7 Ways Technology will Change Logistics in 2015

Logistics and technology have always gone hand in hand. As the pace of development increases, so does the prospect for more efficient global trade.

We’re continuing recent posts about online freight sales today by going over the seven biggest technology developments in 2014 and what they mean for logistics in 2015.

1: Google Cars

Autonomous cars - Google

What is is:

Google’s self-driving car has continued to drive change. In December, Google announced a new self-driving car model that will hit the roads in January. The car won’t even have a steering wheel and pedals. Google is planning on introducing autonomous driving by 2019-2024. Buckle up.

What it means for logistics:

Everything. $1.3 trillion was spent on logistics in the United States last year. While Amazon may have automated forklifts, trains, ships, trucks and planes are still driven by humans (for now). Despite much talk about automating all modes, this may be the first real glimpse into the future of shipping, whether freight or parcel.

2: Wearables

Wearables - better tracking

What it is:

Big data stems from big data collection. This year Apple announced the iWatch, Google made a big splash about Android Wear and even Microsoft talked about its Microsoft Band. Technology designed for tracking people is becoming more ubiquitous as hardware becomes more powerful and cheaper.

What it means:

A controlled supply chain. If Domino can help you track your pizza delivery live, you should be able to know where every container, parcel and package is. And you should be able to figure out its temperature, humidity, angle and the speed at which it is moving. Transparency into the freight process, from booking to delivery, should be more visible to all players.  Many logistics technology companies are already hard at work on this.

3: Last mile delivery

changes to last mile shipping

What it is:

In just a few years, delivery has changed tremendously. Same-day shipping just isn’t making the cut anymore. Amazon recently rolled out one-hour delivery in key areas. The allure of Santa has been replaced by the steady hands of UPS, FedEx and other companies that make next-day and same-day shipping a reality. Amazon shipped globally to 185 countries this holiday season and independent researchers found that 93% of all online retailers managed to keep pre-Christmas delivery commitments.

What it means:

Two things: higher expectations and more eCommerce pressure. The instant-gratification generation requires rapid service with minimal fuss. As millennials join the workforce, that same expectation will percolate within the freight industry as well. Online retailers promising more means that freight companies will need to improve their capacity to support dynamic and agile supply chains, requiring more technological automation from the planning to delivery phase.

4: Tesla

electric cars - Tesla

What it is:

Tesla Motors is the brainchild of Elon Musk, the cofounder of PayPal, a serial inventor and the backer of SpaceX, a program for private space travel. In 2012, Tesla delivered its first electric road car, the Tesla Roadster, a high-end fully electric car. Unlike Google’s car, this is already a commercial reality. Tesla continues to improve on their cars, releasing software-like patches – this week Tesla announced that a single charge will be able to drive a Tesla over 400 miles.

What it means:

Better logistics. Motor vehicles in the United States account for 75% of US carbon monoxide emissions and everyone knows that ships and airplanes also have a bad effect on the environment. However, beyond environmental impact, fuel is just plain expensive (yes, even with huge oil drops). Renewable sources and cleaner energy is frequently cheaper. WalMart revealed an electric truck earlier this year and as technology improves, you can expect emissions and costs to continue to drop.

5: Online Connectivity and the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy

What it is:

In 2014, the tech world learned that sharing is caring. There has been a meteoric rise in online platforms connecting sellers and buyers online. There’s a reason that Airbnb is valued higher than the Hyatt and that Uber is valued at more than Hertz and Avis combined. Sharing unused goods, whether it’s room to spare or a taxicab, is facilitated when buyers and sellers are connected online, creating a more efficient market that can be crucial for an entire industry.

What it means:

A need for better online connectivity. This has been the marching cry of Lora Cecere, the Supply Chain Shaman, who recently remarked that only 9% of value network flows take place on B2B networks. Connectivity is the great enabler for global visibility and an agile supply chain. As gigantic industries move over towards instant, electronic transactions, it is inevitable that ponderous companies begin the shift towards across-the-board value networking.

6: Drones

Drone proliferation

What it is:

Just over a year ago, Amazon released an ambitious plan to make drone deliveries. Since then, drones have become even more commonplace, topping lists of Christmas presents. While drones more accessible to consumers, the Federal Aviation Administration will be releasing rules for commercial drone operations in January.

What it means:

Increased last-mile efficiency, even faster deliveries and a whole lot of drones falling onto peoples’ heads. It seems that drones will likely be the first automated component in an external supply chain. And, depending on how the FAA rules, it may happen as early as 2015.

7: Data Security

Data security

What it is:

2014 was a harsh year for data. While it ended with what may have very well been a North Korean hack of Sony, leading to a cascade of released emails and more media attention than “The Interview” ever would have gotten, Target, Ebay, Adobe, AOL and others were all subjected to attacks as well.

What it means:

Hunker down, logistics. While technology is enabling better operations, slimmer supply chains and more agile shipping patterns, data is accumulating. Whether stored in the cloud or on company servers, data needs to be protected.


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