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6 Logistics Technology Trends to Watch Out for in 2024

It can be difficult to keep up with different technological trends in the digital age, especially since there seems to be something new every day. Businesses need to be on their toes to stay up to date on the latest advancements that can help them become more competitive.

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Trends such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, the internet of things (IoT), and supply chain integration can be quite useful in ensuring that you are ahead of the pack. It's now become more essential than ever to be aware of these logistics trends given that consumers demand more from businesses in terms of real-time communication, technology, and delivery speeds.

Why Keeping Up with Transportation and Logistics Trends Matter

Advanced technological solutions have affected all industries, especially the logistics sector. Consumers nowadays are technologically savvy, and this, in turn, makes them demand more from businesses. They want quick shipping, real-time visibility, flexibility, and great customer service. Falling behind technological trends is not an option for businesses, as consumer demands can only be fulfilled with the help of logistics technology. Companies that evolve with technology are the only ones that will survive in the long-run.

What Are the Logistics Technology Trends to Watch out for in 2024?

Digital technology adoption has been accelerating since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s continuing to influence everything from e-commerce to the global supply chain.

A McKinsey Global Survey of executives showed that COVID-19 response hastened the adoption of digital technologies relating to customer and supply-chain interaction as well as internal operations by three to four years. As we've seen throughout 2022, many of these changes are for the long haul. Many companies that implemented short-term solutions to meet new demands have kept up a rapid rate of change in responding to the "new normal."

The logistics industry wasn't spared from having to adapt quickly. Digitization and last mile software are proving efficient tools for B2B delivery operations, B2C businesses, carriers, shippers, and so on. Here are the logistics technology trends that will shape the industry in 2024 and beyond.

Automation

On-demand deliveries were already on the rise even before the pandemic, forcing businesses to make major changes including automation. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for automation, while rising costs and ongoing labor and parts shortages in the past few years have only further cemented it.

Automation in distribution centers or warehouses pertains to anything from process automation to physical automation. Some of the usual warehouse automation includes digitization of manual processes, pick-to-light systems with operators using barcodes to scan and LED lights indicating the number of items for pick-up and their destination, and autonomous mobile robots working inside warehouses.

Businesses will continue to automate many of their processes at varying levels depending on their warehouse or distribution center sizes as well as volume and types of orders they regularly fulfill.

Democratization of Technology

Simply put, the presence of SaaS technology options in the logistics sphere is making it possible for more and more companies to access cutting edge logistics technology. Where, previously, only fairly large logistics businesses could undertake the kinds of long-term infrastructure and IT projects required to run the latest and greatest software, nowadays the onus is on the software provider to keep everything running smoothly.

This means that businesses that previously would have been stuck leveraging legacy solutions or running manual processes can now compete with larger businesses on the technology front. 

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

There's no doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have been playing significant roles in the transformation of the transportation and logistics sector. Even as trendier technologies like ChatGPT and other large language models (LLMs )garner headlines, narrowing AI applications in logistics are actually making a real impact.  

The use of AI and ML to identify every link within the supply chain is set to continue. AI, when used for decision-making in the supply chain, reduces human error. AI in warehouse management makes the planning process much easier by speeding up analysis time.

Likewise, demand prediction is much easier despite having to factor in multiple demand-influencing considerations and past experiences, as AI will compile all reliable prognosis quickly. Last mile logistics analysis and optimization, supplier selection, and workforce planning are processes powered by AI and ML. In short, AI and ML offer visible results and are useful tools in solving some of the most complex issues in logistics.

AI and ML are also being used for supply chain predictive analytics and are techniques that are grabbing the attention of industry players. They are helpful in demand forecasting of products so logistics companies can optimize the use of their warehouses by segregating low demand products from high demand goods. Likewise, they can be a big help in effective route optimization

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is transforming all aspects of our lives. In logistics, expanding IoT results in the growth of various connections between goods, packaging, transportation hubs, and vehicles. It offers more data that helps in managing assets remotely, predicting risk, ensuring proper cargo handling, and forecasting traffic congestion.

Transportation Management Systems (TMS)

TMS systems are growing in popularity especially among logistics firms. And rightly so given that many technological tools require proper organization and management in one common center. TMS is being used to manage carriers and optimize route automation. It is useful for tracking delivery drivers in real-time, lowering freight expenses, increasing transparency, and improving overall customer satisfaction scores.

The trick to making this trend effective across the entire logistics chain is to ensure that your TMS and your last mile technology can share data easily and integrate seamlessly. 

All industries are undergoing a digital transformation at a faster pace than expected. A majority of companies may not have been prepared to make a quick digital transition when the pandemic struck, but they nevertheless adopted logistics technologies as quickly as possible in response to the challenges brought by the pandemic. For the logistics sector, quality, speed, and integration are necessary to keep everyone in the value chain satisfied. Logistics companies have their work cut out for them as they can only remain competitive by keeping up with technological trends even as we make our way into next year.


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