A McKinsey survey of more than 250 global shippers and logistics providers reveals that technology investments are set to increase, with numerous companies already piloting advanced use cases. The survey’s most important message is that now is the time to invest in logistics technology.
Digital freight procurement asset tracking and data mining are widely used in transportation. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) for internal transport, enhanced driving solutions, and digital yard management are starting to scale up. Cutting-edge technologies, such as delivery drones and hydrogen vehicles, are at much earlier stages of development.
A cluster of warehousing technologies, including real-time distribution center performance management, AGV-based goods-to-person solutions, and warehouse management systems, are already in (or nearing) broad use. Digital warehouse twins, dynamic labor management, and gesture and motion tracking have proven themselves in piloting, while fully automated item picking, network digital twins, and smart shelves demonstrate feasibility.
In planning, technologies in wide use include automated replenishment data mining and automated root-cause analysis for performance management. Machine learning–based forecasting and micro-segmentation are now in selective use.
Digital command centers with micro-apps, which are moving out of the pilot stage, enable oversight of the entire logistics system: transportation, warehousing, and planning, all in one place.