Looking ahead to 2015, KPMG’s global head of post and express predicts that the New Year will be about co-operation and relationship building. Not only that but understanding and utilising big data; drone and driverless deliveries and creating marketplaces to sell last mile solutions.
Justin Zatouroff begins: “Co-operation is likely to be a critical feature for successful supply chains in 2015. Logistics companies and retailers, both on the high street and on the web, will have to develop close relationships so that they don’t keep repeating the annual trauma of delivering the Christmas peak.
Those that haven’t developed relationships and are only after lowest cost solutions may face opportunist pricing or even find that they can’t access any additional capacity as they try to manage during peak periods. The challenge is to create robust networks that have flexible cost bases and capacity that can be enhanced to manage varying loads.”
Zatouroff continues: “Technology will also be key. Reliable forecasting from e-tailers including demand planning will focus attention on big data and the power of real time data analytics. Better understanding of available information and utilising data analytics tools will increase the efficiency of parcel networks and in turn improve the capacity issues faced in the system.”
And what about the role of technology… How much of an impact will new solutions (such as drones) have on the network?
Zatouroff offers: “Much has been made of the impact of the recent EU changes to HGV driver training but as only 1% of drivers are under the age of 25 this is clearly a problem that has been building for many years. In the long term, technology may help solve this problem too.
Whilst drones are unlikely to be part of the solution in urban areas, they will be effective in less industrialised landscapes and in areas with less developed infrastructure. We’ve already seen DHL use a ‘parcelcopter’ to deliver pharmaceuticals to a German Island to become independent from weather and ferry schedules.”
Elsewhere, another innovative use of technology commanded column-inches in 2014… Will driverless cars roar onto our roads and highways during 2015? Zatouroff thinks not:
“We’re also likely to see developments in driverless deliveries. In the UK, manufacturers have been given the green light by the Government for testing driverless cars as early as January 2015. Bristol, Greenwich, Coventry and Milton Keynes will all host autonomous driving projects that will run for between 18 and 36 months starting. It shouldn’t be too long for lorries and trucks to join the party.
Self-driving vehicles will have the ability not just to transport goods but also to combine other process steps such as loading and unloading in order to increase efficiency of processes. In addition to providing efficiency gains, self-driving vehicles can also significantly increase safety in transport and loading processes.
Finally, how disruptive can the small innovative tech solutions be to the established logistics industry? Zatouroff can only ponder:
“Will we see more players join the disintermediation of big parcel companies by creating innovative web based companies, like Uber and Shutl, creating a market place style websites linking the provision of last mile solutions direct to the retailer?”