The transportation & logistics industry is very traditional and conservative. For many years, technological advancements have been limited. Nonetheless, in recent years we see more and more new players in the space with disruptive strategies.
Take for example digital freight platforms such as Quicargo, Coyote Logistics and Uberfreight for road transport. These companies are clearly shaping the future of transportation and logistics. Others like Shiply are putting power in the hands of both big and simple players, giving them control over their business.
More Control And More Flexibility
Digital freight networks do not solely rely on one carrier. Instead they try to build a community of transportation companies. In turn, this means that they have access to more capacity than traditional transporters. This allows the platforms to accept more shipments.
Furthermore, the platforms can use the data of the affiliated carriers to offer more flexibility and control. Tracking for example becomes much easier, as well as the use of empty capacity.
A lot of trucks are driving around either empty or partially empty. Data and technology enable digital platforms to make use of this empty space in an efficient and sustainable way.
What’s the incentive for carriers?
You may wonder why transportation companies agree to join these online platforms. Well, it has proven to be a great way for them to make a better planning for the journeys of the trucks.
For example, when one truck is going to Germany for one of their own assignments, then they can check if there is also a shipment which they can pick up on the way back to their home base. By doing so, they can increase their own profitability.
Also, carriers are usually not forced to accept any shipments by joining a digital freight network. They can simply select the orders which are beneficial for them. In other words, everything is without obligation, which leads to great freedom.
By reducing the amount of empty trucks, the online platforms are also reducing the CO2 emissions. But we should go even further. Technology is getting ready for more and more zero-emission solutions with regards to transportation.
Think about electric trucks, or the developments in hydrogen. All these innovations and investments in change will contribute to a healthier industry.
In the end, it would be a great effort to reach the sustainability objectives which have been agrees in Paris, meaning that we globally aim to reduce the emissions by circa 45% in the next 10 years.
Is it achievable? Only if the larger shippers – and hence largest polluters, are incentivized to participate. In other words, investing in change and sustainable solutions also has to be financially attractive in the long run.
Looking Even Further Ahead
In the eyes of many, this is just the beginning of the transformation. Technological advancements can also push to more fluidity between transport types. Think about all the different ways in which we can ship goods: for instance, by ship, airplane or train.
And what to think of for example drones for smaller or last-mile deliveries. All the different transportation channels can become way more synchronized, enhancing the efficiency and profitability of our supply chains.