05.04.2022

How new technologies are securing the future of general cargo logistics

There can be no doubt: After years of struggling with a challenging market situation, the excessive fuel prices and the severe shortage of drivers caused by the Ukraine war have driven carriers to the brink of financial and operational collapse. They are now faced with a situation that would have been unimaginable even a year ago, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And no-one can tell where all this is going to lead. Yet, it is undeniable that transport services are badly needed everywhere and the demand is stronger than ever. Logistics operators are a critical element of the business ecosystem. The industry must and will persist one way or the other. Drivers must be trained, and operators must get creative to make the job more attractive. Prices are bound to rise – but nobody will be exempt from this, and even international competitors will have to deal with this general, highly dynamic trend. Meanwhile, the German antitrust authorities are investigating whether anything can be done to push down the exaggerated diesel prices at filling stations which are far more extreme than the actual increase of crude rates.

With all this in mind, it is nevertheless important to remember that the current situation will not persist forever. In the medium term – or so we hope – conditions, however hard they are hitting us at the moment, are likely to ease. We must take heart and look beyond the crisis: What will happen when it is over?

The future is digital

Despite the present challenges the transport industry must think about its future and weigh its options: How can the well-known pain points in its processes be overcome? The future is digital. Sustainability and digitalisation continue to be the key topics operators and must address if they want to remain competitive. The fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of cargo transported must be reduced further, delivery route planning must yield more efficient results, and driver times must be optimised. These requirements can only be met by automating most of the dispatch process.

Whatever the human brain can achieve towards optimising the dispatch and route planning process is being accomplished on a daily basis. The hours available in a single night are simply not enough to do better. There are too many parameters to consider, too many different types of shipment, too many uncertainties. Humans, no matter how experienced and well-versed they may be, work themselves into the ground doing this high-stress, often frustrating job. The only way to glean further optimisation potential from these processes is to automate and digitalise, as practical experience has shown. And it is becoming more and more obvious that digitalisation today means entrusting complex decision processes to Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The digital transformation has developed its own dynamic and already there are powerful AI-based solutions in the market which continue to evolve and get more sophisticated. They are getting better and better, and those industry players who recognise the business potential inherent in solutions such as Smartlane Transport Intelligence, and seize the opportunity, will build a competitive advantage which is likely to become a decisive factor in the market: Improved dispatch results, more efficient use of vehicles and drivers, optimised fleet utilisation, lower emissions per tonne of freight, and better insights into internal processes and business performance thanks to the availability of comprehensive, meaningful, transparent analytics.

No matter where the diesel fuel prices may go – the most efficient operators will always be those ones offering the best customer prices. And Smartlane Transport Intelligence with its AI power can show them how it’s done.