Jan 18

The transportation industry is moving at the speed of change. 3D printing, robotics, autonomous trucks and looming regulations have begun to shake up a rather traditional establishment. While some shippers say there’s time to worry, others are acting quickly to identify the disruptors that will create long-term impacts and those that will shake things up temporarily. While some of these so-called trends have been in the news for some time, their impact will greatly increase in the coming months.

Separating buzzwords from action items

In 2016, the transportation industry was at the mercy of the “hurry up and wait” syndrome. Big ideas were brought to the forefront but regulations, implementation and execution slowed down the process of bringing these concepts to life. 2017 will be different. As data becomes more readily available and these new ideas continue to infiltrate boardrooms across the globe, the need for change is more prominent then the need for planning. So, what does the future hold for your supply chain? Significant change, furthered technology advancements and a lot of data that requires action.

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

Electronic logging devices created a lot of uncertainty among the trucking segment in 2016. The reviews were divided among those who felt it would bring significant chaos to the mix and those that felt the ROI would be stronger than the negative misconceptions surrounding it. Carriers must now move from reaction to action in an effort to ensure ELD implementation is complete by the December 17, 2017 deadline. However, many carriers are stalling the process as indicated by a survey conducted by Truckstop.com of more than 1,000 small trucking companies. The survey found that 84% of respondents did not have any ELDs or on-board computers and most do not plan to purchase or install them until closer to the deadline. The desire to wait until the deadline draws closer may prove to be problematic for the industry but only time will determine its true impact.

Consumer pressure heightens

Companies like Amazon have changed how the average consumer thinks about online shopping. Media coverage on drones and automation continues to heighten leaving the consumer wanting their packages sooner and cheaper. The pressure to deliver quicker, faster and for free will continue to plague retailers through 2017. Carriers like UPS, FedEx and DHL are required to optimize routes, find alternate methods of delivery and keep the pace with requested delivery windows. According to a study by Internet Retailer, “80% of shoppers want to receive their purchases on the same day, and 61% want their orders within one to three hours of purchase.”

Big Data gets a job

Big Data has made a name for itself and for good reason. The quantitative and qualitative findings that are attributed to Big Data has increased efficiencies, reduced costs and boosted ROI in powerful ways. Many companies dipped their toe into practice and execution in 2016 but are now seeking to make it a significant part of their strategy in 2017.  A Gartner survey on Big Data concluded that “73% of organizations have invested or plan to invest in big data in the next two years.”

Enter the supply chain data scientist who is being sought after by companies looking to acquire data, understand it and then act on it. While the idea of a data scientist is not new, the increased demand for someone who can perform this job is.  Accompanied by state-of-the-art tools and software like transportation management systems, the data scientist will become a cornerstone of developing and executing an optimized supply chain strategy.

Increased need for risk mitigation

The supply chain can no longer be lock-step with today’s consumer but rather three strides ahead. In the past, consumers were less demanding and more importantly, less aware as the ability to track packages and hold to expected delivery dates was not an option. In 2017, that will continue to change as the desire for increased visibility and accuracy will become a critical component of logistics. Solutions such as transportation management systems (TMS) allow companies to execute and optimize their shipping strategies in real-time. More importantly, all departments involved with logistics can now execute from one playbook thanks to the superior functionality and depth of today’s TMS. Request a demo to take a look inside the capabilities of this innovative system.

2017 will prove to place the industry in a sink-or-swim position as the desire for more data-driven decision making becomes a requirement. With the right software and strategies in place, businesses of all sizes will begin to embrace these technological advancements and refine them to fit their business model. At MercuryGate, we look forward to the opportunity to help you get there faster.