Analysing the world of contemporary innovations and the latest technologies is not a simple task. Evaluating the outlook so that it is possible to determine the further development of logistics systems is even harder. We in CBRE have tackled this task head on. We see the future of logistics clearly. It could be summed up in a single word: automation.
Manpower vs. robots
Personnel expenses make up a significant part of the entire logistics expenses. Thus, companies are constantly looking for ways to minimise them. Qualified human work is prized above all in every successful company, of course. But wherever possible, manpower is being replaced by robots. Pressure on the automation of logistics processes is not only based on the price of human work, but also by a lack of human resources. Meanwhile, automation goes hand in hand with the development of new technologies, which give it a concrete form. This includes autonomous vehicles, which could replace lorries with drivers in the near future.
Lorries without drivers have huge potential
This trend is not that apparent in the Czech Republic, though autonomous freight transport is already being mass tested all over the world. Self-service vehicles are seen to have huge potential, especially for common and routine operations. Even though freight transport was dependant on manpower until recently, drivers will very soon be replaced by robots. According to an Eyefortransport (EET) survey, the number of lorries with drivers will decrease by almost 60% in the next nine years (Source: EyefortransportReports. Supply Chain Hot Trends Q1 & Q2 2016).
Their work should be taken over by autonomous vehicles. This will lead to faster transport along with lower expenses for distribution. Cost savings in the area of human resources make it possible to invest in innovative technologies. Thus, automation will strengthen the effective methods for supply management and warehouse processes. The appearance of the warehouses themselves will also understandably change.
The rise of vertical warehouses
As far as automated vehicles go, warehouses, logistics buildings and delivery sites will have to adapt for them. Charging stations for autonomous vehicles and space for the automatic manoeuvring of such vehicles will be a necessity. Ware houses will be equipped with an advanced IT structure and software, without which automation and robotisation would not be possible. On the other hand, the demand for the availability of daylight or the necessary height of storage space will change. The trend of vertical logistics solutions is related to this.
Vertical warehouses and logistics systems correspond to modern technological developments and the automation of logistics processes. They enable the use of hard-to-reach spaces and optimise the expenses for the space. They will also positively influence the expenses for the transport and storage of goods and understandably decrease wage expenses, as well. They will streamline all the operational warehouse tasks and the supporting warehouse activities.
The price of vertical autonomous warehouses will increase with the use of modern technologies. Thus, it can generally be expected that the size and locations of the warehouses will change with automation.
We expect that lower expenses for transport will lead to the further development and creation of new high-capacity warehouses. In light of automation, the sizes of the warehouses should continue to grow, and I also expect the localisation of warehouses predominantly at the edge of cities and in remote, unpopulated areas.
3D printing is a progressive technology that finds use in all kinds of sectors. Logistics is no exception. The boom of 3D printing, the possibilities, quality and availability of 3D printers, will evidently lead to a decrease in the number of large production halls. Some products of the manufacturing industry could be produced, or printed, directly in “last-mile delivery” buildings. That would lead to a further increase in the demand for automated logistics processes, transport systems and autonomous vehicles