The logistics industry is one of the key sectors in the entire economy – nationally and internationally. New technologies and innovations are constantly needed to support this important industry today and to improve ongoing processes. It is ultimately the only way to resist global pressure and take advantage of new opportunities.
What innovations and trends will there be in logistics in the months and years to come? Let’s look at this now.
Today, climate protection plays a central role and is therefore naturally also a major issue in the logistics sector. On the one hand, there are always adjustments to guidelines, regulations and standards, on the other hand, more and more consumers and businesses themselves attach importance to climate protection measures. The industry must of course meet these requirements.
Therefore, the long-term goal is to reduce environmental pollution, for example from shipping, and SOx emissions using better quality fuel. In this context, wherever possible, a switch to renewable and alternative energy and fuels (hydrogen) should take place. The effective conversion to all these measures has already started and will be further promoted in the coming years in order to achieve climate goals in a timely manner.
The situation is similar with sustainability. With this important topic, more and more people are paying attention to sustainable products for sale, which of course has a corresponding effect on production, but also on logistics, i.e. transport. The trend is clearly towards improving the lifespan of products and making products easier to recover, repair and resell.
As a result, shipping and packaging decisions need to be made in a more targeted manner in order, first, to reduce waste and, second, to promote product recycling and reuse. This includes, among other things, the reduction of plastic in packaging, etc.
Blockchain is now also a trend that has arrived in logistics for some time. It is intended to present all information about vessels, trucks, sensors, shipping pallets, inventory management systems and trading partners more securely and transparently in the future. In this way, an efficient network should be created between the shipper and the freight forwarder, which replaces the expensive freight brokers that were previously depended on.
In the long term, blockchain will be able to increase both global GDP and trade volume by several percent, making it an indispensable part of logistics.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence is already increasingly being used for every conceivable process in logistics. This will continue to be a particularly important trend in the future in order to automate warehouses and make them more efficient. For example, AI can be used to more accurately predict customer demand and, based on that, generate better shipping time. In addition, shipping routes can be fundamentally optimized and thus more efficient deliveries can be achieved.
This is extremely important, especially in the context of the growing demand for chilled products, because this must of course be met. As a result, there will be more and more refrigerated containers and refrigerated vehicle fleets in the near future, which brings corresponding challenges for logistics. These can be solved with the AI.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, logisticians are also able to improve their error rates because they can use image processing inspections and thus make correct deliveries to customers faster. AI-controlled robots and machines are also replacing the need for people to carry heavy goods in warehouses, reducing the risk of injury. Additionally, self-driving, self-driving delivery vehicles in cities and the countryside ensure immense reliability and faster deliveries – often even on the same day.
In the back office, however, it will also be possible with the help of AI to scan contracts or other documents better and faster in order to identify possible weak points.
Drones and smart glasses, i.e. smart glasses, in combination with AI and augmented reality will be used in the future to improve delivery speeds and increase logistics flexibility. These innovations aim to improve, for example, facial recognition during deliveries and personalized deliveries in general. Likewise, a hands-free route search and various other optimizations can also be enabled.
Ultimately, all this makes logistics more efficient, faster and safer – one of the main priorities for the future.
In order to ensure traffic safety with increased traffic during deliveries, logistics safety must also play a greater role in the future. This includes, among other things, better inspection and monitoring of road traffic and the development of corresponding strategies and instruments.
At the same time, robotic systems should make storage chains – i.e. the storage and transport of goods – safer and more efficient at the same time. For this purpose, an automation is aimed, which physically relieves the human employees. In this context, employees should at best increase their productivity by additional training in warehouse logistics in order to avoid possible downsizing.
Ultimately, during all of these measures, cybersecurity should not be forgotten – consumer data protection should be maintained despite automation. After all, large e-commerce businesses in particular are increasingly at risk from hacker attacks.
Many of the innovations and trends mentioned fall under the collective term Logistics 4.0, which envisions a real revolution in the industry as part of Industry 4.0. The keywords already mentioned, such as autonomous driving, robotics, artificial intelligence, which are becoming increasingly relevant in the context of digitization, are complemented by other aspects. This also includes, for example, 3D printing, big data analysis, diversification and, in particular, customer orientation.
And all this without ever neglecting sustainability and climate protection.
Due to these changes, it is not surprising that more and more start-ups are entering the market in order to bring innovative ideas and thus be part of the logistics market of tomorrow.
While many planned changes are still wishful thinking that have yet to be satisfactorily implemented, there are already effective solutions for the industry. These are gradually taking hold and will certainly be further expanded and supplemented. Logistics 4.0 is therefore still in its infancy.
The global supply chain is to be continuously optimized in the years to come and thus made more efficient, but also more secure. The mentioned trends will play an extremely important role here and, above all, sustainability and climate protection measures should always be taken into account. It also requires new ways of thinking, new approaches and new technologies. Ultimately, however, competition is encouraged and new financial opportunities open up for businesses.