Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

DHL sees machine learning as way forward for logistics industry

Steve Rogerson
May 3, 2016
DHL believes self-learning and machine-learning systems will be one of the key technology trends impacting the logistics world in the next five years.
The German logistic company’s 2016 Logistics Trend Radar sees artificial intelligence and personalisation as being behind several of the most transformational trends, including intelligent supply chains that use self-learning or machine-learning systems.
The impact of data-driven and autonomous supply chains, says the report, provides an opportunity for previously unimaginable levels of optimisation in manufacturing, logistics, warehousing and last kilometre delivery that could become a reality in less than half a decade despite high set-up costs deterring early adoption in logistics.
The report provides in-depth analysis of social, business and technology trends transforming logistics. It reveals 26 key trends that could impact the logistics industry in the next five to ten years.
The third in the series, the report introduces new trends, tracks the evolution of trends spotted in earlier editions and ones that have faded or become mainstream since the series started in 2013.
“Predicting trends is notoriously challenging,” said Markus Kückelhaus, vice president at DHL. “It is difficult to know ahead of time which trends will have long-term effect on businesses and which ones are simply parts of a short-lived hype. To identify and understand trends early on in their development, we established the Logistics Trend Radar to help us and our customers stay ahead of the curve.”
The report provides insights and information on on-going transformations and latest trends likely to shape the future of logistics – from macro trends such as the changing energy and trade landscape to micro trends such as logistics start-ups unbundling the logistics industry. It reveals in depth what sectors will be affected by developments and time frames for potential impact or introduction over the next decade.
Changing consumer behaviour and the desire for personalisation are behind two other top trends – batch size one and on-demand delivery. These are set to have a big impact on logistics. On-demand delivery will enable consumers to have their purchases delivered where and when they need them by using flexible courier services. Batch size one explores what could happen as consumer demand for highly personalised products goes head to head with mass production over the next 20 years.
A batch size of one would lead to decentralised production and rapidly changing supply chains that would require logistics providers to be fast and flexible to react to changes in time and place of production.
"Key trends featured in this year’s Logistics Trend Radar could transform the global logistics industry and, with 15 of the 26 trends likely to make an impact in under five years, it is crucial that anyone involved in supply chain management and logistics understands these potentially game-changing developments and the implications for their own business or sector now," said Matthias Heutger, senior vice president at DHL.
The Logistics Trend Radar is a dynamic tool for future scenario planning, strategy development and innovation among logistics professionals. Created by DHL Trend Research, the 2016 report includes an in-depth analysis of emerging trends and sector-by-sector impact. It also features a review of on-going trends plus insights from industry thought-leaders such as the World Bank, Fraunhofer Institute, HP and 500 start-ups on the future of the logistics industry.
Transformative pilot projects from DHL Trend Research are also highlighted in the report such as DHL’s testing of collaborative robots in warehouse operations.