anti-theft GPS being used today, details how it can give near real-time locations for entire fleets. This in turn will “save on fuel and labor costs, automate tasks and improve fleet efficiency and overall productivity.” The added security protocols will also help organizations deter losses across the board. Similarly, B2B logistics are turning to blockchain technology to improve visibility and traceability. By leveraging the enhanced security and immutability of data in distributed and decentralized ledgers, transportation location and condition can be stored securely.
5G and Self-driving Fleets
While the rollout of fifth-generation (5G) wireless connectivity might take a while to be fully implemented across the logistics industry, some of its applications are already being tested in transportation. Self-driving fleet startups are beginning to pop up and are increasingly becoming a popular investment opportunity for the industry. In fact, it has been revealed that UPS has already been secretly using autonomous vehicles during their deliveries. While they use internal computer capabilities today, the wide installment of 5G will catalyze the adoption of these self-driving fleets, which will only increase as this year and the following decade go on.
Electric and Green Logistics
Another key trend that’s shaping industries today is the increased demand for sustainability, and the logistics industry is not exempt from this. Innovations like electric trucks are at the helm of this development. As nation-states and industries vow to cut down on carbon emissions, the logistics industry will be overhauled in order to meet these targets. Already, organizations are shifting to regionalized supply chains – shorter routes for shipments and Roll on Roll off cargo ships – to decrease emissions.
The introduction of just-in-time manufacturing has also changed the way logistics are viewed and developed. The ability of today’s manufacturing and fulfillment industries to contract and expand based on demand has also forced logistics companies to become more agile and nimble. Beyond this year, large scale “elastic” or on-demand logistics will be the norm rather than the exception.