“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” That Yogi Berra-ism holds true for industry trends as well. Yet predictions are important because businesses, and the infrastructures that support them, need to be prepared to change as the market and technology dictate. They especially need to be prepared for that potential future blockbuster change.
So what does the logistics industry need to pay attention to? The Logistics Trend Radar, a well-regarded regular report from Deutsche Post DHL, confirms some familiar trends, such as testing of drone delivery while providing insights into upcoming trends that are likely to shape the future of logistics. For example, smart energy logistics, which includes a movement away from fossil fuels, is likely to mean a greater reliance on alternative fuels in trucks and the use of bicycles in urban areas.
Here’s some of DHL’s list of “what’s in”:
- Batch Size One: Customers demand “hyper-customization,” or personalizing a good to their own specification, which is changing the manufacturing industry. This concept of producing one item at a time (i.e., “batch size one”) requires highly automated production sites.
- Tube Logistics: Urbanization is causing growing traffic on roads and rail networks, which propels a renewed and mounting interest in the use of existing and new tube (or underground) infrastructures for cargo transportation.
- On-Demand Delivery: “Crowdsourced” delivery isn’t new – companies such as Deliv and Zipments have been around for a few years – but Uber Rush’s entry into the market has significantly advanced on-demand delivery, as it is also called. This model uses an app to connect packages with either professional or lay drivers to deliver to the customer.
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Self- Driving Vehicles: We hear a lot about drones and self-driving cars/trucks but much of the debate centers on the safety and regulation of those technologies. As DHL notes, the relevance and maturity of the technologies have advanced over the past few years, and their development opens a totally new perspective on routes and delivery times for delivery services.
Of course, in the next edition of Logistics Radar Trend, some of these trends will fall to the “what’s out” column, much like crypto-currencies have in this edition of the report. (DHL says crypto-currencies are unlikely to be widely adopted in the logistics industry within the 5-10 year timescale of the radar.) But all of these trends have the potential to shake up the logistics and delivery industries.
So what are your predictions? What do you see as major trends in the logistics and delivery industries that the U.S. Postal Service should be monitoring?