Logistics Trends In 2021 – Automate And Digitize!

Posted by Marian

Speed and automation are now the name of the game. When it comes to logistics, the gameplay is forever dynamic, making it a thriving industry despite the respite of the pandemic.  Logistics evolve speedily, keeping up with the breakneck pace of technological advancements in the modern era.

While it can be challenging for many logistics managers and business leaders to stay on top of these changes, it’s crucial to do so if you want to maintain the integrity of your supply chain and see your business succeed. Rather than treading on the heels of change, your organization should try to get ahead and on top of today’s trends shaping the future of logistics management.

Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

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The use of automation artificial intelligence (AI) and is on the rise in many businesses. Automation allows you to streamline repetitive tasks, while AI — which attempts to mimic human intelligence and “learn” — can assist with more complex, challenging tasks.

In a world where speed and precision are crucial for success, both AI and automation are valuable ways to speed up your supply chain and remain competitive in your industry. Despite concerns about robots taking over human jobs, AI and automation are everywhere. If you don’t use them, your competitors will, leaving you far behind as they enjoy greater levels of success.

There are countless ways to incorporate AI and automation into your organization’s workflow, from making improvements to your assembly line to powering digital twin technology and everything in between.

The key is finding tasks and processes that will help you save time or energy; often, the best tasks are time-consuming, complicated, or extremely rote. By turning these kinds of jobs over to a robot or computer, you and your staff can spend more time on projects that only a human can do, giving you an even greater return on this investment.

Leverage on Sustainability

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Consumers are more intelligent now when selecting businesses they support. The abundance of options allows them to sift through the chaos, choose environmentally-friendly brands, and have a social impact.

They are looking for brands that are seriously involved or working on their sustainability efforts.  Because there are so many different opportunities to focus on sustainability, you’ll need to tailor your efforts to suit your organization’s unique needs.

In the coming years, businesses may turn to more extreme or drastic measures in the name of environmentalism. Some may choose to commit to sustainable manufacturing processes or attempt to become zero-waste.

However, these attempts at sustainability may not be sustainable for businesses in the long term. Such significant shifts require a complete overhaul of each step of your supply chain, from how you source raw materials to how your products are transported to customers.

This, in short, can be overwhelming and difficult to keep up with. It’s best to start with something small, such as updating your packaging design, as your organization adjusts to these changes or crafts a plan to make more significant shifts.

By making changes gradually and deliberately, you can increase your organization’s long-term commitment to sustainability without overlooking any crucial steps or getting burnt out.

Personalize and Customize

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You can’t just be another brand’s copycat. Customers are looking for relatable brands or they can resonate with. With that being said, you need to personalize your brand and increase customization in different parts of the supply chain.

You may have to segment your supply chain, building a customized strategy and approach for each segment. Your customers, in particular, will likely continue to expect a personalized experience with your business.

It can be challenging to keep up with mass customization demands, and you’ll have to consider different ways you can keep up. You may need to look into customizing your manufacturing or prototypes that are uniquely yours.

Increasing customization becomes more realistic as you work on improving other aspects of your supply chain. For instance, you may find it easier to manage personalized customer orders by automating your order processing system, perhaps putting “standard” orders in one area and personalized ones in another.

Overall, if you look for ways to simplify other business areas, you can devote more time and attention to customization in your products.

Internet of Things (IoT)

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It can be a little overwhelming to understand or digest at first, but IoT is straightforward and beneficial to many businesses today. This refers to a network of physical objects powered by sensors and software connected to the internet.

The IoT already plays a significant role in the supply chain, particularly in logistics, but with increasingly diverse applications, it will likely continue to grow in importance. In just a few short years, almost 70% or more of large companies could be using IoT and other advanced technologies to support supply chain operations.

In addition to providing more oversight in operations and transportation, it’s thought that the IoT can be used to improve warehouse management, fleet tracking, inventory control, and even technical and mechanical maintenance.

IoT technology could even be used to create entirely smart warehouses and fleets, increasing the efficiency and accuracy of multiple areas of your supply chain. The value of the IoT cannot be overstated. It’s the future, and it’s happening NOW.

Depending on what kinds of IoT devices you use, you can use them in conjunction with other pieces of technology for even more significant benefit. For instance, the information collected by a sensor in one of your warehouses could provide valuable data that helps you automate other processes, such as forecasting and asset tracking. This high level of integration will be essential as the supply chain becomes increasingly digital.

Enhanced Digitization

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The logistics game has jumped into the digital space for an excellent reason. The only way to take flight and soar is to embrace digitization, which is what Zip Logistics is all about. Digitization refers to the practice of putting information into a digital format.

When it comes to securing the future of the supply chain, digitization is non-negotiable. Experts believe that effective digitization can make your entire supply chain more streamlined, mobile, and dynamic — all of which are highly beneficial for your organization’s bottom line.

If you haven’t gone entirely digital, keep in mind that the transition can be challenging. You have to find the right kind of technology to meet your organization’s needs, implement it correctly, and work out any internal difficulties.

However, you can’t afford to digitize. It’s already the present, and it’ll only become more integral to the supply chain in the future. If you are unwilling or unable to digitize your supply chain, you’ll likely struggle to succeed going forward. 

Robust Collaborations

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While digitization matters a ton – human relationships or collaborations can make or break any supply chain.

Technology is a significant force in supply chain management, but so are the humans wielding it. There’s a lot of emphasis on beating your competitors in business, but everyone can enjoy more success by working together. You will need to focus on fortifying your relationships with your team members, vendors, and suppliers to increase collaboration and cooperation at each step in the supply chain.

Communication should be your priority. Not only is it the first step to building any relationship, but it can also provide you with valuable data and information. You can use this additional insight to help improve your external and internal processes, helping everyone become more streamlined and efficient.

Look for mutually beneficial ways to support both your and others’ goals. Share information, proactively solve problems to avoid creating more work, and address unexpected issues as they arise. The stronger your relationship becomes, the more you both stand to gain from it.

Increased Resilience

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You have to increase your resilience or appetite for risk, or everything else crumbles. In an increasingly volatile and unpredictable world, the supply chain is constantly at risk of disruption. You cannot control the weather, predict political events, or foresee the effects of an unprecedented pandemic — but you can control how your logistics prepares for and responds to these threats.

It’s your responsibility to decrease that risk as much as possible, so your supply chain remains stable during uncertain times. The steps you need to take to improve the resiliency and flexibility of your supply chain will depend on what the most significant potential disruptions are.

For instance, if you source raw materials from a politically volatile area, you could look into sourcing that material from another geographic area that is more stable. Should anything change, you can pivot quickly and minimize the impact of that disruption. Simply put, thinking about the disruption and your planned response in advance will help you thrive amid these shifts and uncertainties.

Transparency and Visibility

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It’s human nature to value honesty, transparency, and visibility – and Zip Logistics values all of that in the same way as you.

Few things are as crucial for supply chain management as visibility and transparency. Increased visibility will help you understand the state of your supply chain as a whole, as well as at each link, no matter what kind of volatility threatens your organization.

Thanks to the digitization of the supply chain, increasing visibility is now a highly achievable goal for many organizations. With the right technological solutions, you and your team can access information on every link in your chain at a moment’s notice.

With more visibility in your supply chain, you can prevent minor issues, such as order errors or delivery delays, and respond to any problems that arise more quickly. Accessing that kind of information quickly and efficiently is imperative to boost your entire supply chain and organization’s efficiency, reliability, and resiliency.

Supply ChainS Move in Circles

Traditionally, supply chains have been considered linear: starting as raw materials, goods flow in a straight line through the supply chain until they are a finished, disposable product.

Now, more people subscribe to the idea of a circular supply chain, wherein raw materials, and even discarded products, are recycled and re-introduced into the manufacturing process.

The circular supply chain model certainly helps with sustainability efforts, but it also has economic benefits for your organization. The earth has a finite amount of raw materials, and as they become more scarce, they will increase in price.

Further, if you’ve already paid for materials or a product, but you aren’t able to use it for its intended purpose, you won’t waste money on something you’ve already purchased that’s still perfectly useful. You stand to save more money on reduced storage, transportation, and administrative costs, too.

Strengthened professional relationships and increased reliance on technology (including AI and IoT) can help your efforts operate under a circular supply chain. If you and the other people and companies you work with are willing to share information and resources, you can further decrease waste and keep more materials in production.

Additionally, with the right technological solutions, you can stay updated on the current state of your materials and products in real-time.

Tapping on the Cloud

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Cloud-based solutions are everywhere, and it keeps you ahead of the pack. Similar to digitization, cloud-based software solutions are the way of the future in supply chain management. Traditional and localized supply chain management solutions won’t cut it.

To stay competitive, you need accurate, agile, and accessible solutions for your organization. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models are beneficial for the supply chain management. Not only is SaaS reliable and secure, but it’s highly efficient and convenient.

All of your organization’s data is stored in the cloud, and you and your team can get the information you need at any time, from any place. With a global and digital supply chain, the efficiency provided by SaaS solutions is crucial to support your organization as you move into an increasingly fast-paced future.

We’re built for the Long Game

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Trends come and go, but you have to know which ones are worth investing in in the long run. We’re all looking out for the long game and not just quick profit or returns. We value innovation and people at Zip Logistics. It’s an art and science that allows us to combine digitization with the human element in our services cleverly.

As these trends continue to evolve, so too will the art of logistics management. New developments will lead to unforeseen consequences, both positive and negative. To stay up-to-date and position your business for success, you’ll have to attempt to anticipate and continue to adapt to these forever-changing and dynamic trends in the logistics and business space.

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