The last 2 years have led to unprecedented pressures on logistics and supply chain networks alike, on both a global and local level. The already fast-growing need from consumers for fast, responsive and error-free delivery was further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the demands on global supply chains have led to product shortages and delays for organisations across multiple sectors. 

With this in mind, how can logistics teams overcome this rise in demand? The key to success will be for supply chains to become more digitally minded and invest in technology and skilled professionals to achieve growth in 2022 and beyond. 

The rise of technology 

Prior to the pandemic, logistics and supply chains were already a key area for technology and digital innovation. However, digital technology adoption accelerated tenfold in 2020 and 2021 as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to influence everything from e-commerce to the global supply chain. 

Dean Rose

This ever-changing landscape is continuing to adapt both regionally and internationally, with new trends, and skills needed for businesses to keep up. Here are some key logistics technology trends set to reshape the industry in 2022: 

1.    Automation

On-demand deliveries were already on the rise even before the pandemic, forcing businesses to make major changes and focusing on automation as much as possible. But when the UK was hit by a string of lockdowns and Covid restrictions, the need for automation only accelerated as businesses across various industries sought ways to minimise face-to-face interactions.

Automation in distribution centres or warehouses pertains to anything from process automation to physical automation. Some of the usual warehouse automation includes digitisation of manual processes, pick-to-light systems with operators using barcodes to scans and LED lights indicating the number of items for pick-up and their destination. 

This is just the beginning. Businesses will continue to automate many of their processes at varying levels depending on their warehouse or distribution centre sizes, as well as volume and types of orders they regularly fulfill. Despite this automation, you’ll still need highly trained professionals who can work with this technology and ensure all projects run as smoothly as possible. 

2.    Blockchain technology

Blockchain technologies have received plenty of attention over the last decade, across various disciplines and sectors. Many tend to associate blockchain with cryptocurrency, but the application of this technology in the logistics sector goes far beyond that. When implemented successfully, blockchain can improve transparency for consumers by providing them with a chance to track the entire journey of their online orders. 

There are various benefits for companies too. Blockchain technology makes it much easier for the company’s ledger to have more transparency over audits and improve security by revealing attempted frauds. Implementing a blockchain-based system also saves companies time and money by eliminating manual paperwork. For more key insights into how to make blockchain a success in your business, see here. 

3.    Artificial intelligence and machine learning

For the transportation and logistics sector specifically, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have played significant roles in recent years. The large flow of data coming from the supply chain is now commonly being utilised and analysed to spot trends in the supply chain so logistics firms can make necessary changes in their organisations.

The use of AI and ML to identify every link within the supply chain is set to continue. This is because AI, when used for decision-making in the supply chain, can significantly reduce human error. AI in warehouse management makes the planning process much easier too by speeding up analysis time, as well as being a key resource when it comes to in-demand forecasting of products. 

When implemented successfully, this technology can help logistics companies optimise the use of their warehouse by segregating low-demand products from high-demand goods. It will also in turn create a higher demand for logistic specialists with high data analysis skills, that can assess the information from the AI learnings and act accordingly.

4.    Internet of Things (IoT)

In logistics, expanding IoT results in the growth of various connections between goods, packaging, transportation hubs, and vehicles, offering more data. This data allows logistics teams to better track the location of products, gain insights into weather conditions and environmental statuses as well as traffic patterns. 

With this knowledge, suppliers can leverage AI and advanced analytics to monitor assets throughout the entire logistics journey, which helps eliminate misplaced inventory and lost shipments, further reducing risk and revenue loss. When combined with blockchain technology, IoT may offer end-to-end visibility of packages.

Preparing your business for tech success

Digitalising the supply chain and other logistics components can have a huge impact on operational efficiency within your business. But in order to implement a tech-driven strategy, you need to have a logistics team with the right skillsets in place. Logistics teams that can stay on top of these tech trends and understand them will be the key to digital success.  

What our experts say: 

Ben Lyons

Here at Michael Page Logistics, we can help your business find top talent with the skill sets your business needs to stay on top.  For more insights into the current logistics hiring market, please get in touch with one of our dedicated experts today.