Logistics 2050 - Where is the industry going?

Logistics 2050 - Where is the industry going?

Chief Executive | Freight Transport Association

From drone technology and robotics to self-driving vehicles, the world around us is changing fast. As a result, the logistics sector is embracing new technologies and solutions more quickly than other business areas. While the industry has many challenges ahead – such as skills shortages, operational restrictions and Brexit – there are also many opportunities available for those brave enough to embrace our newly connected world.  

FTA, the only business group representing all of logistics, has developed a series of ambitions for the sector which will enable it to adapt to changing economic forces and consumer behaviour. These include fostering an industry that is flexible and resilient; operates at optimal efficiency; has recognised value; and has zero negativities. So how can we all achieve these aims?  

Flexible and resilient 

The logistics sector is shaped by customer demand, but their needs constantly change – often in ways we are unable to foresee. That’s why we must build a system at every level that can adapt to the changing nature of society; its consumption, manufacturing, production and trading. We need to build flexibility and resilience into the sector, so we can best prepare for any changes – no matter how large or unexpected.

Recognised value 

Logistics should evolve into a system of high repute, defined by innovation, efficiency, quality and reliability. It should be – and be seen to be – adding value to the British economy and society. The logistics of the future will be increasingly technological, responsive and highly skilled. Only by increasing standards, delivering great experiences, and promoting a positive reputation will we be able to attract the right numbers of the right talent to join the industry and secure its future.

Optimal efficiency 

While today’s industry already strives for maximum productivity, we will need to use all available tools and technologies – from artificial intelligence to electric vehicles – to unlock every inch of possible efficiency. But this cannot be achieved by the sector alone; government and regulators will need to put in place the necessary framework and infrastructure to make this possible. 

Zero negativities

While there will always be some external factors for logistics which cannot be ignored – the sector will permanently require energy use, for example – FTA firmly believes many of the negativities could be eliminated by 2050. Most notably, we are confident that the industry could achieve zero atmospheric emissions and near zero deaths and injuries from freight movements. 

FTA believes these ambitions can be realised by 2050 through four building blocks. Firstly, the optimisation of infrastructure to ensure freight movements are reliable, smooth flowing, frictionless and affordable. This covers everything from availability, capacity, power for zero emission journeys, interchanges between modes, ease of admin, and data and information to plan the journey ahead. 

Secondly, the use of positive technology, both in transport units themselves (including bikes, trains, planes and HGVs) and in systems such as smart infrastructure and more intelligent enforcement by regulatory authorities. These technologies include in-cab telematics, new packaging applications, innovations in fuels and electric vehicles, and advances in handling of goods at ports.

Thirdly, the sector needs to attract and retain talented individuals, particularly those with technology skills and high-level systems management capabilities. Finally, we need to start looking at logistics as one system, not in modal or sectoral silos. Logistics must become an integral part of local and national economic planning. 

While the coming years will present many challenges to logistics, for any companies willing to embrace change and adapt to our new technological-driven world, there are many opportunities available and the future looks bright. 

For more information, visit: www.fta.co.uk