The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted virtually every business, but few have had such a lingering impact as the logistics industry. There are still challenges to overcome, even years later, with ongoing labour shortages, rising fuel costs, supply shortages, and more.

Rapid technological advances are disrupting every industry, including land transport. From the power of AI in logistics management to self-driving trucks, the entire logistics industry is experiencing a paradigm shift poised to set the stage for future progress.

Land Transport: How Did We Get Here?

At the height of the 2020 pandemic, the land transport sector experienced a massive upswing due to the consumer shift to online shopping. This increased demand for local and foreign warehouse inventory, putting an unprecedented strain on transportation networks.

Logistics providers, less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers, and private courier services have had to adapt quickly, dramatically altering their operational strategies to meet this global shift in demand.

Web-based business solutions and other technology tools have helped these companies accelerate growth and boost revenue while improving communication with partners. As the e-commerce trend grows, transportation providers face more pressure to innovate and enhance service speed while offering their clients cost-effective shipping solutions.

One of the biggest trends in the industry is self-driving vehicles and drone delivery services, which are true game changers for logistics providers. Both technologies can ensure that deliveries are made on time while managing the ongoing effects of driver shortages and the competition for talent that affect fuel costs.

Trends Impacting Land Transport

Technology allows companies to revolutionise their processes in their respective industries. While medicine, manufacturing, and finance have gotten attention for the innovative uses of emerging technologies like AI and IoT, these innovations have proven invaluable to land transportation.

For example, IoT platforms have transformed freight companies’ performance tracking and enhancement capabilities with real-time tracking and route optimisation. AI-enabled technology has also improved corporate decision-making processes. AI can be integrated into existing processes with numerous applications, eliminating repetitive work while addressing the current labour shortage.

In addition, the freight industry has been shifting toward more environmental awareness. Instead of shirking responsibility, these companies have been the leaders in positive change by optimising supply chains and incorporating more eco-friendly technologies and business practices to reduce carbon emissions and do their part for the planet.

The Biggest Innovators in Land Transport

Several technologies are at the forefront of the land transport industry. Here are the main disruptors that are making a big impact on land transport:

High-Speed Rail

High-speed rail systems impact long-distance travel with shorter travel times and more efficient routes. Leveraging cutting-edge technology, high-speed rail systems are propelling trains at incredible speeds to deliver passengers and goods to their destinations in a fraction of the time of traditional transportation.

Smart Infrastructure and Traffic Management

Smart infrastructure is changing the way urban residents get around. Using AI and IoT technologies, intelligent traffic management systems optimise traffic flow, reduce congestion, improve road safety, and much more. These systems dynamically adapt to real-time traffic signals to optimise public transportation schedules and provide real-time information on road conditions, traffic tie-ups, construction, and detours.

Intermodal Logistics

Intermodal logistics is becoming more popular for transporting goods while adapting to the ongoing supply chain challenges. This approach combines multiple transportation options to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of delivery while minimising carbon footprints with optimised use of resources. By seamlessly combining ocean, air, rail, and road transport, companies can take advantage of the advantages of different transportation options and adapt to potential disruptions.

Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are a viable solution to the issue of rising fuel costs and environmental impacts. EVs reduce carbon emissions and reduce operating expenses for more sustainability without compromising on-time delivery. Expanding charging infrastructure, including public charging stations and private on-site charging solutions, is increasing the adoption, accessibility, and convenience of EVs to make them a more realistic option for land transport providers.

Blockchain in Logistics

Blockchain technology is set to revolutionise logistics by improving reliability and consistency in the supply chain. Security, transparency, and traceability are built into the technology, providing more visibility and combating challenges like inefficiency and fraud. With real-time tracking and secure documentation, blockchain can streamline logistics, reduce manual data entry and errors, and build stakeholder trust for seamless collaboration, improved customer satisfaction, and more operational efficiency.

Looking Toward the Future

The land transport industry is always evolving and adapting as disruptions create chain reactions across the entire sector. New technologies offer tangible solutions and benefits to addressing these challenges, improving overall operations, and delivering more efficient solutions for short-term progress and long-term gains.

Joe Jaska is the Head of Land Product for Region Americas at DB Schenker, a role he has held since early 2020. He has full P&L responsibilities for 24 countries in North, Central, and South America, leading land transport to ensure quick and reliable delivery to all major destinations. Joe ensures full or partial truckloads move across the continent or borders without delay.