Thursday, September 2, 2021

Some Trends in Transport and Logistics

Changes to the evolving transport and logistics industry will largely be based on the integration of new technologies that impact warehouses, distribution centers, vehicles, and management processes. Aside from the technological changes, the industry continues to change because of political, social, economic, and environmental concerns. Within the industry the incentive to change and improve is caused by the need to stay competitive in an environment where new companies are being created with new ideas about the supply chain and innovative approaches to leveraging new technologies.

Digitization is a trend that is sweeping industries all over the world, and the logistics and transportation industry is no exception. Digitization is a way of improving or enhancing an existing human-driven or manual process and making the work automated or software-driven. This is done to improve efficiency and lower cost.

One of the earliest indicators of digitization in the transport and logistics industry is the role of the Internet in enhancing information flow to customers and partners through the online availability of information such as prices and services. On the back end, as transport and logistics companies integrate increasingly automated process models, their systems become simplified and more efficient. The overall impact is a decrease in expenses for these companies, with an accompanying fall in prices for customers.

Blockchain technology involves the presence of digital ledgers distributed among the nodes making up a computer network. In addition to having up to date information across the network, blockchain technology makes illegally changing the information or hacking the system nearly impossible.

Blockchain is increasingly used in the transportation and logistics industry in connection with transaction records, asset tracking logs, and digital contract handling. The technology allows a high degree of transparency via distributed ledgers, as well as increased efficiency because ledgers are automatically updated. The end result is constant availability of shipment status information and improved delivery times.

Last mile delivery is a challenge for transport and delivery organizations. Last mile delivery refers to the last step in the delivery process that sees the goods actually being delivered to the customer’s doorstep. This has a big impact on customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, this is also regarded as the most inefficient part of the delivery process, because it involves both low drop rates and multiple stops. Last mile deliveries comprise more than half of the total delivery cost of most items.

Last mile delivery paired with same day delivery is increasingly becoming a focus for transport and logistics companies, simply because it wins over customers. The trend in logistics is for companies to prioritize this to the point that companies such as Amazon and Walmart are being asked to create in-house teams focused on last mile deliveries rather than continuing to outsource this process.

With increased digitization comes a wealth of data streaming into transportation and logistics companies. So much data may come in that traditional ways of analyzing data - such as through the use of spreadsheets or relational database management systems - may no longer apply. As a result, transport and logistics companies will increasingly be pulled into the realm of data science.

Data science uses technologies such as artificial intelligence and its subset, machine learning, in tandem with new database technologies like non-relational databases, to crunch massive amounts of data that transportation companies can use to make more informed decisions that impact both their short-term tactics and long-term strategy.

Another trend that is coursing through transport and logistics companies is called elastic logistics. Elastic logistics is a means by which a company can scale its facilities and resources depending on customer demand. The focus is the level of customer demand, which will dictate inventory levels, delivery resource availability, and warehouse space allocations. The objective is maximum efficiency based on detailed knowledge of demand triggers stemming from the customer base. With customer satisfaction being the primary objective, sub-objectives include avoiding overstock and out-of-stock inventory situations and the smooth accomplishment of the aforesaid last mile and same day delivery service.

Companies can create elastic logistics capabilities by the judicious use of technologies such as data science, process streamlining, and flexible outsourcing arrangements. All this while bringing to bear change in management strategies to effectively manage employees as a new way of doing things is adopted.

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