Don’t get left behind in 2019: How tech is transforming the freight industry

iot logistics

“Good, bad or indifferent, if you are not investing in new technology, you are going to be left behind. – Philip Green

By Cate Hull
For companies operating in the freight and logistics space, 2019 figures to be a continuation of the technological revolution. The challenge? Keeping pace with technology advances so your company doesn’t fall behind the curve.

The good news? Keeping up with technological advances in the freight industry is not solely about making major investments into infrastructure – it’s more about being faster and smarter and focusing on client satisfaction, customer management and sound financing with an eye on the bottom line.

Using trends in the industry as a benchmark
Measure your company against these six trends in the freight and logistics world. If you see an area where your company is lagging, you still have time to catch up.

Trend #1 – The Internet of Things (IoT)
As it applies to freight and logistics, IoT refers to using databases, chips, readers and cloud-based systems to transmit information. It’s a way of getting inanimate objects, such as parcels and containers, to send useful information automatically and autonomously to the cloud.
Using this radio frequency identification (RFID), the freight industry can effectively track shipments through the supply chain 24/7. If your company has not adopted this technology, it should be in your short-term future.

Another hot issue on the horizon is the adoption of 5G connectivity on a global basis. The adoption of 5G technology, enhanced by IoT devices, could offer a host of new functions to logistics companies.

Trend #2 – Advanced Machine Learning (AML)
Through AML, companies can analyze data, identify patterns and make business decisions based on real-time performance. With the algorithms doing the heavy lifting, companies can enhance forecasting and resource utilization.
For example, AML can analyze thousands of trucking routes and recommend which ones are more productive and avoid those with obstacles and delays. In the maritime world, AML can analyze which routes and ports are most cost-effective.

Trend #3 – Cloud Based Solutions
Experts say the freight industry will exponentially increase in productivity as data on the capacity of private fleets becomes more readily available. By using cloud-based solutions, freight companies will be able to reposition empty containers on the go and increase efficiency, productivity and profits. If you are in the shipping business, you should have your head in the cloud.

Trend #4 – Connected Applications
Companies in the freight and logistics industry rely on a reliable and efficient means of transmitting data across international and corporate boundaries as well as application platforms. Technological advances in connected applications will enable applications to communicate in B2B and B2C business scenarios.

Though the industry has historically used electronic data exchange (EDI) protocol for communication, that technology is outdated. JSON and RESTful web services can replace EDI and are more suited for the industry. Mobile apps will communicate with existing systems and digitally transform the freight industry.

Trend #5 – Security
With warehouse and logistics management solutions migrating to internet and cloud-based data transmission systems, security is seeing a marked upswing with an enhanced ability to combat cyber-attacks.

As freight and logistics companies migrate to cloud-based systems, a complementary approach to security must follow. All industries face the reality that cloud-based systems will be targets of more sophisticated cyber-attacks as the future unfolds.

Trend #6 – Autonomous Vehicles
Multiple logistics companies across the globe have embraced autonomous technologies for the promise of driverless trucking that operates 24/7 and removes human error from the equation. Technological advances indicate fully autonomous trucking will be a game-changer.
McKinsey & Company, a global logistics think tank, predicts autonomous trucks with no humans on board will be a reality by 2027.

Autonomous trucks will cut operating costs for fleets, although capital expenditures will rise. Second, the rise of autonomous trucks could spur consolidation of national fleets, which are highly fragmented today. Third, autonomous trucks could alleviate the industry’s capacity crunch. And finally, autonomous trucks could create an opportunity for truck OEMs to move downstream and enter transport markets themselves.

These six trends will continue to transform the industry in 2019 and beyond. How is your company positioned to adopt these new technologies?

Cate Hull is the CEO of FreightExchange, a freight and logistics company based in Sydney.