The world of third-party logistics and the supply chain is changing quickly these days, largely with help from a boost in technology and demand that’s difficult to fulfill.
As they say, “necessity is the mother of invention,” and that certainly seems to be holding true for the world of 3PL.
Check out some of the most important upcoming trends in this fast-moving sector:
- More Big Data. Big Data has been a big topic of discussion in the supply chain, but not all 3PLs were on board with it. This is the year that Big Data will seriously matter to reduce shipping costs, maximize truck utilization and even help improve last mile deliveries. There’s not much you can’t do with enough data and as it collects, the sector can improve processes.
- Increased collaboration will make shipping easier. It wasn’t that long ago that your 3PL, their shippers and everyone else in the supply chain lived in their own isolated worlds, only interacting when absolutely necessary. Today’s landscape is a lot different. Shippers, 3PLs and others are actively working together to improve the quality and speed of shipments of all sorts.
- Technology improves the last-mile problem. Last-mile has been such an issue for shippers and the companies that use them. Not only is last-mile the most expensive part of the trip, it has been the hardest to control from afar. With increased pressure from big name companies that have decided to handle their own last-mile deliveries, 3PLs are getting more incentive to compete.
- Agile, lean and now The Cloud. No matter where you go, you can access your company’s 3PL. That is, if they’re in The Cloud. As fulfillment companies all over the supply chain join the migration to Cloud-based systems, it’s going to get even easier to optimize processes online and off.
- Automation changes everything. There’s nothing a person can do that a robot can’t do better, or so the robots would like you to think. There are a lot of really important jobs that they’re taking over, though, and it’s been good for businesses. Automation both large (like robot pickers) and small (radio-frequency identification, aka RFID) will be more valuable throughout warehousing, pick and pack and even reverse logistics areas.
Trends are just that, practices that are starting to get some traction, but many of these trends have been trending for the last couple of years, and that’s more than a fad, it’s a change to the fundamental functioning of everything from distribution centers to transport to last-mile.
It’s a great time, if not a bit of a hectic one, to be part of the supply chain!