When we talk about logistics in any business, we talk about forecasting, planning and being able to detect future trends in the market and in your business sector. Having the ability to detect in time the trends that will mark the transport market in the future becomes today as a result of strong competition, and the rise of new technologies implemented in logistics in a task almost fundamental.
Supply chains are becoming smarter and globalization and the internet are opening the doors of mass markets for both large companies and SMEs. These are in our opinion the trends that are going to change or are already changing the world of the current logistics sector:
Trends to watch in 2019
Internet of Things – Logistics may be the sector most affected by IoT. Connectivity today allows us to know exactly every step of shipping an order, for example, and the exact positioning of a truck. The major logistics trend for 2019 is the expansion of this service in order to optimize freight management and improve companies' strategies to maximize profits. From the advancement of increasingly accurate technologies such as IoT and observing the scenario exposed at the beginning of this text, we realize that the biggest profit of companies will be not ignoring marginal gains, i.e., the highlight will be those who know how to make good use of technologies and strategies that the tools provide.
Autonomous Transport – Autonomous transport itself is already well known in pilot experiences around the world. The main trend is this application on a commercial scale and the viable implementation in the daily life of companies. Volvo trucks recently announced a partnership with Norwegian mining operator Bronnoy Kalk AS to transport limestone between the mine and the stone crusher, which is carried out by six trucks and monitored remotely by employees. Experiences like this indicate that, especially in situations of internal transport of inputs, there are many possibilities for this technology modality.
Customer Focus – According to the Logistics Trend Radar 2018/19 report by DHL Trend Research, the phrase “Customer is King” has never been so fashionable. The customer has power and demand for increased transparency, accessibility, convenience and speed of delivery. In this context, the concept of same-day delivery stands out, which, as its name implies, promises to deliver the product to the consumer on the same day of purchase, provided it has been made by 6 pm.
Despite being stronger in other countries, some companies are already doing this kind of delivery and the trend should be even stronger in 2019. To make such agility possible, it is important that the store has a very structured network of suppliers and distributors, which they may be owned or outsourced, preferably close to each other. This ensures effective coverage of various areas. It is also crucial that demand is managed by software since the speed of information processing requires very calculated accuracy.
Early Delivery – At a slightly more advanced level than Same Day Delivery, the technology was patented by Amazon in 2014, is a logistics trend for 2019 because we have never had as accurate information as today about consumption patterns and online behavior. Early delivery consists of making the first moves of the product even before the customer finalizes the purchase. This is made possible by algorithms that can identify patterns of particular customers. If they notice a strong buying trend, the item is routed to the distribution center nearest to the potential buyer. This reduces waiting time and tends to increase customer satisfaction.
The trend is for this knowledge to evolve further as Big Data and smart cities consolidate. While we are still evolving in this direction, observing movements and trends is already perfectly viable and critical to apply right now. Warehouse management systems, for example, record movements and issue reports on consumption patterns. Thus, it is possible to act strategically to predict actions and increase the effectiveness of deliveries.
3D Printing – 3D printing technology must be revolutionary in many segments and dictate logistics trends. This year, for the first time, NASA shipped parts made from manned spacecraft 3D printers, indicating a strong trend for other applications. Some studies are even creating the nose and ear facial prostheses, even already tested in patients. But the big thing, and what makes innovation a strong logistics trend for 2019, is having these printers in the industrial environment. While there is still no large scale distribution of home 3D printers, the most viable application is the manufacture of parts, including quite complex and with maximum optimization of the raw material. Access is also made easier as the product would be produced at the exact time of purchase and as close as possible to deliver. The impact on logistics, in this case, would be huge, since it does not require several transport steps and makes the relationship with the customer much more efficient.
The pace of technological change will increase in the coming years so that these five trends will gain in importance. For some companies, this will result in significant competitive advantages, and for others, a significant challenge to the sometimes destabilizing effects. However, our message is simple: Regardless of their situation, companies should strive to integrate a good understanding of these trends into their strategic model, to find new opportunities, to invent new business models and to develop new business models to remain competitive despite the ever-growing number of innovative rivals.