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Trends for 2024 and beyond

13 November 2023

Logistics is a fast-changing industry, especially when it comes to new technologies, says Thorsten Mauritz. So what can we expect in 2024?

TO START, we predict the use of Drones will accelerate significantly in the year ahead. Several major players including Amazon (with ‘Prime Air’), Google and UPS have already made considerable progress in trialling the use of Drones to make home deliveries. In the UK, Royal Mail continues with its experiments and in August of this year, Royal Mail and Skyports Drone Services led a joint operation on the Islands of Orkney for three months, using the Speedbird Aero DLV-2 drone to carry payloads up to 6kg. 

Overall, the number of packages delivered by drone has increased by more than 80% from 2021 to 2022, reaching 875,000 delivers worldwide. Having reached 500,000 deliveries by the end of June 2023, totals are expected to exceed one million by the end of the year.  

Technology won’t be the barrier to its future use; regulation will be the issue, as evidenced in the US where the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had limited the use of drones and the distances in which they were permitted to go. More recently, UPS delivery drones have now been allowed to fly longer distance flights beyond the sight of ground operators, and this looks to be a trend that is likely to continue.

Smart PPE

A further prediction is the continued development of personal protection equipment, and in particular the evolution of increasingly smart PPE. Devices that can monitor a worker’s vital signs and blood oxygen levels will help keep them safe, especially in more challenging environments or where more remote working is required.

While such Smart devices are undoubtedly a good thing, they create significant issues in relation to the collection, use and storage of personal data – and medical data at that. This in turn creates similarly huge privacy issues in relation General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Further regulation, or at the very least amendments to existing regulation, will be required as a result.

The Internet of Things

Another global regulatory challenge related to data gathering and smart devices is coming about through the Internet of Things (IoT). Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology is undoubtedly a positive step forward for businesses. According to scholars in the field, the potential growth of IIoT is predicted to generate $15 trillion of global GDP by 2030. 

The data gathered from multiple connected devices gives facility managers real and meaningful insight into their operation, which in turn can be used to inform ways of further improving safety and operational performance. This is projected to save up to 12% over scheduled repairs, reduce overall maintenance costs by up to 30% and reduce mechanical failures by anything up to 70%, according to a number of studies. 

However, champions of IIoT will be well aware of the wide range of potential threats that such new technologies pose, especially from cyber attacks. This is also leading to new regulations including the launch of a new EU Cybersecurity Act which introduced a new EU-wide certification framework for ICT products, services and processes. The EU’s Digital Europe Programme from now until 2027 will see €1.9 billion invested in cybersecurity capacity and infrastructure for EU businesses, people and government.

Artificial Intelligence

Perhaps the most obvious trend that will continue well into 2024 and beyond is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) leading to greater automation. 

AI is transforming how humans and machines interact in a shared environment, evident in the logistics industry with companies using AI to optimise their supply chains through its ability to process vast amounts of data and make intelligent decisions in near real time. The availability of data about how people work, what their emotional state is while working and how they engage with equipment and the world around them will likely lead us to a whole new level of industrial safety, but also a whole new world of industrial regulation.

A final trend which perhaps encapsulates all of these predictions and more will be the increasing view of safety as a holistic decision, one which has to take into account multiple factors and therefore multiple technologies and solutions. Safety is not a challenge that can be seen in isolation, and the increasing trend towards taking a more consultative approach to safety will be more evident in the years to come.

Thorsten Mauritz, marketing manager, Rite-Hite Europe

For more information, visit www.ritehite.com