Logistics Matters meets with Erik Wirsing, Vice President of Global Innovation at DB Schenker, on their recently conducted Logistics Trend Survey 2023. As we make our way into 2023, Wirsing shares with us the 5 major logistics trends to shape the future of the logistics industry and an overview of what the survey respondents believe are integral in shaping our future in a world that is consistently in transformation.

In 2023, many new things will happen. New technologies will occur, new technologies will be available. New start-ups will be there. Start-ups will be gone.

Trends in Innovation 2023
Erik Wirsing
VP Global Innovation DB Schenker

1. Automation and A.I. will further shape logistics

  • 75% of large warehouses will be using smart robots by 2026 
  • Most manufacturing enterprises will be at least 80% automated within the next ten years. (with A.I. software, video recognition, A.R. and V.R.; AGVs and exoskeletons are expected to become widespread). 
  • IBM Research reported that the use of A.I. in commercial manufacturing would increase by 40-80% within three years.
  • A.I. will spread across more fields. For example in freight rate calculations: A.I. solutions that can set the appropriate cargo freight rate by using roughly 2 million big data records, including the day of the week, transportation time, and weather.

2. The green transformation of logistics is a must-have (and to accelerate):

  • 53% of organizations plan to increase their focus on sustainable sourcing 
  • We will see more sustainable packaging materials (sustainable plastic film use by Lufthansa Cargo, projects from BMW, Pepsi (bio-based thermoplastic pallets)
  • Zero-carbon shipping will become more accessible (Electric vehicle trucks, cargo bikes, and drones)
  • The introduction of megawatt charging to stimulate the development of electric vehicle trucks in the long haul

3. Advanced Analytics will continue to grow (based on data and hardware)

  • By actively using predictive models based on data, automotive accidents can be a thing of the past.
  • By 2025, there will likely be more than 27 billion IoT connections. 

4. 3D Printing gets a more significant stage

  • Even more companies from various sectors are turning to 3D Printing in 2023 (Alstom, Lockheed Martin, Shell, and G.E. are already there) – the technology is becoming increasingly mature.
  • New tools will be used to organize and integrate fleets of 3D printers and/or 3D printing robots within production workflows.
  • A new service to watch in 2023: same-day delivery of 3D-printed parts

5. Companies will seriously consider changes in manufacturing locations 

  • ABB survey: 70% of U.S. businesses looking to bring production closer to home
  • U.S. China decoupling: technology firms that receive government funding will be banned from building “advanced technology facilities” in China for a decade
  • This doesn’t include European companies where the trend continues to locate new investments in China (BASF, ABB, Airbus)
  • Friendshoring and nearshoring will slowly be re-considered

Over and above the focus on the logistics industry, Wirsing also shares strong trends shaping the future in general: Political & Legal, Economic, Social, and Environmental. 

  • Public incentives and regulations are vital drivers of innovations in the transportation of goods (e.g., green tech). 
  • Labor shortages continue to pressure companies to raise wage levels, improve working conditions and invest more in automation.
  • Mass digitalization across industries drives demand for data and connectivity.
  • Work-life boundaries, hybrid working, and workplace wellness initiatives are increasingly important for being an Employer of Choice.
  • Fast, emission-free, last-mile deliveries with high volumes of data (from sensor networks) are the future of city logistics.
  • Environmental factors (e.g., dry summers and droughts) increasingly affect people, the economy, and supply chains.

2023 will also be a year full of disruptions, challenges. But in the end also great opportunities.

Find our more about DB Schenker’s innovation and digitalization solutions.

Published: January 2023