Barloworld’s KAMOGELO MMUTLANA looks at disruptions that will impact on goods delivery
ACCORDING to research firm Frost & Sullivan, logistics global spend is expected to reach $10,6 trillion by 2020, with transportation accounting for the majority of the spending at 65%.
Certain trends will be shaping every aspect of this market. Chief among these are the emergence of autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, big data, blockchain technology and online marketplaces.
Frost & Sullivan predicts most moving vehicles within logistics — from forklift to delivery fleets — will be semi-autonomous and some fully autonomous in the not too distant future.
For the supply chain, autonomous logistics will translate into platooning trucks, self-steering ships and autonomous drone deliveries to name a few. Existing and proposed projects in this space include the DHL Parcelocopter, Google’s Project Wing Drone and Amazon’s Prime Air.
Data is the new oil for every type of business. Daily analysis of structured data will undoubtedly lead to enhanced efficiencies and quicker, calculated decision-making within the supply chain.
Growing access to data will also mean that analytics will move from reactive to pre-emptive to anticipatory. Amazon, for example, through its anticipatory shipping model, will know what you want even before you know you want it.
For the wider industry and logistics stakeholders, predictive and prescriptive analytics are already presenting a number of applications. These include route optimisation in real time and product tracking data.
With regards to brokerage-related services within the supply chain, it is predicted that two key platforms will disrupt the status quo: mobile based and online marketplaces.
The emergence of online marketplaces within the supply chain will involve the closer integration of all parties to include all stakeholders — namely sellers, buyers, freight forwarders and financial institutions, all connected to each other through an open, online platform. Notably, mobilebased freight brokers are seeking to outdo traditional brokerage firms by offering higher asset utilisation and expedited revenue allocation.
Although it is a term more frequently associated with financial technology businesses, blockchain technology is poised to impact key functions within logistics.
This platform verifies digital transactions on the network and is arguably set to become the new operating system for supply chain and logistics globally.
By integrating this technology, the blockchain can enable a strong and secure exchange for shared logistics, co-ordinating a vast array of activities from sharing unutilised space in a shipping container or warehouse, to optimising truck fleets and drivers. Blockchain technology can also yield important benefits with regards to B2B transactions — such as cross border payroll processing and smart contracts.
This technology is already in use in a platform called Ethereum, a decentralised platform that runs smart contracts. These are contracts steered by applications that “run exactly as programmed, without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference”.
For logistics stakeholders, the Ethereum platform is set to facilitate in negotiating prices and monitoring inventory levels that will result in minimising transaction costs and building more agile supply chains. In addition, the application can initiate more secure forms of transactions and facilitate shared logistics opportunities in near real time.
A technology that has long been waiting in the corporate wings, 3D printing capabilities are improving daily with vast potential in terms of freedom of design. It can also lower production costs by up to 50% — translating from low cost homes printed within a day to expertly customised medical implants and prosthetics.
In the near future, each individual 3D printer could be able to print several different materials using multiple processes in multiple, decentralised locations.
As a result, logistics and supply chain management could be drastically transformed — to only servicing nimble, innovative, garage-sized industries.
While these technologies and trends are arguably still in the development stage, they are forcing businesses to shift their approach and to strongly consider and embrace transformation by exploring possible applications.
For supply chain management and logistics stakeholders, we at Barloworld Logistics believe that the emergence of these trends serve as both inspiration and motivation to begin the process of futureproofing and implementing sustainable processes, right now.
Without a doubt, only the agile and responsive will survive today in order to thrive tomorrow.