Over the next decade, the logistics industry will enter a new era. New technologies such as the Internet of Things, robotics, 3D printing, self-driving cars and advanced logistics technology are evolving at breakneck speed. Operational constraints including increased regulations, driver shortages, a taxed infrastructure and the demands of increased ecommerce delivery threaten to disrupt transportation services providers.
The “27th Annual State of Logistics Report” warns that these forces are driving change in the supply chain today and predicts companies that build the skills to adapt to these disruptions during this period of transition will come out ahead.
Perhaps the biggest and most immediate technological advancement to potentially impact the transportation services industry is 3D printing, a technology that makes three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The worldwide market for 3D printing grew at a compound annual growth rate of 25.9%, surpassing $5.1 billion (USD) in 2015 according to Wohlers Report 2016. The industry expanded by more than $1 billion with 49 manufacturers producing and selling industrial-grade 3D machines, and is expected to grow dramatically in the coming decades.
3-D Printing Transforming Spare Parts Industry
One example of the transformative impact of this digital technology is the automotive manufacturing and aircraft industries. 3D printing can be used to create tools, parts and even prototypes of vehicles. Daimler (makers of Chrysler) recently announced they’ll use 3D printing to produce spare parts, with BMW and Volkswagen looking to experiment as well.
Printing new parts or tools to order for automobiles or aircraft could reshape the supply chain: Manufacturers can save on production and vastly reduce the warehouse storage and logistics costs associated with producing and storing these goods in high volume. 3D printers have the potential to substantially reduce manufacturing lead times, time-to-market for new designs, and, because the item can be created through a digital file by just pressing “Print,” eliminate the need to carry or ship inventory altogether.
Third Party Logistics Technology Advancing Industry
Adjusting to these changes in the logistics industry will require transportation services providers to streamline their business using the most advanced logistics technology and become more locally focused and more connected globally to succeed.
To learn more about logistics technology, 3D printing and other advancements impacting the logistics industry, download QCS Logistics’ white paper “How Technology is Streamlining Logistics.”