The logistics industry has faced enormous nonstop challenges over the past few years. The supply chain crisis followed by the COVID-19 pandemic was a disaster that led to game-changing supply chain and logistics improvements. Technology and a new view of workplace psychology have contributed to the logistics industry's resilience. Here are some of the most prevalent logistics industry trends for 2023.
Recognizing Sustainability as the Future of Logistics
One of the most apparent logistics industry trends for 2023 is the increasing emphasis on sustainability to drive economic growth and greater environmental responsibility. Sustainability is a concept that further encompasses workplace fairness and diversity. It's the word that sums up just about everything that makes a logistics firm more competitive in the modern world, including digital technology that makes warehouse and transportation operations more efficient.
Even traditional executives who have dodged investing in new sustainable solutions, such as smart technology, understand that sustainability is the path to future success. Managers who ignore sustainability likely will only be around as long as competitors embrace it. Not only can it help a firm survive an economic crisis, but it's also good for the bottom line because it's all about increased output, waste reduction, worker safety, and maximizing team efficiency and profits.
Adopting Greener Equipment and Processes
Reducing carbon emissions has become a top concern for environmentally-minded business leaders and consumers. A growing sense of urgency is building for corporations and small businesses to adopt greener, cleaner production and distribution methods. Multiple automotive manufacturers are entering the market to offer electric vehicles (EVs), which emit zero harmful greenhouse gases, unlike conventional vehicles.
Another trend toward greener solutions has warehouses investing more in sustainable pallets for stacking inventory. Two sustainable processes that have made pallets more stable and durable involve kiln drying and heat treatment. The kiln drying process reduces moisture, which inevitably degrades wood, while heat treatment cleans it and makes it compliant for global marketing. Learning about heat treating wood can help you cut long-term costs on pallets.
Using AI to Improve Demand Forecasts
Integrating digital technologies in logistics, such as artificial intelligence (AI), has empowered companies to improve logistics operations in myriad ways. As suppliers and distributors become more data-driven, it is inevitably improving supply chain visibility, which enhances demand forecasts. Machine learning software, an emerging branch of AI, is increasingly leading the way toward a better understanding of available supplies and evolving consumer demand.
Warehouse managers must continuously make market demand predictions so they know how to plan for future inventory counts. Ordering excessive or insufficient product units can negatively impact profit margins. While even the most knowledgeable logistics experts can be off on predictions sometimes, machine learning software is more accurate and reliable. That's because it can draw from a wider array of variables and analyze historical sales data in seconds.
Bypassing Bottlenecks with Route Optimization
Machine learning has many other advantages to enhance the logistics process. It analyzes real-time data that considers road and weather conditions, allowing truckers to avoid traffic jams. Speedy deliveries depend on overcoming issues that slow transportation, such as accidents, unsafe conditions, and road closures. At lightning speed, machine learning can analyze variables affecting delivery times to recommend alternate, faster routes.
Transportation delays ultimately impact customer satisfaction, leading to a higher churn rate. Consequently, logistics managers turn to AI for scheduling and routing to avoid late deliveries and congested ports. Since last-mile delivery from the warehouse or store to the customer accounts for over half of the shipping costs, logistics firms must streamline this final link of the supply chain as much as possible. A money-saving solution has been algorithm-based route optimization software such as Circuit For Teams. This software can save a firm up to 20 percent on deliveries through real-time tracking and automated rerouting.
Using Automation to Offset Labor Shortages
Effective supply chain management requires staying on top of labor issues. The logistics industry has seen startling labor shortages in recent years due to pandemic effects and a shift in worker priorities. Many warehouse workers have suffered from burnout triggered by inflexible work schedules and increased workplace surveillance, which will continue to be one of the top logistics industry trends for 2023. Although automation cannot replace every job in warehousing and transportation, for the tasks it can deliver, it eliminates the problems that stem from unmotivated personnel.
Unlike workers who stay up late and are tired on the job, leading to messed up and misplaced orders, automation completes tasks accurately and with high-speed efficiency. So whatever can be automated probably will be automated in the logistics industry. Self-driving vehicles, robotics, and drones have only scratched the surface so far and will likely gain wider acceptance in the future.
Robotics is already an advancing field in which robots with picking arms can move 300 items an hour. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are like automated guided vehicles (AGVs). The main difference is the former isn't restricted to predefined paths, as sensors, machine learning, and navigation software control AMRs. Another innovative development is the automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS), which can place and retrieve loads for its vast storage space.
Outsourcing to Third-Party Logistics Companies
Another solution to labor shortages and other logistics deficiencies is to outsource to a seasoned third-party logistics (3PL) team. In recent years many new 3PLs have emerged to fill market holes for manufacturers that need a reliable distribution system. Some manufacturers prefer to invest in production equipment and processes while letting 3PLs handle distribution, especially last-mile delivery.
One of the major attractions to 3PLs is their investment in emerging technologies such as AI, IoT, automation, robotics, 5G, drones, and virtual reality. Each of these developing technologies plays a role in faster and more accurate inventory transport, leading to more satisfied and loyal customers. Since speedy and more precise delivery is a key selling point for 3PLs, these companies thrive on building reliable reputations for clients.
Many of these 3PLs have come together in the past decade through mergers and acquisitions (M&As). This consolidation has resulted from industry fragmentation, baby boomer owners cashing out to retire, and digital transformation. The escalation in e-commerce has also helped propel these mergers. Ultimately, consolidation has created new dimensions to the logistics industry, particularly with the advent of smart technology and detailed quality control specialists.
A recent Accenture study of logistics leaders found that the top driver of change in the logistics industry is evolving client expectations. A logistics firm must outperform a traditional all-in-one company in delivery speed by investing in services and technologies that reduce capital expenses and risks. Outsourcing labor and automation are two proven ways to lower costs, cut waste and satisfy client expectations. Changing client expectations are starting to include alternative forms of transportation and expanded services across broader geographic areas.
Smart technology and smarter decision-making based on supply chain data are among the most significant logistics industry trends for 2023. It all adds to greater sustainability, which will continue to be the central theme to orchestrating competitive edges for the storage and distribution of products. Sustainable solutions like pallet investing help organize a warehouse to avoid shipping errors. Learn more from the most innovative pallet suppliers in California about other ways to achieve supply chain sustainability.