Stay ahead of the turmoil: 5 emerging trends to watch in logistics

September 5, 2023

As global supply chains become increasingly complex and interconnected, logistics professionals and businesses must adapt to emerging trends to maintain a competitive edge. From economic turmoil to the latest cutting-edge technologies, these trends are transforming how goods are moved while redefining the way we think about supply chain management. Whether you’re a seasoned logistics expert or simply curious about the future of the industry, these insights will help you navigate the evolving landscape and position your operations for success in the years to come. Here are five of the top trends that are shaping the future of logistics.

Recession in the freight sector

Recession may have been avoided for now in the macro economy, but freight is another story. Shifts in consumer spending, high fuel costs, and a nonexistent spot market have all spelled trouble for small owner operators. With the freight economy in freefall, it only makes sense that capacity is suffering. What will it take to turn things around?

“If we even get to one percent growth, the fleets that are still around would notice it and start to feel better,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. For struggling small fleets, even this modest gain could make a huge difference.

Sweeping legal challenges

The so-called “gig worker bill” California AB5 would have far-reaching consequences for the freight industry by reclassifying countless contract truckers as fulltime employees. With court challenges from the OOIDA and others, it now seems that the legislation could be DOA. “Based on the arguments I’m seeing, I think AB5 will be either overturned, or all the teeth will be taken out,” says transportation attorney Thomas Kern. If it should pass, AB5 would reshape the transport industry as we know it. Business owners should keep a close eye on this case as it winds it way through the courts.

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Complications from legal pot

Legal cannabis has introduced new economic opportunities across many sectors. It has also created a major headache for the transport field thanks to the complicated matter of drug testing. Truckers indulging in newly legal weed in some states find themselves at odds with federal regulation that still considers marijuana a schedule-1 drug. This problem could be contributing to a shrinking driver pool in a time when drivers are needed more than ever. While advocates push for new regulations on the way pot is handled in the industry, adoption of a nationally recognized test for marijuana impairment could offer a solution. For now, the future of legal weed and trucking is anyone’s guess.

The continuing importance of partnerships

Strategic partnerships remain a cornerstone of success in the rocky modern logistics environment. Transportation can be a relatively low priority for many operations-focused businesses. In these cases, savings will be chased at any cost—even at the expense of longstanding relationships with transport stakeholders. Rather than embracing a short-sighted model based on the cheapest rate at any given time, successful operations stick with their partners through the ups and downs of the market. This strategy helps each company involved weather the storms and share in successes when economic conditions normalize.

Investment in the latest tech

The adoption of supply chain visibility platforms and other tech continues to pay dividends for companies willing to make the investment. As a buyer, making room in your budget for experimentation with new platforms can help drive innovation and prove the value of this tech to stakeholders.

“Tech is going to continue to evolve, and it’s important for companies to set aside a budget to experiment or innovate,” says Glenn Koepke, GM of Network Collaboration at FourKites.  “The concept of buying logistics technology did not exist 10 years ago. Now you see transportation companies buying software products for visibility and e-documents. A lot of new things are coming into play.”

New tech solutions can provide a much-needed edge for your operation, aiding in everything from real-time tracking to proof of destruction and more. As the ways we do business continue to evolve, the role of tech in the transport field will only grow larger.

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