Global supply chains connect us. From the Netherlands to New York, Shanghai to Los Angeles, logistics make the world go round.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the logistics industry has experienced significant disruptions, unearthed vulnerabilities, and shifted from a traditional approach to an advanced digitalized system. This new wave looks to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) so shipments may be tracked in real-time, from port to storefront.
Additionally, sustainability has taken center stage and will remain at the forefront of trends as we enter 2024. Leaders in the logistics industry look to build trust among their client base by aligning their sustainability practices, including alternative fuel sources and eco-friendly packaging, with the customers’ desire to be carbon neutral.
In this article, we’ll also take a look at the role of data analytics and cybersecurity in the global supply chain industry.
Digitalization and the Changing Face of Shipping
The disruptions to supply chains over the last four years have prompted logistics providers to step away from traditional “one-size-fits-all” logistics software. Although the idea of digitalization in logistics is far new, it seems that within the next year, it will be a reality for many shippers. Major shipping brands as well as smaller, boutique shipping companies digitalized, and in certain instances, also implemented their own software systems.
Furthermore, developments in artificial intelligence (AI) look to improve real-time tracking and supply chain visibility.
The addition of AI and machine learning (ML) will continue to improve supply chain operations. AI-driven systems will assist in streamlining processes, where ML will work toward optimizing inventory management.
Recently, companies have started to invest in automated technologies, leading to faster processing times and a reduction in overall cost. Many brands have also introduced paperless shipping. This offers customers a digital interface and is a more sustainable business practice overall.
As we continue further in this article, we’ll discuss sustainability in-depth and see exactly how this trend will extend as we head into the new year.
Driving Change: Trailblazing Path in Sustainable Logistics for 2024
As it stands, freight emissions and climate change are counted among the top-ranked concerns in the transportation and logistics industries. Recently, threats including low water levels in the Panama Canal and rising fuel costs have contributed to these concerns.
As in many industries, sustainability and greener business practices have been a leading topic of discussion for many years. Privately owned shipping companies have launched initiatives to promote zero-carbon shipping by 2050 with some industry leaders looking to build vessels using alternative fuel sources.
In the trucking industry, it’s astonishing to think that nearly every product is transported by roadway at some point along its journey from manufacturer to consumer. With 35% of those trucks driving “empty,” or at less than full capacity, these empty miles contribute to 87 million metric tons of carbon waste annually. By filling containers and maximizing shipments, not only are brands maximizing cost savings, but logistics providers are seeking out greener business practices.
Over the last decade, consumers have become more environmentally conscious, and look to buy from and work with brands whose values match their own. Nearly 52% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase from a brand that stands for something greater than the products and services they offer.
With the shift in consumer trends, the logistics industry will likely focus heavily on greener practices in the year ahead. This shift may also include eco-friendly packaging and the use of alternative fuel and energy sources. We may also see brands looking to obtain LEED and other “green” certifications.
Now, let’s take a look at the role economics plays in the world of supply chain management.
Optimizing Operations: Harnessing Big Data, IoT Integration, and Cybersecurity
As a way to enhance operations, logistics companies are leveraging big data and analyzing key factors including delivery times, inventory levels, and customer behavior. With the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) and IoT-enabled sensors and devices offering real-time visibility, businesses can be more proactive in addressing potential issues leading to overall cost, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
Cybersecurity has also taken center stage, especially with the rise in popularity of cloud-based platforms. The expected surge in cybersecurity investments aims to protect data integrity and protect against potential cyberattacks.
In October of this year, Estes Express saw a cyber attack take down its core infrastructure, with ripple effects surging through the company for nearly three weeks. The breach limited the company’s visibility into its operations and shut down its point of sale. In addition to the inconvenience and cost, employee and customer data have been compromised.
By leveraging data analytics companies can identify and predict supply chain disruptions; coupled with IoT devices, they can also proactively respond to issues such as delays and bottlenecks. This combination enhances operational efficiency and offers greater transparency. With the addition of cybersecurity, data is safeguarded throughout the supply chain process. Collectively these technologies help support decision-making and enhance communication.
Navigating Tomorrow: Trends Reshaping Global Logistics in 2024
The shipping and logistics industry is entering a new era, driven by digitalization, sustainability initiatives, and technological advancements. This transformation includes the integration of artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML).
Lead by consumer preferences, more sustainable practices, and green certifications will also lead to supply chain trends in the new year. Furthermore, strategic preparedness and resilience emerge as items to watch as we will see brands invest in data analytics and cybersecurity to aid in forecasting and safeguard operations.
The effect of these trends demonstrates a desire for sustainable growth, operational distinction, and the desire to meet the needs of consumers and the economy. For NRS, our proprietary Axel Platform™, localized solutions, and strategically located warehouses will help us remain leaders in the logistics arena.
To learn more about our services and to discover how NRS can keep your brand ahead of the curve, contact us today.