A Brief Look at the Changing World of Logistics

DHL logistics trend radar

July 27, 2016

Since the word “Logistics” is at the core of our product name – 4SIGHT™ Logistics Solution – we’re naturally attracted to all things logistics.

We’re also excited about anything in our industry that has the potential to inspire higher levels of innovation as we constantly strive to find the best solutions to our customers’ various yard management and dock management challenges.

That’s why DHL’s recently published Logistics Trend Radar – Version 2016 caught our attention.

The latest Logistics Trend Radar takes a look back at several leading trends that have taken center stage in logistics innovation over the past year, as well as four sources of inspiration for the Logistics Trend Radar itself:

  • global megatrends,
  • microtrends and innovations (from start-ups that could be the source of tomorrow’s growth or disruption),
  • industry experts and research partners,
  • and DHL’s own customers.

The Logistics Trend Radar also reviews “what’s in and what’s out” in terms of today’s logistics industry, and then provides an in-depth analysis of various social and business trends affecting logistics, along with several key technology trends.

Anticipatory vs. Omni-channel logistics

Five of the 14 Social and Business Trends covered in the Logistics Trend Radar are expected to have a “high impact” on logistics in less than five years. Two of those are Anticipatory Logistics and Omni-channel Logistics. We see a strong direct connection between these logistics trends and 4SIGHT’s always evolving capabilities.

So just what is anticipatory logistics? According to DHL, powered by big data-based predictive algorithms, anticipatory logistics enables logistics providers to significantly boost process efficiency and service quality by predicting demand before it occurs, to achieve faster delivery times as well as enhanced capacity and network utilization.

Anticipatory logistics also includes anticipatory shipping which can be used by online retailers who have analyzed their customers’ purchasing behaviors to predict an order before it occurs. This intelligence can then be used to move goods to distribution centers that are closer to a customer who is likely to purchase the products.

A second fascinating social and business trend is omni-channel logistics. Logistics Trend Radar states that this next generation of retail (including ‘webrooming’, showrooming, and no-line commerce concepts) requires logistics networks tailored to the needs of each single channel.

As a result, omni-channel warehousing and fulfillment centers will require more flexibility in size, services, and location to react in the shortest amount of time possible. This could involve logistics providers offering more postponement services, and companies renting out space in shared warehouses to cover peaks, or even turning warehouses into retail showrooms (e.g. IKEA’s approach) or pick-up points for orders, according to Logistics Trend Radar.

Robotics, Automation and Self-driving Vehicles

We’re also intrigued about several of the 12 Technology Trends covered in DHL’s report, six of which are also anticipated to have a “high impact” on logistics in less than five years. Two of these six include Robotics & Automation and Self-driving Vehicles. Again, we see a strong correlation between these logistics technology trends and all of the system-directed, efficiency-driven benefits that the 4SIGHT system has to offer.

As for robotics and automation technologies, they support zero-defect logistics processes and enable new levels of productivity. Logistics Trend Radar anticipates that the new generation of collaborative robots and automated solutions with significantly improved performance and enhanced sensing capabilities offers a genuine alternative to manual handling.

In addition, breakthroughs in sensor and imaging technologies have resulted in a new generation of self-driving vehicles that are more flexible and reliable than ever before. From autonomous forklifts to driverless trucks, self-driving vehicles will transform logistics by unlocking new levels of safety, efficiency, and quality.

Based on these logistics trends, you may undoubtedly be realizing a sense of urgency to improve your own facility operations to meet a variety of growing challenges. You may even be discovering that choosing the right yard management or dock management system for your facility can be confusing if you’re not sure how best to evaluate the myriad platforms on the market.

4SIGHT White Paper title Yard Management: An Evaluator's GuideIf you’re new to the concept of system-directed yard management, take a few moments to review our newest white paper–4SIGHT™ YARD Management: An Evaluator’s Guide–and learn how to select the best YMS based on six vitally important capabilities: carrier management, gate management, dock door scheduling, yard truck management, yard visibility, and management reporting.

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