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Logistics & Trucking Industry Challenges and Opportunities in 2021

Initially practiced by the military, logistics is a process that involves planning and executing the flow, movement and storage of information and goods along a supply chain. Transport and logistics are the driving forces of any economy, the facilitators of local and foreign trade, and the cornerstone of most industries, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing and the service sector. According to an industry overview by the IMARC Group, the global logistics market surpassed an overall value of $4 trillion in 2019 and is expected to reach $6.5 trillion by 2025.

Like the rest of the global economy, the logistics industry took a tumble with a shrinking workforce and disrupted supply chains being the order of the day. But amidst all the chaos caused by the unprecedented covid-19 pandemic lies immense opportunity and a chance to spark growth in other industries, perhaps.

Opportunities

Technology was a recurring theme in most industries in 2020, and logistics is no exception. Aided with the promise of a rejuvenated workforce and state-of-the-art technology, we believe the logistics industry will experience the following opportunities.

1.Reduced Operating Costs Due To Emerging Technology

The American Transportation Research Institute recorded a 17.7% year-over-year jump in fuel prices. Factor in the tax hikes implemented by some states to fund local projects, and you quickly realize the steep ascent in trucking operating costs.

2021 might see many trucking companies embrace route optimization software and advanced payment solutions to reduce their fleet miles and manage business purchases. By monitoring fleet miles, fuel costs and taxes using innovative technologies, trucking companies can reduce inefficiencies and boost their bottom lines.

2.A Fresh Workforce And New Technical Expectations

The trucking industry has for the longest time suffered the effects of an aging workforce. With many young workers – millennials and generation Z – leaving their previous occupations in 2020, the trucking industry might see a massive surge in young participants with more education and technological expertise.

In the spirit of diversity and inclusivity, women and minorities below age 35 are expected to join the trucking industry in droves. This young, diverse workforce will improve the industry’s metrics and raise new technical expectations.

Challenges

1.Supply Chain Disruptions

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed numerous vulnerabilities in the global trade network. Long-standing supply chains experienced major disruptions, with some getting halted, modified or broken entirely. Although part of the logistics industry has slowly recovered since then, many supply chains are still fragile.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of businesses (particularly small businesses) are simply unable to adapt their supply chain strategies to the changing times. If a repeat of last year’s events were to happen, many fragile supply chains and the businesses that depend on them would collapse.

2.Environmental Concerns

Much of the business world faces immense pressure to go green, from environmentally conscious consumers driving changes through their purchasing decisions to government regulations. While decarbonization is central to the ‘go green movement,’ other approaches like habitat protection, recycling, reusing and responsible waste disposal play a pivotal role as well.

E-commerce and all-time high consumer spending present a serious conundrum for logistics businesses looking to go green while remaining profitable and competitive. The shipping sector, for instance, faces an uphill task of meeting the environmental change targets stipulated in the Paris Agreement and the IMO’s (International Maritime Organization) new regulations regarding shipping carbon emissions. Nonetheless, some logistics players like DHL are striving to achieve zero emissions by 2050.

3.Cyber Security

Like many other industries, the logistics sector is increasingly becoming more reliant on technology to leverage its numerous advantages. However, going digital comes with its fair share of problems as businesses now have to deal with cyberattacks and the occasional system breakdowns.

Many automation and shipment tracking systems use data-driven processes. Given the importance of logistics infrastructure as a key geopolitical asset, logistics companies face the risk of losing valuable data to hackers or technological mishaps, rendering their operations inefficient, interrupted or unavailable.

In addition, logistical software – just like data – is vulnerable to malicious attacks and system failure. These events can also lead to process disruptions and severe losses.

Final Thoughts

The Covid-19 pandemic escalated many of the logistics industry’s issues, not to mention introduce new ones and changed alot of logistic trends. But underneath the prevailing challenges is a silver lining of opportunities that logistics companies can exploit by evolving, upgrading their technology and rethinking their supply chain approaches.