Every industry changes over time, but few of them shift as often as the logistics industry!
To be honest, this is one of the reasons why we love it and the people who work in it. Things are never static in logistics. It’s a profession that demands high levels of problem-solving, from both individuals and organizations. There are constant challenges daily, from the mundane to the world-changing.
With increasing levels of instability all across the planet, the logistics industry is being tested like never before. While new technologies and innovations have streamlined certain aspects of logistics, changing conditions have also created new challenges that face every level of the industry. Here are just a few of them:
As logistics is an industry that underpins so many other industries, economic anxiety and instability can be a hugely destabilizing factor.
Just in the U.S., worries about a Trade War with China have drastically and unpredictably impacted the economy and shipping industry over the last few years. With the threat of tariffs constantly overhead, this uncertainty has reduced shipments to and from China. While this does have the potential of opening up new markets for U.S. companies, it can also hurt the logistics industry.
That being said, China is still the second-largest economy in the world and has an overwhelming need for U.S. goods. This makes it highly unlikely that a trade war will utterly destroy shipping or any other aspects of the logistics industry. However, as long as the threat exists, we must figure out ways to mitigate the damage and preserve American logistics jobs.
As the cost of fuel, especially diesel, continues to rise, so too does the cost to the logistics industry. One of the biggest challenges facing transportation companies today is to reduce fuel costs, possibly by investing in new technologies that might eliminate diesel completely.
You can see the problem-solving strengths of the logistics industry at work on this problem right now. Major companies, including Walmart, PepsiCo, FedEx, and DHL Supply Chain, have already invested in Tesla’s new battery-powered semi-trailer truck prototypes. These are expected to have a range of 500 miles on a single charge, with an estimated cost of 20 ¢/mi less than a diesel equivalent.
This is likely to be far from the last technical innovation that will be put into place to help with potential fuel crises in the future. Other possible solutions involve improved fuel efficiency and the increased use of natural gas and biodiesel for road, sea, and air transport.
Dealing with environmental issues is a double-edged sword for the logistics industry. On the one hand, environmental regulation from the government can negatively impact operations, reducing profits and employment across the board. On the other hand, climate change can cause extreme weather conditions that drastically affected the shipping industry. Snowstorms in Winter 2018 were especially difficult to manage and are considered to be a big factor in the 2019 downturn of the trucking industry.
We already talked about one of the ways the logistics industry is dealing with environmental issues, and that’s by moving to alternative fuels. But what about better management of poor and unreliable weather conditions such as snow and flooding?
Increased levels of communication across the industry can help mitigate extreme weather. Through coordination, the industry can more efficiently re-route trucks and monitor weather conditions. While nothing directly can be done about extreme weather (at least in the short-term), the industry can minimize the impact on the workers and companies.
Have you ever been hacked?
It can cause a considerable level of inconvenience in your life. If you’re lucky, you’ve managed to recover all of your data and use of your computer. If you weren’t, you might have lost thousands of dollars having to buy a replacement, not to mention the irreplaceable loss of your personal files and photos.
Now, imagine that kind of inconvenience on a global level and you will realize the threat facing the logistics industry. Not only is there the fear of an individual company being hacked and their data being stolen, but there is also the fear of a nation-wide hack that could cripple the entire industry. In fact, the transportation industry was the 5th most cyber-attacked industry back in 2016.
To fight back, companies need to invest in security infrastructure to protect them from hackers and malicious actors online. Unfortunately, many companies aren’t doing enough to educate their own employees about the dangers of phishing emails and other human causes of security breaches. They need to start because as technology continues to evolve, the threat of cyberattacks is only going to get worse.
While the logistics industry does face some seemingly overwhelming challenges, don’t forget, this is an industry of problem solvers! Every day, workers just like you are coming up with solutions and improving the systems that are currently in place. If you love being a problem solver and want to work in an industry that is certainly never dull, then maybe logistics is for you!
At Spectra360, we work with some of the biggest companies in the U.S. to connect them with the talent they need, through Temp, Temp-to-Hire, and Contract positions. If you’d like to learn what Spectra360 can do for you and your career, we invite you to contact us today!