Global Logistics Trends to Watch in Late 2020

Global Logistics Trends

Thanks in large part to the increasingly innovative available technologies, global logistics has continued to rapidly evolve in an ever-shifting landscape. Responsiveness and flexibility have proven more vital than ever before, as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted nearly every link in the international supply chain.

Third-party logistics companies, transporters, and manufacturers have all been confronted with the strain caused by factory shutdowns, virus mitigation, technology interruptions, ethical and sustainability concerns, and a tense political climate. The environment the global logistics industry is operating in is dramatically different than it was even six months ago.

Of course, all of these issues push the envelope in regard to new ways of handling normally simple operational tasks. From these issues, we see a rise in new global logistics trends. Everything from optimized sustainability efforts to the integration of logistics platforms such as RedwoodConnect 2.0 to help streamline automation and visibility. Most companies are leveraging these trends at the moment in order to keep up with the competition throughout the remainder of 2020.

Let's take a look at a few of the global logistics trends can we expect to see in these final months of the year...


A Push for Further Sustainability

A growing concern throughout the global logistics supply chain is the long term sustainability of many solutions.

Stricter regulations and growing pressure to reduce carbon emissions from the trucking industry- one of the largest contributors- means many companies are looking into switching to electric transportation. Amazon, for example, made a massive purchase of electric vans as part of its initiative to move to all renewable energy sources by 2030. This move is expected to cut carbon emissions by as much as 4 million metric tons in that 10-year window with the incorporation of this fleet of electric vans alone.

Volvo Trucks North America is known to be working on a fleet of electric trucks that are expected to be ready for the market by the end of 2021. Increases in electric options mean greener fleets will continue to become the standard, and more readily available. It’s not just the trucking industry that is seeing electric become a growing reality, however. Electric has also penetrated the rail industry, with electric locomotives that reduce emissions and increase safety in development in various countries, along with high-speed rail options.

The need for sustainability is also clear within ocean carrier companies. Massive carrier Maersk has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050 and is taking steps to achieve this goal currently. This has been accelerated for Maersk and other ocean carriers by an increase in restrictions on sulfur content operation levels put in place at the beginning of 2020 by the International Maritime Organization.


Growing Development of  Automation Solutions

In addition to creating electric fleet options, companies developing electric vehicles are also further developing driverless fleet solutions.

Autonomous vehicles have become more sophisticated as the technology continues to be refined- a welcome addition to the field of transport as the US continues to suffer from a driver shortage. While the technology hasn’t yet become widely available, trucking companies have taken additional measures in an attempt to attract more drivers. By appealing to younger potential recruits with more amenities, better pay, and attempting to connect with high-school graduates not bound for college, the industry has a stop-gap in place.

However, automated delivery options are increasing, with Amazon introducing Prime Air, allowing for drone delivery of packages under 5 pounds within 30 minutes a few years ago. The once futuristic idea of drone delivery has now had years to percolate and is closer to reality. The demand for contactless delivery has skyrocketed in the wake of COVID-19, putting the pressure on to reduce the number of human contact points and fast track last-mile automated deliveries. 

While delivery and carrier automation has and will continue to expand, that’s not the only area of logistics where an increase in automation can be expected. As manufacturing and processing warehouses continue to require higher and faster outputs and attempt to catch up after global shutdowns and disruptions but need to do so with increased restrictions on in-person contact, automation solutions make perfect sense.

Having fewer in-person staff, or freeing up warehouse employees to do more engaging and multi-layered tasks that require less crowding and cross-contact is a natural fit for companies seeking to further automate and cut costs. 


Even Higher Visibility Demands

Third-party logistics companies have led the way in utilizing technology for increased visibility throughout the supply chain. As the handlers and coordinators managing the various aspects of the supply chain, having visibility throughout the process of transport, warehousing, packing, sorting, and shipping has been a key building block for the confidence of both partners and customers.

Demands for even greater visibility require the collaboration of many across the ecosystem and 3PLs such as Redwood Logistics are the natural point of origin for implementation.

Expectations are trending toward visibility from start to finish, including every step of the way in transit. Technologies available to monitor everything from step by step throughout the warehouse to temperatures and stops times of drivers in transit are currently in use by logistics companies. Translating that technology into a user-friendly experience all the way through the last mile is a key concern for 3PLs and an expectation for partners. 

As the global logistics industry continues to grow and respond to the changing needs and demands of countries and companies across the globe, sustainability, automation, and visibility remain areas of growth and activity that largely influence the current global logistics trends. Thanks in large part to continuing advances in technology, we can only expect to see additional evolution throughout the remainder of what has been a largely chaotic year.