A bit like Star Trek: Logistics in 2040

A huge materials warehouse hovers in the sky, parcel drones fly in the air, autonomously moving delivery ships are on their way on the rivers, and kilometers of transport routes run underground – sounds crazy? But it could already be reality in 20 years. MHP Management- und IT-Beratung GmbH, a Porsche subsidiary, has now published an interesting white paper on the subject: „Logistics 4.0 – intelligent, integrated, autonomous“. This paints an extremely exciting picture of how the industry will change. We have summarized what we consider to be the most exciting visions in this paper.

Figures make it clear: Something must be done

The MHP Expert:innen have compiled interesting figures from various studies and statistics, which show one thing very clearly: The logistics industry is inevitably facing radical change. Here are a few examples:

  • Global trade in goods and services is expected to more than triple in 2030.
  • 20 percent of all road accidents resulting in fatalities are caused by goods road transport vehicles.
  • 40 percent of all German truck drivers will retire by 2030 – creating a demand gap of 150,000 drivers.
  • The utilization rate of autonomously driving trucks will increase from currently 29% to 78% by 2030.
  • Digitalized and automated logistics processes and delivery vehicles will reduce logistics costs for standardized transports by 47% by 2030.

For greater flexibility, as has been demonstrated particularly in corona times, it will be important in future that all units involved in a logistics chain are digitally networked with each other. This is fundamental for all processes in Logistics 4.0 and will be a standard requirement on the market. For participants, this means setting a clear focus on digitization today.

From purchasing to interface management 

Buyers:inside, warehouse workers:inside or material suppliers:inside – what are still common job descriptions today will change drastically by 2040. Through intelligent networking, material will be independently reordered from supplier companies. The activities of buyer:inside and dispatcher:inside will therefore change significantly and move towards interface management – which will require an even greater understanding of IT in the future. Nevertheless, personal customer relationships will remain an important factor for success.

Intralogistics: Who is driving? 

Autonomous transport and process systems combined with smart devices will dominate the corporate landscape in 2040. The first projects in which autonomous vehicles on company premises transport materials or goods independently, at least over short distances, are already underway. In the future, all objects involved in these processes will be in permanent exchange with each other via barcodes, RFID and active tracking, as is already possible today with our Packwise Smart Cap, for example.

According to the authors of the white paper, the combination of sensor and camera-based technologies with intelligent load carriers will create the first fully autonomous, self-controlling supply chains. The team of authors is even thinking further ahead: load carriers could then also form transport networks and communicate independently, position themselves, transport themselves and prioritize orders among themselves using artificial intelligence.

Battery and hydrogen for trucks  

The topic of sustainability will be an important aspect of the logistics landscape in 2040. The use of optimizing software and the integration of freight forwarders will bring goods and empty transport vehicles together more quickly. CO2 can thus be saved per transport.
Diesel-powered trucks – they will rarely be on the roads any more. Autonomously driven vehicles will be part of the road scene in the future. Especially on short routes, such as in urban areas, the authors forecast an increasing use of battery electric vehicles in the next few years. However, this will require the expansion of the charging infrastructure. For long-distance trucks, hydrogen is used as an energy supplier.

Another vision: The chassis and body of trucks will then go their separate ways. The possibility of flexible bodies would make it possible to perform different transport tasks with the same chassis. This would reduce downtimes and empty runs.

Mega-city logistics centers on the outskirts of the city 

In order to manage the ever-increasing flow of goods in a controlled manner, cities will also be forced to establish new logistics concepts in the future. By 2040, so-called mega-city logistics hubs will increasingly be seen on the fringes of conurbations or cities. The aim of these facilities is to bundle deliveries of goods in cities and deliver them to the end customer in the city using environmentally friendly smaller transport units such as electric delivery vans and cargo bicycles or drones. Amsterdam has already embarked on this path. A 125,000 square meter logistics hub is to be built there by 2021.

Under the earth, in the air, on the water 

A part of the freight transport will disappear bit by bit into the underground over the next 20 years. Underground routes will then connect central points that are important for logistics. Goods are fed into the system via lifts. A Swiss logistics company is already pursuing this plan today. By 2030, it is planning a 70-kilometer section between Härkingen-Niederbipp and the outskirts of Zurich.

Another idea is currently being worked on in the USA. A flying materials warehouse will move to the place from where drones can best reach the customer. The white paper also points to an interesting future for waterways. Autonomous ships communicate independently with locks and use the waterways effectively to transport goods and materials.

 

So we can see that the next 20 years will bring extreme change in the logistics industry. We at Packwise look forward to the challenges and new tasks that these developments will bring to our work. One thing we can promise: The Packwise Smart Cap will not be the last innovation with which we will support Logistics 4.0!