The future will be “open, automated and synchro-modal”

By 2020, supply chains should be completely paperless and incorporate a 100% open data plan, claimed Dr Walther Ploos van Amstel.  The Dutch doctor of logistics gave a timeline insight into what logistics companies should be aiming to achieve within the next 30 years, and drew specific emphasis into how companies need to build synchro-modality and collaborate with each other.

Ian Walker from the LoadStar reports:

With the future comes inevitable change, and he predicted that that the most pertinent would be a surge in fuel prices, leading companies to evolve transport-based technology that will either mitigate changes in oil prices. He believed that by 2030, transport methods currently used will have been revolutionised, whether they are road, rail, river or aviation networks.

A second challenge will lie in the decrease in the overall European workforce, largely due to an ageing population. As a result, automated transport is likely to become a lot more prevalent, he said. It is already gaining increasing acceptance within container terminals, but demographic changes may well mean the effectiveness of current networks will no longer be sufficient, and more automated transport systems across longer networks will have to be deployed.

Similarly, open data is a concept already explored within the airline industry, such as the passenger ticketing system Amadeus. In the logistics sector the widescale take-up of open data would enable logistics providers and shippers’ supply chain managers to plan load manifests and routes that minimise the cost and the environmental impact of operations, while also reporting on the cost contribution attributable to each consignment, and Dr van Amstel claimed that by 2020 it would be commonplace for haulage fleet managers, drivers and shippers to be optimising operations through the use of intelligent route planning and load sharing.

In the broader area of supply chain integration, it will be de rigeur for manufacturers to strategically cooperate with logistics providers to collaboratively manage both intra- and inter-organisational processes, and he predicted that by 2025, logistics providers and supply chain managers would be fully integrated in order to compete in the shippers’ given market – a company’s supply chain will no longer purely be about cost, but about outsmarting its competition via planning and control.

Finally, synchro-modality is the term that The Loadstar has increasingly heard over the last few months, and broadly refers to the ability for a shipper to choose between a range of transport modes at any given time, a choice made on the basis of cost and environmental efficiency. To be able to properly hit the sort of efficiency targets Dr van Amstel believes are possible, a whole range of new partnerships need to be created – between shippers in different industries; between competing carriers and competing logistics providers.

“Shippers will be able to decide on a day-by-day basis on what is the best ways of getting their containers into Europe. It is one of the most important improvement programmes in logistics today, and will radically change the way logistics service providers operate. In some cases it is already doing so,” Dr van Amstel said.

(For a look at how Dutch flower auction FloraHolland is developing a synchro-modal network for its pan-European horticulture distribution, check out the forthcoming edition of Container Shipping & Trade here).

Dr Amstel’s development timetable for the Future of Logistics:

Now-2020 – Paperless and Open Data

Now-2020 – Supply Chain Integration

Now-2025 – Sense and Respond

2015-2025 – Synchromodal Networks

2020-2030 – Transport Technology and Integration of IT systems.

2020-2040 – Public/Private Partnerships


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Walther Ploos van Amstel  

Passie in logistiek & supply chain management