What’s in store for logistics in 2021?
As you may have read recently, we shared a summary of how our predictions for 2020 shaped up. Today, we want to talk about what we believe will happen throughout various aspects of our industry in 2021.
So much can change these predictions—from the pandemic to the new president and anything else in between. These are the trends we expect both despite and because of the pandemic and changing dynamics in 2021.
AI growing in use
Whether you’re talking about warehousing, supply chain, or final mile, automation, especially AI, is becoming more of a thing.
According to Supply Chain Brain, “By crunching data from past operations, AI algorithms can perform basic operations automatically. This saves a large amount of time and eliminates the possibility of human error, thus making the operations more efficient. It also redirects the human capital to perform more complex tasks.”
Our industry can use AI to identify data patterns that show us useful insights such as forecasting demand or measuring efficiency along the supply chain. We will always have a human component in our industry, especially at On Time Logistics. But AI and other automation forms will become even more sophisticated this year, allowing humans to make better, more accurate decisions.
Blockchain more adapted
In another technology-related logistics trend, industry leaders agree that blockchain will become more prevalent this year. While not everyone will be sold on the idea, the need to have more data readily at their fingertips will encourage more to use this technology.
Blockchain has been used primarily to improve transparency because data obscurity often creates problems in the supply chain. We must get better at sharing data along the supply chain in a secure, expedient way to make the delivery process more efficient. Sharing data in a secure way is a part of that process.
With more people wanting their food delivered, including groceries and other frozen items, it only makes sense that focus on refrigerated and frozen goods will become a focus. This will be especially important as the COVID-19 vaccines, which require deep freezing, continue to roll out. We see the focus on better and more cold/frozen handling being a trend from the warehousing sector to final mile delivery.
Whether you’re talking about finding ways to keep business running efficiently or protecting the environment, the concepts of sustainability and “being green” will have a stronger focus in 2021. We are all looking for ways to protect our investment, and there is a rapidly growing demand for earth-friendly practices, especially among Millennial and Generation Y consumers. Simply implementing “reduce, reuse, recycle” practices in the supply chain or using renewable energy where possible are just two methods to expect to see more of. Also, constructing regional warehouses will not only make delivery more manageable, but it will also reduce fuel consumption.
We can’t say it enough. Being flexible is vital to staying afloat at any time, in any industry. But during a pandemic in the supply chain and logistics industry, you must be ready to respond to changes as they happen. Nobody likes surprises, especially bad ones. But being able to shift gears and redirect your product or service to meet the ever-changing need of the consumer is of utmost importance. Many industries, including our own, were in react mode in 2020. In 2021, we will be more in response mode as we learn and adjust.
Return of some industries
This may not seem like a logistics trend, but it will affect our industry, so we are including it in this blog. As the vaccine rolls out and, to some degree, pandemic fatigue continues, we think that some industries will start seeing a comeback, at least a little bit. Tourism, retail, and trade shows are all industries we believe will begin to see a slow return. This means more logistics services will be necessary such as warehousing, delivery, and white-glove services. Working with those industries to orchestrate safe deliveries should be an expected project for many logistics providers.
Covid-19 will continue to impact our industry
This may sound like a “no-brainer,” but COVID-19 will continue impacting our industry and its various sectors. Warehousing space will continue to be at a premium, and there will continue to be delays in getting mail and other items to move along the supply chain. This is especially true for anything coming from overseas.
The focus for many companies will continue to be moving PPE and other essential items. Add now the vaccine, and qualified logistics efforts will be focused on those shipments. This will make it continue to be necessary for new logistics networks to develop as we work together to move freight from point A to point B.
What other trends do you expect in 2021? Our highly qualified teams in Northwest Arkansas, Little Rock, and Tulsa can help get your items where they need to go. We would love to be part of your logistics solution in 2021 and beyond!