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5 Emerging Trends in the Logistics Industry: Green Logistics & More

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The rapid advancement of technology, emergence of new business models and remarkable shifts in consumer behaviour have reshaped the logistics industry and the way that organisations conduct business. To maintain a competitive advantage, businesses must stay plugged into the global market trends and leverage them. This article will uncover important insights on the top five emerging logistics and supply chain management trends that are set to disrupt the industry's future.

1. Green logistics will be a priority.

The logistics and transportation industry is one of the world’s greatest contributors to greenhouse gases. According to Statista, it accounts for 17% of the glbal emissions, second to the power sector. With stricter emission regulations and corporate green initiatives, sustainable logistics is quickly becoming a priority for supply chains. Increasingly, businesses are turning to sustainable logistics solutions, such as DHL’s GoGreen Solutions, to optimise their environmental footprint. For example, businesses can identify and monitor their carbon footprint by generating a carbon report, and opt for carbon-efficient logistics options to minimise environmental impacts along the supply chain.

Apart from environmental sustainability, green logistics can also help businesses achieve operational efficiency and improve supply chain management. For example, Walmart’s fleet efficiency programme not only saved the organisation US$1 billion in fuel costs, but also allowed it to optimise delivery routes and identify more efficient methods of loading cargo onto trucks.

2. The transportation and logistics industry will go digital.

Digitalisation in the logistics industry is made possible with enabling technologies like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), robotics, data analytics and sensors. For example, a digitalised truck is used by logistics and supply chain companies to communicate with other vehicles, as well as command centres like warehouses and company headquarters. This way, trucks can get in touch with freight carriers to update them when there is extra capacity for more products, reducing the cost and time needed to transport a product from one point to another.

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Digitalisation in freight forwarding has also made it possible for carriers to connect directly with shippers, transforming supply chain management. With the use of web or mobile-based technology platforms like Twill and Flexport, shippers can immediately find carriers with available capacity to transport their freight. As such, shippers can enjoy competitive and transparent rates upfront without having to incur additional costs from brokers. Carriers can also upload proof-of-delivery confirmations via their smartphones and have them processed in real-time, enabling faster payment.

3. Artificial intelligence and big data analytics are the key technologies that will drive the future of last-mile logistics.  

Since the logistics industry relies heavily on predictability and efficiency, Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics will play an integral role in informing logistics optimisation. With machine learning algorithms, AI systems can uncover hidden trends and analyse data and patterns to derive insights. For example, predictive analytics allows logistics companies to derive the fastest routes based on real-time conditions like traffic and weather, minimising costs of delays and increasing efficiency. 

4. Autonomous and electric vehicles will be integral in the future of logistics. 

The adoption of autonomous and electric vehicles will also impact supply chains and last-mile logistics. 

Autonomous vehicles are self-driving vehicles that can help reduce manpower costs and delays. Delays frequently occur due to a bottleneck in the delivery process which existing teams may not be able to handle. Some of the most significant advantages of using autonomous vehicles are that they are not prone to human error and can work longer hours with fewer breaks than human drivers. As such, they can help to resolve bottlenecks in the various supply chain processes, including sorting, tracking, packaging and transportation. With less manpower needed, businesses can also look forward to lowering labour costs. On top of that, autonomous vehicles have route optimisation capabilities that can significantly shorten delivery times and increase fuel efficiency. 

With the adoption of new electric drive technologies, electric or hybrid vehicles are increasingly used for both short and long-distance hauls. Apart from cutting back on carbon emissions, electric vehicles also require less maintenance than conventional vehicles, hence reducing the costs of upkeep and improving efficiency. 

5. The rise of e-commerce has driven up demand for cost-effective logistics solutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that people shop. In 2020, there has been a 25% increase in consumer e-commerce deliveries globally. As a result, there has been a rise in demand for last-mile delivery and return solutions. It is hardly any surprise that businesses will begin to seek out reliable, cost-effective and express logistics solutions to fulfil varying consumer demands.