The logistics and supply chain trends are among the first to feel the impact of the rapid technological progress. Both industries involve a lot of manual labor and scattered fragments of vital information stored in various locations, therefore, advances in digital technology are clearly beneficial for them.
There are several distinct trends that paved the way for the digital revolution in the supply chain and logistics industries:
- Automated vehicles used in warehouses
- Supply chain technology managing software
- MaaS, or mobility-as-service
- Overall improvement of ICT (Information Communication Technologies)
Now let’s take a closer look at the current situation and main digital trends important for the supply chain and logistics in 2022.
Supply chain real-time visibility
It’s hard to imagine a modern logistic company without established supply chain visibility. In 2022, an enterprise’s position in the visibility race is directly correlated with the overall performance of the company, because clients and transporters get accustomed to higher standards of service and demand more with each year.
The ability to track conditions in ports and warehouses as well as conditions of cargo in-transition is necessary to plan the most efficient routes and make changes to the supply chain on the fly.
Connection with the cloud services and using IoT technologies allows easy and fast vehicle and cargo tracking, creating real-time monitoring necessary for an efficient supply chain.
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
AI technologies are mostly used to create the most efficient transportation routes, provide intelligent transportation, and plan the demand. At the current moment, AI is widely used in warehouses for automation, in the creation of last-mile delivery mechanisms, and predictive optimization.
As of now, the AI software focus is shifting towards augmented intelligence projects — solutions that provide a combination of human intelligence and automation. Their main objective is to improve staff efficiency and drastically reduce the number of human factor mistakes while keeping expenses low.
The main benefit of using blockchain technology in supply chain and logistics is that it allows secure recording of transactions. All the information in the blockchain is completely transparent for any party involved, providing an unprecedented level of visibility. Besides, it is really hard for malefactors to use the blockchain data for security breaches and hacking.
Therefore, blockchain presents a great opportunity to operate sensitive data without involving third parties, which makes it invaluable for shippers and carriers. However, despite being used by such giants as Amazon and Alibaba, blockchain data lack standardization, making it difficult to use for logistics providers cooperating with them. The technology shows immense potential and is likely to widen in the future.
One of the main issues for big players in the traditional logistics and supply chain industries is operating a great amount of information stored in silos. The data is stored literally anywhere, and this fragmentation leads to substantial inefficiency.
The large trend right now is to get rid of this fragmentation by eliminating data storing silos and implementing systems to address the information inconsistencies. For this purpose, analytics platforms and predictive software are used. Such supply chain management technology provides cleansing and digitizing of data to traditional companies, which allows to further use of this data in predictive optimization and analytics.
The benefits of such trend are significant:
- Improved predictive maintenance
- Better supply chain visibility
- Forecasting of customer demand
- Detection of unforeseen conditions
- Improvement of last-mile deliveries
Digital twinning is a new supply chain technology, however, it has already proved to be an important factor in shaping the future of supply chain management. By creating a so-called digital twin of a certain physical object, this technology provides vast possibilities to monitor assets’ condition, track their transportation and diagnose them.
Using digital twinning allows enhancing the logistics infrastructure by the implementation of a delivery network that deals with situations in real-time. The safety of shipments can also be upgraded with the preventive detection of possible issues in the delivery or production stages.
Another way of using digital twinning is pre-testing product packaging by creating concepts and trying them out in digital space.
In the past decade, warehouse processing has changed significantly. Innovative solutions that include warehouse robotics slowly become a rising trend that will take a great deal of strain off the loading/unloading and pallet building processes. According to the Körber survey, 68% of businesses are looking towards automation to offset labor-related issues, and 47% are planning to acquire automation technology in the next five years.
Robotic technologies provide a multitude of devices for warehouse operations, such as driverless vehicles, multi-purpose mechanisms, and wearables for employees. In combination with IoT sensors and machine learning, all this presents one of the most powerful logistics software solutions.
Autonomous transportation vehicles are one of the most “futuristic” trends in the logistics industry. It is too early to talk about the widespread adoption of such vehicles by industry players, of course, but certain advances have indeed been made, and the discussion around them is hot.
There was a minor investment in TuSimple, a company involved in autonomous driving development, made by UPS ventures. These two companies are in the process of testing self-driving trucks to clarify their possible influence on the service quality and efficiency of UPS. Several other companies, such as Tesla, Embark, and Daimler are also making steps towards vehicle automation, though it is unlikely that human drivers will be removed from freight trucks anytime soon.
Autonomous vehicles also find other, quite unexpected uses. Austrian Airlines began to use hangar-based drones for performing maintenance and detecting potential issues in aircraft conditions. If their example proves efficient, the future of autonomous drone maintenance fleets is quite promising.
Digital industry transformation is on the rise in 2022. The most important quality for a modern logistics company is flexibility and responsiveness to global changes. Innovations come into fruition each day, and the enterprise that can feel the industry pulse faster than others will surely prevail on the market.
However, catching the trend might not be enough for success, the next step would be to ensure you get decent software to make the most out of it. Get yourself a good developing partner, set your goals, and let technological progress raise you to the top of the industry.