The world of logistics and supply chain operations has grown increasingly complex over the decades. From an industry once dominated by intense manual processes and labor to one using more and more automation and computerized systems, the industry has clearly undergone significant changes and growth. The global logistics market is expected to reach a value of $4 trillion this year, while supply chain issues such as globalization, information technology, security and sustainability are constant challenges to industry professionals.
Looking at the industry from a global perspective, one can see how dynamic and challenging – not to mention important – the logistics and supply chain industry truly is. We curated some of the top trends and statistics from across the globe in the infographic below. You will notice a big trend internationally in logistics growth and an emphasis on technology and infrastructure.
Logistics and Supply Chain Trends 2013
Warehouses have changed drastically. Initially used as storage facilities, many are now high throughput distribution facilities – fully equipped with automation, software and specialized material handling equipment to meet specific customer needs.
Distribution centers looking to expand are being cautious as a new set of skills are required for modern warehouses. In addition, the younger generation has a different set of expectations while working with a people who have been working since before they were born.3
Recognizing the Value Of Data
The term “big data” is everywhere these days – but many in the distribution and warehousing sector aren’t quite ready for it. More and more, however, companies are discovering the business benefits that lie in the smaller, more manageable chunks of data. Benefits that can be realized now.4
3PL Industry Heating Up
The third-party logistics (3PL) industry is a fast-growing segment. In 2011, the U.S. value of the 3PL market was close to $134 billion, with estimates suggesting 2013 growth will hit 12 percent.5
Rough Seas for Shipping Industry
The shipping industry is expected to decline by 5 to 10% due to oversupply and high bunker oil prices that will eventually lead to diminished performance.6
“Reshoring” in the U.S. and U.K.
A trend toward bringing offshore operations back home has gotten attention in both countries, but companies will need to evaluate their own supply chains to determine what approach works best for them.7,8
Mexico a Viable Supply Chain Partner
Mexico has a geographic advantage and the country is continuing to improve its infrastructure – but perhaps most important, the country is an eager business partner with free trade agreements with 43 nations.9
Saudi Puts Money Where Its Mouth Is
Saudi Arabia has made strides in transforming the kingdom to an attractive location for business, and has announced plans to invest an additional $500 billion in energy, ports, logistics and education.10
India’s Infrastructure Needs to Keep Up
As with many things in India, the logistics services market is on a growth path as well, but a McKinsey report states India’s current investments in its infrastructure are not enough to keep up with the country’s growth.11
Australia’s Logistics Balancing Act
Australia has experienced an increase in consumer goods imports and improvement in inventory management. While rising imports have increased demand for warehouse space, streamlined inventory practices have helped keep inventory levels lower, offsetting the former trend.12
Brazil Also Stepping Up Logistics Focus
Brazil’s government has been stepping up its investments in infrastructure while inviting private investments. Also, providing services such as freight forwarding and technology-based services such as software are becoming more important to customers.13
So What Does the Future Hold?
The supply chain and logistics industry is facing many changes and one can see that, from a global standpoint, there is a lot of work to be done to support future demand. The challenges of making sense of “Big Data,” managing a new generation in the workforce and keeping pace with technological advancement and automation might appear daunting. As with any progression and change, supply chain and logistics professionals will need to learn to adapt to a dynamic environment in order to succeed. From what we have seen here, that is indeed what is happening, and it will definitely be exciting to see how it plays out.