Coen van der Maarel, Managing Director of Kuehne+Nagel India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives

Coen van der Maarel is the Managing Director of Kuehne+Nagel India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Coen is responsible for driving the company’s future growth and laying the groundwork to further develop a comprehensive, cutting-edge supply chain offering for India and the Asia Pacific cluster, as well as global customers looking to capitalize on the region’s growth potential. Coen, who is currently based in New Delhi, is an internationally recognized logistics expert with over 35 years of leadership experience and extensive knowledge of the global logistics industry. 

Need For Digitization in Logistics Industry

As the internet and mobile revolutions took hold over the last two decades, our daily lives have become increasingly digital, with digitalization becoming the norm across industries. Due to the global pandemic, this process accelerated even further as the world moved online. The logistics sector has quickly risen to market challenges, aiding brands to ensure consistent inventory flow and product availability in remote locations by facilitating timely deliveries and efficient warehousing. Most digital-first businesses, particularly direct-to-consumer brands, today rely on ‘e-commerce logistics’ for pan-India expansion.

Indeed, the pandemic was a wake-up call for the logistics industry. During the pandemic, the industry experienced stalling of product movement, fewer invoices to raise, and increasing pressure to move online – in short, the industry found itself suddenly surrounded by changes, challenges, and expectations. Most of these issues stemmed from a lack of a dependable and modern integrated logistics digital platform, which made it difficult for logistics leaders to assess the time and cost-effectiveness of their operations.

The logistics industry has always been open to digitalization, albeit more slowly than other industries in implementing digital innovations. However, given the fundamental shifts in our world brought about by the pandemic, besides digitization across industries with close ties to logistics, such as retail, the likelihood of digital disruption engulfing the logistics industry continues to grow

So, if the vision of Industry 4.0 is to be realized, most enterprise processes must become more digitized, and the logistics industry must adapt digital technology to raise operational standards, differentiate themselves from their peers, and succeed in the market.

Trends  Driving The Change In The Logistics Industry

‘Global spending on digital transformation in the logistics industry is expected to reach $84.6 billion by 2027.’ It is critical to the business strategy of multinational corporations with global supply chain operations.

The logistics sector in India is valued at $250 billion currently, is on the verge of unprecedented growth, back-office operations such as, documentation, tracking and data management are becoming digitally automated, and technologies such as Big Data, Predictive Analysis, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, and AI are propelling modern digital transformation, supplanting older technologies. There is no doubt that digitization will be the force that transforms the logistics industry landscape, and it is no longer a choice but a necessity. In addition to investing in these technologies it is also crucial for logistics firms to closely monitor these innovations to determine how they can best assist the customers and create an efficient model. 

Some of the technologies that will have the greatest impact on transportation and logistics in the near future are:

  1. AI And Machine Learning: Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help companies improve their logistics operations by uncovering patterns in supply chain data. Algorithms can pinpoint the most important factors influencing success in the supply network, and the technology can learn continuously and simultaneously. 
  2. Internet of Things (IoT): IoT can improve logistics operational efficiency by eliminating flaws such as transportation delays, poor vehicle monitoring, operator errors, and so on.The use of IoT is going to change the game completely becoming one of key logistics trends that will transform the Indian supply chain market. 
  3. Blockchain: Blockchain has huge potential and can help supply chain companies by creating smart contracts, increasing trust, and making digital payments safer. This technology decentralizes information, expanding transparency and detectability by giving each member inside the chain the keys to important data on an item’s journey. 
  4. Platooning And Autonomous Vehicles: In many ports, airports, modern warehouses, and other supply chain locations, autonomous forklifts and trucks are already common to see. Soon, there will be a ton of autonomous forklifts and trucks on the roads, delivering goods that are going to be unloaded by robotic arms and automated conveyor belts.
  5. The Landscape For Outsourcing: Companies looking for cost controls to help reduce their overhead are increasingly turning to the 3PL sector. Leveraging 3PL expertise to negotiate better transportation and other service deals and allowing the company to outsource some or all its logistics operations.

Future of the Logistics Industry

There is no doubt that digitization will be a game changer for the industry, ushering in new paradigms in data visualization and capitalization, allowing the industry to make more informed decisions while also building a more optimized infrastructure.

However, many businesses see digitalization as an end goal in and of itself, but it’s just a tool to help improve business and logistics management. The key is not in investing in flashy new systems, but in understanding your firm’s needs and assessing the return on investment for each innovation.

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