The Future Looks Bright, Exciting, Digital And Sustainable

Logistics Update AfricaSeptember - October 2019

The Future Looks Bright, Exciting, Digital And Sustainable
Our world is constantly undergoing change. Take a look around – technology is transforming the way we live, do business, transact and interact. Just like any other industry, the logistics space is also facing a new era of unprecedented change as digitalisation and customer expectations evolve simultaneously. From connected warehouses to autonomous last-mile delivery services, new technologies are enabling efficiency optimisations and new operating models. And while the push towards digitalisation continues, what remains equally critical is the need to remain sustainable. By understanding how sustainability in logistics measures impact production and benefit companies, shippers and logistics players can work towards a better, sustainable tomorrow.
Surya Kannoth

In 1956, Malcom McLean developed the modern intermodal shipping container. A decade later, FedEx’s Frederick W Smith introduced the concept of next-day logistics. Fast forward to today, the ecommerce giant Amazon is driving even more aggressive changes conditioning consumers to expect same-day delivery.

As the delivery times get shorter, new logistics concepts are forming shape. Robotics is gaining importance through the supply chain while automation is poised to reshape logistics. DHL has developed a parcel copter that enables fast and flexible sending and receipt of parcels in geographically demanding locations. Rolls-Royce is developing connected drone container ships and several players are developing self-driving and connected cars. Connected wearable devices are revolutionising the way people such as logistics employees interact with their environment. Goods on shelves are indicated by a Google glass, scanned and booked automatically. Enabling technologies such as sensors, IoT, data analytics, and robotics are being deployed into specialized applications for the logistic sector. For example, vehicle telematics and self-driving technologies initially developed for passenger vehicles are now finding applications in the trucking sector to solve for the growing pain point of an increasing shortage of truck drivers.

While various such innovations have been taking the logistics industry by storm worldwide, poor infrastructure has been holding back the growth of Africa’s logistics markets. However, there is hope, from both foreign investment and homegrown solutions.

New areas of digital commerce and services are being developed to unlock the supply chain logistics nightmare in many parts of Africa. For instance, companies such as Zipline are using drone technology to deliver critical medication to remote areas. In Nigeria, digital start-up Kobo360 has developed an app that revolutionises cargo delivery by making sure that everyone in the supply chain is connected to ensure the safety and accountability of cargo in transit.

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September - October 2019