These are the most disruptive and relevant trends shaping the landscape of multimodal supply chains
Ira Ottmann works for Vediafi Oy and has been studying the future landscape of logistics trends for multimodal supply chains going towards the year 2050. Following are the key findings of Ira’s master thesis. The study takes a deep dive into strategic foresight and research on the future of multimodal logistics supply chains. Aim of the thesis was to generate a foresight study determining future trends in the European logistics sector as well as the business shaping opportunities they will carry along. The study is based on the current papers published by the European commissions, over 40 interviews from different organisations all over Europe as well as a set of workshops on determining the future trends within the industry.
The Status Quo
During the last few years, there has been a clear rise of expectations from B2B as well as B2C clients. Logistics processes are demanded to run faster and more flexible while being as transparent and cheap as possible. Moreover, the focus is clearly shifting towards sustainability regarding transport emissions and resources utilised. Following are the factors which haven been determined to be the main drivers of innovation and disruption within the logistics industry until 2050.
As in many other sectors, the logistics industry is getting greener and sustainability is going to be a major selling point in the future. The eco-efficiency of fleets and processes is not only going to benefit the environment but also going to increase the price and money value of the entire supply chain. 84% of the interviewees stated that sustainability will be the main driver of change in the future. The same trend is represented in the industry’s biggest fear, as sustainability was identified as a threat by 44% of the people interviewed.
Our goal is to become the first emission-free country in Europe by 2045– SWEDISH RESEARCHER, RISE
An outstanding position in regards to sustainability is taken by the Swedish government with their ambitions of reaching greenhouse gas neutrality as soon as possible. After reaching their goal, the government is even planning on becoming “carbon negative”.
Interconnection of Stakeholders
In order to keep the industry competitive in the future, stakeholders need to join their forces to enhance the flow of the supply chain. Technologies like IoT, cloud computing and data sharing can definitely help to improve collaboration or enable it in the first place. Among the interviews, international collaboration was ranked on the second place (43%) and showing that organisations noticed the benefits of joining forces, but are still hesitant or restricted to do so. Within her thesis, she connected the research with current developments in the industry in order to document possible directions for further initiatives. One of them is ONE Record by IATA for the airfreight sector. ONE Record is a standard for data sharing which enables a single record view of a shipment. Innovations like this foster collaboration between organisations through the transparent and easy exchange of information within the supply chain and create new business opportunities as well as enhance sustainability.
Within the next couple of years, digitalisation is going to shift the way supply chains are operating. Technologies such as the Internet of Things, connected data analytics and data sharing are leading to higher traceability and predictability as well as lower price ranges and achievements in regards to sustainable transportation. Regarding the question of major trends, the majority (67%) of Interviewees were claiming that IoT and sensor technology are the leading forces towards the future.
47% of the Finnish interviewees claimed that their organisations are ready for the digital transformationINTERVIEW FINDINGS
Especially the Finnish interviewees seemed very positive and optimistic regarding the digital transformation, with 47% saying that they are very ready and 42% saying that they are medium ready. However, the majority (30%) of interviewees were concerned about the issue of data security in connection to digitalisation processes. This might be connected to raising issues with the implementation of new technologies and possible ways to keep crucial information safe.
The European as well as International legislators are going to enforce laws towards sustainability on all levels. This will also affect the logistics industry and applies especially for restrictions of certain city zones, the CO2 emissions for certain vessels and infrastructure as well as transportation networks.
Are companies adjusting to legislation or are laws going to follow business activities?PROFESSOR, AALTO UNIVERSITY
The main question which arises is now, if companies are adjusting to European legislation or if they position themselves as forerunners and act before the implementation of these regulations. One example for the influence of governmental decisions on the industry is the implementation of road fees for trucks in Spain. The Spanish interviewees stated that this has a direct influence on a modal shift: Spanish logistics companies are evading in favour of rail transportation.
The factors listed above were recognised to have the biggest relevance within the study, nevertheless are not entitled to completeness. Moreover, these factors can not be separated from each other, but need to be seen in the ecosystem of different stakeholders and processes.
The perfect strategy for change is hard to find, especially when balancing out different stakeholders. One of the interviewees, when he was asked for his action plan towards the future he said: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” (Traditional rhyme that details what a bride should wear at her wedding for good luck.) And this is true: When applying innovation, it is always important to keep in mind what is already there (something old) and rely on processes and work-flows that already contribute to efficiency. At the same time, it is important to keep the eyes open and be welcoming for new technologies (something new). He emphasized that not every entity needs to develop everything themselves, collaboration or the purchase of schemes and technology can help to improve without spending all capacities on it (something borrowed). Lastly, he mentioned something blue, which he implied that there is always development which one can not foresee. Those “out of the blue” happenings are what every organization or institution needs to be aware of.